Monday, November 12, 2012

Cardinal Dolan: Vatican II called for it's renewal, then we got near disappearance of Sacrament of Penance

I am grateful that I was able to listen to much of the USCCB Fall General Assembly today via EWTN.mobi. The USCCB site also has options, and you can get archived video there.

I just want to pass along to you how heart-warming it was to hear Cardinal Dolan's humble admission that it is time to start taking Sacramental Confession more seriously. He also noted that we should bring back meatless Fridays (as someone noted on Twitter, it's time to buy stock in Arthur Treachers!)

I'm going to provide some excerpts, but I encourage you not only to read the whole thing for context (which shouldn't take more than 10 minutes), but to consider watching him deliver the opening address. Click here for full text and here for video-on-demand (you want the November 2012, Monday Morning Session and it might be about 20 minutes in, just fast-forward and keep checking).  Father Z has audio in his post: USCCB meeting: Card. Dolan hits it out of the park!

Here are some of my favorite parts of the Presidential Address.  I'll offer some thoughts another time.  This is rich content and he is on the right track. I think we will have many opportunities to explore the subject deeper.



I would suggest this morning that this reservoir of our lives and ministry, when it comes especially to the New Evangelization, must first be filled with the spirit of interior conversion born of our own renewal. That's the way we become channels of a truly effective transformation of the world, through our own witness of a penitential heart, and our own full embrace of the Sacrament of Penance.


[...]

"To believers also the Church must ever preach faith and penance," declared the council fathers in the very first of the documents to appear, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. (SC, n. 9) ​To be sure, the sacraments of initiation - - Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist - - charge, challenge, and equip the agents of evangelization. Without those sacraments, we remain isolated, unredeemed, timid and unfed. ​ 
But, the Sacrament of Reconciliation evangelizes the evangelizers, as it brings us sacramentally into contact with Jesus, who calls us to conversion of heart, and allows us to answer his invitation to repentance -- a repentance from within that can then transform the world without. ​ 
What an irony that despite the call of the Second Vatican Council for a renewal of the Sacrament of Penance, what we got instead was its near disappearance. ​We became very good in the years following the Council in calling for the reform of structures, systems, institutions, and people other than ourselves.That, too, is important; it can transform our society and world. But did we fail along the way to realize that in no way can the New Evangelization be reduced to a program, a process, or a call to structural reform; that it is first and foremost a deeply personal conversion within? "The Kingdom of God is within," as Jesus taught.

[...]

The premier answer to the question "What's wrong with the world?" "what's wrong with the church?" is not politics, the economy, secularism, sectarianism, globalization or global warming . . .none of these, as significant as they are. As Chesterton wrote, "The answer to the question 'What's wrong with the world?' is just two words:'I am,'"

​I am! Admitting that leads to conversion of heart and repentance, the marrow of the Gospel-invitation. I remember the insightful words of a holy priest well known to many of us from his long apostolate to priests and seminarians in Rome, Monsignor Charles Elmer, wondering aloud from time to time if, following the close of the Council, we had sadly become a Church that forgot how to kneel.If we want the New Evangelization to work, it starts on our knees.

[...]

The work of our Conference during the coming year includes reflections on re-embracing Friday as a particular day of penance, including the possible re-institution of abstinence on all Fridays of the year, not just during Lent. Our pastoral plan offers numerous resources for catechesis on the Sacrament of Penance, and the manifold graces that come to us from the frequent use of confession. Next June we will gather in a special assembly as brother bishops to pray and reflect on the mission entrusted to us by the Church, including our witness to personal conversion in Jesus Christ, and so to the New Evangelization.  
 We work at giving our people good examples of humble, repentant pastors, aware of our own personal and corporate sins, constantly responding to the call of Jesus to interior conversion. Remember the Curé of Ars? When a concerned group of his worried supporters came to him with a stinging protest letter from a number of parishioners, demanding the bishop to remove John Vianney as their curé, claiming he was a sinner, ignorant, and awkward, St. John Vianney took the letter, read it carefully ... and signed the petition!

[...]


And, I have suggested today, that as we "come and go" in response to the invitation of Jesus, we begin with the Sacrament of Penance.This is the sacrament of the New Evangelization, for as Pope Benedict reminds us, "We cannot speak about the new evangelization without a sincere desire to conversion." (Homily for the Opening of the XIII Ordinary General Synod of Bishops).

With this as my presidential address, I know I risk the criticism. I can hear it now: "With all the controversies and urgent matters for the Church, Dolan spoke of conversion of heart through the Sacrament of Penance. Can you believe it?"

To which I reply, "You better believe it!"

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

At our recent Respect Life team meeting at St. Christopher’s parish, we had a discussion on the election results and one of our members noted sadly that 40 to 50 percent of Catholics voted Democratic.
I posed a theory that I feel describes why Catholics voted that way: that two generations of voting Catholics in the US never learned the Catholic Faith due to the watering down of Catechetical teachings after Vatican II, and the relaxing of many disciplines and rules for Catholics during the last 50 years. Such poorly catechized Catholics were more influenced by the surrounding secular (pagan) culture than by the Catholic Faith they never learned.

I also mentioned that much of the guidance we once received from Catholic bishops no longer exists, such as the demise of the Legion of Decency, the list of forbidden books and movies, the elimination of rigor in our liturgy including the fasts of Ember Days, Rogation Days, Friday Abstinence, the demise of Confession, and above all – the poor Catechisms from 1965 to 2005. I also mentioned that although before approximately 1970, our bishops were basically united in professing traditional and orthodox Catholic teachings and guidance; since then the appointment (from 1970 through approximately 2005) of liberal and heterodox bishops in the U.S. has resulted in a population of confused Catholics due to opposing positions and disciplines of various bishops on topics such as administering Communion to pro-abortion public officials. Some do (creating scandal) and some don’t. I Mentioned that I felt that much of the responsibility for the loss of Faith can be laid at the feet of the Catholic Bishops, whose mandate from Christ Himself was to “go out to all nations and teach all that I have revealed to you”.

I feel that the future will be brighter however for these reasons: 1) since 2000, Bishop appointments in the US have been to men who are much more traditional and orthodox (that group now already has a slight voting majority at USCCB meetings). 2) The catechisms of the last 7 years have been more along the lines of pre-Vatican II catechisms, stressing the true teachings. 3) 21st century technology – even though a slight majority of all Americans are pro-choice, the majority of young people (up to age 35) are pro-life, due to the you-tube and other web based sources showing the human life in the womb.
Mike from NY