Today (4 August) is the feast of Saint John Marie Vianney, the only canonized parish priest. He’s a special patron saint for Holy Souls Hermitage, it being that the Hermitage is offered for the sanctification of priests going through the purgatory of this life or the next.
If our Lord were to ask me what particular grace I wanted priests who are still alive to receive (though He hasn’t asked me that!), I think I might respond that it would have to be the grace for all of us priests in this Church Militant to have the opportunity and take up the opportunity to go to confession regularly and frequently, having found fellow priests who were good confessors, always welcoming, never put out — available — who know the absolution prayer fully and use it, giving a decent, do-able penance.
I think, for instance, of priests who are justly or unjustly in prison, who have no opportunity to go to confession. For instance, I think of a great Archbishop, who, betrayed by some of his own priests, spent what must have seemed to be innumerable years in a communist torture prison.
Just my opinion, but I think that priests who celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in a sloppy manner might do so because they have sloppy souls. By sloppy, I mean changing the Mass into an expression of their own personalities by way of changing the words, changing the rubrics, and so on. I have to wonder if such priests ever go to confession. If they did, and confessed this sin of clericalism, the Sacred Liturgy would be offered in a noticably more reverenent manner.
I remember a bishop who was asked how to go about the New Evangelization in view of youngsters being totally drowned in sex and drugs and every sort of materialistic avenue of distraction. He immediately answered that, of course, the answer is obvious, that the priest is to offer the Holy Mass better, that is, following the rubrics with reverence and precision. Young people will flock to the Church. They want to see respect for the greatest act of love ever, our Lord’s very sacrifice.
Yes, but, I don’t think you’ll find Father Knucklehead doing that unless he trundles off to confession. Then, everything is back in order. He’s on his knees before the mercy of God. This is true for everyone. I think that the New Evangelization begins with the Confessional, where we find mercy, the Heart of the Gospel.
And when priests go to confession, then we have the heart of the Heart of the Gospel being set right.
Yes, I think I’ll ask our Lord for this grace for priests, that they go to Confession frequently, regularly.
Guaranteed, when they do that, you’ll see parishioners following his example. He will preach about it. They will go. And then you will see the churches filling up to worship at the Holy Sacrifice. Father will be reverent and so will they, all to the greater glory and honor of God.
By the way, be sure to see the ferocious confession series widget in the sidebar of the blog!