Happy Holy Week!
Be aware of changes in Mass times this week and upcoming weekend. I encourage you to attend the Blessed Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil). Invite a friend to join you in experiencing the Holiest week of the year!
I wish to comment about a news story I saw on TV. The reporter said a priest told police on a man who confessed murder! It sparked my interest, because, if so, the priest would be excommunicated from the Church according to Cannon Law. However, as I watched the rest of the story, it happened that, it was not a confession within the Sacrament of Confession, which made it okay for the priest to divulge the murder and give up the murderer to authorities. Let me explain further. The seal of Confession (a priest can never repeat, report, reveal, notify authorities about anything ever said within the Sacrament of Confession. Period.
In this case, however, the man who murdered his wife, came to the Rectory and sat down to talk with the Priest in a confidential forum. A priest and person may have a confidential chat, much like a therapist and patient or Lawyer and client may have. The clergy, along with other professionals are mandatory reporters of adult and child abuse in the state of NH.
However, in the context of a Sacramental Confession, beginning when the penitent blesses oneself and says: “Bless me Father for I have sinned…” and the Priest blesses the penitent; the Seal of Confession is in place. “What is said in Confession, stays in Confession.” As of now, American civil law recognizes the right of the clergy to maintain this secrecy privilege, but regardless, it is the Church law. Time in Confession, shouldn’t be used as a social time, to chat, but to confess sins. Many times, a penitent may tell me inform me of things happening in their life outside that don’t pertain to Confession, such as, “I got a new job” or “please pray for my sick aunt.” This is fine, however, I can never ask how your new job is going in the future. Of course I will privately pray for your sick aunt, but I cannot ever ask how your aunt is doing outside the Confessional, nor add her name to the prayer line. So, those conversations are best to be kept outside of the Seal of Confession.
With this said, please take advantage of the extended times available for Confession. Throughout the state, every parish will have Confessions held on this Monday for Holy Week. Remember, there is nothing you can confess that could ever shock the priest…priests have heard it all before! So come free yourself from all that is weighing you down, and live in the life of the Holy Spirit!
May God continue to bless our Church here in the White Mountains!