Confessions of a Catholic childhood

PROVERBS 28:13 ~“He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses...”        

Confessionals: Our family called them “confession boxes.”

As a boy in the mid-1960s growing up along the Gaspé coast, I was intrigued by our Catholic church’s confession box. There were three entrances: the centre compartment for the priest to enter through an actual door, and two side compartments (one on each side of the priest’s compartment) for the penitents, but no actual doors for them. There were, however, ornate embroidered curtains covering both entrances, which deterred curious but innocuous parishioners (I mean, was the person confessing good fodder that could be passed along to a neighbour or two, or was it a lesser, venial-type, sin?). The heavy curtains also dulled sound and the penitents knew to speak in a hush audible only to the priest, and he reciprocated. The result in the pews: indistinguishable voices in English and French. 

The bearable lightness of whispering to Christ

St. Philip Neri once had a penitent confess to indulging in gossip. He advised the contrite soul to bring him a chicken, and to pluck its feathers as he walked the streets of Rome. When the man showed up with the chicken, his penance fulfilled, the great saint told him, “Now, brother, gather up all the feathers you’ve strewn about the city.”

A river runs through a writer’s soul

“Eventually all things merge into one, and a river runs through it,” wrote Norman Maclean in his classic novella, “A River Runs Through It.” The river “runs over the rocks of the basement of time…. Under the rocks are the words, and the words are theirs.” This leads to Maclean’s stark confession, “I am haunted by waters.”

De-coupling the Church from Fiducia Supplicans

Much has been written in a short time on Fiducia Supplicans issued by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith on Dec. 18, 2023. The backlash it has provoked is unprecedented in the post-conciliary Church. I wish to respond here to those who suggest that the faithful ought to absorb its teaching by evoking three perspectives.

Church leads in combatting abuse

Recent sexual abuse civil suits against leaders in the Canadian Catholic Church, including Cardinal Marc Ouellet and Quebec City Cardinal Gérald Lacroix, can leave the faithful struggling to find signs of hope. They won’t get any help by relying on typical media stories, says Gatineau Archbishop Paul-André Durocher.

From Holocaust’s ashes

The International Court of Justice has delivered its interim judgment. Even a political body appointed by the United Nations General Assembly, whose members are mainly non-democratic states, couldn’t bring itself to order Israel to ceasefire, but we should not be grateful for that. They had no moral right to order Israel to cease its just war of self-defense in the first place.

God is with us

As the end of the Advent season drew near, I was blessed with an Emmanuel moment that became a Christmas gift that has kept on giving.

'Fiducia supplicans' a blessing for the Church

Fiducia supplicans is exactly the document that was needed to address the confusion and error circulating among both the heretical progressive clergy who are seeking to legitimize and affirm same-sex unions and the radical conservatives who are unable to recognize the significant and relevant nuance that the issue naturally includes.

Mind the gap that doesn’t exist

Like the first baby born after midnight in the new year, the second day in 2024 marked the arrival of the first Globe and Mail editorial about child care.

Corner store booze sales sacrifice common good

Coming to an Ontario corner store near you: beer, wine, cocktails and other low-alcohol beverages, in whatever pack size you want. These libations will also be available in grocery stores, big-box locations  and some gas stations.

God gives us angels to guide our lives

Angels are in the spotlight during Advent and Christmas. There is Gabriel’s appearance to Mary, the angels who came to Joseph in three separate dreams, the multitude of angels who appear to the shepherds and the angel’s warning for the wise men to avoid Herod. Then there is the plethora of angels who decorate our Christmas festivities, both secular and religious.