Joe Penitent: Bless me Father, for I have sinned. My last confession was a month ago but since then I have committed mortal sin. My sins are…
Father Modern: Ooh okay, hold it right there, my son. Did you say you committed mortal sin?
Joe Penitent: Uh..y-yes sir. I have.
Father Modern: My Goodness! So, you are telling me you hate God?
Joe Penitent: Oh no Father! I do not hate God…
Father Modern: Well then that settles it, my son! You have not committed mortal sin! This is why it is exceedingly rare to commit mortal sin. Aren’t you relieved?
Joe Penitent: Uh..well…yes but I am confused. I know I have committed grave sin. I know one of my sins is that I deliberately missed Mass on purpose. Is this not mortal sin?
Father Modern: Oh no, my son! God is far too merciful to judge you on simply missing Mass. You see, all the Mass truly is, is a celebration of the community, that is the Church itself! Especially when we all partake in the Eucharist, by which Our Lord strengthens us. This fraternal meal is a holy and just banquet of the human family. If you happen to miss it, you just went “hungry” for a Sunday, as I always say! Ha-ha!
Joe Penitent: Oh…I see, because I thought you had to go to Mass…I thought that is why it was called an Obligation?
Father Modern: Yes, yes. Rome has often a lot to say on what we should all be doing but let us not forget that the Church also understands that it cannot press on you more than you can handle. We are not in the business of dishing out anathemas and discouraging others, that is what Jesus came to destroy, you see?
Joe Penitent: I guess so. Well..okay…anyway, I have also another sin I must confess…My wife is having health issues, you see. In particular, reproductive problems. She is sort of in a critical condition that if she were to get pregnant too soon before our last baby, she could have even more health problems. This could lead to a miscarriage or even death to her. So her doctor said she needed an IUD and birth control pills to help regulate her cycle. I know that the Church is against contraception…yet I agreed she should do this. I now regret not speaking up about the Church’s teaching on this.
Father Modern: I would say, that this Doctor knows what he/she is doing. Are you a doctor?
Joe Penitent: No sir…
Father Modern: Well then I would trust this doctor’s instruction since this person was trained specifically to help young women not only take care of themselves but uphold their rights. It is her body after all, and in a marriage you must support what is good for her. After all, in marriage you are one flesh, and if one of you suffers, the other does too.
Joe Penitent: I see what you are saying, but the Church has always spoken out against contraception. Isn’t that what Pope Paul VI’s Humane Vitae is about?
Father Modern: My son, the Church is like a living person. It grows and develops its teachings to better understand how to spiritually govern its people. In our times, we need to look at the advances of science that no doubt God uses to help man better understand how to heal the world. In your wife’s case, she may want to consider sterilization for the protection of herself and future children that she may put at risk. But Humane Vitae was a drafted document that many in the Church did not accept because of its impracticality. Often times, even the Pope can get something wrong, like St. Peter who denied Christ 3 times!
Joe Penitent: I never thought of it like that before. Okay, well…I have also…well…I am kind of embarrassed to say…but, I have…
Father Modern: Do not worry, my son. You do not have to confess anything you are embarrassed to say. This isn’t the principal’s office, you know. God knows why you are here and wants to bless you regardless of what you choose to tell me or not.
Joe Impenitent: Oh okay. Well then that truly Is a relief! Then I guess that is all I have to confess…I guess it turns out I didn’t do as bad as I thought!
Father Modern: I am happy to hear you are getting the big picture! Now let me bless you and send you on your way. Bow your head, Lord Jesus, who came to free us from our ordinary lives, have mercy on us and forgive our sins here on this day so we can live full lives for you and our neighbor and may God bless you In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit! Go and live your life free with Christ.
Joe Impenitent: Thank you Father! But, may I ask…wasn’t I supposed to receive the Words of Absolution?
Father Modern: That is the beauty of the Church, my son. We are not held by rigid laws, as our Lord made clear that the Tradition of God is before the tradition of man! Jesus tells us the heart of the law is love. Therefore, I gave you absolution in my own words because, to me, it was more meaningful. Therefore, more effective in ministering to you.
Joe Impenitent: Oh wow! It is truly amazing to be a part of such an understanding and loving Church. Thank you again Father, I will come back to see you next month!
Father Modern: Well, I am actually not going to be in town next month. You are welcome to speak with our Deacon though. He is a great man of God which I trained myself.
Joe Hopelessly Impenitent: Yes Sir! See you on Sunday