“Here comes everybody!”

I get lots of hate mail and I share very little of it. Why waste our time? After glancing at 99.999% of the missives in this category I think, “There’s 8 seconds of my life I will never have back.”

Most of it, if you are wondering, comes from hard core traddies, homosexuals, and feminists, with some political liberals.  Lately, Ron Paul supporters have been chiming in, at least those whose critical reading skills are underdeveloped.  But I digress.

The following note, however, a particularly eloquent screed, made me pause a moment and reflect.

Background: I occasionally get love-notes from devotees of Matthew Fox, former Catholic Dominican priest and professional nutbar, now an Episcopalian somewhere. Woohoo. Romanorum coetibus!

In any event, this early valentine came to my email:

Message:
I thank God for Matthew Fox everyday. I was raped by a priest. They
are all rapist & homosexual. The catholic church is evil nothing but
evil. My sister is a devoted catholic, she broke up a marriage, she
had an abortion, her husband has affairs, both are alocholics, that is
the typical catholic. MEAN, HATEFUL, DEVIL.

Not exactly Voltaire, is it.

But he’s right about one thing: “the typical Catholic”.

We are, in fact, as “typical Catholics”, a Church of sinners.

The possibility of salvation consists in knowing just that about ourselves.

I’d rather be associated with home-wreckers, abortionists and alcoholics who know they are sinners, than with smug elitist “saints” whose presumption may very well land them in Hell.

In Finnegan’s Wake James Joyce suggests that the Catholic Church can be described as “Here comes everybody.”

Christ is the only Just One.

Never forget, if you are despondent about your present state or worried that perhaps you have done something dreadful and are afraid that you cannot get out of the jam you are in, that there is no sin that we little mortals can commit that the omnipotent power of God cannot take away provided we are truly sorry and we intend to amend our lives.

Though your sins be as red as scarlet, they will become white, by washed away in the Blood of the Lamb.

This is not a covering over of the sins, that might still stain us. This is not an ignoring of our sins, as if by slick bookkeeping.

When you confess your sins to a priest confessor and he gives you absolution those sins are gone.

They are taken away.  They are no more.

They are removed from you and will never be held against you.

They have been cleansed and eradicated by Christ Himself acting in the person of the priest.

You will have the memory of the sin, but not it’s guilt.  You will have to do penance for the harm, but you will not have to suffer separation from God for eternity.

Sinners, “everybody”, go to confession.

Clamor for confessions at your parish.

Request them, require them, repeat your call for them.

Fathers, do you duty.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in De Novissimis: Four Last Things, GO TO CONFESSION, Green Inkers, Our Catholic Identity, Throwing a Nutty, Wherein Fr. Z Rants and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to “Here comes everybody!”

  1. pfreddys says:

    Great and moving post, Father. Thank you.

  2. Geoffrey says:

    At daily Mass a few weeks ago, the celebrant said in his homily that “the Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum of saints”.

  3. Mary Jane says:

    I’m sorry you see so much hate mail, Fr. I was especially surprised that you would see it from Ron Paul supporters! Here’s one Ron Paul supporter whose critical reading skills are not underdeveloped. :) In any case, thank you for the reminder to go to confession! Just went on Sunday.

  4. NoTambourines says:

    This, I’m saving it:

    “Never forget, if you are despondent about your present state or worried that perhaps you have done something dreadful and are afraid that you cannot get out of the jam you are in, that there is no sin that we little mortals can commit that the omnipotent power of God cannot take away provided we are truly sorry and we intend to amend our lives.”

    The devil is wily, and encourages us to despair of our own salvation (and by trying to discredit the merits of the Church) so we’ll just hand ourselves over. The following thoughts have actually crossed my mind at certain points:

    1. “I’m so awful, I feel like a hypocrite. Maybe I should stop going to Mass until I get my life in order.”
    2. “Praying the Rosary is for pious people like my grandparents. I’m not ‘good’ enough to participate in that devotion.”

    Thank God for a Church where it is our duty, not just a sentimental aspiration, to keep coming back and never despair — to get up after falling rather than following the world in pretending there is no such thing as falling… or no such thing as getting up again.

  5. ivan_the_mad says:

    Indeed, we are all sinners. I was recently reminded that while admonition of a sinner is a spiritual work of mercy, judgement is reserved for God.

    Regarding hate mail, the internet is a wonderful tool that can unfortunately encourage knee-jerk emotional responses. It ties into the whole “instant gratification” thing. Patience, prayer and reflection before action serves as well here as elsewhere. Sometimes, people forget that while they are staring at pixels, there’s a person on the other end of the wire.

    Disclaimer: I’m a sinner and a Ronpaulite. Two strikes! :P

  6. Supertradmum says:

    I, too, am ashamed that my fellow lay men and women would be so cruel. You must be doing something right!

    And, I am another Ron Paul supporter who just went to Confession (no connection, I hope) and am very happy there are two times one can go here. God bless your ministry. I hope you have not gotten any hate mail over the bird photos. Maybe we could have some more photos, or are the darlings all gone? The British robins have invaded the hedges here in Ireland and I love to hear them sing in the morning. If things get tough, just switch to recipes and birds for a few weeks and the nasties will get bored and go bother another blogger.

    God bless.

  7. Supertradmum: Although this entry isn’t really about the hate mail, that was just the crowbar, I do also get many supremely stupid notes about the bird photos. I am astonished at what fever-swamp of some mind’s can read into photos of birds at a feeder directly outside my window.

    But this entry isn’t about this digression.

  8. Supertradmum says:

    Thanks, and any posting on Confessions and sinners are among my favorites. We all need encouragement. And, I am so happy to belong to a Church of sinners, or I would have to find somewhere else to pray and worship!

  9. Ralph says:

    Excellent post Father. We “in the Church” can easily fall into an “us vs them” mindset.

    Humility is often so hard to master, but so needed. I often think of the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18). How often are we the Pharisee thanking God for not being as bad as that “tax collector” when we are the ones who should be beating our breasts saying, “God have mercy on me a sinner”?
    I am a convert. One of the first things I learned about the Church touched me so deeply. Our Church is the Holy unblemished Bride of Christ. But at the same time, it is composed of sinners. Christ’s sacrafice at Calvary makes this duality possible. Awesome!

  10. Mrs. O says:

    In the case of family members living openly contrary to the Chruch’s teaching (abortion/cheating on spouse, etc), we may not can pick our family, but they can be replaced by friends who can help us live out our vocation and be our support.

  11. DavidJ says:

    With family members or friends living contrary to the Gospel, always always pray for them, especially asking the intercession of St. Monica!

  12. MyBrokenFiat says:

    I’m gonna go ahead and keep this little tidbit:

    “You will have the memory of the sin, but not it’s guilt. You will have to do penance for the harm, but you will not have to suffer separation from God for eternity.”

    Amen, amen, amen!

    And let this be a little message of love to counter one of hate. ‘Cause love you I do, Father. May you be blessed with a thousand smiles, each graciously turned your way by Our Lady. :)

  13. RichR says:

    I needed to hear this post today. Thanks, Fr.Z.

  14. moon1234 says:

    Father,
    Just hit the reply button and include a link to your homily. It works for so many of these types of e-mails.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvWEOpLLEso

  15. Elizabeth D says:

    Amen. This sinner read this blog post before heading out to Holy Mass today, and I went to confession before Mass.

    Contrition for sins, and especially sacramental Confession, takes a lot of obstacles out of God’s way, for the good He wants to do in our lives, and the eternal good He wants for us. We have the terrifying capacity to refuse that infinite good, we are all too capable of the pride by which we could choose eternal suffering in separation from God. But may God set everyone free from that and give us (and me specifically) humility and sorrow for sin, and have mercy on us (me), and may we (I) be merciful toward others.

  16. Thanks for you blog, and in particular for this post, Father, God bless you.

  17. pfreddys says:

    I think the fact that you get bad mail about the bird photos is proof positive of original sin!

  18. Centristian says:

    “They are taken away. They are no more.

    They are removed from you and will never be held against you.

    They have been cleansed and eradicated by Christ Himself acting in the person of the priest.

    You will have the memory of the sin, but not it’s guilt.”

    I can’t tell you how comforted I was by this post. My intellect knows this is true but sometimes I think my heart and conscience do not always seem to be completely convinced. I act according to what my mind knows about confession and absolution: I receive the Sacraments and allow myself to be active in the Church, but there’s often that nagging concern that it was somehow all too easy; that I got off scot free. Allowing your words, today, to sink in has enabled me to let go and to be entirely certain in a very freeing way that the sins of the past really are completely gone. I have to say, I feel a bit like Scrooge on Christmas morning, right now.

    Thank you, Father.

  19. ray from mn says:

    This Catholic sinner keeps a list of Confession times for all the parishes in the diocese nearby. A favorite parish has Confession before Mass on its Monday-Friday morning and afternoon Masses. Another parish has Mass before its 7:00 Sunday evening (I availed myself of that one last Sunday).

    Thank God for the holy priests who make themselves available at all hours of the day to those in need of the sacrament.

  20. Gaz says:

    Good timing. Thanks, Father Z.

  21. Veronica says:

    All of us have something we are not proud of, all of us have sinned, but I’m so glad that as Catholics we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation to start anew. That’s a blessing! Thank you for this post, Fr. Z. Definitely those poor persons are broken souls that need to know the healing and restoring power of the sacraments. I will add this family also to my prayers.

  22. While I get, thankfully, very few abusive comments, they can still be upsetting. People can write or say or do very nasty things in their hurt and anger.

    For those who do go to the Sacrament of Confession one note. As a priest who hears confessions regularly please keep it to the point. I recently heard a penitent who arrived at three minutes before the end of the time posted (7.00-8.00 pm.) I didn’t get finished until after 8.15 pm. Not that there was anything substantial, anything mortal – I don’t mind spending the time with a soul wrestling with sin and temptation, with doubts or difficulties about the faith. I do mind those who ramble to no purpose. Please, for the sake of the Confessor and the other penitents prepare well and keep to the point.

    A timely post.

  23. irishgirl says:

    Thank you for this post, Father Z, and for all you do for us poor sinners here!
    Bro. Tom Forde-I hear you with regards to ‘keeping it to the point’ in confession. That’s always my chief ‘fear’ [for want of a better word, I guess] when I go to confession; that I’m going to ‘hog the priest’s time’.
    This is my guidline for confession: ‘BE BLUNT, BE BRIEF, AND BE GONE!’

  24. seeker says:

    That poor soul has had a painful life and needs much compassion.