St Francis Q&A

Friday, January 30, 2009

A "bad catch"?

Eucharistic Adoration, tonight, 7-8 pm, SAA Church. All are invited!!
Here are some questions from bloggers:

1) “I've been curious about the meaning of a ‘good confession’ for some time. There are articles on the internet that refer to; ‘How to Make a Good Confession’. I'm sure there are little handouts that describe the steps to making a good confession. I understand that there is a protocol or format to confession. I also understand that all sins are not equal - some are mortal, some are venial. On the other hand, all sin is equal in that it is wrong. If a person has basically followed the format; i.e., examined their conscience, been honest with self and confessor, has true sorrow for their sin(s), desires not commit sin(s) again, verbalizes some form of the Act of Contrition, receives absolution and completes their assigned penance, wouldn't that make for a good confession? If one can make a good confession, can one make a bad confession as well?”

Imagine if during this weekend’s Super Bowl one of the announcers says that a wide receiver makes a “bad catch”. Can a receiver make a bad catch? No. He may not make the most graceful catch, but if he catches it, it is a catch. Some catches are better than others, but every pass caught is a good catch. It’s the same with making a confession. Everyone who follows the “format” as you have laid it out (and you nailed it!) makes a good confession. Some confessions are better than others, but everyone who does their best in following the format makes a good confession.

2) “I’m sporadic with Bible Study in general, but I missed this past Advent’s series, so PLEASE answer me- in response to today’s homily (12/31/08), where in the Bible does it speak about Mary’s prayer life?”

There are many examples in the Gospels that refer to Mary’s prayer life, and several are posted in the comments under my post of 12/30/08, “We have a new bishop!” The Gospels do not give a general description of Mary’s prayer life, but they do provide many instances of Mary at prayer. I used one of these instances (“Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” - Lk 2:19) as a basis to present Mary’s prayer life in general in my homily for the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God.

3) “I have a question about Baptism by Desire- Say someone had heard of Jesus, was not a Christian but still answered a call to do a life of good work. Perhaps they were well-educated but were raised in a place where Christianity was not prominent and the lived values espoused by another faith, and their life was committed to love, peace and equality. Would that person be considered saved- if they knew of Jesus but did not claim him as their savior?”

I cannot say whether or not a person like that would be saved because it depends on what they know and how they’ve come to know it. We’ve discussed full knowledge on this site before – how much do they really know about Jesus Christ? What have they been exposed to? Also, how have they been taught about Him?

Someone came up to me after a Mass in which I preached on the different types of Baptism. They asked if someone who had been well-educated about Christ (or the Church) but in the wrong way could be saved. An example of this would be that the person was taught about the Resurrection, but that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead: his disciples stole the body from the tomb. (Some people today still teach this!) This can also include being taught about the Bread of Life discourse in John 6 but that Jesus was only speaking symbolically. God understands that if people are given the wrong knowledge about His Son (from parents, teachers, priests, rabbis, etc.) their whole lives even though they believe it’s the truth, then they are not accountable for the errors of others.

With salvation, it’s all about people doing the best with what they’ve been given. If someone has been given less than full knowledge or been given the wrong knowledge but has truly desired to do God’s Will in his/her life, then they can be saved (baptism by desire). That desire basically means that their heart claimed Christ as their Savior because to live God’s Will is to live Christ. To live Christ is to live God’s Will.


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