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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Priest-In-The-Box

I was watching Seinfeld yesterday and it happened to be the episode where his dentist had converted to Judaism for the jokes. The dentist prided himself that as an ex-Catholic he was entitled to tell Catholic jokes and Pope jokes, and as a Jew, he could tell Jewish jokes.

Seinfeld and the gang were (rightly) concerned by this behavior so Seinfeld went down the the dentist's previous Catholic parish, and entered the Confessional. When the good priest moved the slide back to reveal the "screen" which hid nothing to us, he found Seinfeld seated on the kneeler.

(I have to admit I found this humorous).

The priest told Seinfeld to tell him his sins.

Seinfeld revealed that he was actually Jewish, and the priest quipped, "Oh, that's no sin.."

Now, here's my point in all of this:

When was the last time you needed to speak to a priest about some matter and headed on down to the confessionals? Really...I am asking this in all seriousness.

Does the media in general and Hollywood specifically think that we keep priests locked up in boxes?

"Oh, dear, I have to see Father about something...."

"Oh, there's a Priest-in-the-box down at the corner of Central and 5th..."

If we play the pipe organ he jump out at us when the music stops abruptly?

Why do all these Hollywood types put priests in boxes....ALL THE TIME??? Now, that's not to say there aren't priests dedicated to Confession...St. Padre Pio was one of them. But when you need to speak to a priest, don't you call the rectory, the parish office, or the like? It's a sad commentary on the state of affairs in the mystical Body of Christ, but most parishes are sorely lacking in Confession time.

In some of those places, maybe the priest can be more easily found engaging in civil disobedience at the latest fad march for immorality or left wing peace rallies. Or maybe just working himself to the bone at a parish, what with administering the sacraments, rushing to the hospital to annoint the sick (also a sacrament), preparing his homily for Mass, counseling an engaged couple, etc and so forth. How on earth would the poor priest have time to just hang out in the confessional waiting for a random Jewish comedian to stop by and complain about his dentists' jokes????

Have you noticed that every time a priest is portrayed as someone with real authority or spiritual guidance, he is portrayed ONLY in the confessional? And when he is a "bad" priest, he's found everywhere else.

While on the surface that doesn't seem like such a bad portrayal, consider the limitations being placed upon the priesthood by the filmmakers and such. Consider the view of priest being maniuplated so easily.

Now, I am very blessed to be a member of a parish which offers abundent confession: after every daily mass, which is 3 times per day, every Saturday from 9am to 10 am and 4pm to 5 pm, and by appointment. I have even seen our priests stopped by people requesting confession. Recently a friend of mine revealed that on a Sunday morning before Mass she saw one of our priests at prayer in the Adoration Chapel. She commented that she was so comfortable with him that she quietly asked him if he would hear her confession. He immediately stopped what he was doing to provide her the grace of the sacrament.

Did you notice that even a person in need of confession didn't just enter the confessional and expect to find him occupying the box? Nope. She found him in prayer. God bless this priest!

But maybe Hollywood, in their stupidly bumbling way, is really on to something. Maybe we should expect to find a priest in the box. Maybe this should be a marketed ministry. (I think it was in Cologne, Germany and regularly in some places in Europe). Maybe this portrayal isn't so bad, and it does hold an element of truth in that the best priests really do dedicate themselves to hearing confessions. But they are all so much more than that and they are so valuable to the world!

I am insulted that apparently people think that all priests do is preside at marriages and hang out in boxes, so maybe we need to step up and help educate the general public.

We need to do a better job of proving to the world how much we value our priests. We need to share our stories of them, to pray for them, to encourage them, and support the call to more to the priesthood. Maybe Hollywood and the media will take notice.

Maybe I'd better not push it.

God bless you all and please pray for me as I go see our local Priest-In-The-Box tomorrow evening.

2 comments:

Angela Messenger said...

When I want to talk to my preist I send him an email so he can read it at his convenience because he is so very busy.

I was all set to go to confession tonight but then realized Mass and confession time was changed due to some renovations in the church....of the confessional!!!! We are making it soundproof!

Good post!

Ray from MN said...

I used to be a regular on the Catholic Answers Forum and learned a lot there. Once somebody posed the question that they were "going to be in Phoenix for the first time and how can O find out what would be a good parish in which to attend Mass?"

After some pondering, I check out the "Mass Times" web site and after checking all the parishes listed it became pretty obvious.

First, select all those parishes that offer the most hours for confession; then give bonus points for parishes with Latin indult or Tridentine Masses, Shrines, or mention of particular devotions such as 40-Hours, Novenas, First Fridays, etc.

http://www.masstimes.org/dotnet/churchlookups.aspx


But you're right, Adoro, there doesn't seem to be much of a call for confession these days. Lines are rarely seen, even at parishes offering only an hour or less.

I went to St Agnes in St Paul the other Saturday and they sure do have a commitment to keep the lines down for the modern American Catholic: there were four priests in the boxes, with Father Schuler offering German on one side and English on his other.