Sunday, February 14, 2016

Christ the Gardener

A nice succinct 'Go to Confession' pastoral letter from our Bishop this morning

And a nice little reminder in the Preface of the context of the first Sunday of Lent, "by overturning the snares of the ancient serpent".
Christ enters the desert, it is the post fall world, the derelict garden, the dwelling place of the serpent, the ancient enemy. The desert is  the Garden of Eden wrecked and rendered desolate by our primal disobedience. God gave us as a home a fertile garden and we have turned it into a barren desert. St Benedict says, "by the labour of obedience you may return to Him from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience." St Benedict wished to create a hortus conclusus, a closed garden for spiritual battle. and eventual salvation.
Christ enters the derelict garden of the desert. As Adam and Eve were driven out by an angel, Jesus is driven into it by the Spirit. It is both a metaphor for the world and the human heart. Here he battles with the enemy and is eventually restored the company of angels.
In a garden he conforms his human will, which by nature shuns death to conform it in obedience to his divine will which desires our salvation, thus restores mankind to obedience to the Father first lost by our parents. In  the garden again he, God, is betrayed by Judas, the ultimate consequence of the sin of Adam, In a garden he is crucified on the tree, not of the Knowledge of Good and Evil but now on the other one, the Tree of Life, ravaged by sin . In a garden he rises from the dead.

No wonder our Holy Patroness the Magdalene mistakes him for the gardener!


Savonarola said...

Fine as far as it goes, but how far is that? What no bishop, pope, priest or anyone else ever seems to do is address the reasons why most Catholics have given up confession: it is just attributed superficially to secularisation or loss of a sense of sin with no real attempt to understand those - and the Church's own part in it - in a deeper way. All we get is exhortations to go to confession and sentimental uplift about what a wonderful sacrament it is, but this clearly cuts no ice, because for most people I suspect it stays at a fairly childish level. Those I know have told me that they found themselves making confessions over and over in much the same way as they did as children, and came to see it was pointless.
Typical of our approach is the way in which the notion of mercy is seen exclusively as referring to God's forgiveness of sin, yet surely it has a much broader and deeper meaning. It is this that people want to engage with, but they get no help from the Church. So I'm sorry to say that Bishop Moth et al. are whistling in the wind.

AndrewWS said...

I met your bishop last weekend. He is a splendid chap. Probably vastly preferable to his predecessor.

Gregkanga said...

A rather rich, yet basic catechesis on sin and redemption. Since Vatican II the Church stopped preaching and teaching the doctrine of Original Sin because many within her ranks considered it an outdated theory or myth. As a result, she has a generation of Catholic's who do not have the most basic understanding of human nature, and have almost completely lost the essence of Christianity. These same leaders, employed the third Rite at every opportunity to accommodate sinners who found the Confessional too daunting. Consequently, Catholic's have lost the sense of sin, and how it contributes to evil in the Church and the world. Not to mention the damage these culprits have done to the sacrament of Penance in the Church. A damage which screams out for leadership while it continues unabated. As I have said before, teaching the doctrine on Original Sin effectively, is still one of the major challenges in the Church pastorally and theologically.

Savonarola said...

Gregkanga exemplifies perfectly what I was talking about - just repeating the same old shibboleths about sin and confession without attempting to understand why most people today walk away and ignore it. It is not they who are to blame, it is the Church that fails to help them engage in confession in a meaningful way. By all means let's teach the doctrine. Would that bishops and others would do so.

Victor S E Moubarak said...

Where did the notion of having to confess to a priest start? Jesus never asked us to tell our sins to a church elder/leader but to confess to God and seek His forgiveness.

God bless.

Fr Ray Blake said...


"Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ!"

Have never read the scriptures? Have you never read that Christ gave authority to the first bishops, the Apostle, the power to forgive sins? Does your Bible not contain John 20:23.

John Fisher said...

When will that drop the word "reconciliation"? Why not "Sacrament of Penance" or "Confession".
When parties reconcile it is usually because both have offended each other. God never offends against us. He never sins against or trespasses against us. It is all our own doing. We humans, the individual, the family, the society or country sin against God. We need to "confess" it, to make confession asking for mercy and forgiveness.
The fashion for waffle is all so modern. The documents of Vatican II are full of waffle words. Human Resources people smile and use jargon while acting with brutality. Bosses, politicians, academics, and even clergy all invent waffle words that when spoken lack edge. So please bishop.... There is no Sacrament of Reconciliation. Behind it is a wanting to appear pleasant and political correctness.

Victor S E Moubarak said...

Thank you Father for your response. I am well aware of John 20:23. This was Christ's message to His Disciples. The ones He had chosen.

You are implying that this power to forgive sin has also been handed down through the ages to all priests, like you. Perhaps so.

But if this were the case, then how about all the other Churches who do not practice the Sacrament of Confession. Are all their followers doomed to an eternity in hell?

I don't mean to be facetious, Father. I am genuinely asking, as a Catholic, because over the years the message about Confession has been changed and diluted somewhat. Time was when we were told we had to confess regularly, say once a week (as I did at the time). Then we were told it should be at least once a year - Easter or Christmas. So many took advantage of this and confessed once a year. Now I hear that if you've only committed venial sins then you can take Communion without Confession as long as you confess to God and are repentant.

This leads to confusion, and I suspect many people cannot differentiate between venial and mortal sins and think nothing about, say, stealing the odd piece of stationery from work, or covetting (or worse) one's neighbour's wife. I remember reading a priest saying that the mere thinking/planning to rob a bank, even if you don't do it, is a mortal sin. Or not going to Church on Sunday.

This being the case, no doubt there are many committing mortal sins, like the occasional lack of Faith in God, yet taking Communion without going to Confession.

Thank you for taking the time to respond.

God bless.

Nicolas Bellord said...

It is great to have a Bishop, at last, who leads.

Savonarola writes:

"Typical of our approach is the way in which the notion of mercy is seen exclusively as referring to God's forgiveness of sin, yet surely it has a much broader and deeper meaning."

"Exclusively" Utter rubbish. Get hold of a copy of the Penny Catechism and read what it says about the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. But that is precisely the problem: the laity have not been taught their religion. And our previous Bishop was notable for his failure to do so.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Try to bit more temperate

Tancred said...

Moubarak: frequent confession is still encouraged by truly Catholic clergy and their laity.