Help needed w/ Pentecost Gospel (new age priest)

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The Gospel reading concludes: “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’”

Can someone more knowledgeable than I explain how here Jesus was establishing for the church the sacrament of Penance, or any other doctrinal points? A very enthusiastic and sincere, but rather new-age visiting priest at our parish twisted this all around to a pop-psychology thing about how we need to forgive everyone so we can feel good, how we only “bind ourselves” with bitterness if we hold grudges, etc.

While what he said is valid from a personal viewpoint, and a truly helpful idea popularized by writers like Frederic Luskin, Gerald Jampolsky and others, is it an incorrect doctrinal interpretation of those words of Christ? It seemed like a nice point for group therapy or a private discussion group, but in the Homily?

It’s OK for a priest to talk about the psychology of forgiveness, but he has an obligation to make it very clear he is not preaching the Gospel at that point, but talking about something entirely different for use in our own emotional lives, not necessary for spirituality or salvation. Personal growth, emotional health, forgiving others, is all part of being a better person – good ideas, but not germane to the gospel message. It seems to me this priest sadly missed an opportunity to explain to people the opportunity for Grace to be received from Penance.

Am I too picky or do others agree? Comments, and particularly references that I can quote to this priest, are appreciated. He is a young, gung-ho guy who obviously wants to help people, but those types so often are tempted to water down Catholicism to palatable popular mush, instead of emphasizing the unique Truth of our Catholic faith, which is really what people are longing to hear. Thanks.
The passage you quoted is one the Church has stated is to be taken at face value. Christ was speaking to his Apostles, the original Bishops. He meant what he said about the sins they forgave on Earth would be forgiven in Heaven. Through their successors this power continues today as the sacrament of Reconciliation. Priests, who share and assist the Bishops in their work, are also given the authority to administor this sacrament.

I dislike hearing these stories about the Religious taking it upon themselves to reinterpret dogmas in ways that seem to run completely counter to the Church’s official position. I was recently privy to a situation where a priest told a group of 8th graders preparing for Confirmation that it was not necessary to believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary. He explained to them that his reading of the scriptures had convinced him that Mary did in fact have other children! When our Religious say and teach things like this its not surprising that the laity can sometimes become confused about what the Church’s dogmas are on matters of faith and morals.
Charles, thank you for your clear answer, I appreciate it.

Regarding the priest and his lesson to the Confirmation students, that is shocking and inexcusable. If I were a parent of one of the students, I would write a polite letter of compliant/concern to the bishop of the diocese, and perhaps ask other parents to join me. These abuses won’t be stopped until we laity “take back” our church from people who think faith is just some matter of personal feeling or interpretation.

Also, and please don’t feel you need to answer because this is an open forum, but I notice you’re in Kalamazoo? Do you go to St. Monica’s?

I don’t think you are being fussy at all. This is a perfect example of bad homiletics.

To me, the best type of homily is catechetical in nature, relates the lesson to current situations, and includes an exhortation or invitation to holiness.

I’ve heard some good homilies in our diocese. A certain priest that influenced me greatly growing up gave excellent homilies. I’m sorry to say that at our current parish, the homilies fulfill none of the criteria listed above.

But hey, I’m there to receive the body and blood of our Lord, and to hear the word of God proclaimed. I usually can’t listen to the homily anyway as my son gets squirmy.

In Christ,

Also, and please don’t feel you need to answer because this is an open forum, but I notice you’re in Kalamazoo? Do you go to St. Monica’s?
The incident I referred to in my earlier post did not occur at St. Monica, however, I do as a matter of fact attend there! It’s not the Parish closest to our home but it is a wonderful place and well worth the drive. Have you been there recently? We now have four priests in residence and a man who just entered the deaconate on his way to becoming a priest. Our Pastor is absolutely wonderful, in my opinion. He added an adoration chapel (without removing the tabernacle from the Church like some places have done, but installing a separate Monstrance) and we started 24 hour adoration there a year ago.

Oops, I’m getting off topic! E-Mail if you want to hear more!
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