Letter from Msgr. Schaedel for bulletin of April 1, 2001

Dear Parishioners,

Well, here we are in the fifth week of Lent.  Next week is Holy Week.  The schedule of Holy Week Services is listed elsewhere in this bulletin.  It seems as if Ash Wednesday was yesterday!  April is here.  Where does time go?

To my way of thinking, Lent at Holy Rosary has been going very, very well.  Attendance at our weekday Masses and the Friday Way of the Cross has been very good.  Your generosity to the weekly second collections for various good causes has been outstanding—as usual.  We had a good number of people, including Holy Rosary parishioners, at the Lenten Penance Service last Sunday at Sacred Heart.

And the attendance and participation in our Wednesday evening adult education series, Spaghetti and Spirituality has been outstanding.  I had hoped for about a dozen folks to participate.  For the past two weeks we have had about 45 people there.  It proves a point—people are hungering to know more about our wonderful Catholic Faith.

Friday evening I had the wonderful privilege of celebrating the 50th Wedding Anniversary Mass for Henry and Santa Bayt.  What a wonderful witness of fidelity and Catholic Faith!  Hank and Santa are faith-filled and faithful members of Holy Rosary Parish.  You and your family are a gift to us all.  Thank you!  (Son Mike is our faithful usher and “my bodyguard” at the 12:15 p.m. Mass every Sunday too!  Thank you, Michael.)

As you know, I’ve often said that an essential part of our preparation for Easter is the Sacrament of Penance.  I encourage everyone—not just the “big time sinners—to receive this wonderful sacrament during Lent.

This brings me to another topic.  The Indianapolis Star ran an article about the Sacrament of Penance in the Saturday, March 17, issue.  Many people, who were upset by the article, have contacted me either here at the parish or at the chancery office.  One lady, Mrs. Debra Wright, wrote an excellent letter of response, which was printed later that week.  You go, girl!  I’m going to comment on this article here:

The title of the March 17th article in The Indianapolis Star was “Few Confessions:  The age-old practice of recalling one’s sins in front of a priest is waning.”  No it isn’t.  That has not been my experience in recent years.  In fact, it’s just the opposite.

The article begins by stating that not as many people go to confession today as they did “a century ago.”  It may surprise you, but I wasn’t around in 1901, but I suppose that might be true.  And, yes, the statistics no doubt would show that fewer people approach this sacrament as compared to thirty or forty years ago.  But my own experience tells me that more people are beginning to “come back” to confession.  In other words, the downward trend is reversing itself.

I noted this in parishes where I served previously.  The last two parishes where I was assigned (Saint Monica and Saint Malachy) were becoming “mega-parishes.”  We had all kinds of new families moving in each month.  Lots of young families and singles.  In one parish, we had to expand the time allotted for confession each weekend.  Penance Services during Lent or Advent are well attended in places where I assist in hearing confessions.  Our Catholic school children are no longer brought to confession in “forced marches.”  It’s optional.  But they come—in droves.  Three of us heard confessions at Central Catholic a week ago.  We thought they would never stop coming.  What a nice problem to have!

I admit that the numbers “ain’t what they used to be,” but I also think we are getting back on track.  Why did this happen?  I think there are several reasons.  Society and general (and yes, even the Church, sad to say) has downplayed the reality of guilt and sin in our lives.  Years ago the non-Catholic, Dr. Menninger of the famous Menninger Clinic, wrote a book called Whatever Happened to Sin?  In short, he said that we rationalize most things away these days.  Nothing is a sin anymore.  It’s always somebody else’s fault.  Comedian Flip Wilson had the same line, “The devil made me do it.”  No sin—no need for confession.

People often talk about or joke about “Catholic guilt.”  They claim to have been victims of a time when their Catholic upbringing made them feel overly guilty over just about everything.  I don’t know whether I was lucky in parents—or teachers—or parish priests—or all three—but I never felt that way.  Guilty, yes.  Appropriately guilty, yes.  What kid is perfect?  But never to this state of paranoia some people describe.  I cannot speak for them.  But it was not in my experience as a child or teenager growing up Catholic.

Enough of this for now.  I could go on for the length of this entire bulletin, but we have other things to publish.  I’ll write more about the Star article in weeks to come.  Suffice it to say, I don’t resonate with much of it at all.

Faithfully in God’s Providence,

Msgr. Schaedel