19 April 2011

'Get Clean' - a one-minute video on Confession

I found the video Get Clean on the blog of Fr Ray Blake of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, England. He comments, 'I like this video. It understands Confession isn't about counselling, the wisdom of the priest, just about the sacramental meeting with God himself.'

The video shows a young woman accepting responsibility for her own sins and asking God's forgiveness in the sacrament of confession.

In many places confessin has fallen into disuse but where priests make themselves available, people go to confession. Three Columban priests in Cagayan de Oro, northern Mindanao, Fr Frank Chapman from Australia, Fr Jim Moynihan from New Zealand and Fr John Meaney from Ireland, spent hours each day in their latter years, in the confessional in St Augustine's Cathedral. People of all ages came even from distant places because they had heard about it.

When Fr Moynihan, a man without guile who had served in the Royal New Zealand Air Force during the War, died in 1992 someone went to file a telegram of sympathy to send to the Columbans. (In those days telegrams were still a vital form of communication here). The clerk, a long-haired young man, asked 'Is that the priest who was always hearing confessions at the Cathedral?' When told it was, as soon as he had completed the transaction he left the office and sped on his motorcycle to pay his respects.

Fr Chapman was 90 when he died in 2004. He was the last of the pre-World War II Columbans in the Phiippines, one of the pioneers in Mindanao in 1938 and superior of the new mission in Negros in 1950, was in the confession almost daily until a month before his death.

Fr John Meaney spent 58 years in the Philippines and when he died in 2006 at the age of 86 he was the oldest Columban in the country. He was a man with a feeling, Christly heart but, as I know from experience, could also be challenging in the confessional.

The three are buried together in Cagayan de Oro.

Another Columban from New Zealand, Fr Francis Vernon Douglas (in photo) is probably a martyr to the seal of the confessional. He died, probably on 27 July 1943, after having been scourged by Japanese soldiers when they tied him to a pillar in a church that he was visiting. After a few days of this they took him away. It is believed that he had been called to hear confessions in the hills. Father Franks' body was never found.

May all of us use this beautiful sacrament to receive God's unconditional forgivess, won for us on Calvary.

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