Friday, 23 April 2010

Third Post of Friday: The Bishops and Public Penance

The Bishops of England and Wales have urged all Catholics to set aside the four Fridays in May 2010 as special days of prayer (See Fr Blake’s blog, here). In particular, the bishops say:

We invite Catholics on these days to come before the Blessed Sacrament in our parishes to pray to God for healing, forgiveness and a renewed dedication.

It would certainly be a good thing to undertake prayers of reparation for the sins of others. Since, however, it was hardly ever the case that these horrific acts of abuse against children and adolescents were perpetrated by members of the laity, I am concerned that the bishops have not mentioned themselves in connection with this proposal. They must surely be seen to be joining in.

I’d very much like to know how they, together with other senior figures in the clergy and in religious congregations and orders – both current and retired - intend to take part in these days of repentant prayer.

An excellent suggestion was made recently on Beliefnet, which I read via Fr Zuhlsdorf’s blog. A deacon from Alaska has written very well on the subject, making, in particular, the following challenging but warm-hearted proposal:

So here is my question for you. What if our bishops chose to do public penance? What if they lay prostrate or knelt in front of their cathedrals as penitents before each Mass on the weekend closest to the feast of St.Peter and Paul or on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus or some other appropriate day or days? Or, even better, on the first Friday of every month for the next year starting with the feast of the Sacred Heart or Sts.Peter and Paul? And what if we, as their deacons, as an order in the Church, in all humility, not only called on our bishops to do public penance, but offered to join them in it?
What a wonderful suggestion.


Ttony said...

It sounds to me as though you are on the same "faith journey" as I am: do our Bishops, either individually or collectively, believe in the same things as we do?.

Dorothy said...

Exactly, Ttony. The Holy Father's words, on any and every subject, seem to roll off them as though they were coated with wax. The situation seems to be both prosaic - as if they had only popped over to Rome for a mini-break, and were now back to business as usual - and horribly serious. I sometimes think how good it would be if we had the option of our own Ordinariate.