Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Face the Church

NY Mom said...
I always thought that one had to confess - and be absolved - in person.

I was going to address these issues, confession and absolution on my post on Sunday, but I might as well do it now. I would like to thank you for the question.

Just under the title of this weblog it says "confess and ask for forgiveness". I don’t say anything about absolution, because absolution in only given in person and preferably in Church. Although we make exceptions for the sick, the old and the dying.

On the sidebar I write that a priest’s presence, his physical presence is needed for absolution. I was going to write in-depth about this subject on Sunday, but my internet connection didn’t work.

Some of you might see this as a sign. That is not how I see it.

I remember my first day as a prison pastor in Los Angeles. I was driving to Los Angeles. It was a very warm day. I decided to stop at a gas station and get something to drink. When I came back, my car radio had been stolen.

I was on my way to help felons in prison and my car gets burglarized.

I just stood there in the sun for a long time, contemplating whether this was a sign from God. Maybe he had other plans for me.

After a while it dawned on me, maybe it wasn’t as much a sign from God, but more the work of the other guy, who was actively trying to keep me from doing God’s work amongst the inmates.

They are also God’s children. They wandered from the righteous path, but they are not lost. Not yet.

That is how I feel about those of you, who do not go to Church anymore. You might have your reasons. I know that a lot of you think you are grown ups and you don’t need a priest’s permission or the Church’s consent to live the life as you want to live it.

I know how most of you feel. The prison inmates I work with feel the same. They hate authority. That’s why I never approach them as a clergyman. I approach them as an equal. We talk man to man. I never ask them “why did you do, what you did?” That’s a passed station. The law of man has caught up with them and given them their due punishment.

My mission is to help them cope with the situation as it is. To help make their lives more bearable.

In the end I hope they will ask me about the Good Lord. Most of them do after they get to know me better. Most of them become practising Christians again. But that is not why I help them. I help them, because it’s the right thing to do.

Confessing your sins on this website on the Sunday post and asking for His forgiveness is not going to get you absolved. What it will do is bring you a bit closer to God. Confessing your sins and asking for forgiveness anonymously will bring you closer to the Church.

I have learned many things during my time as a prison pastor. The first time I meet a prisoner, I can see he has his back to the Church. What I’m trying to do with my work in prisons and with this website is to turn them and you around to face the Church.

I’m not even trying to make you walk up to the Church, open the door and go inside.

I just want you to face the Church again. The rest is up to you and Him.

What I do when I meet prisoners for the first time is talk about myself, my life at the monastery and my work as a prison pastor.

I will use this website to do the same. I hope when you get to know me, you will understand me and understand my goals and motives.

Feel free to ask questions or to talk about yourself. I want this to be a community of equals. Don’t hesitate, don’t be afraid. You can remain anonymous if you so desire.

God bless you

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Way is His Way

***
Father Downing,

I'm confused. Are you suggesting people seek you spiritual direction and confess their sins over the internet?!****
Commenter SeekeroftheWay


Seekeroftheway,

That is exactly what I’m trying to do. I want Christians who have stopped going to the Church to use this website to confess their sins and ask for forgiveness for their sins. Every Sunday, I will open a thread for those people who wish to participate.

I was planning on opening the first thread yesterday, but I had problems with my internet connection.

Too many people have lost their way. They don’t go to Church anymore. I believe that the only road to Salvation is through the Church. What I’m trying to do with this website is the same as what I’m trying to do in prison, save as many souls as I can and lead people back to God’s House.

That is my Mission in life. That is why the Good Lord put me on Earth.

God bless you.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Reaching out

After the many years I’ve spent as a pastor I’ve come to a revealing conclusion. You have not become less religious. No, I wouldn’t say that. You’ve become more individualistic. You have given up on going to Church. That’s why I set up this website. I hope to bring the Church into your home.

On this website I will talk about myself, about my life in the monastery, about my work as a pastor and about the Good Lord.

I hope my stories will relight the spiritual fire, which I know you still have in you.

I will not judge you. I will not belittle you. I will not admonish you. I will not threaten you with hellfire.

I will listen to you. I will guide you. I will pray with you. I will pray for you.

Don’t be afraid to reach out. I will be here for you.