Monday, February 23, 2009

"God is not happy with us"

Holy Cross Church in Charlotte is fortunate to have the services of Father Frederick Eisemann. Officially designated as "Assisting Senior Priest," Father Eisemann is a retired cleric who offers his services to the parish every weekend. I'm not sure exactly how old he is but, considering that he celebrated the 55th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood last year, 80 or so would seem to be the minimum estimate.

Yesterday Father Eisemann celebrated the 10:00 am Mass and also gave the homily. His topic was sin.

Yes, sin! A priest in the Diocese of Rochester actually gave a homily on sin!

Father Eisemann did not get into particular sins, such as sexual relations outside of marriage or divorced Catholics remarrying without first obtaining an annulment. To do that would have been to risk for an invitation to Buffalo Rd. for a counseling session on his need to be a more "pastoral" priest. (See here, here, and especially here for more on this.)

Father's approach was more generic. He began by observing that, given outward appearances, one might think that sin was on the decline. When he was much younger he said that it was common for each priest in a parish to spend 4 hours every Saturday hearing confessions. Today only one priest hears confessions and it's a busy afternoon if he has half a dozen penitents.

Sin, however, is not on the decline, according to Father. To verify this all we need do is to look around, to look at our world, our nation, our state, our city, our own street.

More importantly, we need to take a hard look at ourselves. While Father didn't specifically mention 1 John 1:8 (If we say, "We are without sin," we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us), he did tell the story of a man who showed up at confession after a long absence, only to tell the priest that he hadn't committed any sins. "He committed one right there," said Father, and several muffled laughs among the congregation showed that he had gotten his point across.

"God is not happy with us," when we do not acknowledge our sins and seek his forgiveness, said Father. He is infinitely merciful, but we have to ask for that mercy. He is also often very patient with us, but that patience is not infinite.

Father concluded by reminding everyone that Lent begins on Wednesday and it would be a perfect time to take a good look at ourselves and to get to confession.

Yesterday evening I was talking with a neighbor and fellow parishioner who was also at the 10:00 am Mass. He thought Father's homily was "pretty strong" and something he certainly wasn't used to hearing.

Actually, it's something we need to hear much more of, not just at Holy Cross, but all over the diocese.


ben said...

Something must be in the water here in the DOR. About 3 weeks ago my priest (in the eastern part of the DOR) gave a homely about hell, heaven and repentance...I mean he spent about 5 minutes talking about hell and no watering things down I was amazed!! and then the next week one of our deacons preached on the existance of evil of deamons how they are real ect.!!
Yes we need to hear more of this, and I'm sure many thought it was 'pretty strong' but its time to stop watering things down.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it is a sign. Maybe the Holy Spirit has heard our pleas. Or maybe it is a sign of the waning of the power of the "Spirit of Vatican II." I don't know, but I like the trend!

Mike said...

Ben & CPT Tom,

I've just returned home from my Monday evening gig as a religious ed catechist.

Many of the adults in the building tonight had heard Father Eisemann's homily over the weekend.

I'm happy to report that I heard several positive comments and not a single negative one.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
sunny said...

I thought it was a good homily too. I was pleasantly surprised that he very forcefully stated that abortion is murder. When was the last time that was stressed from the pulpit?

Rich Leonardi said...

Great news, Mike. Let's hope it is indeed a lasting trend. The people of Rochester are always in our prayers.

Mike said...


Yes, I should have mentioned Father's strong comments about abortion.

Unfortunately, that's one of the few sins a priest in this diocese can preach on and not risk being called on the Buffalo Rd. carpet.

Homilies on any of the sins/topics cited by Kit in the 2nd and 3rd links, however, frequently result in "counseling." That's why we hear them seldom, if ever.

LarryD said...

Holy Cross is where my grandparents (God rst their souls) used to attend, and Fr Wheeland (is he still the pastor there?)was an associate priest at Sacred Heart when I was a student there back in the 70's. He was the altar boy trainer at the time.

Mike said...


Yes, Fr. Tom Wheeland is still the pastor. Last Sunday a long-time parishioner told me that he was 69, which means that he can stay on in that job another 6 years, or about 2,200 days. Fortunately, Bishop Clark turns 75 in another 1,234 days and must submit his resignation.