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.
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.