How the Vatican Investigated a Modern Miracle at a Leprosy Settlement in Hawaii

I'm not going to include the article here 'cause I want y'all to visit the Atlas Obscura website. It's majorly awesome. And this particular article, written at a secular site, was so fair and decent, had ZERO snark, I was so pleased I had to write to thank the author. I sent him a few tiny clarifications, which I'll include below for newbies reading over our shoulder.  The article is here:

The clarifications I sent, along with my thanks:

You stressed Fr. Damien's desire to go to Confession, with a sort of intimation that he must've had something really big on his conscience. But serious Catholics -- especially priests and religious -- go to Confession very often (once a week is standard operating procedure), and it's one of the six precepts of the Church that a Catholic must go to Confession at least once a year, most especially during Lent. It's also Church teaching that Confession for any mortal sin be made as soon as possible after the sin is committed, but also that venial sins be confessed. In addition, lots of folks suffer from "scruples," the feeling that things should be confessed that don't really need to be confessed at all, that they're not "really" absolved, that they're not worthy of mercy, and all that. Your concluding paragraph leads me to believe that Father might have had a nasty case of that spiritual/psychological disease. Alas. In other words, his deep desire to go to Confession likely had nothing to do with any deep, dark secret or anything; he was just "being Catholic," undoubtedly.

You also wrote, "According to Catholic theology, to die without confessing a mortal sin may jeopardize one’s chances of heaven."  I'm glad you wrote "may" there, but just to clarify, in case you're not hip to this info, Church teaching is that if no priest is available, an "act of perfect contrition" will do the trick. The Church has "work-arounds" for many of Her Sacraments in that way -- e.g., the normal means of Baptism -- by a priest, using water and the proper form, etc. -- is the goal and is expected whenever possible, but if it's impossible for some reason, "Baptism of desire" will work. Or, for ex., if no priest is available to offer the Mass, making reception of the Eucharist impossible, "Spiritual Communion" may be made. In other words, the Church sets out the normative, expected way of doing things, but has "outs" for situations in which those normal means are impossible.

One more tiny detail concerns your having written "Strictly defined, a relic would either be a fragment of a saint’s remains or belongings, or something that had been in direct contact with them."  This isn't quite accurate. The sort of relic referred to in your article is a true relic, but is "only" a "Third Class Relic." Relics are categorized like this:

    1st Class Relic: a part of the Saint (bone, hair, etc.) and the instruments of Christ's passion

    2nd Class Relic:  something owned by the Saint or instruments of torture used against a martyr

    3rd Class Relic: something that has been touched to a 1st or 2nd Class Relic. You can make your own 3rd Class relics by touching an object to a 1st or 2nd Class Relic, including the tomb of a Saint.


Messages In This Thread
How the Vatican Investigated a Modern Miracle at a Leprosy Settlement in Hawaii - by VoxClamantis - 09-24-2015, 01:56 PM

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)