PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
from a concerned citizen and brother in Christ
Aug. 12, 2024
I first noticed the shortage when I went to my neighborhood parish for confession, and finding none of the priests available. So I went to the next closest parish: nobody there too. And the next. And the next. That’s when I realized that the heinous acts I’d read in the news, were not the whole story, barely a fraction of it even. Someone was out for blood.
It will be yet some time before the dearth is eased, as a newer batch responds to the calling. It is my hope that eventually, the number of priests will suffice each barangay in a couple of years’ time. Cherishing the priesthood ever more, more young men, and perhaps a few widowers here and there, will see the beauty of possible martyrdom, in service of the Lord.
But for now, we’re down to 10, no, nine Catholic priests, for our intervillage community totaling over 250,000. I am assured that reinforcements are coming, but timeframes are still indefinite. It is also unfortunate that cyberconfessions have not been decided on yet by the Pope, even as we enter this fifth year of what was once dubbed ‘the new normal.’
It has never been more difficult, yet never has it been more necessary, to have priests to whom we could ask for penance. What a quandary the Lord places us in, as though He himself is denying us His salvation. Is this His punishment for our sins? Or have we heaped this upon ourselves, in the pursuit of pleasure contrary to His word and to distancing protocols? Is there any difference, knowing how God weaves His will through creation?
Interlude: The mind of a casual sinner
I’ve got this sin-forgiveness thing figured out, allowing for long periods of dabbling in sin as part of the management of my life, where I could strategically tell the Lord later on that I’m sorry and I want to follow Him after all. I accept the logic of avoiding corrupt sin, but the key is to do little enough to still be repentant about it. If I’m still repentant, then I can’t be that bad, right? Unless I get killed or debilitated prior to a last confession.
No wonder the clergy, these supposed paragons of virtue, could turn so rotten. That one could get so habituated to words of prayer and the lingo of the Gospel, that they no longer have to actually act morally, and no one will know the difference! Well, except God, but by then, He’s no longer an issue.
And so my plea to you my brothers and sisters, is to stop your sinful ways! You don’t know if you’ll make it to a priest on time, and you don’t want to die with a mortal sin unconfessed.
Well, what about the tinier sins, the little peeks? Knowing they’re merely venial, remedied through purgatory, shall we then be more inclined to do them? By no means! Think about it. That would make a mockery of the Sacrament. Systematizing your sinning so as to get the best chance for forgiveness prior to death, He knows what you’re up to! It won’t be long before your complacency will become a sin against the Holy Spirit, if it isn’t so already.
Sin no more. How trite this may have sounded once. The scary thing is, this is what the killer Nini Gurado himself attempted to realize: a repentant people, masses who are saved if only they are confident in God’s love and forgiveness. The greater the temptation to stray, the more violently we must yet fling ourselves at the Lord. You may feel that you’re going about your struggles all alone, without Christ to call, but know that this feeling of aloneness is precisely the temptation. He is there with you.
Yet Gurado himself wasn’t true to his vision. He committed his evil. He had hoped that by relocating next to a confessor right across the street from him, he’d be able to make a final reconciliation when the time came, no problem. How was he to know that Father Maximo, hard of sight and hearing, would never notice the speeding truck as he walked over to Gurado’s doorstep? And so our serial killer remains unabsolved.
Now that he’s been arrested, we are put in a dilemma. Should we give him what he seeks, this absolution from massacres? Should we yet let him get that last confession, prior to his execution? I think not. Not when a confessor’s scarce ears are better put to use elsewhere.
May God have mercy on us all.