I link THIS STORY (Reuters) - about the removal of Christmas trees due to the risk of fire - only because it reminded me of an incident that took place when I was a newly minted Catholic and Parish Council member.
During one council meeting I noted that some parishioners had asked me to ask if we couldn't have some votive candles in the church. The priest made some remarks about the fire hazard, and said he wasn't sure about insurance and liability, and stuff. He suggested electric candles. The meeting moved on, as I silently resolved not to press the issue lest we actually wind up with prayer candles that turned on and off and reminded me of a tacky chandelier at my aunt's house.
Father then read a letter from our Bishop, directing all parishes to begin working toward perpetual Eucharistic Adoration as soon as possible.
If there is a word the opposite of "enthusiasm", it was written all over our priest's face. Once again, he noted all the problems that would have to be overcome... security, scheduling... well, that was about it, but the upshot was that it was going to be a pain in the tush and the Bishop's letter was going to be ignored. That was it.
I must have made some sort of grunt of perplexitude, because I remember Father explaining to me again what a gigantic logistical headache perpetual Adoration would be, and ending with the clincher that "This parish is just not that devotionally-minded".
Had I been older, and a more grizzled and seasoned Catholic, I might have asked the question that popped into my head, "...and you are okay with that? As the spiritual father of the parish, the complete lack of interest in classic Catholic devotions doesn't bother you just a teensy bit?". I guess I didn't ask because I knew the answer.
This also got me to thinking about another question that has bothered me from time to time, about why we don't hear from the ambo more encouragement for Catholics to make use of the sacrament of Confession. It seems like it is always scheduled at dawn-thirty on Saturday mornings, and I can count on one hand the number of times I have heard even the mildest endorsement of it in a homily. Forgive me if I have entertained the idea that some priests might not push Confession because they really don't want to make more work for themselves.
It must be a dreary job, in a sense, listening to the same old sins week in and week out, and some that must grieve any sensible person. There is no one else in the parish who can do it. My Dad was a cop for a number of years, and I think the constant exposure to the underbelly of the human family took its toll on him over the years, though he never talked about it. Cops are basically the guys who follow after the parade with a shovel.
I would like to have some input from priests or others who might be able to answer the question. Are some priests, perhaps, partly motivated to keep mum on the dearth of confessing Catholics by a desire not to further clutter their already busy schedules? Just asking.