Visiting priest says idea of a healing Redeemer doesn’t make sense without "forgotten" doctrine of original sin.
By Anthony Barich
The doctrine of Original Sin is the most forgotten of the Catholic faith, a visiting Father of Mercy from the United States told the first parish mission to be held at Holy Spirit parish in City Beach for 25 years.
It is a confronting but still-beneficial message that is “rarely spoken from the pulpit”, a local mother in the parish said after one of the sermons during the parish mission.
Archbishop Barry Hickey launched the City Beach parish mission with a Mass on April 25.
The mission went over five nights, with the theme “What would Jesus do?” Father of Mercy Tony Stephens, 33, challenged parishioners to think about the original source of sin in the world, quoting Pope Benedict XVI, who stated that “the doctrine of Original Sin is the most forgotten doctrine of our Faith”.
“People forget that everyone one of us is in need of a Redeemer, because all of us are affected by the effects of Original Sin: concupiscence, ignorance, pain and suffering are all effects of Adam and Eve‚ fall from grace,” Fr Stephens said during the parish mission, in which he preached, offered confessions and led the faithful in Eucharistic Adoration.
“However, too many people do not acknowledge that they need the healing grace that Christ won for us on the Cross. Instead of seeking God to find true happiness, too many people will use worldly goods to satisfy those eternal longings that can be satisfied by God alone, and they are never really happy. We all have a God-shaped hole in our heart that only He can fill, but we have to allow him to fill it.”
Each night he preached on a specific teaching of Christ, like God’s mercy, which included an examination of the Ten Commandments.
God gave us the commandments because He loves us,” Fr Stephens said. “He knows that we are weak, and that we need some guidelines to follow in life,” Fr Stephens said.
“Following them diligently is one way of returning love to God.”
“Some parishioners were surprised by some of the subject matter covered in the mission, particularly in this talk.”
One mother in the parish said: “This talk was confronting, and it made me think more deeply about my faith. These particular Church teachings are rarely spoken from the pulpit.”
Each night began with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, followed by the mission talk, which lasted roughly an hour each night. Benediction followed each talk, and after Benediction, Fr Stephens heard confessions.
Fr Stephens said the concept of parish missions is crucial in helping Catholics think more deeply about their lives, and said its success is not measured on the number of people attending but the one soul that is more deeply searched as a result of hearing the message.
Preaching the mission talks is important to making people think about their lives, he said, but “the real fruit of any parish mission is seen behind the closed door of the confessional”.
“Even if only one soul comes back to a more serious practice of their faith, it has been a success,” he said after one of the Masses.
Fr Stephens will preach four more parish missions in the Archdiocese of Perth over the next four weeks: St Bernadette‚ in Glendalough (May 2-7), Visitation Parish in Bullsbrook (May 9-14), St Joseph’s in Bassendean (May 16-21), and Good Shepherd in Lockridge (May 23-28).
Bassendean parish priest Father Jim Shelton told The Record that a parish mission is for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
“It is a special time for people to discover ways of learning to live life in abundance and an opportunity to receive clarity for personal matters that are unclear regarding the many facets of life’s journey,” Fr Shelton said.
“A mission is of course a special event for Catholics, but also for those who are not Catholic.
“A mission is an opportunity for all who are unclear about what Catholics believe with a dynamic speaker presenting the key aspects of faith that are seen applied to life issues.”
The Fathers of Mercy were founded in 1808 in France shortly after the French Revolution during a time of persecution of the Church.
In 1905 they were driven out of France by the anti-clericalist Third Republic.
It is now an exclusively American community based in South Union, Kentucky, whose primary apostolate is to “re-evangelise and revitalise the faith of those who hear”.
For more information about the Fathers of Mercy, go to their website at www.fathersofmercy.com