Saturday, May 03, 2008

Confessional Anecdote

True story, from Fr. Lorenzo Albacete of St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers and frequent contributor to Godspy:

The first time I heard confession was a couple of weeks after my ordination in 1973, at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington, D.C., where John F. Kennedy's requiem Mass was celebrated. The penitent was a tourist who had wandered in almost by accident. ''I was on my way to a McDonald's,'' he said, ''but I saw the church and remembered Kennedy's funeral -- then I noticed the little green light in the confessional, so I came in. I'm not really sure of what I want.''

''Well,'' I replied, ''I hope you don't want a Big Mac with French fries, because if so, you have made a great mistake.''

He chuckled, then said: ''Look, Father, it's been a long, long time. I'm going to tell you things you have never heard in confession before.''

''That's not too difficult,'' I said. ''This is my first confession. Anything you say will be a shock to me.'' He started to laugh, hard. Those in line fled to the other confession line. ...

HTs to Deacon Scott, who got it from Vitus Speaks, who noted it was originally in the NY Times.


Michel said...

I knew Fr. Albacete briefly back in 1972 when he was still a transitional deacon at a "Summer in Spain" organized by Catholics United for the Faith. He had a rapier wit then, no doubt fully retained. I admit to wondering at first if he was serious enough for the priesthood (I was young and not too bright), but that was dispelled quickly by the deep reverence he displayed in liturgical roles.
His joke about confession then was about hearing a priest loudly exclaim "Are you an ANIMAL! " from the confession box. A running joke was St Cascara Sagrada (Google it) and many miraculous cures attributed to her.

Rumor had it (I don't know if actually true) that he had a PhD already in physics and was something of a "rocket scientist". It was entirely believable, whatever the real truth. He possessed a wickedly sharp mind (if you'll pardon the expression).

He was a living example that what is held sacred and truly loved is often very funny. He was the first truly "Ironic Catholic" I knew.


Lirioroja said...

The rumor about Msgr. Albacete's PhD in physics is true. (Yes, he's a monsignor now.) He still has that rapier wit, although he no longer teaches at St. Joseph's Seminary. He still manages to scandalize some people (the way MikeL wondered whether or not he was serious enough for the priesthood). Truly an Ironic Catholic if ever there was one. Nowadays he's the spiritual advisor for the lay movement Communion and Liberation in the United States.