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February 2016 Letters

Q. I am a priest who is worn out by a parishioner with scrupulosity. I’m at my wits’ end and no longer know how to respond. Any advice?

A. Many of St. Alphonsus’ confessors in Naples were exhausted, too, so you’re not alone. But it’s not your parishioner who is wearing you out—it’s the unrelenting and untiring ritual of your parishioner’s disease.

Set appropriate boundaries for your time and effort and expect your parishioner to abide by them. If your parishioner is unwilling to respect your boundaries, you can in good conscience ask him or her to find another confessor and/or spiritual director. To be effective, good pastoral ministry requires mutually agreed-upon boundaries.

Q. What exactly did Pope Francis mean when he declared that the reception of Holy Communion was “not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak”?

A. Pope Francis wrote that passage in his November 24, 2013, apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (On the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World). Our Holy Father is stressing that we should ask the Lord for his grace when we are in need and when we are still struggling and that we shouldn’t wait until we have it all figured out. These words are most appropriate for people with scrupulosity who believe they are unworthy to receive the Eucharist unless they have an absolute sense of perfection.

Published in2016 FebruarySA Mailbox