In the 1950’s to the end of the 60’s, the Catholic Church in Malta was a hounding Church. By this I mean that sin was considered to be the devil’s overall invitation and doing, and had nothing to do with man’s weakness in daily life. Sex and all that related to it; hell and the devil were all given much more importance than anything else then.
During my mind’s formation as a child and teenager, from what I had been taught in schools and preached by the church, only those pure in heart could receive the Holy Eucharist. So, the individual had only one choice, that is, to go to confession frequently (at least once a week) and receive the Holy Eucharist immediately afterwards.
That was then, nowadays things have changed but not completely. In today’s teachings, we hear more of Christ’s love, forgiveness and mercy toward mankind unlike the 50’s and 60’s. And, our present Pope, Francesco is repeatedly preaching this belief.
A few years ago, during one Sunday homily, one parish priest had the courage to preach that we don’t need to confess and receive the Holy Eucharist only immediately after confession. He made it extremely clear that because of our weak nature, mankind is very much bound to sin soon after we leave the Church on a Sunday.
He further explained that we are bound to be hunted by sin until we die. Receiving the Holy Eucharist during Mass, he had said, would bring us closer to Christ, God and the Holy Spirit which would in turn prevent us all from sinning. This is because we would be sharing in God’s holy meal which was, and is, Christ’s holy sacrifice, for all of us, on the cross.
This sacrifice by Christ for having been crucified and died on the cross for us, he continued, is what saves us all continuously from sin. The sinner dining with Christ is the best thing that one could do. Christ loved dining with the sinner to invite him/her to change one’s ways. He concluded the Sunday homily by saying that confessing regularly, once a month, is important. This is to maintain our closeness and our unity with the Triune God.
This type of homily would definitely change the people in all the communities and the declining church attendance. It is amazing what simple and practical messages of love, forgiveness and mercy could do.