Confession is the Soul’s Bath; St. Padre Pio

Bl. Fernando Olmeda Reguera                                                                              aleteia.org

By Larry Peterson

Defender of the Seal of Confession; Father Fernando Olmedo Reguera

On July 1, 2019, The Vatican issued the Note of the Apostolic Penitentiary  (a tribunal in the Roman Curia that deals with mercy and forgiveness) about the inviolability of the Sacramental Seal aka the Seal of Confession.

A Sacrament is of God—not man. “the sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore, it is a crime for a confessor in any way to betray a penitent by word or in any other manner or for any reason.”  CCC 2490

No human power has jurisdiction over the Seal of the Confessional

Fernando Olmeda Reguera was born in Santiago de Compostela (which is in the northwestern part of Spain) on January 10, 1873. Following his religious calling, he joined the Capuchin Order of Friars Minor and was ordained to the priesthood on July 31, 1904.

When the Spanish Civil War began on July 17, 1936, Father Reguera was serving as the provincial secretary for the Capuchin Order. As were many priests and religious, he was forced to go into hiding. He moved among different friends’ homes and tried his best to stay “under the radar.” He also carried on his priestly ministry as discreetly as possible. However, he was seen and apprehended during the first week of August 1936, when the Civil War was three weeks old.

The soldiers took Father Reguera to an old fortress outside of Madrid. The jails cells at the fort were filled with Catholic religious and laypersons alike. Father Reguera’s initial admission to the jail included a severe beating from the soldiers. It would not be his first.

Father Reguera was permitted to hear the cofessions of the condemned

Father was permitted to hear the confessions of the other prisoners, especially the ones who were about to be executed. He gladly heard the confessions. Ironically, since he was 63 years old,  many of the others imprisoned with him were much younger. So, besides being a priest, he presented a paternal quality that proved to be of extra comfort to the doomed prisoners. It may have been a small blessing, but it was still a blessing.

The Commandant demanded that Father Reguera reveal  what he had been told. He refused

Father Reguera quickly discovered that his captors wanted much more from him. He was brought into the commandant’s office and told he would have to write down all that he had heard in the confessional. The commandant told him his only other option was death. He adamantly refused and was severely beaten again. They gave him some time and asked him again to cooperate. He refused, and they beat him —again.

He was beaten and sentenced to death

They finally realized that Father Fernando Olmeda Reguera would never break his vow to protect the Seal of Confession and was of no  more use to them. A makeshift populist tribunal condemned father to death. His crime—”not revealing the secrets other prisoners had told him in confession.” He was taken outside the fort and executed by firing squad. The date was August 12, 1936.

Pope Francis beatified Father Fernando in Tarragona on October 13, 2013  His remains are entombed in the Basilica of Jesus of  Medinaceli in Madrid.

Blessed Fernando Olmeda Reguera, please pray for us.

 

These are the words of Pope Francis as quoted in the Apostolic Penitentiary:

“Reconciliation itself is a good that the wisdom of the Church has always safeguarded with all its moral and juridical strength with the sacramental seal. It, although not always understood by the modern mentality, is indispensable for the sanctity of the sacrament and for the penitent’s freedom of conscience; which must be certain, at any time, that the sacramental conversation will remain in the secret of confession, between one’s own conscience that opens to the grace of God, and the necessary mediation of the priest. The sacramental seal is indispensable and no human power has jurisdiction, nor can it claim it, on it.”

From St. Padre Pio:

“Confession is the soul’s bath. You must go at least once a week. I do not want souls to stay away from confession more than a week. Even a clean and unoccupied room gathers dust; return after a week and you will see that it needs dusting again!”

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2022 Originally posted with ©2019

 

 


I Watched in Awe as the Priest Stepped into the Sandals of Christ

By Larry Peterson

What follows is about a priest in a crowd, a famous poem, and a moment in time. The moment was like seeing a tiny flower growing out of a crack in a concrete sidewalk. That tiny flower is another example of God’s creative beauty that surrounds us yet is barely noticed by anyone. The fate of that tiny flower is ominous. Even though no person anywhere at any time could ever create that fragile, work of living beauty, it more than likely will be ignored, stepped upon or sprayed with weed killer to get rid of it. Ah well, we “smarties” have no time for such trivialities and petty annoyances.

 

The poem I refer to is, “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer. Written in 1913, it has a timely message. There is a line in the poem that reads, “A tree that looks at God all day, And lifts her leafy arms to pray: the tiny flower in the concrete is a smaller version, is it not? So what about the priest in the crowd?

 

I was at a parish event the other evening which featured as speakers our Bishop, an author, a radio station personality, and our pastor. The Knights of Columbus (which included me) were the ones who prepared and served the free dinner to over 300 guests. The parish center was packed and when the final speaker had finished we began to serve the dessert.  I sensed something special was going on nearby. I do not know if anyone else but me was paying attention but I was about to witness one of those special moments in time.

 

There were a number of local parish priests in attendance and one of them was the chaplain at the local VA hospital. I was working in the kitchen assisting getting the cake plates on trays and handing the trays to those serving the guests. Outside the kitchen and to my left against the wall was the drink table where coffee, tea, cold drinks etc were available. At any given time there were at least ten people standing in line. Five feet away from the drink table was the first row of dinner tables. Father was sitting at the end of the first table talking to a woman.

 

At this point, the chatter was quite loud and people were up and moving about visiting other tables saying “HI” to other folks they knew. I noticed Father looking at the young lady very intently and purposefully. I knew this priest had put his Jesus’ sandals on.

 

I kept working and watching the two of them. They were at least twenty feet away from me and, with all the activity and noise and people milling about and all around them, they had managed to be alone. The priest listened and listened and listened some more.  I watched as best I could because this was so awe-inspiring. I was witnessing Christ do His thing through His priest. This happens every time we attend Mass but how many of us think about what actually IS happening? We hear of this happening in other places but how often do we get to watch it happen? Hardly ever.

 

After a while, Father leaned his head to the right a bit and rested his chin on his upraised fist. He was not looking directly at the woman he was now sort of looking downward. He inconspicuously blessed her and, I assume, she was being given absolution. I was not positive because  I had heard nothing and never even saw her face. But it did not matter. Whatever was happening between them was spiritual and beautiful.

 

Like the tiny flower popping its little lavender petal through a crack in concrete or Kilmer’s magnificent tree looking at God all day lifting its “leafy arms to pray” this moment was those moments. Few people notice the stunning Oak tree standing majestically alongside a roadway or a blade of grass pushing its way through a hairline crack in a slab of cement. Sadly, more and more people are losing sight of Christ in our midst and the hand of the Creator smiling down on His creations. I was blessed. I caught a glimpse the other night.

 

Joyce Kilmer’s poem finishes up with the poignant words: “Poems are made by fools like me, But only God can make a tree.”  We need to remember that.

Artwork from SimpleMassingPriest.com