IN response to John M. Callaghan (CL 29/4/01), I agree with him that people in country areas of states such as Queensland and Western Australia have always had less opportunity to participate in regular Mass and other sacraments and liturgies than city and urban Catholics.
The second rite of reconciliation is usually used at peak times of year, Easter and Christmas in city and urban churches, with zones of priests contributing according to a schedule.
Even then it is not always easy to attend. But the cathedral and monasteries have regular daily confessions.
The problem with the third rite is that there is no opportunity for spiritual counselling or guidance.
Some country people are better read and informed on faith, theology and doctrine than the average city and urban dweller, but, there are always many exceptions.
This is a problem needing solution. What is needed is an appropriate method of confidential, spiritual counselling and guidance including development of faith and informed conscience.
I’d like to give examples: I needed a review of pre-existing health problems. It required weekly appointments for three weeks going to two weekly to monitor progress.
During traumatic years with children experiencing chronic illness I undertook psychological counselling – that too required an initial appointment to asses my situation, weekly appointments for a couple of weeks and then group therapy for a month.
Many workers today undertake counselling by company-contracted counsellors to assess stress levels and learn appropriate coping skills.
Spiritual health is comparable to our physical and psychological health. It requires prevention and maintenance.
It’s not sufficient to use the sacrament of penance simply to emotionally dump our sinful nature and walk off without developing an informed conscience.
We are talking about our relationship with our triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And it requires the same effort we would put into any other aspect of our lives.
This wholistic approach means that to be whole we need a balance of body, mind and spirit.
Together our whole self needs to develop through the ages and stages of our whole life.
A wise man said to me in my early adulthood: “Its necessary to keep your knowledge and understanding of God at the same level as everything else in your life. Otherwise you are likely to lose God.”
These words continually come to me and have been the greatest gift.
In view of the meaning of the sacrament of penance, I would think that the bishop in each country diocese would have to assess regional requirements for priests and people.
We have had motor missions before and today there is also greater communication, which could be used for ongoing counselling.
A great number of country people are connected to the Internet. The Australian bishops’ discussion forum would be an excellent example of ways to keep in touch with Catholic thinking.
NOLA VINEY Nollamara, WA