Priest charged with task of getting others to heaven

By Tanya Connor

“You have got to get your wives to heaven,” pre-confession-speaker Father Sammie Maletta told the men, calling that their Number 1 job. “Together …  you have got to get your children to heaven. … You guys cannot do that if you are not godly men. … We’ve allowed our marriages to become lukewarm.”
Men put themselves before their wives, don’t give their children the attention they should, and let themselves get distracted, which sometimes that leads to sin, he said.
The pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in St. John, Ind., suggested some men might say, “You don’t know my wife,” to which he responds, “That’s that crucifixion, guys – from a celibate. We want to do it our way, not God’s way.” A priest can be that way too, as Father Maletta illustrated with the following story.
He used to feel sorry for himself; he served in schools, the chancery and as a civil lawyer, but was not assigned to a parish.
Someone got him to go to Medjugorje, in the former Yugoslavia, where the Blessed Mother has reportedly been appearing for years. The food was terrible, he had to share a room, and there was no water in the toilet and no glass in the windows where he stayed.
“I was miserable,” he recalled. “I don’t want God’s plan; I want Sammie’s plan.”
At one point he joined people who climbed jagged rocks, carrying others up. They prayed the rosary in their own languages. He heard a woman’s voice, which sounded like his mother’s, but which he believes was the Blessed Mother’s, he said.
“Stop being a baby,” she told him. “Look what my Son’s done for you. Just let my Son use you and stop feeling sorry for yourself.” He cried.
A young man asked to go to confession to him.
“You don’t understand from our perspective,” Father Maletta told listeners, in reference to the gift they give priests, the humbling experience it is for priests, when penitents come to confession to them.
After the young man “there was a girl,” Father Maletta said. “Before I knew it, there was this line. I said, ‘Lord, use me.’ You know what time I came down that mountain? 5 a.m.” The rest of the trip he stopped noticing the inconveniences, he said.
“I’m an incredibly lucky priest,” he says now. “You know how many hours … I sit in the confessional every week? Five.” He said he sees Jesus healing souls.
Men in his parish publicly pledged to be better fathers and husbands, he said. Some parishioners meet regularly to talk about what it means to be godly men. He invited evangelical pastors to teach them how to pray spontaneously. Now parishioners can have people pray over them for special needs after Mass.
“Our sins lead us off the path,” said Father Maletta, who had earlier told about getting lost – and found – after he wandered off in a store as a child. “We can’t be godly men unless we repent.” Jesus said, “Unless you repent you will perish.” The way Catholics repent is through the sacrament of penance, he said.
“Do you love the Lord Jesus Christ?” he asked listeners. “Do you want to be better husbands and fathers? Then get off your butt and go to confession.”
The theme of repentance came up again later.
Speaking about the Gospel of the day at the closing Mass, Bishop McManus noted how the Pharisees brought Jesus the woman caught in adultery, trying to embarrass him. Bishop McManus called it “an act we witness in the life of the Church over and over again – ‘strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.’”
Without countering their words, Jesus wrote in the sand.
“And now they are  mortified,” Bishop McManus said. “They recognize their sins in the sand” and leave. Jesus doesn’t condemn the woman, but tells her, “You must sin no more; you must change your life.”
Lent is coming to an end, the bishop told listeners, adding that the Church calls each to repentance and that priests are in their churches ready to hear confessions.
“There is no sin so great that God cannot forgive it,” he said. “But the grace of God is not cheap.” The bishop repeated Jesus’ call to “go and sin no more.” He urged listeners to reflect deeply on what they would say before receiving Communion, telling Jesus they are not worthy, but trusting in his healing.
Posted By  March 21, 2013

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