How often should you confess?

Re: “Catholics called to return to the confessional” (March 3). 

I once heard a priest say that the Church gives us a hint as to how often we should confess. A plenary indulgence is granted under certain conditions with one of them the need to attend confession within eight days before or after the time you want to gain the indulgence. He said that this is the Church’s way of recommending that we go every two weeks.  

Also, if priests would speak more about the value of confession and the graces that can be received by this sacrament, more people would go. 

One of our priests gave a very good homily on confession during a Saturday night Mass and offered to stay and hear confessions afterward. An amazing number of people got in line who might not have gone otherwise. 

Kristen Kurth, Wichita, Kan.

History lesson

Re: “11 U.S. cardinals will enter conclave to elect pope” (News Analysis, March 3). 

It was wonderful to read your historical review of the participation of U.S. cardinals in the conclaves of the Church. Most interesting to me, as a former resident of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, was the fact that Cardinal John Krol was given the insight to offer a different course, the election of Pope John Paul II. At the time, he was the archbishop of Philadelphia. He also from the wonderful land of Poland and, like most Americans then, was concerned for the souls of Eastern Europe. As Mother Angelica often says, what a wonderful thing is the Church. 

It is important for us to remember the history of the Church; the Evil One would be glad to see us forget it.  

Dennis Wichterman, Naples, Fla.

Demeaning photograph

Re: “This Week in Photos” (March 3). 

How sad it was to see the photo of a priest as he walked down the aisle at a children’s Mass wearing a chasuble “with cartoon characters” and carrying “a water gun to bless the congregation.” Indeed, Pope John Paul II wrote of the importance of witness and the education of the “little ones” in the Faith, and that we shouldn’t underestimate the impression made on children when they are very young.  

I fail to see how holy water being squirted out of a water gun would appear to be anything but funny to a child — if not to adults as well. And I wonder how a parent would explain the sprinkling “from a toy gun” during this most sacred event in their child’s life?  

As for cartoon designs on a chasuble — nothing more need be said. Parents have the primary obligation of teaching their little children something of the infinite value of the Mass, suited to their age and development. Several catechisms are also available to assist them in teaching the mysteries of the Faith, as well as classes at school or in their parish. I’m inclined to think that a priest wearing cartoon robes and shooting holy water out of a water gun does nothing but demean the Mass before both children and adults. 

Pamela T. Haines, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Lay blessings

Re: “Christ ‘rose again’” (Pastoral Answers, Feb. 24). 

Msgr. Charles Pope does a masterful job answering a query about the paradoxical phrase in the Nicene Creed, Jesus “rose again.”  

His response to a reader’s alarm over laypeople “in my parish giving blessings” is something else. Msgr. Pope writes, “The practice observed in some places of laypeople who are distributing Communion also giving blessings is inappropriate.” 

“A parent can bless a child, or an elder can bless a youngster,” Msgr. Pope avers, but “in doing this, they ought to avoid priestly gestures such as making the Sign of the Cross over others.”  

Such a view knocks the feet out from under me, who just this past Sunday taught my fifth and sixth grade CCD class: “In baptism, you inherit Jesus’ calling to be priest, prophet and king.” 

John P. Kelly, Waelder, Texas

Pro-life coverage

I just wanted to tell you that OSV had wonderful coverage and informative articles about the March for Life and the 40th anniversary of abortion on demand in recent issues. 

“Pro-life pluses” (Editorial, Feb. 10) is an excellent history of all that pro-life Catholics have done over four decades. I would like to see this read from the pulpit or printed in church bulletins — not just in Catholic churches, but everywhere the pro-life movement is active. 

I like you pointing out that the secular media even noticed that this year many young people were part of the marchers which ranged in number from 100,000 to maybe 400,000. What an encouragement to all of us working in the pro-life movement — that we are attracting a new generation of activists! Yes! 

Anne Cassler, Humble, Texas

Missing the puzzle

I was very disappointed not to find the OSV crossword puzzle in the Feb. 24 issue. It is one of the first things I look at every week. Please include it from now on. Thank you very much. 

Father Schneider, Minot, N.D.