Dear friends in Christ,
This weekend we celebrate the 4th Sunday of
, also known as Laetare Sunday, from the Latin word “rejoice.” It is a day of joy in the midst of the penitential season of Lent, much like Gaudete Sunday is in the third week of Advent. It’s not quite Easter yet (we still have no Gloria or Alleluia at Mass), but it lets us know that our journey is in the homestretch. Keep the faith! It’s also the second scrutiny for our Elect as they make their way to the waters of baptism. Please remember to keep them in your prayers.
Lent is, of course, a great time to celebrate the
Sacrament of Reconciliation
. Many of you have already taken the opportunity to come to confession in this holy season and I encourage everyone to avail yourself to God’s mercy that awaits in this healing sacrament. But please do not wait until the very end of the season of Lent to come to confession! That’s when the lines are the longest and you run the risk of not only having to wait for a long time, but maybe of not getting in at all. We try to accommodate everyone, but every year it seems there are those who wait and then they get frustrated and even angry when we run out of time. Don’t let that be you this year!
To help you in your scheduling of confession, we will offer our annual
Lenten Penance Service
at 6:30 p.m. this Tuesday, March 28. We’ll have multiple priests here to hear confessions and I encourage you to take advantage of this wonderful time to be reconciled to Christ and the Church. I especially encourage anyone who has been away from the Sacrament of Reconciliation for a number of years to avail yourself of God’s mercy. Don’t worry if you “don’t know what to say or do.” The priests will be here to help you. We’ll walk you through everything. “Be not afraid,” as Jesus says in the Scriptures. Come home to Christ’s love and forgiveness!
If you can’t make our service on Tuesday, our good friend and former vicar, Rev. Ryszard Kulma, will offer another reconciliation service at
St. Edith Stein Church
(3311 Fry Road) at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 30. Feel free to attend.
I recently came across some reflections on the Sacrament of Reconciliation from Pope Francis. I think I’ve shared it with you before, but since it really is timeless, let me again share with you the thoughts of the Holy Father. In his remarks he offered some quick tips to help us prepare to celebrate the sacrament. After a brief explanation of why people should go to confession – “because we are all sinners” – the pope listed 30 key questions to reflect on as part of an examination of conscience and being able to “confess well.”
He said Christians need to guard and protect their hearts, "just as you protect your home – with a lock. How often do bad thoughts, bad intentions, jealousy, envy enter?” he asked. “Who opened the door? How did those things get in?”
The best way to guard one’s heart, he said, is with the daily practice of an “examination of conscience,” where one quietly reviews bad things one has done and good things one has failed to do for God, one’s neighbor and oneself.
Among the questions he encouraged the faithful to reflect upon are: Do I only turn to God when I'm in need? Do I take time to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation? Do I begin and end the day with prayer? Am I embarrassed to show that I am a Christian? Do I rebel against God's plan?
Am I envious, hot-tempered, biased? Am I honest and fair with everyone or do I fuel the “throwaway culture?” In my marital and family relations, do I uphold morality as taught in the Gospels? Do I honor and respect my parents? Have I refused newly conceived life? Have I snuffed out the gift of life? Have I helped do so?
Do I respect the environment? Am I part worldly and part believer? Do I overdo it with eating, drinking, smoking and amusements? Am I overly concerned about my physical well-being, my possessions? How do I use my time? Am I lazy? Do I want to be served? Do I dream of revenge, hold grudges? Am I meek, humble and a builder of peace?
Catholics should go to confession, the pope said, because everyone needs forgiveness for their sins, for the ways “we think and act contrary to the Gospel. Whoever says he is without sin is a liar or is blind,” he wrote. Confession is meant to be a sincere moment of conversion, an occasion to demonstrate trust in God's willingness to forgive His children and to help them back on the path of following Jesus, Pope Francis wrote.
As always, great words from our Holy Father. Let those questions serve as a springboard for your own examination of conscience and then come celebrate the healing love of God’s mercy in confession. We priests are ready to assist you, especially if you haven’t been in a long time.
Today is also the annual second collection for
Catholic Relief Services
(CRS). Don’t forget to keep up your efforts at home with the
CRS Rice Bowl
initiative. You received those on Ash Wednesday, and CtR is one of the biggest supporters of CRS through rice bowls. We’ll collect those in the Easter season, but I hope the savings from your Lenten sacrifice are finding their way now into that great cause.
P.S.: Don’t forget that online signup is now available to volunteer at the
32nd annual Spring Festival, April 29-30
. Reserve your spot in your favorite booth, ride or game. We are in need of several chairpersons for our booths, and as I’ve said before, it’s a great way for a family or family of families to come together to serve the greater community. Reach out to friends and neighbors and join together in helping out. There is no shortage of things to do for both young and old alike. Also, raffle tickets have been mailed to all parishioners. The raffle is our biggest fundraiser of the entire Festival so by selling (or buying yourself!) your tickets you help us tremendously. Next week at all Masses we’ll reveal the 2017 Festival T-shirt and have advance ride and game tickets available. The Spring Festival will be here before you know it. Come support this great community event!