Last weekend I cracked open the chestnut about how to go to confession. Now I’d like to crack open another. Why? Why should I go to confession?
“Why?” is always our biggest question, for anything we do. If we’re given a sufficient reason then, I believe, most persons will respond rightly. Concerning Reconciliation, the quick answer is we cannot absolve ourselves, nor does time heal all our wounds, nor are we as good as we think we are.
What?! Especially that last part …. What?!
True, there are times we need to “forgive ourselves,” but that’s an emotional concern. Real forgiveness, where sin is wiped away, and the soul is purified, can only happen with God. It takes an Infinite Person to annihilate an infinite offense.
Time heals many things, such as emotional wounds. But, time cannot heal wounds of the soul. The soul is built for timelessness, for eternity; its remedy for spiritual ills are found only with One who is Infinitely Timeless.
Nature builds upon grace. While there is such a thing as “human virtue,” it is a mere shadow of supernatural virtue. “Without me, you can do nothing,” says Jesus (Jn. 15:5). In Confession, God helps us to reacquire our baptismal innocence, where we are cloaked in Christ’s merits. Imagine how powerful a person’s words and actions are when our nature is built upon His grace!
“Those who pray will be saved; those who do not will be lost,” says Saint Alphonsus. He also opines that anyone who goes a month without praying commits a mortal sin. The Church bids us go to confession at least once a year. I wonder, what would this patron saint of moral theologians say about those that rarely go to confession, if ever? Don’t quibble with the saints ….
The “why” is that we all need God’s grace to touch and transform our hearts. Anything short of that is foolish and risky.
In the Redeemer,
As we approach Lent, we all should be thinking about righting our relationship with the Good God. In Scripture, we hear: “For the just man falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble to ruin” (Prv. 24:16). All of us stumble in some way before the Lord. With that in mind, the Church bids us go to confession at least once a year—lest we stumble into eternal ruin.
A few thoughts to ponder ….
One, I believe it helps to confess in the following way: “I accuse myself of the following sins ….” When we ponder what is happening, that verb accuse is most applicable. Before Him, we all are in need of His grace, lest we lose our souls forever. We cannot save ourselves.
Two, in a similar fashion, it is sufficient to say just that. Quite often penitents will give a back story to why they did such-and-such. Again, if we ponder, that can mean that we’re starting to self-justify. “Oh, if it wasn’t for this person doing this, then I wouldn’t have done that!” Our posture should be one of humility, honesty, and courage. The fault is mine, not another’s.
Three, it’s necessary to examine one’s conscience beforehand. Oh, the priest will surely help you, but virtually everyone is capable of doing this. My best counsel is to search your heart out each night as you crawl into bed because there’s no better way to end the day! And if you’re still unsure, read thru the Catechism and consider well what you read, because it is “a sure guide.”
Four, while laundry-list confessions are not the goal, it helps to mention how much you struggle. For example, if using the Lord’s name in vain is a daily sin, then convey that reality. (The Council of Trent bids us to number our sins for our own good.) There’s a big difference between the man who curses once a year, once a week, or several times a day!
I’ve many other thoughts to share, but space doesn’t permit it. We are offered one of the greatest gifts in this sacrament. Jesus asks us our deadly sins and, in exchange, He offers us grace upon grace. How can anything else compare to this?
In the Redeemer,
Please allow me to explain the reason for the orange cones along Lake Avenue and alongside the church. Our next door neighbors at the Grove have expressed three concerns.
First, some parishioners use their parking lot. Until recently this has not been much of a problem, but as they approach capacity, that has changed. If you park there now, you may be ticketed and towed. Second, the lane between the church and the Grove needs to be kept clear since it is a fire lane. If you park there, there’s a good chance you may be ticketed and towed. Third, on Lake Avenue, people consistently ignore the signs that say “No Parking from Here to the Corner.” This makes it very difficult for their residents to leave without risking an accident. Additionally, several cones have been placed directly in front of our property where these signs exist—and are consistently ignored. Large vehicles parked at the corners make exiting and entering dangerous at times.
Please do not move the cones. Please do not park between them. Please also pass this information on to everyone else who visits our parish or school, in particular. We have sufficient parking on our lot. (Heck, use the clergy parking if you need to!) The Grove manager and I will be meeting with the city administrator about having those Lake Avenue spaces white-lined in Spring. When the parking lot is sealed in the summer, we can dedicate more spaces for handicap parking, if the need exists.
The bottom line is safety for our neighbors and parishioners. Thank you.
In the Redeemer,
“All work and no play makes Johnny a very boring fellow.” I’m not sure that’s the exact quote, but you get the idea. With that in mind, we will begin our first season of Saint Clem’s Bocce Ball League this year, starting in late April. (Oh, in case you missed it, one bocce court was built toward the back of the property last summer. Another will soon be built as an Eagle Scout project.)
Who can participate? Any parishioners from 9th grade to age 99 may play. (We can see about creating a junior league in the future, okay?) Each team will consist of two persons. They will play round-robin from April to August, culminating with the Super Bowl(ing) #1.
Meanwhile, we’ll also have a parish-wide gathering with hot wings, hot dogs, burgers, a bouncy-bounce,horseshoes, etc., etc. Hopefully, it will be a competitive season for everyone to look forward to!
Sign-up forms will soon appear in the parish office. So, grab a friend or a family member and sign up! Come up with a catchy team name (maybe something like the yellow blackbirds or the pink elephants). Once we have the rosters set, Randy Rivers and I will construct the round-robin, and we’ll post the weekly standings in the church bulletin. Scoring will be simple: a win is worth 3 points and a tie gives 1 point to each team. We’ll also keep track of game points, for and against. Then on Thursday, August 23rd, the top 4 teams will play for the trophy. (Yeah, we do plan on getting a trophy!)
The deadline to sign up is March 15th, Saint Clement’s feast day. Good luck and let the bragging begin!
In the Redeemer,
Brrrrr!!!! It’s soooo COLD!!!!
The first week of January I was on vacation in southern PA, at Mom’s house. However, it felt more like northernNew York. I could have sworn that I took Saratoga south with me. Like everyone else, Mom and I spent the whole week sitting inside. I didn’t have even the slightest temptation to step foot on the country roads like I usually do.
Yes, it was shared grief all around, wasn’t it? In an odd way, it made me feel slightly warmer (but not without sympathy!) to see that I’d escaped an overnight wind chill of -30 here in Saratoga. At Mom’s, we were dealing with -10 wind chill. But, both were balmy in comparison to Mount Washington, where crazy weather researchers at the Tip-Top House were enduring -90 overnight! Wow! They referred to it as “stupid cold.”
It’s been said that a snowstorm is God’s way of telling us to slow down. In a similar fashion, I’d imagine that a cold snap is another one of God’s ways of saying the same thing. “Slow down, keep warm, have a hot
chocolate, and …?”
And what? Do what? Movies? Eat? Read? Xbox? Sleep? Etc.?
What about pray? With many things shelved for several days, did this slow-down open any moments in your life for prayer and reflection? Or, did any worldly stuff invade and conquer that space?
It’s a good question to ask. And, if the semi-stupid cold returns this winter, it is a good question to ask ourselves again.
In the Redeemer,
This is our first weekend with the new Mass schedule. I am aware that some are not very happy with this change; I suspect that for many others it’s just another change in the lifetime of a parish. Nevertheless, I hope that we all shall settle into this new schedule well.
Another change I mentioned weeks ago, and it’s one for which I’m sure that I’ll receive some criticism. However, it is a practical and necessary change. The time between the request for baptism and the actual baptism is now going to be two months. The reason for this change is to give parents to make sure preparation and godparent selection is done correctly. This is a pastoral delay, not a denial of the sacrament.
Some parents have complained about “church rules” or “being singled out,” whenever it comes to the godparents they have pre-selected as being called unqualified. In short, they don’t want to understand it. My duty as a pastor, as a priest, is to see to it that the sacrament is properly celebrated, according to the teachings of the Church.
This is what a pastor, a father, does: he sometimes makes difficult, unpopular decisions.
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I hope that 2018 is a blessed year for all of our parishioners. May the Good Lord bless you all in abundance, particularly with the Holy Spirit.
In the Redeemer,