God inspired His Church to organize the year into Liturgical Seasons. Since God has entered history in Jesus Christ, all time now takes on a new sacredness (A.D. means “Anno Domini”, Year of the Lord). Jesus has inspired his Church to highlight certain times as more holy than other times in order to emphasize God‟s plan of salvation.
The Advent Season and Christmas Season are more holy than Ordinary Time (the weeks between Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter), because we pre-pare for and celebrate Jesus‟ birth; but we also pre-pare for Jesus‟ second coming on the day of Universal Judgment. We pray this truth when we recite the Nicene Creed at every Sunday Mass and every other Holy Day of obligation, “He will come in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.”
Since we do not know when this will occur, Jesus warned his disciples to pray daily, worship together weekly at Holy Mass, and live Christian lives of study, service and sharing the Gospel in order to be ready for our redemption when we die, or at Jesus‟ glorious coming, whichever comes first.
The Advent Season is a gift from God to heighten our awareness of Jesus‟ call to be “perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt. 5:48) Thus, the Church gives more opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Confession. We want all our parishioners to have a joyful expectation of Jesus‟ second coming when the weak will no longer sin and God‟s faithful will be rewarded with Eternal and Perfect Happiness.
I recommend that you celebrate Confession monthly as a family, but especially in preparation for Christmas and Easter. To celebrate Confession in a worthy manner, follow these five steps of love:
1. Diligently examine your conscience in the light of the Ten Commandments and the moral catechesis of the Gospels, especially the Gospel of Matthew chapters 5-7.
2. Confess your sins, especially the kind and number of mortal sins, to a validly ordained priest with sincere contrition and firm intention not to sin again. Sin is the greatest of all evils – it blocks and/or to-tally forfeits God‟s grace and protection: “All mortal sins of which penitents, after a diligent self-examination, are conscious must be recounted by them in confession, even if they are most secret…When Christ‟s faithful strive to confess all the sins that they can remember, they undoubtedly place all of them before the divine mercy for pardon. But those who fail to do so and knowingly withhold some,
place nothing before the divine goodness for remission through the mediation of the priest, „for if the sick person is to ashamed to show his wound to the doctor, the medicine cannot heal what it does not know.‟” Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), #1456.
3. Receive the penance with a grateful heart and a firm intention to fulfill it.
4. Prayerfully receive the priest‟s prayer of Absolution which assures you that all sins confessed, and even those unintentionally forgotten, have been wiped away in order to allow God‟s divine life to strengthen every part of your body and soul with your cooperation of prayer and penance.
5. Thank God and the priest, and commit to growing as a member of the faith community that supports God‟s healing grace, love and truth.
Please come to the Communal Penance Service this Sunday, Dec. 5, 7:00-8:30 p.m. at Holy Trinity. There will be 5 priests hearing individual confessions. This is a great opportunity for families to experience Jesus‟ merciful love together.
Peace in Christ,
Fr. Thomas McCabe