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Time to get ready for Christmas!

By Fr. Joe Corel, Pastor

This afternoon (Sunday, December 19) we will celebrate our parish penance service.  Many of our second grade students and others within the PSR program will receive their first reconciliation.  We’ve done so many other preparations for Christmas, it is great to prepare our souls by getting rid of all of our sins in this amazing sacrament.

So, a few talking points for you to reflect on…

  • Did you know it is not in sacred scripture (the Bible) that we just tell our sins to God and He forgives us? The One we ask forgiveness from tells us the way He chooses to forgive us is to go to the priests and confess our sins to the priest.  We can read this in Leviticus, it continues in the Gospel of Matthew and John and Saint Paul continues it in 1 Corinthians. The Early Church Fathers continue the teaching that God chooses to forgive through the sacrament of Reconciliation.
  • And… if we are praying as the church asks us to pray, we do ask the Lord to forgive us of our sins every night before we go to sleep as we pray the examination of conscience reflecting on our day. Also, every time we go to Mass we call to mind our sins.  When we call to mind our sins every night and every time we go to Mass, we will see patterns of sins that we really struggle with. The sins we realize we commit almost on a daily basis. While we need to say everything we remember and are sorry for when we go to the sacrament of reconciliation, these “repeat offenders” will be the easy ones to remember. These are where God’s graces can shine and really help us to overcome them.
  • Satan hates that you are even thinking of going to Reconciliation. Do you think the following thoughts are from God or from Satan:  “I don’t need to tell my sins to a man/ a priest; I can just go directly to God;” (See above) “I’m fine; I really don’t have anything to confess anyway”; “The priest is just going to judge me and look down on me. I don’t want him to know.”; “The priest is so busy and there will be so many other people there; I don’t want to wait; I don’t want to bother the priest;” “It’s good this is offered for the kids, but I haven’t been in so long, I won’t know what to say.” “I forgot the act of contrition; I don’t even know what to confess anymore.” “I’m a good person. I’m alright.” All of these and plenty more are simply tricks (Satan can only twist the good God has given us) to keep us away from the sacrament.  Satan does not want you (or me) to go!  When you cross the threshold and walk to the priest to sit or kneel down, Satan loses and God wins; your sins will be forgiven before you leave!! 
  • The priest is in the person of Christ the head.  The priest has no business hearing what it is you and Jesus are talking about and that is why the seal of confession exists: what you and Jesus talk about is none of the priest’s business so he is not going to repeat it to anyone.  He is there to welcome you, listen to you, offer you a penance to continue on the journey of faith, to cheer you on the journey and most importantly to forgive you and repair all relationships. 
  • It is the safest place in the world: no harsh criticism; no yelling; say everything that is sinful; be forgiven; nothing afterwards will be said; leave at peace forgiven of your sins. 
  • When you come to the Penance Service, a “cheat sheet” is available to show you step by step how to go to Confession and an examination of conscience is available to help you name your sins before you go to the priest so you know what you are to confess.  
  • The longer it has been, the more rejoicing the person has returned!
  • Let’s win this battle against Satan. Let’s defeat him today and give a victory for Christ today.   Penance Service is 4pm Sunday December 19 at St Patrick Chapel. Many priests will be there some who speak English and Spanish.