Church projects ’17
Today the Church celebrates the second Sunday of Easter which, since 2000, is also Divine Mercy Sunday. The following are excerpts from the divinemercysunday.com which explain today’s feast. My door for Confession is open 24/7.
May you know the peace of the risen Christ,
The Feast of Divine Mercy
“Despite evil’s attempts at discrediting Catholic Priests, many fallen-away Catholics will soon be returning to the practice of their faith. The reason: the Church’s new feast on the Sunday after Easter. What new feast you might say? It is the “Feast of Divine Mercy”. The Catholic Church has been celebrating this feast ever since the Vatican had made it official on April 30th in the Jubilee year 2000. Why would every Catholic want to come back, you might ask? It is the promise that Jesus Himself made for a complete forgiveness of sins and punishment on that day, even to the most terrible sinner imaginable. God in His great mercy is giving mankind a last chance for salvation.
When did Jesus make this promise and how does one get it? Jesus left all the details in a diary that He commanded Saint Faustina to write in the 1930’s. It was her job to record everything that He wanted mankind to know about His mercy before He returns to judge the world. To get this great promise one has to go to Confession and then receive Holy Communion on that Feast of Divine Mercy, which has now been called Divine Mercy Sunday throughout the whole Church. Jesus said, “Whoever approaches the Fountain of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.” (Diary, 300) To receive Communion worthily one should be in the state of grace and without serious sin…
He meets us in the confessional
In Saint Faustina’s diary, she recorded that Jesus also indicated that He Himself is there in the confessional. He told her, “When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest, but I Myself act in your soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy. Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity.” (1602) Jesus knew that people would need to hear these words today, so He went on to say “Come with faith to the feet of My representative…and make your confession before Me. The person of the priest is, for Me, only a screen. Never analyze what sort of a priest that I am making use of; open your soul in confession as you would to Me, and I will fill it with My light.” (1725) “Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy.” (1602)
Many feel that their sins are unforgivable but, Jesus said, “Were a soul like a decaying corpse, so that from a human standpoint, there would be no hope of restoration and everything would already be lost, it is not so with God. The miracle of Divine Mercy restores that soul in full. In the Tribunal of Mercy (the sacrament of Confession) …the greatest miracles take place and are incessantly repeated.” (1448) “Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy.” (1602)
Every sin imaginable could be forgiven by Him!
On the evening of His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His Apostles and the first thing that He did was to give them the power to forgive sins (John 20:19-31). This is done through the power of the Holy Spirit. For sure it was not the Lord’s intention just for the Apostles to forgive sins but rather for that power to be passed down through the Holy Spirit to the priests of today. That is why Confession is so much of an uplifting experience; we are actually receiving heavenly graces and the forgiveness of sins from the Lord Himself!…
Remember these words of Jesus
I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all soul and especially poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.” (699) “Souls perish in spite of My bitter Passion. I am giving them the last hope of salvation; that is, the Feast of My Mercy. If they will not adore My mercy, they will perish for all eternity…tell souls about this great mercy of Mine, because the awful day, the day of My justice, is near.” (965) Wake up people of the World, and repent of your sins, this just might be our last hope of salvation!”
Starting with last week‟s notes on Baptism, here is some more Q & A, this time on Confession. Let‟s call this series, “Why do Catholics do that?”. As we heard on Ash Wednesday, we should move away from sin during Lent. Every one of us should go to Confession during Lent to turn away from sin, receive God‟s mercy and grace, and experience true repentance. Be not afraid!
May you know the peace of Christ,
Is Confession only about sin? No, it’s primarily about God’s infinite mercy.
The woman caught in adultery: “has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you. Go away, and from this moment sin no more” – Jn 8: 11
Parable of the prodigal son (Lk 15)
I thought only God forgives sins. How can the priest forgive sins?
Jesus has the power to forgive sins. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” – Mt 28:18
Jesus gives the power of forgiving sins to the Apostles (aka the first priests)
“As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” After saying this, he breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained.” – Jn 20:21-23
God reconciled us to himself through Christ and he gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” 1 Cor 5: 18
Why do I need to confess my sins to a priest? Why can’t I just confess to God privately?
We can be forgiven of venial sins outside of Confession (the Penitential Rite at Mass, Eucharist, sincere Act of Contrition, e.g.). But, forgiveness of mortal sins is reserved for Confession. “There is sin that leads to death.” (1 Jn 5:16). Mortal sins kill our relationship with God and take us out of the state of His grace, which we need to be in order to get to Heaven.
If we are in a state of mortal sin at the hour of our death, we will go to Hell (Catechism of Catholic Church, # 1861). So, Confession restores us to a state of grace, and keeps us out of Hell.
Catholics see that they need a priest with other sacraments (Baptism, Eucharist, Anointing of the Sick, etc.) and that we can‟t get Sanctifying Grace on our own. So….WHY ARE WE DIFFERENT WITH CONFESSION?
I’m afraid to go to Confession.
If you feel this way, then remember there is always a way.
“It’s been many years.”
- Welcome back!
“I forgot how to confess.”
- The priest will walk you through it.
“The priest will judge me.”
- He goes to Confession, too.
“The priest will tell others my sins.”
- He has the “Seal of Confession‟ and can tell no one anything.
“I will forget some sins.”
- You’re still forgiven for them.
“I wouldn’t know where to start with my sins.”
- Review the Ten Commandments and Seven Deadly Sins
Keep in mind:
- It is Christ in the Confessional; in persona Christi —“whoever hears you, hears me” (Lk 10:16)
- We hear and know we are forgiven –“I absolve you in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit”
- Christ’s grace in Confession heals us and gives us the strength to overcome future sins (St Teresa of Calcutta, St John Paul II)
- The priest can give us advice on how to avoid the sins in the future
- Confessing on the lips = shows true contrition –as when I sin against a friend; I need to go face to face to reconcile
How do I make a good Confession?
- Examination of conscience via Guide to Confession (located in church vestibule)
- Act of Contrition
- Do your penance
How often should I go?
- At least once a year (required)
- Whenever in mortal sin or think you may be (before Holy Communion)
- Once a month
- Recommended by St Teresa of Calcutta and St John Paul II
- will grow in grace and holiness
- frequent Confession helps us to “forgive those who trespass against us‟ so that we will be forgiven
- see our sins as they are (gossip, e.g.) and see ourselves as we are: “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Holy Week 2017
Church of the Assumption
ALL EVENTS ARE IN THE CHURCH UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED
NO Daily Mass
7:00 pm Mass of the Lord’s Supper + Procession of the Blessed Sacrament
9 pm – 12 am Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (Rectory chapel)
NO Daily Mass
12 – 3 pm Confessions
3:00 pm Stations of the Cross
3:30 pm Confessions (or after the Stations of the Cross)
7:00 pm Passion of the Lord service
NO Daily Mass
7:00 pm Easter Vigil
10:00 am Easter Mass
30th Sunday –
Speak to Lord from the heart
The Lord hears cry of poor
Gospel –> Catholics?
Those who don’t confess and
Those who do
Last week, I had a fascinating conversation with a Jewish man who married a Catholic woman with whom I’m friends. They have two kids who are in their early teens and have been raised Catholic. It was very intriguing to hear him speak about the Catholic faith because he has read and discussed much about it. I said to him a few times that he knows more than most Catholics! He knows the teachings and seems open to believing, but is more skeptical and doubtful about it all right now.
During our brief chat, he raised questions about the Mass – why do we confess sin in the beginning of Mass, why do we bring money up to the altar in the middle of Mass, and how can transubstantiation actually occur. I didn’t give too many answers because we were at a party and it was more of a casual setting. And, I was simply marveling at his questions!
A question with a question
You could say that I attempted to answer his last question with a question. I asked him about his kids, and if they believe in transubstantiation (i.e., the bread and wine change substances into the Body and Blood of Christ at the Consecration during Holy Mass) because they are both so learned about the Catholic faith and discuss it regularly. He said that his son believes wholeheartedly, probably because of his devout Catholic grandparents. His daughter, however, is more skeptical, probably taking after her father. I thought to myself that that is fine – if the teaching on the Eucharist has reached the ears of these teens (and their Jewish father), then the seed has been planted and it will ultimately bear fruit. The problem usually is that people don’t hear the teaching. “Whoever hears the truth, hears my voice” (Jn 18:37).
I walked away from the conversation realizing, yet again, that faith is a gift. In today’s Gospel, the Apostles say to the Lord, “Increase our faith” (Lk 17:5). They recognize that He is the source of faith in each of them. He is the source of faith in each of us. Just like He is the giver of life, He is the giver of faith. We did nothing to earn the gift of life; so, too, we did nothing to earn the gift of faith at Baptism. And, I truly believe that just as God offers life to every human being, He offers the gift of faith to every human being. The question is, will each person use the gift? Will each of us ask the Lord in our own way – whether in word like the Apostles or in deed like receiving the Eucharist at Mass – to increase our faith.
Our faith at Baptism is like the size of the mustard seed which is mentioned by the Lord in this Gospel as well. God’s Grace helps the tiny faith of the baptized person to grow mainly through the sacraments, much like the Lord mentions in Mark 4: “it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches” (v.32).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that faith is a gift and a human act:
When St. Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus declared to him that this revelation did not come “from flesh and blood,’ but from “my Father who is in heaven.”
Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him.
…believing is an authentically human act…In faith, the human intellect and will cooperate with divine grace: “Believing is an act of the intellect assenting to the divine truth by command of the will moved by God through grace.” (Paragraphs 153-155).
I will pray that God will infuse the gift of Christian faith in my Jewish friend, and that he will cooperate with grace by assenting to the truth. I will keep praying that this continues to happen with all of us, and that the Lord will increase our faith.
May you know the peace of Christ,
Continuing my theme of the spiritual works of mercy of the last few weeks, here are some more questions that your children and grandchildren might ask you when talking about our Catholic faith. Once again, it’s really just to give you some kind of answer to tough questions. I’m happy to expound on them if you would like.
May you know the peace of Christ,
“My friends say that after the priest sex abuse scandals, I shouldn’t be Catholic any longer”.
Those scandals are horrific indeed, and give us the unfortunate reminder that the Church is made up of sinful human beings. As awful as they are, though, they don’t take away from the truths about God and our Catholic faith. Do the scandals change God as Father, Son, and Spirit? Do they negate the Resurrection? Is the Eucharist no longer the Body and Blood of Christ? Doctrine is the core reason to be Catholic, and the scandals don’t change doctrine. Even if math teachers commit similar crimes, two plus two is still four, and we should still follow the laws of mathematics.
“I don’t know if I believe in God anymore”.
The next time you see a tree, ask yourself, ‘who made that?’
Look at the stars in the sky and ask, ‘who made those?’
Look at the size and the order of the universe. Did everything come into being as a result of a “big bang” and just fell into perfect order? The chances are so small…too small.
By the way, what /who made it go bang?
Keep in mind that everyone has faith. Everyone believes in something. Even atheists believe. They just believe that God does not exist. (By the way, atheists admit that the order of the universe is the best argument for the existence of God.) “I’m not into Confession”
That’s understandable. It’s hard and uncomfortable. I remember when you were younger, you were not into taking showers. You fought against and complained before every shower. But, when you came out and you were clean all over, you were much happier. Confession is like a spiritual shower!
“I don’t agree with everything the church teaches” You probably agree with everything that Jesus taught and said, right? Well, Jesus gave authority to the church to continue His teachings (Mt 16, Mt 18, Lk 10). Also, we hear so much in the Bible that Christ and the Church are one. So, when the Church teaches on faith and morals, it is really Jesus who is still teaching today.
“Do we worship saints?”
No, we worship God alone. We remember the saints and honor them. But they are only human like you and me. Our church honors the saints with statues like our country honors our forefathers and heroes with monuments and memorials. “Can people of other religions go to heaven?”
Yes. Pope Francis once said that even atheists can be saved. The Church’s mission is to proclaim Jesus Christ as the way to heaven and to invite people to experience the fullness of Christ on earth.
11th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Father Greg / anniversary
Love <=> mercy
God thirsts for tears
Her love – like Christ at Last Supper?
Forgiveness is an act of love
About two hundred years ago in France lived a very holy priest, Fr. John Vianney. Fr. Vianney loved his people, and prayed for them constantly. He was extremely devoted to hearing their confessions, spending about 15 hours a day in the confessional! Eventually, people came from all over France to go to him for Reconciliation because of his extraordinary natural and supernatural gifts. He is the only parish priest who has been canonized a saint.
In a rare outward appearance, the Devil tried to disrupt St. John Vianney’s ministry of healing. Many nights, he would attack Fr. Vianney; people heard loud and strange noises coming from the rectory. One night, they saw fire coming from Fr. Vianney’s bedroom: the Devil had lit Father’s bed on fire! At first, Fr. Vianney was afraid, but then he got used to the attacks. He finally figured out the timing of it all: every night the Devil came to attack him, a big sinner would come to Confession the next day – someone who hadn’t been to Confession in 20 or 30 or more years. With the help of Christ, St. John Vianney withstood the attacks of Satan, and won victory over him.
The Devil makes another rare appearance in today’s Gospel (Lk 4:1-13): he tempts Jesus in the desert three times. Usually, Satan works in invisible and very subtle ways. His main objective is to take people away from God without them even knowing of his presence. He has made his presence known a few times – the Garden of Eden, to Christ in the desert, and to a few people like St. John Vianney.
It’s very important for us to know that the Devil can never force us to do anything against our will. He tempts us in brilliant ways; he is much smarter than any of us. On our own, we can’t defeat him; but, with the help of God, we will be safe and win victory over our Enemy.
Christ wins victory over the Devil in the desert and in his Death and Resurrection. In the desert, he is tempted in his human nature. He wins victory for two main reasons, I believe: 1) he is fasting, and 2) he is “filled with the Spirit”. Fasting brings spiritual strength. When we deny our bodies in some way, we build up inner or spiritual strength. During Lent, we imitate Jesus’ fast of 40 days in order to build up our souls, and to resist the temptations of the Devil.
We can imitate our Lord in being “filled with the Spirit” through our reception of the sacraments. The sacraments are the primary ways for us to be filled with the Spirit.
The Church strongly encourages us to come to the Eucharist often -for example, going to daily Mass during Lent – and going to Confession. When we are filled with the Spirit, we are filled with God’s love, imitate Christ, and are ready to defeat the Devil and his temptations.
–Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Greg Shaffer
3401 Martin Luther King Jr. AVE, SE
Washington, DC 20032
Fr. Greg Cell: 240-463-9960
Outreach Center: 202-561-5941
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