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How do I come back?

“My sheep hear my voice”.  We hear this from the Lord in this Sunday’s Gospel (John 10).  If you have left the flock (Church) and want to return, how do you come back?  Here are some options:

  1. Attend Sunday Mass here at Assumption.  You will be welcomed back. Don’t be afraid.
  2. Email me at frgreg@nullassumptiondc.org to make an appointment and discuss your situation or concerns.  Don’t be afraid.
  3. Attend Sunday Mass at another parish (just to be back in the House of God) before coming back to Assumption.  Don’t be afraid.
  4. Come to Confession here on Saturday from 3:45-4:15 or anytime with me.  I’m open 24/7 for Confession.  Don’t be afraid.
  5. Review the Sunday readings here before coming to Mass.
  6. It’s worth saying one more time, do not be afraid.

 

Where’s that in the Bible?

3rd Sunday of Easter

Eucharist
Confession
Purgatory
Sola Scriptura
Resurrection / OT
   “Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights” (Mt 12).
“You are witnesses of these things”

God Will Cure You

6th Sunday

Checklist for God’s pity / mercy

Leper came to Jesus
Out from seclusion / excommunication
Leprosy contagious: Unclean!

Kneeling down
Worship
Respect
Humility

Begged him
Confidence – Jesus will make him clean
Confession – unclean

Jesus moved with pity
If confess, God will be moved with pity
If confident, He will cure
Sin, disease, etc
Healing in confession, Eucharist, etc

Sinner or Saint?

SAA / 100 Confessions

“Saints believe they are sinners…sinners believe they are saints”

Examination of Conscience for seniors

      Seven deadly sins + virtues
Get straight with God
Don’t block the Holy Spirit
REJOICE!
    Freedom, liberty

Mass
Prepare for the coming of the Lord in the Eucharist

Make straight the way of the Lord

On this 3rd Sunday of Advent, the Church uses the halfway point to Christmas to rejoice. This is called “Gaudete Sunday” which comes from the Latin “to rejoice”. One of the things about which we rejoice, believe it or not, is in the Sacrament of Confession. Yes, we “rejoice heartily in the Lord” for this major means of help to “make straight the way of the Lord”.

Last week, I gave you a little insight into roughly the same line from Isaiah (“make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!”) as well as a few questions to examine your conscience. The most basic way to explain what Isaiah proclaims and St. John the Baptist fulfills is to get straight with the Lord. Confession helps us to get straight with the Lord before He comes.

For many of you, it may be that you want to go to Confession, but don’t know what to confess. Typically, we prepare for the Sacrament by examining our consciences with the Ten Commandments. What may be more helpful for you is the following examination of conscience that I found online at www.patheos.com/blogs/kathyschiffer. It uses the seven deadly sins and the four cardinal virtues as a guide. I hope it helps.

Feel free to bring this into the confessional at the Penance Service on Tuesday. See you there!

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg

 

Have I practiced the virtue of Chastity?

For example:

  • Have I permitted myself to watch movies or daytime television shows which are not edifying, which depict sexual scenarios, or which advocate for cohabitation or homosexual relationships?

Have I practiced the virtue of Temperance?

For example:

  • Have I indulged my love of sweets or snack foods, to the detriment of my health?
  • Have I continued to smoke heavily, or to consume alcoholic beverages excessively?
  • Have I been immoderate in any activity, such as watching too much TV?

Have I practiced the virtue of Charity?

For example:

  • Have I been a “busybody,” unkind to a neighbor either by my thoughts or by my actions?
  • Have I had a smile for a family member or loved one, or was I critical, hurting someone’s feelings?

Have I practiced the virtue of Diligence?

For example:

  • Have I used my physical limitations as an excuse for laziness?
  • Have I neglected prayer, ignored my friend’s birthday, sat around the house when I might have helped with the dishes?
  • Have I exercised my responsibility to become familiar with the issues, and to vote (by absentee ballot, if necessary) for the candidates who will best protect the values I hold dear?

Have I practiced the virtue of Patience?

For example:

  • Was I unkind (or downright rude) to a telephone caller, impatient with a visitor, crabby when things didn’t go just the way I wanted?
  • Did I complain if someone took me to a restaurant or public place, because we had to wait for service?
  • Did I criticize my doctor, my caretaker, my child, for not serving me better?

Have I practiced the virtue of Kindness?

For example:

  • Was I jealous of the attention paid to someone else, wanting everyone to notice me instead?
  • Did I feel angry because someone else had more money, or better health, or because my grown children did not have enough time to spend with me?
  • Did I compliment someone who looked good, or did I only have harsh words to say?

Have I practiced the virtue of Humility?

For example:

  • Did I accept a compliment graciously but then move on, refusing to keep the attention turned toward myself?
  • Was I willing to let someone else be the center of attention?
  • Did I feel grateful for the kindness of my family and others, and appreciative of my caregiver’s efforts?
  • Did I believe that I had no need of confession, because I never even leave the house?

Lord, help us to recognize the times that we have failed to live a virtuous life—and grant us the grace of true contrition and a resolve to do Your will. Amen.

Sharing faith online

What is a blog site? This will hopefully become a frequent question at our parish because I want to start such a site here. Blog sites are all over the internet. They are websites where people become authors on different topics, and oftentimes others can leave comments in response. I have run two blog sites in the past, and they garnered a fair amount of traffic and commentary about church teachings, spiritual reflections, and world events. In some cases, the blog sites helped bring people back to the Church and sacraments. In all other cases, it was just good to engage people in an online community involving faith.

The way it will work is that we will establish a blogsite online and publicize the address for the site. I will post my thoughts, questions, and reflections; it will be similar material to what I write here. You and anyone else will be able to make comments or ask questions in relation to what I post, and even respond to other “bloggers” on the site. This is part of our family evangelization, so the big hope is that your family members will visit the site and even ask me questions. I will have them in mind when I post on prayer, forgiveness, sacraments, serving the poor, etc.

Here is an example of an actual exchange from years ago between two people who left comments on my post on Confession:

“Kiwi” said:

I kind of need a step before Confession. I am not ready to go to Confession and say that I have decided to ‘return’ and will try to go to Mass every Sunday.

Anonymous said:

Hey Kiwi, Confession is no big deal if I can do it anyone can. No one is going to judge you and you really feel like you are getting a load off of your shoulders. If you don’t want the priest to see you just go to the window side.

As you can see, people don’t need to leave their names. They can comment “anonymously”, but hopefully they grow out of that in time. Here are more examples of anonymous bloggers with some powerful comments:

Anonymous said:

Why does God have to be so elusive about communicating our callings? His silence can really be deafening. Why do we have to search and search and wait and wait? Please don’t tell me that God speaks to some people and not others.

Anonymous said:

Great news! My dad does not have cancer! It was a mix-up! I am so thankful to God!! What are the different ways we can show God our gratefulness?

Anonymous said:

Why do some people suffer so much and others only encounter minimal suffering? Life does seem “unfair!” Why do some people lose a child-the worst grief possible? I don’t think we will ever know the why on this side of heaven. When I am suffering, I stopped asking “why” and started asking “what.” What do you want me to do Lord? What is your will for me in this situation? The why question leaves me stuck in neutral because it is a mystery for now. The what question will help you to pick up your cross and walk with it.

There is some pretty good stuff here. I know and have experienced that there is some nasty stuff online, so please be assured that all comments are moderated. It will be a site of respect and class. And, hopefully, it will be one that will help to bring back the lost sheep of Assumption. Keep praying for that, please!

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg

Revival Time = Conversion Time

Good news not bad
Athletes in lieu of protests
Good (unity) out of bad (comments)
Couple / our church

Readings
Turn from bad to good
Conversion
Vice to virtue
Sin to grace

     One habit, big or small
     One confession
 God = good
     God’s will = good
     We are created to be good
     Rejoice in doing good, doing God’s Will

Confession at Revival

We must forgive 70 times 7

In June of 2000, Msgr. Thomas Wells, a beloved priest of Washington, was murdered in his rectory at Mother Seton parish in Germantown. The tragic story of his murder and the mystery of his unknown killer dominated local news for over a week. When Robert Lucas was brought to trial a year later for the crime, he was understandably scorned by Catholics and non-Catholics for stabbing a priest to death. We might even say he was public enemy # 1 in our town at that time. His family felt the scourge of our area, but attended the trial each day nonetheless.

Something amazing happened, though, on the day of the verdict. While we all waited in a crowded hall outside the courtroom, the Lucas family walked past us. As they did, the Wells family reached out to them by extending a hand in peace. They shook hands and conversed for a few moments. There were audible gasps from those in the hall witnessing this surreal but Christian moment. I realized pretty quickly that this one of the best examples of “forgiving seventy seven times” I had ever seen.

Last week, I asked the questions “Why does God forgive” and “Why should we forgive?”. We should forgive to live God’s mercy. We should forgive seventy seven times to extend God’s mercy in extreme situations like the Wells family did with the Lucas family. Here are some simple reasons to forgive others:

  • To be forgiven by God (“forgive us…as we forgive those who trespass against us”)
  • We’re not perfect…why hold others to perfection
  • God doesn’t hold grudges, so we shouldn’t
  • To be God-like (most Christ-like when forgive)
  • What it means to be a Christian

Forgiving seventy seven times applies to constantly being forgiven by God, forgiving others, and forgiving ourselves. The last one is the hardest! Even though people dread the first one the most, Confession is actually the easiest of the three because we know that God’s mercy is perfect. We know that He will respond perfectly to our contrition by forgiving us. Every time. We know that when we walk out of the confessional, WE ARE FORGIVEN. It’s over. It’s done. And yet, in our pride, we hold on to some confessed sins that God has absolved He has let them go, but we hold on to them. So, we need to forgive ourselves and LET IT GO. Forgiving ourselves comes from humility which helps us to accept that we’re sinners and not perfect. One saint said that “the truly humble person is never shocked by sin”. The proud person, however, still “can’t believe I did that”. But, the humble person acknowledges, “okay, I’m a sinner”. In admitting that deep down, the person experiences a lightening of the load. It really is a true experience of “my yoke is easy, my burden light”. Forgiveness brings healing and peace.

Let’s say that you want to be forgiven by God, forgive others, and forgive yourself, but are having trouble doing it. For the first one, I would suggest Confession even it’s just venial sins you need to confess. The soul that comes out of Confession is as clean as the body that comes out of the shower! The priest can really help to walk you through the Sacrament if you’re worried about how to confess. For help with forgiving others or yourself, here are some guidelines:

  • Seek God’s Grace through daily Mass, Wednesday Adoration, monthly Confession
  • Seek God’s Grace through daily Mass, Wednesday Adoration, monthly Confession
  • Pray for the person or situation- daily prayer + devotions / novenas
  • Sacred Scripture
  • Compassion: understand the whole person and situation
  • Humor (be able to laugh at yourself)
  • Read the lives of saints who are examples of constant + radical forgiveness (e.g., St. Maria Goretti who forgave the man who killed her)

When I’m talking with people who are struggling to forgive, I ask them to write the sin(s) down on a sheet(s) of paper. They will use the above guidelines in relation to that sheet, and when they are ready they will tear it up. It’s like tearing up an IOU. It’s a visible sign of tearing up a debt. This is helpful because it names it, analyzes it in the presence of God, and then forgives it in a visible and memorable way. You won’t forget the sin, but you will remember that you forgave it!

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg

The Holy Spirit is Real

Pentecost Sunday

Church projects ’17

Receive the Holy Spirit
    Real, concrete, physical
    Like tongues of fire
Holy Spirit within us
     “Rivers of living water”
          Spirit of mercy – Confession
          Spirit of peace and joy – Eucharist
          Spirit of love – service
          Spirit of wisdom – evangelization
Better for us (Jn 16) than those who walked with Jesus
     Spirit of Christ inside, not just outside
If we get this, we will get Him more.

Divine Mercy Sunday

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,

Fr Greg

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!”