Posts

Blogging for faith

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!”

Why do Catholics do that? Part 2

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,

Fr Greg

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?

  1. Examination of conscience via Guide to Confession (located in church vestibule)
  2. Act of Contrition
  3. Confession
  4. 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 Schedule

Holy Week 2017

Church of the Assumption

ALL EVENTS ARE IN THE CHURCH UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED

Holy Thursday

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)

Good Friday

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

Holy Saturday

NO Daily Mass

7:00 pm Easter Vigil

Easter Sunday

10:00 am Easter Mass

 

“The Lord Hears the Cry of the Poor… and Humble”

30th Sunday –

Tithing
Communication
Confession

Speak to Lord from the heart
The Lord hears cry of poor

Gospel –> Catholics?
Those who don’t confess and
Those who do

Let God Do His Thing

Baptisms
    Prep: Reviving!
    Could you teach?
    Catholicism 101 / RCIA
Readings
    Baptism – cleansing waters
         Disease (leprosy)= sin
         Physical (OT) / spiritual (NT)
    Confession – remove excommunication
     Eucharist – give thanks
Grace (thru priest)
     GOD’s action —> Faith

Faith is a Gift

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,

Fr Greg