HERE'S WHAT WE'RE DOING IN OUR
Please view our Partner Parish June calendar
Year of Mercy
Pope Francis has declared an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. This Holy Year of Mercy began December 8, 2015, the feast of the Immaculate Conception and the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council. It will close November 20, 2016, the Feast of Christ the King. This year’s motto is “Merciful Like the Father.”
Sometimes, when we think of the word mercy, we picture someone throwing themselves on their knees before a cruel villain, pleading to be spared some punishment. This is not our understanding of God’s mercy. We do not ask for God’s mercy because we are afraid of incurring his wrath as punishment for our sins. Rather, when we call on God to have mercy, we are calling on God in the only way we know him—as one who responds with compassion to those in need. When we show mercy to others, we are responding as God responds, with compassion.
A Source of Reconciliation and Joy
The Sacrament of Penance
There's an old joke about a carpenter who went to confession after he had been stealing lumber from his job site. He confessed his sins, and the priest said, “For your penance, make a novena.” The carpenter replied, “I'm not quite sure what a novena is, Father, but if you have the blueprints, I have the lumber!”
The story is good for a laugh, but it makes a good point. It raises the question of whether in the Sacrament of Penance anything good can come from our guilt and our sins. Notice the use of the term penance rather than confession. Confession is just one moment in the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance. Confession probably gets the most attention because it's the scariest part—no one likes to have his or her sins brought into the light—even if it's in the darkness of a confessional. Perhaps in the past the Church focused too much on the telling of the sins and too little on the joy to be gained through the healing that comes through an encounter with the mercy and forgiveness of God. Confession is an important step on the way to forgiveness, but it's shortsighted to let this one aspect stand for the whole gift.
Here’s what the Sacrament of Penance actually offers:
•restoration to honesty—no more need to rationalize
•restoration to integrity—no more need to have secret or unacknowledged parts of your life
•relief from unproductive guilt—transformation of remorse into living a new life. The purpose of this sacrament is not punishment but true reconciliation with God and the community.
•an encounter with God—meeting God in humility (not humiliation!) and weakness
•spiritual guidance—no need to struggle with your moral issues alone
•inner peace—no longer having to live a life at war with yourself
•strength in meeting future challenges and temptations
•grace—rediscovering, as did the prodigal son, your Father's unconditional love.