Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,
Thank you for your participation at the annual Cantata. It is a beautiful thing to see us coming together from so many churches to produce this work of art. I am grateful we can host it at Sacred Heart. This past week, I joined my twin brother at his parish for a morning of reflection (similar to what we did over the summer). It was hosted by twin sisters who are also both religious sisters!
This week on Wednesday, December 18th, we will have our annual Advent Penance Service at Sacred Heart at 7pm. The Sacrament of Confession is a beautiful encounter with the Lord’s love and mercy. During this Advent I have been struck by a sense from the Lord that He knows and sees our hurts, our burdens, and He wants to set us free. While that healing love can be experienced in many ways, confession is a particular avenue of that grace. In it we can hand over sins and experiences that weigh us down. It is very, very easy to carry things for years and it is incredible within the context of the sacrament to see the freedom of handing it over, whatever it might be.
Last Sunday in Deacon John’s homily he shared a powerful moment of conversion in his life. Part of that was a renewed practice of confession. Sometimes we can hear stories like that but then be unsure of what the next step might look like. I want to encourage everyone: never be afraid of going to confession. If it has been many years and you have no idea how or where to start, any priest will be happy to guide you through it. It is actually not that uncommon for that to be the way for a confession to start. If you don’t know quite how to prepare, don’t be afraid to simply come. I am happy to lead someone through the ten commandments as an examination of conscience within the confession. At the end of confession, I will quite often ask some version of this question: “Of the things you bring to confession today, does any one of them bother you the most?” Whatever that thing is, I try to give a penance that is tailored to helping take the next step in healing from it. Often enough it will simply be the encouragement to never give into discouragement. Discouragement is one of the evil one’s favorite tools. Revelation talks about the great battle between Satan and the archangels at the end of which is proclaimed this victory chant: “Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed. For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before our God day and night.” Too often this voice of discouragement and accusation can have room in our life. Confession is a place to recognize that voice and find freedom from it. Jesus always invites us to get back and take the next step. Confession, then, is the experience of handing over those things that trip us up and taking Jesus’ hand to get back up and keep moving forward.
A great resource for confession, both in understanding it more and answering some of people’s frequently asked questions, can be found at Catholics Come Home. https://www.catholicscomehome.org/your-questions/what-is-the-sacrament-of-confession/