Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
In this joy filled Easter season we celebrate the resurrection and contemplate the many blessings Jesus gives to the world through his Church, especially Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Communion. It was necessary for Christ to suffer death, so we could be restored to a good relationship with the Father. On Divine Mercy Sunday we celebrated the gift of the Sacrament of Confession that is an ocean of mercy waiting to overflow upon the faithful to cleanse us of sin and fill us with grace. There is much stress in life and we are challenged spiritually, financially, and emotionally to live a peaceful life. Much peace would flow into our parishes, families and hearts, if this hidden fountain of mercy was regularly used.
In Luke 24: 44-49 we read these words of Jesus after the resurrection: “He said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them, ‘Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things,’
And [behold] I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.’”
The promise of the Father came upon the Church at Pentecost and the Apostles filled with courage and faith proclaimed the Gospel without fear. In the days up to Pentecost, I beg you to pray for the conversion of sinners and the return of Catholics to the sacraments. I ask you to pray about what is keeping you away from Confession. This sacrament is not imposed on us by the Church. It was the first act of Jesus after the resurrection (John 20: 22-23) “…he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’” Confession is a font of mercy waiting to cleanse us of sin and fill us with the grace we need to live in peace. If privately asking God for forgiveness was enough, why was the first act of the resurrected Jesus to give this sacrament? Confession is an encounter with infinite Divine Mercy to restore us, to heal us, and empower us to live holy lives.
Pope Francis has declared a Jubilee Year of Mercy in which the Church will encourage us to be an “anointing people” who forgive others and share “the joy of the Gospel” and to be a people converted to Christ through repentance and confession. The sweetest words I heard in my suffering after divorce were, “I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”. I needed to confess my sins and definitely needed grace to overcome suffering. Jesus burns with desire for our conversion and suffers when we do not accept this gift of mercy. Yes, it is difficult to pray, “Bless me Father, for I have sinned”, but mercy is received in this encounter with Jesus in the person of his priest. After Vatican II, the sacrament is called reconciliation to emphasize restoration to a good relationship with God and others. Please accept this grace as you prepare for the joy and gifts of Pentecost.
Your servant in Christ, Father Paul