Sunday, February 10, 2013

Ash Wednesday Year ABC

Ash Wednesday Year ABC
Reading: Joel 2:12-18; 2 Cor 5:20-6:2; Mt 6:1-6,16-18

“Return to me with your whole heart”; “Have mercy on me, O God in your goodness… For I acknowledge my offense.” Each year on Ash Wednesday, we officially begin the Season of Lent. “Lent is like a long retreat during which we can turn back into ourselves and listen to the voice of God…” (Pope Benedict XVI). During this season, our parish will offer us many opportunities for the Sacrament of Penance which is such a wonderful gift! It can be intimidating, embarrassing -- but once absolution is given, you walk out of that confessional feeling like a trillion bucks. You are free at last! As G.K. Chesterton once wrote: «When a Catholic comes from confession, he does truly, by definition, step out into that dawn of his own beginning... in that brief ritual, God has really remade him in His own image. He may be grey and gouty; but he is only five minutes old!»

I have talked to many people who have been terrified to go to Confession; all I can say is, be as brave as a   soldier, go and "just do it." Christ Himself wants this of you, so that you can once again walk along with him. Millions of Catholics over 2,000 years have braved the Confessional. You too can do it. Priests have heard it all, trust me, and nothing you say can ever be repeated to anyone in any way that could identify you -- not even to the police, not even to another priest, not even to anyone. A priest is automatically excommunicated if he violates the Seal of Confession! It all ends right there. If you are worried because you are "new at this," that's okay! It's okay to be nervous, it's okay to be afraid because this is something new and different. And it's okay to tell the priest how you feel. Ten, twenty, thirty or forty years away from the Church and from the Sacrament of Penance is not strange. It is like off-loading the excess baggage you have been carrying for years. All of a sudden it is gone, and you do not know how it’s gone! Remember that you must pay for excess baggage at the airport to get your boarding pass! The flight could take off any moment without you, while you still hesitate to take off your excess baggage! As you plunge into the decision, it is ok to cry over your sins as you confess. St. Bernard once said, "The tears of the penitents are wine for the angels."  During this Holy Season, the Church offers you a wonderful opportunity to rid yourself of all that excess baggage. Apart from our Lenten Penance Service on March 8th, every Friday before the Stations of the Cross, we will have one hour for confessions. Please make use of this wonderful sacrament. “Behold, now is a very acceptable time.”

©2013 John S. Mbinda

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