Behold, Now is the Day of Salvation
Lent is the time when we particularly want to purify our souls to get ourselves ready for the great feast of Easter. And there is no point in delaying. St Paul tells us, “Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
When Our Lord sent out the Apostles, apart from giving them authority to cure the sick, raise the dead and to cast out demons, He told them to preach the Gospel of Repentance. John the Baptist had preached this too in anticipation of Our Lord’s coming. And when Our Lord did come, the first words of His public ministry were, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is close at hand” (Matt 4:17). This means to recognise the fact we all have sin in our lives and we need to turn away from it because it offends God and breaks our relationship with Him. Therefore we all need to make use of the great Sacrament of Penance which Our Lord instituted that first Easter Sunday, when He breathed on the Apostles and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Those whose sins you forgive they are forgiven; those whose sins you retain they are retained” (John 20:23).
The great thing about the Sacrament of Penance is that we can be certain that so long as we have made a good, thorough and humble confession to the best of our ability, all our sins are forgiven. But people sometimes ask, “Why should I confess my sins to a priest when I can go directly to God?” There’s nothing wrong with confessing your sins privately to God and it is good to do so. But the fact is that is not the way God has established our sins be forgiven. Confessing to a priest means we have to humble ourselves, which is part of the reparation we make to God and to the Church as a whole. There is no penance in simply confessing to God in private. The priest can never reveal to anybody what you have told him in Confession, and he too must regularly confess to another priest. So we do know what it’s like. And you must be in a state of grace to receive Holy Communion – not to be is a terrible thing.
This Lent we won’t have a special service of Reconciliation since they are never well attended. Instead, to give people greater opportunity to confess, in addition to the regular times, a priest will be available for Confessions every Friday evening in Lent after the 6.30pm Stations of the Cross. This will also enable you to gain easily the Plenary Indulgence available to those who make the Stations. The confessional is the most liberating place in the world. No sin is so terrible that God won’t forgive it if you ask Him. If it’s a long time since your last Confession and you have forgotten what to do, the priest will be only too willing to help you. Also see the purple leaflets at the back of the church. But please don’t put it off any longer.
Fr Paul Gillham, IC