Since I write this from my retreat (on Wednesday, Feb. 8), I’m supposed to be praying, so it’s going to be a very brief column.
First Confessions. Last Saturday about 70 of our Second Graders went to confession for the first time. What a great gift God gives us in this sacrament. And what a joy to be able, as a priest, to share this gift with these little ones. I’m confident that none of us think any one of them was in absolute need of the sacramental absolution (i.e., in the state of mortal sin), even so, we all know the joy of the grace this sacrament imparts to live more closely with Christ as well as the absolution of venial sins are gifts. Moreover, how great it is that they have received the gift of admission to the sacrament itself, that is, to be able from now on and throughout their life to come to Christ in the confessional and receive his forgiveness even for the most terrible thing they might do, especially as teens or adults—the promise that in His loving mercy, Jesus will never abandon them, no matter how they might fail Him.
Let’s pray for these little ones, that they may regularly and always seek the Lord in the confessional throughout their lives (I pray their parents will bring them to the confessional at least once a month, as my parents did for me). And let us pray for one another that we may have a renewed appreciation and more frequent experience of this great sacrament in our own lives.
Oh, and let me also say how proud I was of the boys and girls, as everyone did a great job of remembering all the prayers, formulas, etc. Like they’d been confessing for years. As always, some got a little nervous, but no one was unprepared. The other priests and I were truly very impressed, and touched. Knowing all this will make it so much easier for them to go to confession in the future. My deepest thanks to the students, their parents and their catechists—and Mrs. Salmon.
Online formation: “Formed.org” For years, I’ve been trying to figure out how to help more folks learn more about our Catholic Faith—Sunday homilies are too short to teach much, and although we get good turnouts for our various lectures, speakers, classes and Bible Studies, we still have a large majority of our parishioners who, for various reasons, can’t seem to make it to these events. So I’ve been looking and praying for some way to take catechesis to their homes—and FORMED.ORG does this.
The website, run by the Augustine Institute in Denver, describes itself, quite accurately as: “a revolutionary online platform featuring the best Catholic videos, audio talks, eBooks and movies from trusted partners like the Augustine Institute, St. Paul Center, Marian Fathers, Lighthouse Catholic Media, Ignatius Press and Word on Fire. Catechism and Personal Faith Formation are at the fingertips of every parishioner.” There’s something good for the little ones, teens, middle-aged, seniors, neophytes, cradle Catholics, well-educated, not so well educated, families, marrieds, singles, men, women—everyone. It really is great.
But don’t take my word for it—go to the site and see for yourself. All St. Raymond parishioners have unlimited free access to the whole website. So, go to https://formed.org/ click on “Register,” and then type in St. Raymond’s Parish code: 93XXHV. And then explore.
Thanks to our “Formed” Committee members, headed by Mike Burns, who are making themselves so accessible in helping folks to get “inFormed.” Look for their table on Donut Sundays and their weekly information box in this parish bulletin. Also, look for the new parish email for “Formed” questions, in next week’s bulletin.
Prayer. As I was praying before Our Eucharistic Lord last night, it occurred to me that I might share some prayers that might help to draw you closer to Our Lord in the Eucharist. Here are two of my favorites, written by the “Angelic Doctor,” St. Thomas Aquinas. Feel free to cut these prayers out and use them frequently:
Prayer in Preparation for Mass
Almighty eternal God, behold, I come to the Sacrament of your Only Begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, as one sick to the physician of life, as one unclean to the fountain of mercy, as one blind to the light of eternal brightness, as one poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth. I ask, therefore, for the abundance of your immense generosity, that you may graciously cure my sickness, wash away my defilement, give light to my blindness, enrich my poverty, clothe my nakedness, so that I may receive the bread of Angels, the King of kings and Lord of lords, with such reverence and humility, such contrition and devotion, such purity and faith, such purpose and intention as are conducive to the salvation of my soul. Grant, I pray, that I may receive not only the Sacrament of the Lord’s Body and Blood, but also the reality and power of that Sacrament. O most gentle God, grant that I may so receive the Body of your Only Begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ, which he took from the Virgin Mary, that I may be made worthy to be incorporated into his Mystical Body and to be counted among its members. O most loving Father, grant that I may at last gaze for ever upon the unveiled face of your beloved Son, whom I, a wayfarer, propose to receive now veiled under these species: Who lives and reigns with you for ever and ever. Amen.
Prayer of Thanksgiving after Mass
I give you thanks, Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God, who have been pleased to nourish me, a sinner and your unworthy servant, with the precious Body and Blood of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: this through no merits of mine, but due solely to the graciousness of your mercy. And I pray that this Holy Communion may not be for me an offense to be punished, but a saving plea for forgiveness. May it be for me the armor of faith, and the shield of good will. May it cancel my faults, destroy concupiscence and carnal passion, increase charity and patience, humility and obedience and all the virtues, may it be a firm defense against the snares of all my enemies, both visible and invisible, the complete calming of my impulses, both of the flesh and of the spirit, a firm adherence to you, the one true God, and the joyful completion of my life’s course. And I beseech you to lead me, a sinner, to that banquet beyond all telling, where with your Son and the Holy Spirit you are the true light of your Saints, fullness of satisfied desire, eternal gladness, consummate delight and perfect happiness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles