February 25, 2023 Column Father De Celles
And So We Begin Lent. Lent is a wonderful season of growing closer to Jesus, turning toward Him,
and turning away from sin and temptation. Here are some words from my favorite theologian, Pope
Benedict XVI, in one of his last sermons as Pope. Let them guide you as you enter into the spiritual
combat of Lent with Our Lord.
Benedict XVI, Angelus Message, Feb. 17, 2013. “With the traditional Rite of Ashes last
Wednesday we entered Lent, a season of conversion and penance in preparation for Easter…This
always means a struggle, a spiritual combat, because the spirit of evil is naturally opposed to our
sanctification and seeks to make us stray from God’s path. For this reason the Gospel of Jesus’
temptations in the wilderness is proclaimed every year on the First Sunday of Lent.
“….At the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus had to unmask himself and reject the false
images of the Messiah which the tempter was suggesting to him. Yet these temptations are also
false images of man that threaten to ensnare our conscience, in the guise of suitable, effective and
even good proposals. …Their essential core is …the exploitation of God for our own interests, giving
preference to success or to material possessions. The tempter is cunning. He does not directly impel
us towards evil but rather towards a false good, making us believe that the true realities are power
and everything that satisfies our primary needs. In this way God becomes secondary, he is reduced
to a means; in short, he becomes unreal, he no longer counts, he disappears. Ultimately, in
temptation faith is at stake because God is at stake. At the crucial moments in life but also, as can
be seen at every moment, we stand at a crossroads: do we want to follow our own ego or God? Our
individual interests or the true Good, to follow what is really good?…
“Therefore let us not be afraid either of facing the battle against the spirit of evil: the
important thing is to fight it with him, with Christ, the Conqueror. And to be with him let us turn to his
Mother, Mary; let us call on her with filial trust in the hour of trial and she will make us feel the
powerful presence of her divine Son, so that we can reject temptations with Christ’s word and thus
put God back at the centre of our life.”
Daily Mass. Attending at least one extra Mass during the week is one of the best penances we can
do for Lent. We might not think of Mass as a “penance”, but it is, of course, the greatest prayer of the
Church and puts us at the foot of the Cross, uniting our prayers to the great prayer of Jesus on the
first Good Friday—what could be a better penance, especially during Lent?
Going to Mass during the week, especially daily, strengthens us with the grace of the
Blessed Sacrament so that we can draw closer to Christ. Moreover, it also can change our whole
perspective on daily life, reminding us in a dramatic way that our faith isn’t just for Sundays, but for
every day and every moment of the week. Remember we’ve added two daily Masses every week
during Lent: Tuesday and Wednesday at 7pm.
The Sacrament of Confession. Lent also involves a different type of “penance”—that is, the
Sacrament of Penance (also called “Confession” or “Reconciliation”). A few years ago I published a
small pamphlet called “Making a Good Confession: A Brief Examination of Conscience and Guide to
Going to Confession.” Copies of this purple pamphlet can be found by all the doors of the church
and near the confessionals.
Confessing Mortal Sins. The following is an adapted excerpt from that pamphlet.
Before making a “good Confession” we need to examine our consciences for mortal sins
we’ve committed, i.e., sins that involve all three of the following criteria: 1) grave matter, 2) full knowledge of
the sinful character of the act, and 3) complete consent. If any one of these is lacking it is not a “mortal sin,”
but may be a “venial sin.”
“Grave matter” means the act involves some very serious moral evil, found either in 1) the act itself
or 2) the intention behind the act. Grave matter can be difficult to identify, but not always.
Note that some sinful acts are grave matter when they involve circumstances that are serious
or very important, but are not grave matter if they involve only small or trivial things. These acts that can be
either grave or not are said to “admit of parvity” (smallness). For example, a lie is always a sin, but lying under
oath is grave matter, while lying about whether you like someone’s outfit is not grave matter.
Also, in Confession you must distinguish the “kind” of mortal sin committed: be clear about
what the sin was, but avoid graphic or long explanations. So it is not enough to merely say “I had bad
thoughts” or “I acted inappropriately,” rather one should more specific, e.g. “I had lustful thoughts,” etc.
You must also give the number of times you committed particular mortal sins. Sometimes
this is very difficult or even impossible to remember, in which case, try your best to give the priest some idea
of the frequency or number; e.g., “at least once a month for several years,” etc.
Parish News. We have a very vibrant parish, with many activities going on all the time. It’s very
important that everyone is made aware of what’s going on, and so we make use of several means of
disseminating information to parishioners.
Of course, information is posted to the parish website, and we also send Constant Contact
emails to all parishioners (if we have their email address) for particularly important or time sensitive
notices. We try to limit these to the most important notices, so I hope you read them when you
receive them. If you’re not getting these emails, please let the office know; maybe we don’t have the
right email address for you.
We also use two less high-tech means of communication: The Bulletin and the pulpit
announcements. The Bulletin is kind of like our parish newspaper, and as such is the primary
means of publicizing all parish events, activities and liturgies, and other important information. It
is available in hardcopy in the church and online at our parish website. So please read the Bulletin
The Pulpit Announcements read before Mass, or by the priest informally at the end of Mass,
are also an important way to get out important parish news. But while these announcements can be
very helpful and effective, of necessity they are kept short and to the point, and few in number.
Otherwise they become a distraction from the Mass.
If you have something you need to promote, please plan this in advance and coordinate it
with the parish office. And if you want to know what’s going on, please consult the many available
sources, especially this Bulletin.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles