First Sunday of Lent

February 17, 2024 Column Father De Celles

Lent Begins. Lent is a wonderful season of growing closer to Jesus, turning toward Him, and turning away from sin and temptation. The basic tool we use in this regard is “doing penance.” As I mentioned last week, traditionally there are three types: almsgiving (including acts of charity), sacrifice (what you “give up” or “endure”), and prayer. Please choose your penances carefully, considering your health and state in life. Challenge yourself, but pick things you can actually do, rather than things that are so difficult that you may easily give up on them. Offer all this in atonement for your sins and as acts of love for the God who, out of love, died on the Cross for your sins.

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.

This year we’ve added extra evening Masses, Monday through Thursday at 7pm. At the Tuesday 7pm Mass I’ll give my Lenten Series of Sermons on the topic, “The Seven Last Words of Jesus.”

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. As always, we have Exposition and Adoration on Wednesdays from 9am to 7pm. But during Lent our Friday Exposition and Adoration will be extended through the evening and throughout the night (“Nocturnal”) until just before the Saturday morning 9am Mass. (We will pause Adoration as we take time for the Stations of the Cross at 7pm).

Doing a holy hour every week is a great penance for Lent: it’s a form of prayer, and it’s a sacrifice (of time—and sleep, if you do it during the late-night hours), and it can be a form of almsgiving if you use it to pray for people.

“What do I do in Adoration?” This is a question a lot of folks ask me. There really aren’t many rules for what you do at Adoration. Basically you come, sit or kneel quietly, and pray. You can just sit there and talk to Jesus, and listen to Him. And you can pray your Rosary or other prayers you know, or from a good Catholic prayer book (there will be some prayer books in the church if you want to use those). Or bring your Bible or some other good spiritual book (even an interesting biography of a saint) to read between prayers. But mainly come and be with Jesus.

An hour sounds like a long time, but it’s not really, if you split it up between praying the Rosary, reading, and just talking and listening to Jesus. As St. John Vianney once said, “Him looking at you, and you looking at Him.” It’ll do you a lot of good, and joined with all the prayers of your fellow parishioners adoring over the 24 hours, it will be great for our parish and the whole Church.

Please Sign Up. We need at least 2 adorers to commit to be present for each hour of scheduled adoration, so that Our Eucharistic Lord will not be left alone at any time. So please visit our website to sign up and take 1 hour. But even if you don’t sign up, please come to adore at any time.

Confessions Every Day in Lent. Fundamental to a fruitful observance of Lent is the reception of the Sacrament of Penance (also called “Confession” or “Reconciliation”). I am very happy to say that you can go to confession at St. Raymond’s every day during Lent. So, please: go to confession!

Making a Good Confession. By now I’m guessing you’re familiar with small pamphlet called “Making a Good Confession: A Brief Examination of Conscience and Guide to Going to Confession.” Copies of this pamphlet can be found by all the doors of the church and near the confessionals. I hope you will find it helpful in preparing for and making a good confession. Below is the introduction to that pamphlet. Maybe it will lead to you grab the pamphlet and read the rest of it….

How do we make a “good Confession”? We begin by prayerfully, and with honesty and humility, looking at our lives to recognize the sins we’ve committed since our last Confession, i.e., we make “an examination of conscience.” In particular, we need to look for mortal sins, 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). Many of the sins listed below would “admit of parvity,” unless the word “serious” accurately describes them. 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 give the priest some idea of the frequency or number; e.g., “at least once a month for several years,” etc.

Besides mortal sins, we should also consider confessing (but are not required to confess) vices (sinful habits) or other venial sins that are particularly problematic.

A BRIEF EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE. This brief examination of conscience is not all inclusive or exhaustive, but is a useful tool to help you prepare for Confession. Remember, as you go through your examination consider if any of your sins are mortal. Also, remember to confess how many times you committed particular mortal sins.

Note, to help you identify mortal sins, sins that always involve grave matter are marked with an “A” and sins that very often or usually involve grave matter (so should be considered very carefully) are marked with an “O/U.” This does not mean that sins not marked never involve grave matter, as discussed above.

The pamphlet then continues with a detailed review of each of the 10 Commandments, and a detailed “how-to” of what to say and do in the confessional. Happy reading! And have a fruitful, blessed and holy Lent!

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles