March 14, 2021 Column Father De Celles

Laetare Sunday. Today is Laetare Sunday, or “Rejoice Sunday.” It marks the halfway
point in Lent, with the Church reminding us that in the midst of our sorrows for the
suffering of Christ for our sins, we need to always keep in mind the glory and joy of the
Resurrection and our redemption. (Strictly speaking, the Thursday before Laetare Sunday
is the middle day of Lent, and it was at one time observed as such, but centuries ago the
special signs of joy permitted on this day were transferred to the Sunday following to
make them more visible to more folks).
Sometimes we struggle to keep our penances in Lent. And others procrastinate in
choosing a penance. Today we remember that there is still half of Lent remaining to
rededicate or increase our efforts to keep Lent holy. To those who haven’t chosen a
penance yet, get with it! To those who are struggling to keep their penances: if your
penance is too hard, it’s okay change your penance to something that is challenging but
manageable in your situation; to those who just haven’t been trying, no excuses—pick up
your cross. And to those have found their penances manageable and doable, then perhaps
you can add some more penances, or intensify the ones you are currently doing.
Let’s allow the rest of Lent to really be a time of holiness for each of us, as we
carry our crosses with Jesus.
Lenten Podcast. If it’s helpful, remember I’m putting out a brief daily Lenten podcast
you can listen to on your computer or smartphone. To access, just go to our website and
see the popup menu, or look for it on your podcast app.
What Must We Do to be Forgiven? In order to be forgiven our sins the Church teaches
that three things are required of every sinner/penitent: 1) contrition, 2) confession of our
sins, and 3) satisfaction. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches [1452-1460]:
Contrition is “sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together
with the resolution not to sin again… When it arises from a love by which God is loved
above all else, contrition is called “perfect”… Such contrition remits venial sins; it also
obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to
sacramental confession as soon as possible.” Note, since it is practically impossible to be
certain if we have such “perfect contrition,” so we should not presume it, and are still
required to receive the Sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion if we
are aware of an unconfessed mortal sin.
Most of the time contrition is usually not “perfect,“ so it is called “imperfect” (or
“attrition”).” Imperfect contrition is born not from pure love of God “above all else” but
“of the consideration of sin’s ugliness or the fear of eternal damnation and the other
penalties threatening the sinner…. Such a stirring of conscience can initiate an interior
process which, under the prompting of grace, will be brought to completion by
sacramental absolution. By itself however, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the
forgiveness of grave sins, but it disposes one to obtain forgiveness in the sacrament of
Confession of sins “even from a simply human point of view, facilitates our
reconciliation with others. Through such an admission man looks squarely at the sins he

is guilty of, takes responsibility for them, and thereby opens himself again to God and to
the communion of the Church ….Confession to a priest is an essential part of the
sacrament of Penance: ‘All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-
examination are conscious must be recounted by them in confession, even if they are
most secret…’ [T]hose who …knowingly withhold some, place nothing before the divine
goodness for remission through the mediation of the priest,” and the absolution of the
priest is not effective, no sins are forgiven.
“Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is
nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our
venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be
healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit.”
Satisfaction is the real effort to make up for our sins. “Many sins wrong our
neighbor. One must do what is possible in order to repair the harm (e.g., return stolen
goods, restore the reputation of someone slandered, pay compensation for injuries).
Simple justice requires as much.” This is called ‘making reparation.’
“But sin also injures and weakens the sinner himself, as well as his relationships
with God and neighbor. Absolution takes away sin, but it does not remedy all the
disorders sin has caused. Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual
health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must ‘make satisfaction
for’ or ‘expiate’ his sins. This satisfaction is also called ‘penance.’”
“The penance the confessor imposes must take into account the penitent’s personal
situation and must seek his spiritual good. It must correspond as far as possible with the
gravity and nature of the sins committed. It can consist of prayer, an offering, works of
mercy, service of neighbor, voluntary self-denial, sacrifices, and above all the patient
acceptance of the cross we must bear. Such penances help configure us to Christ, who
alone expiated our sins once for all.”
Masses “Extremely Safe.” To my knowledge, no one has caught COVID while
attending Mass or Confessions at St. Raymond’s. (Praised be Jesus Christ!) This confirms
an interesting article from the online news organization, “Catholic San Francisco,”
published, Mar. 8, 2021, by Nicholas Wolfram Smith (excerpt):
“‘It is extremely safe to attend Mass indoors following common sense precautions
as recommended by the CDC,’ Dr. Timothy Flanigan said.
“Flanigan, professor of medicine and of health services, policy and practice at
Brown University, member of the university’s Division of Infectious Diseases and a
Catholic deacon, helped author guidelines published by the Thomistic Institute on safely
celebrating Mass during the pandemic.
“Following the ‘3 W’s’: ‘Wear a mask, wash your hands, watch your distance
from others,’ is key for public safety, as well as heeding CDC recommendations for
worship spaces that include good ventilation, staying home when sick and having
capacity limits.
“With hundreds of thousands of Masses being celebrated since parts of the
country began reopening, ‘There have been no clusters of cases reported that have been

linked to church attendance where these commonsense precautions have been followed,’
he said.
“A series of cases from Seattle, where unknowingly infected individuals who later
reported testing positive attended Masses and other services that were following COVID
safety practices, show the effectiveness of following the CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines. In
each case, no outbreak of the disease was associated with the individual’s attendance.
“‘This encouraging news should inspire confidence that the guidelines in place —
based on CDC recommendations — are working to decrease COVID-19 transmission,’
Flanigan wrote in an Aug. 19 article in Real Clear Science. ‘While nothing during a
pandemic is risk-free, these guidelines mean that Catholics (and public officials) may be
confident that it’s reasonably safe to come to church for Mass and the sacraments.’”
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles