February 24, 2024 Column Father De Celles

Don’t be Afraid to Go to Confession! Our daily confessions have started out well, as we’ve had a steady flow every day. But there’s still room for you! Please remember to come during Lent, and to come early to avoid the long lines during Holy Week—if for no other reason, out of charity to your priests.

                  I know some people are afraid to go to Confession and so haven’t been in years. Some are afraid because they are embarrassed by their sins. But remember, you can confess behind the screen, so the priest won’t even know who you are (and we almost never recognize a voice).

Others are afraid because they think their sins can’t be forgiven. But remember, Jesus says: “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man…” As long as you are truly sorry for your sins and want to stop sinning, the priest, with the power of Jesus, will forgive you.

Some are afraid because they think the priest will be angry with them. But that’s just not true. In all my 57 years of going to Confession I’ve only had one truly unpleasant experience. Okay, priests have bad days like all of us, but even on a bad day priests won’t get upset with you. Priests love forgiving sins—the bigger the better. And just because a priest seems stern in the pulpit doesn’t mean he’s that way in the confessional. A father may sometimes be stern when he teaches his children to behave, but when an apologetic child comes to him in tears, that same father opens his arms with tenderness. “A lion in the pulpit, a lamb in the confessional.”

Some think they will shock the priest by what they’ve done. As Ecclesiastes tells us: “What has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” I’ve heard over 30,000 Confessions in the last 28 years, and I have heard almost every sin imaginable—really. Nothing shocks me anymore.

And finally, some are afraid the priest will tell someone about their sin. This just doesn’t happen. In all my life I have never heard a priest reveal the sins of anyone in Confession. Priests are forbidden, under pain of automatic excommunication (that can only be lifted by the pope himself), from ever directly or indirectly revealing the particular sins of a particular penitent. This is called the “seal of Confession,” and extends even to revealing things that are not sinful that are discussed in the Confession.

So don’t be afraid. Come to Confession! Soon!

Praying During Lent. One of the three traditional forms of “penance” we do during Lent is prayer. I recommend that everyone do this form of Lenten penance by adding some extra form of prayer or time for praying to their daily or weekly routine, at least in a small way. Maybe a more time-consuming form of prayer weekly, such as the Stations of the Cross, and an extra short prayer daily, or several times a day.

Stations of the Cross. One excellent form of prayer during Lent is the Stations of the Cross (or Way of the Cross), which can be prayed at home, but is most beneficially prayed in a place where “Stations” are physically erected, as they are in our church, and also along the perimeter of the woods behind our church. There are many different booklets and apps available to guide you in praying the Stations. The one we use here on Friday evenings is found in a small violet covered paperback entitled, “The Way of the Cross: According to the Method of St. Alphonsus Liguori,” which is available for purchase in our gift shop or on Amazon, and a few are kept on the tables by the entrances for use during private prayer. And hundreds of copies are available for use on Friday evenings if you join the parish praying the Stations every Friday in Lent at 7pm. Last week we had about 250 people attend—you should join us this Friday!

Morning Offering. Another excellent prayer to pray during Lent, and throughout the year, is the “Morning Offering.” Offer this prayer first thing every morning, as soon as you wake up, or before you start your daily routine, consecrating your whole day, everything you do, to Jesus. There are lots of different versions of this prayer, but they point to the same thing: offering Jesus “all my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day.” And when you begin the day with this, even the insignificant moments of the day can open up as opportunities to give back to God the great love He has given us.

This is the version of the prayer I pray: “O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You all my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart, for the forgiveness of sins, in reparation for my sins, and for the intentions of all my relatives, friends and parishioners, and all who have asked me to pray for them. Amen.”

Prayer Before the Crucifix. One of my favorite prayers, especially during Lent, is the “Prayer Before the Crucifix” (or “…before Christ Crucified”). I learned this as a small child, and still love it: “Look down upon me, good and gentle Jesus // while before Your face I humbly kneel and, // with burning soul, // pray and beseech You // to fix deep in my heart lively sentiments // of faith, hope, and charity; // true contrition for my sins, // and a firm purpose of amendment. // While I contemplate, // with great love and tender pity, // Your five most precious wounds, // pondering over them within me // and calling to mind the words which David, // Your prophet, said of You, my Jesus: // “They have pierced My hands and My feet, // they have numbered all My bones.” // Amen.”

Two More. And here are two very beautiful short prayers you can pray throughout the day (taken from St. Alphonsus’ “Stations”).

The first is a very short but powerful prayer composed by St. Francis of Assisi: “We adore Thee, O Christ, and we praise Thee, because by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.”

The second is what I call the “Prayer of St. Alphonsus,” which is repeated in slightly different forms at each station: “I love Thee, Jesus, with all my heart; I repent of having offended Thee. Never permit me to separate myself from Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always, and then do with me what Thou wilt.”

Consider praying these every day during Lent.

The Eucharist. Then there is also the greatest prayer, the Mass. So why not come to Mass sometime during the week? And also Adoration during Exposition. Join us on Wednesday from 9am to 7pm, and on Fridays/Saturdays from 9am Friday, thru the night, to 9am Saturday.

Oremus pro Invicem. Fr. De Celles