This week begins with the festive procession with olive branches: the entire populace welcomes Jesus. The children and young people sing, praising Jesus. But this week continues in the mystery of Jesus’ death and his resurrection. We have just listened to the Passion of our Lord. We might well ask ourselves just one question: Who am I? Who am I, before my Lord? Who am I, before Jesus who enters Jerusalem amid the enthusiasm of the crowd? Am I ready to express my joy, to praise him? Or do I stand back? Who am I, before the suffering Jesus? We have just heard many, many names. The group of leaders, some priests, the Pharisees, the teachers of the law, who had decided to kill Jesus. They were waiting for the chance to arrest him. Am I like one of them? We have also heard another name: Judas. Thirty pieces of silver. Am I like Judas? We have heard other names too: the disciples who understand nothing, who fell asleep while the Lord was suffering. Has my life fallen asleep? Or am I like the disciples, who did not realize what it was to betray Jesus? Or like that other disciple, who wanted to settle everything with a sword? Am I like them? Am I like Judas, who feigns loved and then kisses the Master in order to hand him over, to betray him? Am I a traitor? Am I like those people in power who hastily summon a tribunal and seek false witnesses: am I like them? And when I do these things, if I do them, do I think that in this way I am saving the people? Am I like Pilate? When I see that the situation is difficult, do I wash my hands and dodge my responsibility, allowing people to be condemned – or condemning them myself? Am I like that crowd which was not sure whether they were at a religious meeting, a trial or a circus, and then chose Barabbas? For them it was all the same: it was more entertaining to humiliate Jesus. Am I like the soldiers who strike the Lord, spit on him, insult him, who find entertainment in humiliating him? Am I like the Cyrenean, who was returning from work, weary, yet was good enough to help the Lord carry his cross? Am I like those who walked by the cross and mocked Jesus: “He was so courageous! Let him come down from the cross and then we will believe in him!”. Mocking Jesus…. Am I like those fearless women, and like the mother of Jesus, who were there, and who suffered in silence? Am I like Joseph, the hidden disciple, who lovingly carries the body of Jesus to give it burial? Am I like the two Marys, who remained at the Tomb, weeping and praying? Am I like those leaders who went the next day to Pilate and said, “Look, this man said that he was going to rise again. We cannot let another fraud take place!”, and who block life, who block the tomb, in order to maintain doctrine, lest life come forth? Where is my heart? Which of these persons am I like? May this question remain with us throughout the entire week.
The Triduum is made up of the three days before Easter - Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. It is a single prayer of final preparation where we enter into the redemption of humanity and the salvation of the world made present in the Resurrection of our Lord.
This is the holiest part of the year and makes present the mystery of Jesus passion and death before He rises again.
Holy Thursday - The Mass of the Lord's Supper, it is the celebration of the first Eucharist in the upper room. This is when we have the annual washing of feet. Usually there is no other Mass celebrated on this day. Extra hosts are consecrated and then all of the Blessed Sacrament are taken from the Church and the tabernacle is left open to signify our longing for Christ. We have adoration after this mass as our last act of worship before the sorrow of Good Friday.
Good Friday - Celebration of the Lord's Passion. There is no Mass this day. Usually there are Stations of The Cross and a Communion service. This is when we have veneration of the Cross and the entire Passion of Christ is read.
Easter Vigil - This is the high-point of the Church's year. During this celebration of Christ's death and Resurrection we have the RCIA candidates and elect receive the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist). The vigil must take place after night falls. It starts with an Easter fire outside of the Church. Then the paschal (Easter) candle is lit and processed into the Church. Then we all share the light of Christ with one another. Afterward, we have the Liturgy of the Word, which will have many readings about the story of God's Salvation history (7 Old Testament and 2 New Testament readings). Then after the homily, we celebrate baptism and confirmation. After this we celebrate the Eucharist. It is a long and absolutely beautiful liturgy with many "smells and bells".
We should prayerfully enter into the coming Holy Week in preparation for Christ's rising from the dead. Christ have mercy on us all!
Holy Week in Two Minutes
Want to know why Catholics wave palms on Palm Sunday; wash each other's feet on Holy Thursday; or kiss the cross on Good Friday? Look no further than BustedHalo.com's® two-minute video that describes the final week of Lent we spend preparing for Easter.
21 Reasons To Go To Confession & Why Catholics Confess Sins To Priests
There are several questions we need to sort through before we get to the reason we all need Confession.
Is the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) necessary to have your sins forgiven or can you go straight to God?
Why do we need this Sacrament?
Where did it come from?
What does sin do?
We have to lay some groundwork before giving adequate answers.
What Sin Does
Sin causes damage in an three-fold way:
Most people easily see that sin can damage the relationship between us and God. This is why all Christians seek forgiveness of sins in some way. But, this isn't the only damage done. St. Paul tells us, in several of his letters, we are all united to God in one body of Christ - the Church. One example of this teaching:
"We, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another." - Romans 12:5
So, when we sin we can damage others. As Paul says in his long teaching on the Body of Christ in 1 Corinthians:
"If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy." - 1 Cor 12:26
Thus, we not only damage the relationship with God, but also with other members of the Church. The Catechism teaches:
"1440 Sin is before all else an offense against God, a rupture of communion with him. At the same time it damages communion with the Church. For this reason conversion entails both God's forgiveness and reconciliation with the Church."
The third damage caused is to ourselves. We are created for goodness and holiness. When we sin, in a sense, we become less of who we were created to be. This damage needs to be repaired also. This healing only happens when sin is forgiven.
Who Forgives Sins?
Only God has the authority to forgive sins. Yet, this authority is mediated through others. The Jews questioned why Christ was forgiving sins, because they did not realize He was God. We must not forget that Jesus was also a man. He passes on this authority to forgive sins to his apostles.
After the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples who were gathered in the upper room, scared out of their minds and confused. Christ comes and breathes the Holy Spirit on them and then commissions them to forgive sins. This is only the second time God breathes on humans. The first is when He breathes life into Adam. Breath is a symbol of the Holy Spirit.
"On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. (Jesus) said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."" - John 20 19-23
The apostles are sent as the Father has sent Jesus - with the authority to forgive sins. But, how could they know which sins to forgive and which to retain, if the sins were not confessed? This is why the book of James says this:
"confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed." - James 5:16
In this context of this verse, a person is told to "summon the presbyters of the church" (James 5:14). Presbyter is the Greek word for priest (or elder).
Therefore, based on the Biblical evidence, we see forgiveness of sins is explicitly tied to confession to a priest, who has the authority to forgive sins, which is given by Christ. Christ thus heals the relationship through the priest and we are reconciled to both God and His Church - healing the two-fold damage done in our relationships.
Can You Go Straight to God?
Yes and no. We are told, as we see clearly in Scripture above, that we are to confess our sins to one another. Thus, the ordinary way we have our grave sins forgiven is through the Sacrament of Confession. Thus, this is the way that Christ has established as the ordinary way to forgive grave (i.e. mortal) sins. But, there are extreme circumstances where God may forgive grave sins outside of Confession if the person has perfect contrition (sorrow) for their sins, but these are extraordinary.
Also, we are only required to go to Confession once a year during the Easter season, and only if we have committed a mortal sin. Thus, all venial sins can be forgiven by going straight to God, though they can also be forgiven in Confession, and this is recommended whenever possible.
Can only Catholics Have Their Sins Forgiven?
The simple answer is no. While confession is the ordinary way to have your sins forgiven, it is not the only way. The Catechism says:
“When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called "perfect" (contrition of charity). 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” (CCC 1452).
If someone is not Catholic (thus they do not have recourse to the Sacrament), then they can be forgiven, with perfect contrition and confession of their sins to God. If a non-Catholic is in danger of death, they can receive the Sacrament - if they are a baptized Christian.
"If there is a danger of death or if, in the judgment of the diocesan Bishop or of the Episcopal Conference, there is some other grave and pressing need, catholic ministers may lawfully administer these same sacraments to other Christians not in full communion with the catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who spontaneously ask for them, provided that they demonstrate the catholic faith in respect of these sacraments and are properly disposed." (Code of Canon Law, canon 844.4)
So, Why Go to Confession If you Can be Forgiven Without It?
Many reasons, in fact, I came up with at least 21 of them:
21 Reasons To Go To Confession
God commanded we confess our sins to one another in the Bible. (James 5:16)
Helps us go deep within and think about how we can improve.
It feels good emotionally.
When we realize (again) we are sinners, it is easier to be patient with others.
Always confidential - what is said in the confessional stays in the confessional.
No more guilt.
We are better prepared to receive the Eucharist.
Forgiveness is a necessary part of growing in holiness.
Our consciences can be better formed.
If we have mortally sinned, then Confession brings us back into the family of God - The Church as well as restores sanctifying grace in our souls!
St. Pius X Scholarships
Have you been active in the Newman Club by participating in events, helping with projects and living out your faith? If so, you may be eligible for a St. Pius X Scholarship. The St. Pius X Endowment Association awards partial scholarships each year to a limited number of applicants. To apply for a scholarship, download the application form and submit it to the office by Tuesday, April 15th. All information will be kept confidential. The scholarships will be awarded at Banquet and Ball, which is held on April 26th. Applicants must be present to receive a scholarship.
In first year, Pope Francis has challenged 'all' to live Gospel
By Carl Bunderson
Washington D.C., Mar 9, 2014 / 04:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Anticipating the one-year anniversary of the election of Pope Francis as the Bishop of Rome, Catholic leaders nationwide have reflect on his papacy thus far, noting his call for every Catholic to evangelize.
“In a certain sense, by his style of interviews and public statements, he kind of throws the ball back in our court as well – and I don't mean bishops, I mean all the faithful,” Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Neb. told CNA March 6.
“And what I mean by that is that…it kind of falls upon us to put him in context, and to tell people what he means. And that's part of the sensus fidelium, that's part of, really, our baptismal charism: that the faithful also have the responsibility of articulating the teaching of the Church, so it doesn't focus on one person, like the Pope, like a bishop; that we all have this responsibility of preaching the gospel, and explaining the Gospel, and articulating the Gospel.”
Since the election of Jorge Bergoglio as Pope on March 13, 2013, the world has been fascinated by the Roman Pontiff, as seen by him being named “Man of the Year” by several publications. He has so far given three interviews to secular publications, and one to a magazine of the Society of Jesus, for which he was ordained a priest.
Pope Francis' personal style in these interviews and elsewhere, Bishop Conley said, “has given us an opportunity to put his words into context and to explain maybe some of the ambiguities, some of the lack of precision in his language. It's not a bad thing.”
He emphasized that the Pope has said repeatedly that he is first and foremost a son of the Church and “has made it clear he has no intention of changing Church teaching on fundamental issues; but because of perhaps his style, or his way of doing interviews, it leaves a lot of room for us to explain what he really means.”
John Garvey, president of the Catholic University of America, told CNA that when Pope Francis' words are misappropriated – as when his comment “who am I to judge” is taken out of context and used to support acceptance of the commission of homosexual acts – “someone ought to call out the appropriators on that.”
Yet at the same time, he said another misreading of Pope Francis' message, “which some Catholics may fall victim to,” is “to say 'yeah, yeah, yeah, fine about mercy, but let me tell you again about the rules.'”
Pope Francis “is saying that’s not the way to sell the faith,” Garvey emphasized. “The most interesting thing about him…is his emphasis on mercy, and his repeated talk about Jesus and the Gospels and the primacy of charity, rather than rules and laws.”
“If we want to evangelize, we need to describe what we love about the faith, (and) not the kinds of rules and laws that we all should, of course, attend to,” he said.
Garvey said Pope Francis' message is that “what draws people to the faith is God's mercy…if we respond to the message that he's communicating – that we need to love God and our neighbors, that charity is paramount, that we need to take care of the poor, that the message of the Gospels is God's mercy, and that’s what the Church is preaching – if we feel we need to respond to that by saying, 'yeah, now he’s not telling you you have to obey all these rules about sex and fasting and take your pick,' we're kind of missing the point that he’s trying to communicate to us.”
“We should, none of us, feel the obligation to make up for the Pope's failures in communication, by saying the things he says we shouldn’t be talking about all the time. What we ought to do, is pay attention to what he’s saying, and try to copy that style for a little while.”
Garvey said he has used a metaphor of teaching someone golf for how to evangelize: “it would be odd, and probably not very attractive, to say, now here's the deal, when you’re on the tee, you don't go outside the white stakes, because they’re out of bounds, and the penalty is stroke and distance…what you should do, is say the goal is to get the ball in the hole with the fewest strokes, by going along the fairways, and enjoying the company with you.”
“They're both apt description of what golf is, and of course the second description doesn’t mean you’re allowed to ignore out of bounds markers or sand traps.” Similarly, in evangelizing, we should focus on what is beautiful about the Church, and not solely rules and laws, he indicated.
Garvey also noted that an important effect of the first year of Pope Francis' pontificate is “how he has kind of transcended liberal and conservative categories,” being both fully concerned with social justice and poverty, but also affirming Church teaching on “abortion and contraception and a hundred other things.”
“There’s a tendency (in the U.S.) to think of Catholics as Republicans because they hold ‘old-fashioned’ views on sex, when in fact so much of the Church’s teaching is more comfortable on the progressive side of the political spectrum,” Garvey said.
He added that the Pope's style is “a way of taking being Catholic out of politics, and situating it in the real world; and that’s been a really nice thing, I think.”
He also noted Pope Francis' genuineness in his concern for the poor: “it's who he is. The way he’s living is perfectly consistent with the message he's preaching. He lives like a poor man, he takes care of the poor…it's not just a token, it’s the best evidence of his sincerity.”
Carolyn Woo, president of Catholic Relief Services, said March 6 that “Francis has taught us many lessons in the first year of his papacy, reminding the faithful that the preferential option for the poor is a central mission of the Church…this has made his papacy particularly meaningful to those of us at Catholic Relief Services.”
“In washing the feet of the poor, in visiting the refugees on the Italian island of Lampedusa, Francis has demonstrated that it is necessary to go beyond words to deeds in service to the poor. This is the work that thousands of employees of CRS are engaged in every day around the world, in solidarity with the Catholic community in the United States. Francis has been an inspiration to us all.”
Bishop Conley reflected on the last year in Lincoln – with the caveat that he was transferred there only a few months prior to Pope Francis' election – but saying that “I certainly have detected a greater awareness of our missionary responsibility, our evangelical responsibility to proclaim the faith, particularly among the lay faithful.”
“It seems that there is a new energy, or awareness or attentiveness, to the call of the lay faithful to be part of the evangelization effort of the Church. I’ve noticed that in parishes as I go around and the questions people ask me.”
He added that the priests, also, “have been preaching more and more about the Church as mission, and they’ve been reaching out to those Catholics who have fallen away from the sacramental practice of the faith. But also, a kind of awareness of obligation to evangelize non-Catholics, and to share our faith with them.”
Bishop Conley also reflected on this first year of Pope Francis’ pontificate in his March 7 column at the Southern Nebraska Register, where he noted the profound continuity between Pope Francis and Benedict XVI.
“Often, we hear about the differences between each man who becomes the Pope – in 2005, we heard that Pope Benedict was different from Blessed John Paul II; today we hear that Pope Francis is different from Pope Benedict,” he wrote.
“I am struck more deeply by the continuity in the papacy than by the differences. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And, in thought, and life, and mission, so is the Church.
He described how both know the Church is called to mission to “a world which is hurting,” saying, “Pope Benedict called this poverty a desert; Pope Francis calls it the periphery.”
Bishop Conley wrote, “I am grateful for the ministry of Pope Benedict XVI. He called me to the episcopal office and sent me to this great diocese of Lincoln. His humility, brilliance, and generosity brought souls to Jesus Christ. And I am grateful for the ministry of Pope Francis. His openness, and courage, and pastoral kindness make disciples of the world.”