SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER (DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY)
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If we had to summarize the Christian faith in one sentence, we’d say, “Christ died for our sins so that we may be reconciled with God the Father.” But what next? How does this apply in our lives?
After death comes resurrection. After Good Friday comes Easter Sunday. And this Sunday’s gospel reading (Jn 20:19-31) tells what happens to the apostles when they encounter the Risen Christ on that first Easter Sunday. They were hiding behind locked doors when Jesus appears, and in the midst of their fear, offers them peace. “Peace be with you,” He tells them, and then after showing them His wounds, suffered for our sake, He does a marvelous thing. He breathes on them, and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20:22-23).
The Son of God grants authority to forgive sins to the apostles. He tells them, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Christ passes on His ministry of reconciliation to the Church (2 Cor 5:18), and the Church continues that ministry today through the sacrament of Reconciliation, Confession or Penance. These three names for the same sacrament each reflect one aspect of what happens in this encounter between the sinner and Christ. We confess our sins. We perform our penance. And we are reconciled to God. This is a marvelous and beautiful mystery that most of us fail to appreciate.
And why is that? Why do so many Catholics shy away from this healing sacrament of mercy? I get it. It’s no fun to go into a cramped little room and tell someone all the bad things you have done. No one likes to admit to themselves, let alone to someone else, all of their faults and misdeeds. But consider this: God already knows all of your sins — better than you do. By not confessing them, you are not hiding them from God. You are hiding God from yourself. By sealing those sins up within yourself, you seal out God. God wants to dwell within you, but He will not come in uninvited. You have to let Him in.
Yet the thought of going to confession after a long absence can still seem daunting. I hate doing the dishes. Well, that’s an overstatement. In truth I don’t mind washing dishes. What I hate is when there is a huge pile of them to be done; then it becomes a chore. If I wash the dishes immediately after each meal, it’s not a hard task. But the longer I wait, the more dishes pile up, and the more daunting the task seems. I look at the sink overflowing with dirty plates and pots and pans and think, “Ugh, what a mess! I can’t deal with all that right now.” And so I put it off, more dishes pile up, and it only makes the job harder when I finally get around it it. I may even avoid walking through the kitchen so I don’t have to look at the mess. I pretend it’s not there, but my pretending doesn’t make the pile of dishes go away.
When our souls get dirty through sin, they need washing, too. And, just like with the dishes, if you take care of it right away, it’s no big deal. But the longer you wait, the more the sins pile up, and the more daunting confession seems. So we avoid it altogether. We don’t want to confront the reality of how dirty our souls have become. But what we are avoiding is God’s mercy, the very thing we need!
This is why it is such a good idea to set a regular schedule for confession — and keep to it. The Church requires us to confess our sins at least once a year, during the Lenten season, but this is the bare minimum. Pope Francis goes to confession every two weeks. Some go weekly, which can be helpful especially if you are struggling with an addictive sin. For most Catholics going once per month or two will be sufficient. I find that any less often than this, however, and it becomes very easy to forget about and put off until another time — and then, like the dirty dishes, the next thing you know a big pile of sins has built up and separated you from God.
If your first Reconciliation was your last Reconciliation, know you are not alone. Plenty of college students I speak to have not been to confession since they made their first Holy Communion. Sadly, many Catholic families have not made reception of this sacrament part of their spiritual lives. But you can change that. You can start the practice of regular confession now.
Begin by examining your conscience. Reflect back on your life since your last confession and try to call to mind any time you did something you knew was not right, or that you later realized was wrong. You may find it helpful to use an examination of conscience that provides questions meant to help call to mind your sins (there is a short one in the back of the worship aid and prayer booklet in the pews in our chapel, or you can find many online, including this one for college students). One great thing about keeping the time between confessions to a minimum is that examining your conscience is much easier when it’s been a short time since your last confession.
And then go to Confession. Just do it. Walk in there, kneel or sit down. Make the sign of the cross and then say, “Bless me, Father, I have sinned. It has been [X amount of time] since my last confession.” Then say your sins. If it’s been so long that you don’t remember what to do, just ask Father to lead you through it. Sometimes we may fear that the priest will be upset with us if we tell him that it has been years since we last confessed, but in fact the exact opposite is true. He will rejoice to have you back to the sacrament.
|“Confession is an act of honesty and courage – an act of entrusting ourselves, beyond sin, to the mercy of a loving and forgiving God.” – Pope St. John Paul II|
1. Make the Sign of the Cross
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
2. Optional Opening Prayers
You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.
Repeat three times
O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in You!
3. Our Father
4. Hail Mary
5. The Apostle’s Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended into hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.
6. The Eternal Father
Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
7. On the Ten Small Beads of Each Decade
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
8. Repeat for the remaining decades
Saying the “Eternal Father” (6) on the “Our Father” bead and then “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion” (7) on the following “Hail Mary” beads.
9. Conclude with Holy God (Repeat three times)
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
10. Optional Closing Prayer
Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.
In the Jubilee Year of 2000 Pope St. John Paul II declared the second Sunday of Easter to be celebrated each year as a feast to Jesus’ Divine Mercy. And now 15 years later, Pope Francis has declared another Jubilee Year — a year devoted to Mercy, to be celebrated from Dec. 8, 2015 (the feast of the Immaculate Conception) to Nov. 20, 2016 (the feast of Christ the King). In his very first Angelus address as Pope, Francis reminded us, “Let us not forget that God forgives, and God forgives always.” This extraordinary holy year is a needed reminder to the world of God’s great and loving mercy that can be found in the Catholic Church.
“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. Whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20:21-23).
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:18-20).
- Learn more about the devotion to the Divine Mercy.
- Read the full text of Pope Francis’ Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Year of Mercy, Misericordiae Vultus
I hope you all had a wonderful Easter Break. The bad news is that the next break is not until Summer break. The good news is the next break is Summer Break! For some of you, this will be your last semester at WCU. We want to honor anyone graduating; if this applies to you and you are interested in participating in a Baccalaureate Mass, please email me. I would need to know which Commencement you are participating in, approximately how many family/friends you’d have coming, and when they would be arriving in town (i.e. are they coming up the Friday before?).
- TUESDAY (today)
- Adoration in the chapel from noon till 12:30.
- Community Table volunteer service from 3:30-6:00pm. Meet at CCM by 3:15 for a ride over.
- WEDNESDAY (tomorrow)
- Adoration in the chapel from 5:30-6:15.
- Evening Prayer (vespers) in the chapel at 6:00.
- Supper @ the Center from 6:30-8:30. Jackie and Pasquale are cooking, and our program is being led by Mairenn and Bekka. They have a special CCM scavenger hunt game night planned for us, so you don’t want to miss this week!
- Adoration in the chapel from noon to 12:30.
- Small Group Bible study on the UC balcony from 5:30-6:30.
- Simply Stitched knitting & crochet group meets at CCM from 8:00-9:30.
- This Sunday at the 11:00am Mass at St. Mary’s, our own Jessica McLawhorn will be received into full communion with the Catholic Church with the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist. Please join us if you can to celebrate with Jessica!
- This Sunday is also Divine Mercy Sunday. Our schedule on campus will be slightly different. We will begin at 4:00pm by praying the chaplet of Divine Mercy together — for those who have never done so, it is super easy and we’ll have guides on hand. Mass will begin immediately after the chaplet (approximately 4:15 or so).
- Our Credo discussion after Mass will be about the Eucharist. Come with questions!
- NEXT MONDAY
- Small Group Bible study meets at 10:30pm in Starbucks.