As we begin Advent this weekend, the time has come to prepare ourselves to meet the Lord Jesus in His coming. While our Advent journey consistently calls us to focus on Jesus’ second, glorious coming, this year we have the added significance of Pope Francis’ call for a Year of Mercy that is set to begin on Tuesday, December 8th – The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, providing us with a more meaningful way to prepare for Jesus and to encounter His Divine Mercy. In both our observance of Advent and in our keeping a Year of Mercy, one of the primary ways that we can already meet Jesus and at the same time prepare for meeting Him in His glory is through the sacrament of reconciliation. Accordingly, I want to share today how I hope all will be able to make this beautiful sacrament a more regular part of all our lives for these times and seasons, and truly for the rest of our earthly lives.
Since my arrival at St. Benedict’s in July, it has been in my mind and heart to make the sacrament of reconciliation more available to all, as well as to promote it, that it might become a greater treasure in all of our lives. While I seek to allude to confession whenever it is fitting within preaching, another way that I desire to assist you in growing in love for this sacrament and in a more consistent reception of it is by making the sacrament available more frequently. In previous assignments I tried to offer the sacrament before every weekday Mass. Here, however, I have decided on a different course of action, thanks to the input of the parish staff and our Pastoral Council.
To cut to the chase, I have decided to add two additional blocks of time each week during which I will make myself available to hear confessions. THESE NEW,
ADDITIONAL CONFESSION TIMES, WHICH WILL BECOME EFFECTIVE THIS WEEK ARE:
- Every Wednesday evening, beginning at 6:45 pm until 7:30 pm*
- Every Friday morning, beginning at 8:30 am until 9:00 am*
In adding these two new opportunities to the already scheduled Saturday 4:00-4:45 pm time, I am hopeful that all people in the parish will have at least one good opportunity within each week to make use of the sacrament, if so desired. (Note well – I am not saying you need to go each week; I am only saying that I hope that these three time-frames will effectively provide everyone, from the youth to the elderly, from the working to the retired, etc., with a realistic time to make use of the sacrament in any given week – noting too that I will still take appointments for the sacrament, if you so desire). Likewise, by being available more frequently, it is my hope (and prayer) that all will grow in their own faith in this sacrament in a greater desire for the Lord’s mercy.
Finally, you may have noticed the asterisk (*) that I placed on the two new time schedules. That asterisk is simply to indicate that these time frames are open-ended. That is, when a situation arises where people still are waiting in line, though the final minute has arrived, I will remain in the confessional until all who have come have been given right opportunity to receive the sacrament – even if it is several minutes past the posted end time. I am deliberately scheduling these times in this open-ended way so that no one will feel rushed, nor will I feel the need to have to tell anyone to wait (because Mass must begin, as happens periodically on Saturdays at 4:58)
Know that these times are intended to be permanent – though I may evaluate them after six months or a year to see how effective they are – mindful of any
provided feedback from any of you. Likewise, please look in upcoming bulletins for information on “special” times that I have added specifically for this Advent.