In this e-weekly:
- Celebrating the Solemnity of St. Joseph (Diocesan News and Beyond)
-You still have time to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) before Easter!
-Information on Confession, How to Go, and an Examination of Conscience (at end of e-mail)
“I grew up Catholic, but fell away from my faith and became fascinated with secular meditation. Something, though, was always missing. It felt like I was being pulled towards something spiritual, something more. So I started asking everyone if there was any sort of intersection between meditation and faith, and what I found changed my life.” -Alex Jones, Founder of Hallow
The Hallow app offers many ways to deepen your prayer life, such as:
-Pray with the reading from the daily Gospel each morning in just 5, 10, or 15 minutes (you choose the length)
-Fall asleep with Bible sleep stories from Fr. Mike Schmitz, Jonathan Roumie, or various Scripture readings by guest readers.
-Meditate with the daily Rosary or many other prayers on your way to work, with your morning coffee, or as you go about your day
-Try praying with music, hearing the Bible in a Year podcast, and much, much more!
Some features include:
-Listen on the way to work, on a plane, in the morning, or at night with downloadable offline sessions and customized lengths anywhere from 1, 5, 10, 15, 30, or 60 minute options!
-Personalize your prayer experience. Choose your guide, length, background music like Gregorian chant, set your favorites, journal, and create your own personal prayer plan.
Try Hallow Premium free for three months!
Go to this link to set up an account on the Hallow website or use the codes below:
After you have setup your account, download the app by searching for “Hallow Catholic” in the App Store or Google Play, sign in using the account you just created, and start praying!
Catholic Good News
Receiving the Gospel, Serving God and Neighbor
MERCY-God for YOU
"Mercy triumphs over judgment!'" James 2:13
Fifth Sunday of Lent
Fifth Sunday of Lent w/ Gospel
Friday is a Day of Abstinence from meat for Catholics 14 and older
venial sin (from Latin venia "pardon" and sont-, sons "guilty")
- any thought, word, deed, or failure that harms or weakens one's relationship with God or neighbor
If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly. –I John 5:16-17
mortal/serious sin (from Latin mort-, mors "death" and sont-, sons "guilty")
- any grave thought, word, deed, or failure committed with full knowledge and full freedom that destroys one's relationship with God or neighbor and brings spiritual death to the soul and the real possibly of Hell
Beating the Blues
-Go for a walk, physical activity such as aerobic exercise like jogging, swimming, or brisk walking, is a great way to perk up a blue mood. Exercise releases endorphins, a group of proteins produced by the brain that are thought to elevate mood.
-Keep busy by filling up your schedule. Immerse yourself in a favorite activity, find a new hobby, volunteer, plan a vacation, or take an evening course.
-Don’t isolate yourself from others when you feel blue. This can make things worse. Make a date to go out with friends, do some volunteer work, write a letter, or telephone a relative or an old friend.
-Music can have a profound effect on emotions. Listen to some of your favorite upbeat music. Sing along at the top of your lungs or dance around the room. Avoid sad songs or music that reminds you of a loss.
-Express your creativity by painting, sculpting, knitting, embroidery, cooking, or any other art or craft. Try something new. This will help you forget your worries.
HOW CAN I HELP AT THIS TIME?
1) →Check on family and neighbors to make sure everyone is okay and needs are being taken care of.← (Call if you can. If you drop by, make sure you maintain social distance to the degree possible.)
2) →Donate blood.← (This is much needed now as many blood drives at colleges and churches have had to be cancelled and hospitals will have increased need. Blood donation is very safe and they are taking extra precautions with current illness going around.)
3) →Explore ways to help or volunteer virtually.← (So much can be done over the phone and internet today. Search your local community needs.)
4) →Waste not, want not.← (Use the food in your house. Be careful to stay up on item dates. Freeze food you will not use right away. Buy what you will use.)
5) →Make a donation to those serving others.← (Local, national, and international organization exist to serve and help others. Look up one or ask locally what most needs assistance.)
6) →Be a leader and provide good example.← (Be the first to do the right thing. Explain directions that are hard to understand or follow. Encourage others to look toward their neighbor and fellow human being.)
7) →Take care of yourself.← (As they say, secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others. In other words, self-care is incredibly important at a time like this, and ensuring that you’re making safe and smart choices is a civic duty of the utmost importance. Be patient and kind to all, especially yourself!)
WAYS TO COMBAT OR MITIGATE RESPIRATORY ILLNESSES AT THIS TIME:
1) Wash hands often to remove potential viruses or items that might cause illnesses.
2) Social Distance yourself from another at least 3-6 feet to keep micro-droplets from our mouth or nose (even if we are not sneezing or coughing) from coming into contact with the other person.
3) Stay aware of symptoms and check if you have a fever. If you have symptoms, CALL your doctor’s office or an urgent care to get further instruction of how to proceed. You may also be able to receive care on the phone or be diagnosed through what is called Tele-medicine. (Emergency situations should call 911)
4) Clean surfaces such as door handles, counters, and commonly touched surfaces with a disinfectant often so that viruses or items that cause illness may be wiped away and less likely to infect persons.
5) Get plenty of rest, fluids, eat balanced meals as one is able, and exercise limitedly to stay as healthy as possible.
"Finally, through Mary, the Holy Spirit begins to bring men, the objects of God's merciful love, into communion with Christ. And the humble are always the first to accept him: shepherds, magi, Simeon and Anna, the bride and groom at Cana, and the first disciples." -Catechism of the Catholic Church #725
The Word Among Us
My mother reads this daily. The Word Among Us is a monthly devotional magazine for Catholics. They self-describe their mission thus: "to encourage Christians to know the love of God in a practical and personal way. Following the daily Mass readings, it is our hope that the Spirit will 'enlighten the eyes of our hearts' (Ephesians 1:18) so that we may know Jesus more deeply through prayer, Scripture, and the teachings of the Church."
Along with select featured articles from each month's magazine, the site includes resources such as Bible study lessons, timeless stories about Catholic saints and other Christian heroes, guidance on marriage and family, and much more.
MARCH 19 THE CHURCH CELEBRATES THE SOLEMNITY OF ST. JOSEPH, PATRON OF THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH–AND IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO CELEBRATE!
BE A HEART DESIGN AND AUTHOR AUGUSTA D’AMBROSIO PUBLISHED “6 SIMPLE WAYS TO CELEBRATE ST. JOSEPH’S FEAST DAY” ON INSTAGRAM. SOME OF THESE IDEAS INCLUDE SPENDING TIME IN PRAYER AND SILENCE, CREATING A “ST. JOSEPH’S TABLE,” AND WEARING CERTAIN COLORS.
HOW ARE YOU CELEBRATING?
REMEMBER, CODE OF CANON LAW SAYS CATHOLICS ARE NOT REQUIRED TO ABSTAIN FROM MEAT ON SOLEMNITIES!
HERE’S SOME SIMPLE WAYS TO CELEBRATE THE SOLEMNITY OF ST. JOSEPH:
Unplanned Opportunity: How a Movie’s Unexpected Success Is Reinvigorating Pro-Lifers
The film based on pro-life advocate Abby Johnson’s book of the same name is performing big at the box office — and in more important ways, as well.
Elisabeth DeffnerWhen the crowd of moviegoers spotted Mark Cavaliere in his blue 40 Days for Life shirt, it was like they’d spotted a movie star on the street.
“Hey, that’s the same shirt from the movie!” he heard some of them exclaim.
“They couldn’t comprehend it,” said the executive director of the Southwest Coalition for Life with a chuckle.
He was just gathering his 40 Days for Life materials from the theater where his organization had hosted a screening of Unplanned, the movie based on pro-life advocate Abby Johnson’s book of the same name. The people awed by his shirt had been in a neighboring theater, watching the same movie.
“I passed out information to people leaving the general showing, as well,” said Cavaliere, whose organization has hosted more than half a dozen screenings of the film.
At each of those screenings, Cavaliere spoke to the audience before and after the film, telling them about the Coalition for Life and the 40 Days for Life campaign. “This 40-day prayer vigil you just saw [depicted in the movie], and the power of that prayer, is happening right now in our own backyard,” he told them. “This could be your story, just by signing up for an hour of prayer.”
And his presentations have been working. Typically, the Southwest Coalition for Life works with more than 600 volunteers during each 40 Days for Life campaign. The group is able to place volunteers in front of three abortion businesses, 7am-7pm, each day of the campaign.
Cavaliere is still working his way through all the cards of interested volunteers submitted to him at the Unplanned screenings his group hosted — but he’s already topped more than 100 new potential vigil participants and expects that number to more than double.
“With all the laws going on recently, with late-term abortion and infanticide laws — people are just fed up,” he said. “It’s finally a wake-up call.
“They want to do something. They just need a little bit of direction.”
By the Numbers
Independently made with a budget of $6 million, Unplanned officially opened March 29 in 1,059 theaters. Disney’s Dumbo, with a budget of $170 million, opened the same day, in roughly four times as many theaters.
The next day, Forbes ran a story headlined “Friday Box Office: ‘Dumbo’ Disappoints, ‘Unplanned’ Surprises and ‘Beach Bum’ Bombs.” On more than 4,000 screens, Dumbobrought in a little more than $15 million on opening day; Unplanned earned $2.72 million.
As of this writing, Unplanned remains No. 4 at the box office and has brought in more than $8.6 million (including nearly $900,000 in ticket sales Tuesday).
“Every single number is off the wall,” said Cary Solomon, who co-wrote and co-directed the film with Chuck Konzelman.
An additional 457 theaters will be showing the film this weekend, but the duo — who are also the team behind God’s Not Dead and God’s Not Dead 2 — don’t expect the phenomenon to stop there.
“I think if we have a good weekend, we’ll do that again. We’ll go over 2,000 [theaters],” said Solomon.
Largely, the film’s early success has been achieved without benefit of coverage in the secular media, which has dismissed the film as merely “a faith-based film” — in other words, one that will not appeal to the general public — and pro-life “propaganda.”
Given the subject matter and a CGI depiction of an abortion, the film was rated R (no one under 17 admitted without a parent or guardian). Many in the pro-life community wondered why an underage girl can, in many states, obtain an abortion without parental consent … and yet would not be allowed to see a movie about abortion without being accompanied by a parent or guardian.
But now that R rating seems like a blessing. “It lent credibility to the movie,” said Konzelman. “It gave credibility to a movie that was being frozen out by mainstream media.”
It was also a big talking point that may have increased the film’s exposure before release.
An open letter signed by evangelical Protestant celebrities, including Alveda King, Mike Huckabee, singer/actor Pat Boone and actor Kevin Sorbo, pointed out that The Passion of the Christ also received an R rating — which, in the writers’ opinions, should in this case stand for “recommended.”
Archbishop Joseph Naumann, the head of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, wrote a commentary for The Wall Street Journal, “Hollywood Admits Abortion Is Violent,” in which he recommends the film “to all people of goodwill.”
“Unplanned wasn’t produced to shame women who have had abortions or to condemn those who perform them. It’s about redemption,” he wrote. “Perhaps Abby Johnson’s courage in coming forward will change our nation from one that embraces violent, R-rated solutions for unplanned pregnancies to one that sees each human life as a gift to be celebrated.”
When the film’s Twitter account was mysteriously suspended on opening day, and the social-media platform provided no reason for the suspension, that seemingly injurious action may have actually benefited the film, theorize the people behind the project.
Later on opening weekend, the Twitter account was restored … but when Twitter users clicked to follow the account, they were unable to complete the action. Both incidents got significant publicity from people frustrated that they could not follow the account — and ultimately may have resulted in even greater follower numbers.
On Friday, the @UnplannedMovie Twitter account had 7,000 followers. As of this writing, it has 348,698 followers; that’s more than Planned Parenthood, which has slightly over 260,000 Twitter followers.
“There was a passive-aggressive resistance toward any publicity for the film,” said Solomon, referring to — among other things — major networks’ rejection of the film’s ads. “All [Twitter] did was give us a wonderful story to back up that fact.”
Beyond the Numbers
The film’s real-life protagonist, Abby Johnson, has also been thrust into the spotlight because of the film’s success. Before the film’s release, she had 45,000 Twitter followers — a community she’d grown over a number of years. As of this writing, she has 113,634.
More importantly, she says she’s receiving about 150 messages a day across various platforms — social media, email and so on — from abortion workers seeking assistance from Johnson’s organization And Then There Were None to leave the industry. But, Johnson said, “Ninety percent of those messages are people saying, ‘I’m pro-life, I’ve been pro-life, but I’ve never been active in this movement. What can I do?’”
Before the release of Unplanned, some might have wondered if the film — which portrays Johnson’s journey from a Planned Parenthood employee of the year to one of the pro-life movement’s most vocal advocates — would simply preach to the choir. That is simply not the case, Johnson said.
“It’s awakened the choir!” she said. “It’s not just preaching to the choir: I feel like we’re teaching the choir how to sing.”
Shawn Carney, founder of 40 Days for Life and a key character in the cinematic adaptation, agrees.
“The ‘preaching to the choir’ argument is true if Unplanned makes $2 million opening weekend; but I think that myth was gone by midday Saturday,” he said. “What kind of ‘Christian movie’ makes nearly $1 million on a Tuesday?”
Konzelman and Solomon bought the film rights to Johnson’s book six years ago, and it has been a challenging journey to get funding, to get distribution and to get publicity for the project. But they are not surprised that the timing for the film’s release seems so providential, in the wake of New York’s aggressive late-term abortion legislation and resulting debate about infanticide of babies who have the temerity to survive the procedure.
“The timing of the movie was divine, for sure,” Carney said. “It’s not just bringing us new waves of volunteers. It’s bad for the abortion industry.”
“More than anything, the Unplanned movie has contributed to the desire for more and more people to continue to be out there after 40 Days for Life,” added Cavaliere. “We’ve never had so many people say, ‘We don’t want to stop.’
“If [abortion providers] are doing this, that we saw on the screen, full time, year-round … how can we be out here part time?”
On the Sacrament of Marriage
"Married life is a most beautiful thing and we must guard it always"
VATICAN CITY (Zenit.org) - Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis on the sacraments today during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Today we conclude the series of catecheses on the Sacraments speaking of Marriage. This Sacrament leads us to the heart of God's plan, which is a covenant plan with His people, with all of us, a plan of communion. At the beginning of the Book of Genesis, the first Book of the Bible, as the crowning of the account of creation, it states: "God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them ... Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh" (Genesis 1:27; 2:24).
The married couple is the image of God: the man and the woman, not only the man, not only the woman, but both. This is the image of God: the love, the covenant of God with us is represented in that covenant between man and woman. And this is very beautiful! We are created to love, as reflection of God and of His love. And in the conjugal union the man and the woman realize this vocation in the sign of reciprocity and of communion of a full and definitive life.
When a man and a woman celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage, God, so to speak, is "mirrored" in them, He imprints in them His own features and the indelible character of His love. Marriage is the icon of God's love for us. God, in fact, is also communion: the three Persons of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit have lived always and forever in perfect unity. And this is in fact the mystery of Marriage: God makes of the two spouses a single existence. The Bible uses a strong expression and states "one flesh," so intimate is the union between man and woman in marriage. And this is precisely the mystery of marriage: the love of God that is mirrored in the couple that decides to live together. Therefore, man leaves his home, the home of his parents and goes to live with his wife and unites himself so strongly to her that the two become � the Bible states � one flesh.
In the Letter to the Ephesians, Saint Paul highlights the fact that a very great mystery is reflected in Christian spouses: the relationship established by Christ with the Church, a nuptial relationship (cf. Ephesians 5:21-33). The Church is the Bride of Christ. This is the relationship. This means that Marriage responds to a specific vocation and must be considered as a consecration (cf. Gaudium et spes, 48; Familiaris consortio, 56). It is a consecration: the man and the woman are consecrated in their love. By virtue of the Sacrament, the spouses are invested in fact in a true and proper mission, so that they can render visible, from simple ordinary things, the love with which Christ loves his Church, continuing to give his life for her, in fidelity and in service.
It is truly a stupendous plan that is inherent in the Sacrament of Marriage! And it is acted out in the simplicity and also in the fragility of the human condition. We know well how many difficulties and trials the life of two spouses has. What is important is to keep alive the bond with God, who is the basis of the conjugal bond. And the true bond is always with the Lord. When the family prays, the bond is maintained. When the husband prays for the wife and the wife prays for the husband, the bond becomes strong; one prays for the other.
It is true that in matrimonial life there are many difficulties, many: work, lack of money, children having problems � so many difficulties. And so often the husband and wife become a bit nervous and quarrel between themselves. They quarrel -- it is always so in marriage -- sometimes even plates fly. However, we must not become sad because of this; the human condition is like this. And the secret is that love is stronger from the moment there is quarreling, so I always advise spouses: Never end the day when you quarreled without making peace. Always! And it is not necessary to call the United Nations to come to one's home to make peace. A small gesture, a caress, a hello is sufficient! And until tomorrow -� and tomorrow one begins again. And this is life; it must be carried forward thus, carried forward with the courage of wanting to live it together. And this is great, it is beautiful! Married life is a most beautiful thing and we must guard it always, protect the children.
At other times I have said in this square something that helps marital life a lot. They are three words that must always be said, three words that must be in the home: please, thank you, sorry [permesso, grazie, scusa] -- three magical words.
Please, so as not to be invasive in the life of the spouse. Please, but what does this seem to you? Please, allow me.
Thank you: to thank one's spouse: thank you for what you did for me, thank you for this. The beauty of rendering thanks!
And as we all make mistakes, the other word which is a bit difficult to say, but which must be said: sorry.
Please, thank you, sorry. With these three words, with the prayer of the husband for his wife and vice versa, with making peace always before the day ends, the marriage will go forward -- the three magical words, prayer and always making peace.
May the Lord bless you and pray for me.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Today we conclude our catechesis on the sacraments with the sacrament of Matrimony, which brings us to the very heart of God's loving plan for the human family. The Triune God created us � men and women � in his image and calls us to mirror the mystery of his love. Married couples carry out this vocation in a full and definitive communion of life. As "one flesh", they become living icons of God's love in our world, building up the Church in unity and fidelity. Christian marriage also reflects the mystery of Christ's own faithful and sacrificial love for his body, the Church. Christian spouses thus receive a special consecration and a special mission. While a noble vocation, marriage is not an easy one: it must constantly be strengthened by a living relationship with the Lord through prayer: mornings and evenings, at meals, in the recitation of the Rosary, and above all through the Sunday Eucharist. Today let us pray for all families, especially those experiencing difficulties, so that by God's mercy they can always be joyful models of faith, love and generous service in our communities.
Holy Father (In Italian):
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today's Audience, including those from England, Wales, Denmark, Norway, Malta, Japan, Canada and the United States. I am pleased to welcome the Catholic Health Care Federation from the United States and the priests of the Institute for Continuing Theological Formation at the Pontifical North American College. Upon all of you, and upon your families, I invoke joy and peace in Christ our Lord.
* * *
I welcome the Italian-speaking pilgrims! I welcome the participants in the Seminar organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family; the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, who are holding their General Chapter, and the other women religious present. I greet the faithful of the parishes and the numerous groups, in particular the representation of the workers of ALCOA of Portovesme. I greet the Multiple-Sclerosis Association; the Association of Artillery Men of Italy and the Professional Soccer League. May this pilgrimage reinforce in everyone faith, hope and charity.
A special thought goes to the Jemo 'Nnanzi group of Aquila, Jemo 'Nnanzi. Five years after the earthquake devastated your city, I join you in prayer for the numerous victims, and I entrust to the protection of Our Lady of Roio all those who still live in hardship. I encourage all to keep hope alive! May the reconstruction of dwellings be accompanied by that of churches, which are houses of prayer for all, and of the artistic patrimony, to which the re-launching of the territory is linked. Jemo 'Nnanzi.
I greet the young people, the sick and the newlyweds, remembering them with the liturgy of Saint Francis of Paola. Dear young people, especially you, of the Village of youngsters of Maddaloni, learn from him that humility is strength and not weakness! Dear sick, do not tire of asking in prayer for the Lord's help. And you, dear newlyweds, compete in esteeming and helping one another.
Pope Interviewed by Belgian Youth GroupSpeaks Candidly on Poverty, Throwaway Culture, Personal Experiences
VATICAN CITY (Zenit.org) - Pope Francis has given a candid interview to five young people from a youth group in Fiandre, Belgium, who interviewed him for a communications project entitled, "Verse Vis.".
The 30 minute video, entitled "Habemus Papam", documents the journey of the young journalists, who come from various backgrounds and beliefs, and culminates with their interview with the Holy Father. Bishop Lucas Van Looy of Ghent arranged the interview with the Pope, which took place on March 31st.
The first question was about the Holy Father's focus on the poor. Pope Francis said that the poor and those affected by poverty are at the heart of the Gospel.
"Two months ago," the Pope recalled, "I heard a person saying, when I spoke about the poor: 'This Pope is a communist.' And no, this is the banner of the Gospel, not of Communism but of the Gospel! It is poverty without ideology and that is why I believe the poor are at the center of the proclaimation of Jesus."
One of the young people, who declared she was an atheist, said she was inspired by the Holy Father's words and asked for a message for believers and nonbelievers alike. The Pope stressed the need for a dialogue spoken with authenticity and a knowledge that "we are all brothers."
While man is at the center of history, he said, in today's world, man has been taken away and replaced with power and money. The Holy Father emphasized the existence of a "throwaway culture" that regards, children and youth as an impediment. Highlighting the plight of the elderly, the Pope also said there is a "hidden euthanasia" that occurs because the elderly are no longer cared for.
However, the Holy Father expressed his hope that young politicians today are recognizing this and will act. These young politicians, he said "are happy because they - whether they are from the left or the right - speak a new 'tune', with a new tune, a new style of politics, and that gives me hope."
When asked a question on what has he learned from past mistakes, the Pope replied laughing: "I have made mistakes and I [continue to] make mistakes." The 77 year old Pontiff regarded mistakes as "the great teachers of life."
"They are great teachers, they teach you so much. I won't say that I have learned from all my mistakes, I haven't because I am (knocks on desk), I'm hard-headed and it is not easy to learn. But I have learned from many mistakes and this has done me well."
The Holy Father spoke candidly during his role as Superior General of the Jesuits, a time where he said he made "many mistakes with authoritarianism."
"I was very authoritarian at 36 years old. And then I learned that you must dialogue, you should hear what others think, But it wasn't learned once and for all. The path is long and I learned from my attitude that was a bit authoritarian as a religious superior to find a path to not be so much [...] but I still make mistakes."
Before concluding their interview, the young journalists asked the Pope if he had a question for them. Pope Francis replied by saying he would ask them something from the Gospel: "Where is your treasure?"
"What treasure does your heart rest in?" he asked. "Because where your treasure is, that is where your life is. The heart is attached to treasure, a treasure that we all have, It can be power, money, pride, there are so many. Or is it goodness, beauty, the will to do good? There are so many treasures we can place our heart in. So where is your heart? That is the question that I will ask but you have to answer to yourselves alone, in your home." (J.A.E.)
--- --- ---
On the NET:
For the video of the interview, go to: http://www.een.be/programmas/koppen/habemus-papam
Note: Video is in Flemish (Belgian Dutch), though questions are asked in English. The Pope responds in Italian.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "Now - and this is daunting - this outpouring of mercy cannot penetrate our hearts as long as we have not forgiven those who have trespassed against us. Love, like the Body of Christ, is indivisible; we cannot love the God we cannot see if we do not love the brother or sister we do see. In refusing to forgive our brothers and sisters, our hearts are closed and their hardness makes them impervious to the Father'smerciful love; but in confessing our sins, our hearts are opened to his grace." -Catechism of the Catholic Church #2840
Flummoxed by his true-false final exam, a student decides to toss a coin up in the air. Heads means true; tails, false. Thirty minutes later, he’s done, well before the rest of the class. But then the student starts flipping the coin again. And soon he’s murmuring and sweating over each question.
"What’s wrong?" asks the concerned teacher.
"I’m rechecking my answers," says the student.
When my coworker Donsa was promoted, we decided to celebrate. Her boss called the baker and ordered a cake.
"Two questions," said the baker. "Is Donsa a man or a woman? And what do you want the cake to say?"
"The cake should read ‘Congratulations’" the boss said. "Oh, and Donsa"s a woman." The next day, the office celebrated with a cake that read "Congratulations—Donsa’s a woman."
I Have a Question
During our computer class, the teacher chastised one boy for talking to the girl sitting next to him.
"I was just asking her a question," the boy said.
"If you have a question, ask me," the teacher tersely replied.
"Okay," he answered. "Do you want to go out with me Friday night?"
Grannies on the Road
Sitting on the side of the road waiting to catch speeding drivers, a
state trooper sees a car puttering along at 22 mph. He thinks to
himself, "This driver is as dangerous as a speeder!" So he turns on his
lights and pulls the driver over.
Approaching the car, he notices that there are five elderly ladies - two
in the front seat and three in the back, wide-eyed and white as ghosts.
The driver, obviously confused, says to him, "Officer, I don't
understand. I was going the exact speed limit. What seems to be the
The trooper trying to contain a chuckle, explains to her that 22 was the
route number, not the speed limit. A bit embarrassed, the woman grinned
and thanked the officer for pointing out her error.
"But before you go, Ma'am, I have to ask, is everyone in this car OK?
These women seem awfully shaken."
"Oh, they'll be all right in a minute, officer.. We just got off Route 127
Love the Irish
Paddy was driving down the street in a sweat because he had an important meeting and couldn't find a parking place. Looking up to heaven he said, 'Lord take pity on me. If you find me a parking place I will go to Mass every Sunday for the rest of me life and give up me Irish Whiskey!'
Miraculously, a parking place appeared.
Paddy looked up again and said, 'Never mind, I found one.'
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You, and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell, but most of all because they offend You, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.
PRAYER DURING TIME OF ILLNESS
Holy Virgin of Guadalupe,
Queen of the Angels and Mother of the Americas.
We fly to you today as your beloved children.
We ask you to intercede for us with your Son, as you did at the wedding in Cana.
Pray for us, loving Mother,
and gain for our nation and world,
and for all our families and loved ones, the protection of your holy angels, that we may be spared the worst of this illness.
For those already afflicted,
we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance.
Hear the cries of those who are vulnerable and fearful,
wipe away their tears and help them to trust.
In this time of trial and testing,
teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind. Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.
We come to you with confidence,
knowing that you truly are our compassionate mother, health of the sick and cause of our joy.
Shelter us under the mantle of your protection, keep us in the embrace of your arms, help us always to know the love of your Son, Jesus. Amen.
"We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: "He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren. To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called "hell."" -Catechism of the Catholic Church #1033
He breathed on them (the Apostles) and said to them, "Receive the holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you do not forgive are not forgiven."
Jesus did not give the Apostles the ability to read people's mind. The only way the Apostles would know whether to forgive sins or not was if the people confessed their sins to them. Bishops are successors of the Apostles who receive the same power and Holy Spirit who pass it on to priests.
Frequently Asked Questions About Confession
Is this sacrament called confession, penance or reconciliation?
Yes! This sacrament involves all three elements and historically has been called by all three names. Today the Church refers to it as the Sacrament of Penance or the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Why do we need a sacrament of Reconciliation?
"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…" (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC] 1440). Only God forgives sins. Christ has willed that in her prayer and life and action his whole Church should be a sign and instrument of the forgiveness and reconciliation (CCC1442). The priest "is not the master of God's forgiveness, but its servant" (CCC 1466).
What happens in the Sacrament of Penance?
"Through the sacrament of penance, we, the faithful, acknowledge the sins we have committed, express our sorrow for them, and, intending to reform our ways, receive God's forgiveness and become reconciled with God and with the Church" (USCCB Committee on Pastoral Practices). "Jesus' call to conversion and penance… does not aim first at outward works… but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion" (CCC 1430). Conversion is first of all a work of the grace of God who makes our hearts return to him.
What sins should be confessed?
The Church teaches that "all serious (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… for these sins sometimes wound the soul more grievously and are more dangerous than those which are committed openly" (CCC 1456). At the same time, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) "is strongly recommended… for it helps us to form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies (patterns of weakness that can lead us to sin), let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father's mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful" (CCC 1458).
What are the effects of this sacrament?
"The forgiven penitent is reconciled with himself in his inmost being… He is reconciled with his brethren whom he has in some way offended and wounded. He is reconciled with the Church. He is reconciled with all creation" (John Paul II). "The whole power of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God's grace (which was lost by Adam and Eve and confirmed by our personal sins) and joining us with him in an intimate friendship" (CCC 1468), "for those who receive the sacrament with contrite heart and religious disposition, reconciliation is usually followed by peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation" (CCC 1551) (i.e. you feel good after going to Confession).
Did you know?
• In the early Church, the Sacrament of Penance could be received only once in a lifetime.
The penances assigned were often very long and severe, sometimes lasting several years. During this time penitents usually had special places in church, wore special clothes, and commonly left the Sunday liturgy after the homily, just like the catechumens.
• At one time the Church had a two-track system of public Penance and private Penance.
Public sins required public penance and private sins required private penance.
• For centuries penitents were required to do their assigned penance and then return to receive absolution. Practical difficulties with this became apparent when the confessor was a wandering missionary and when the penances sometimes took the penitent on a pilgrimage to foreign lands.
HOW TO GO TO CONFESSION
Many people have avoided celebrating the Sacrament of Penance, sometimes for years at a time, because they “don’t know what to do.” But confession doesn’t need to be scary or intimidating! The following brief explanation will help you understand how the Sacrament is celebrated individually.
The celebration of this sacrament begins at home, with the private preparation you make. This preparation is called the examination of conscience. “The penitent compares his or her life with the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, and the example of Christ and then prays to God for forgiveness.” The examination of conscience should take into account your relationship to God and to others. Usually, we know our sins all too well; the examination of conscience will help us to look at them in the light of the Gospel, and be better able to express them in confession. Also, we are sometimes unaware of how serious some sins are and the effect they have on our lives. A thorough examination of conscience will help us identify and remove all that is hindering us in our relationship with God, one another, and ourselves. A doctor needs help to remove all the illness or cancer from a patient, thus we need help to remove all sin so as to have true health and divine life. (Please pray over attached Examination of Conscience for Adults.)
2 Welcome of the Priest
You have the option of confessing your sins face to face, or of confessing anonymously. This is your choice. The priest welcomes you and then both you and he make the sign of the cross, saying, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Then in his own words the priest urges you to have confidence in God. Then you continue, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been (# weeks, months, or years) since my last Confession.” If you don’t know the priest, you may want to indicate your state of life (i.e. married, single, widowed, divorced), and anything else that may help your confessor. Be sure to mention how long it has been since your last confession. The true priest will be glad you are there and not judging you on how long it has been since you lasted came to this Sacrament.
3 Confession of Sins
Next the priest invites you to confess your sins. Occasionally, the priest may ask questions to help you in making a full confession. The confession of sins should be as complete as possible. That doesn’t mean it needs to take a long time. The important thing is that the penitent “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 in order to make a new future possible” (Catechism 1455). Venial sins and faults may be confessed in general, however, all mortal/serious sins must be confessed by their name and the number of times they were committed since the last Confession. If you need help confessing your sins, let the priest know. He can ask you questions or help you examine your life in light of God’s law.
4 Advice of the Priest
Sacramental confession is not therapy; the priest will not attempt to solve your problems for you. What he will do, however, is offer some advice to help you in starting a new life. He will give a “penance,” which may take the form of prayer, self-denial, service to one’s neighbor, or works of mercy.
5 Act of Contrition, the Prayer of the Penitent
Next the priest invites you to pray an act of contrition. There are many different options for this prayer. There is one on the Examination of Conscience that you may take with you. It should also be available for you in the Confessional.
6 Prayer of Absolution
Now the priest extends his hands over your head and prays the prayer of absolution, making the sign of the cross over you during the final words: “through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” You respond, Amen. These are generally considered the sweetest words this side of heaven for those who know anything can be forgiven in this life if we confess it with true sorrow.
Now the priest dismisses you. You respond, “Thanks be to God.” If you are making your confession as part of a communal celebration, remain in the church for the conclusion of the celebration. If not, ‘go in peace to love and serve the Lord’!
Based on Celebrating the Sacrament of Penance: Questions and Answers, a publication of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Guide for Examination of Conscience for Confession of Sins
6 STEPS FOR A GOOD CONFESSION
1) Examine your conscience - what sins have you committed since your last good confession.
2) Be sincerely sorry for your sins.
3) Confess your sins to the priest.
4) Make certain that you confess all your mortal sins and the number of them.
5) After your confession, do the penance the priest gives to you.
6) Pray daily for the strength to avoid the occasion of sin, especially for those sins you were just absolved from.
ACT OF CONTRITION
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You, and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell, but most of all because they offend You, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.
1. You shall not have other gods before Me.
___How have I acted toward God?
___ Do I think of God and speak to Him by
praying to Him every day?
___ Have I made a bad confession (purposely
avoiding to confess a mortal sin)?
___ Have I received Jesus in Holy Communion
unworthily (with mortal sin on my soul)?
2. You shall not take the Name of the
Lord your God in vain.
___ Have I used bad words?
___ Have I jokingly or irreverently spoken about
God or holy things?
___ Have I tried hard to keep the promises and
resolutions which I have made to God?
___ Have I spoken God’s Name in anger?
3. Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
___ Do I go to Mass on Sunday?
___ Do I do all I can to make Sunday a day of rest
and joy for my family?
___ Do I take part in the Mass, or do I distract
others by laughing, talking, or playing?
___ Have I deliberately failed to pay attention at
___ Am I generous in helping the Church,
contributing some of my allowance or savings
at collection time to help the Church in her
necessities as much as I can?
___ Have I fulfilled my yearly Easter duty of
receiving Holy Communion (and going to
Confession, if necessary)?
4. Honor your father and your mother.
___ Do I pay attention to my parents, priest, and
teachers, especially when they talk to me about
___ Do I obey my parents and teachers quickly and
cheerfully, or must I be reminded many times?
___Do I tell my parents or those in authority over
me that I am sorry and ask them to forgive me
when I have not obeyed them or have not been
respectful toward them?
___ Have I failed to express my love for my
___ Do I nurse angry feelings or show resentment
when I am corrected by my parents?
___ Do I obey the rules of my home and school?
___ Do I pray every day for the help I need to be a
holy child, and a holy brother or sister?
5. You shall not kill.
___ Have I treated other people badly?
___ Do I help my brothers, sisters, and classmates
when they need my help?
___ Am I kind to everyone?
___ Did I hurt anyone on purpose?
___ Have I fought with my brothers, sisters, or
___ Am I willing to talk or play with everyone?
___ Have I forgiven all those who have hurt me,
for love of Jesus?
___ Did I make fun of anyone, put anyone down,
or tease anyone to the point of upsetting
___ Have I hated anyone or nursed bad feelings,
resented, or refused pardon toward any
___ Have I sought pardon of those whom I have
___ Do I do all my class work and my chores at
___ Do I take care of my health by eating the
right food, getting enough sleep, and doing
other things that I know are good for me?
6. You shall not commit adultery.
___ Have I kept my mind, heart, and body pure,
as the dwelling, or temple, of God?
___ Have I been impure with touches (by myself
or with another person)?
___ Have I been impure with words or thoughts?
___ Have I watched impure movies or television
programs or listened to music that offended
___ Have I engaged in impure conversations?
Did I begin them?
___ Have I neglected to dress modestly or to
otherwise safeguard purity?
___ Have I willfully looked at immodest pictures?
___ Have I displayed immodest looks or glances at
myself or others?
7. You shall not steal.
___ Did I steal or keep things that are not mine?
___ Am I willing to share my things with others?
___ Did I return things I have borrowed or stolen?
___ Have I seriously entertained temptations to
___ Have I been greedy?
8. You shall not lie.
___ Did I tell the truth?
___ Have I lied?
___ Did I say things about other people that are not
___ Did I cheat in class or in games?
___ Have I gossiped about another person?
9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
___ Do I think mostly about myself and what I
___ How often do I think about other people and
what they would like?
10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s
___ Do I thank God for the things that He has
___ Do I thank my parents and relatives for the
things they have given me?
___ Do I spend more time thinking about things
that I want than I do talking to God?
Steps to a Good Confession:
1. Carefully examine your conscience.
2. Be sincerely sorry for your sins.
3. Make a firm resolution not to sin again and to
avoid the near occasion of sin.
4. Tell your sins to the priest and receive
5. Do the penance the priest gives you.
Priest: May the Lord be on your heart, on your
mind, and on your lips so that you may know your
sins, and confess them with true repentance and a
firm purpose of amendment.
Penitent: Bless me Father, for I have sinned.
It has been ________ since my last confession.
Here state your sins.
Priest gives counsel and penance.
Penitent makes Act of Contrition:
Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having
offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because
I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell,
but most of all because they have offended Thee,
my God, Who art all good and deserving of all my
love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace,
to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend
my life. Amen.
Receive absolution and then respond “Thanks be to God.”
"Whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily sins against the Body and Blood of the Lord. ... He who eats and drinks without recognizing the Body eats and drinks judgment on himself." (1 Cor 11:27-29)
So, to receive Holy Communion while in the state of mortal sin (having committed a mortal sin which has not been confessed and forgiven in the Sacrament of Confession) is itself a mortal sin - a mortal sin of sacrilege.
"When he celebrates the sacrament of Penance, the priest is fulfilling the ministry of the Good Shepherd who seeks the lost sheep, of the Good Samaritan who binds up wounds, of the Father who awaits the prodigal son and welcomes him on his return, and of the just and impartial judge whose judgment is both just and merciful. The priest is the sign and the instrument of God's merciful love for the sinner." -Catechism of the Catholic Church #1465
SUNDAY MASS READINGS AND QUESTIONS
for Self-Reflection, Couples or Family Discussion
Fifth Sunday in Lent – Sunday, March 21st, 2021
The First Reading- Jeremiah 31: 31-34
The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt; for they broke my covenant, and I had to show myself their master, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD.
I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives how to know the LORD. All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the LORD, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.
Even though Jeremiah is a southern prophet (Judah) who prophesied long after the collapse of the northern kingdom (Israel), his message in today’s reading looks to a future time when God “will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.” While the demands of the old covenant were written on stone tablets, the law of the new covenant will be inscribed on the hearts of each individual member of the community. While the old covenant called for external conformity, the new one will necessitate interior commitment and transformation. This is only possible when we cooperate with the grace of God and the Holy Spirit. The verses that say: “I will place my law within them and write it on their hearts … No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives how to know the Lord…” should not be interpreted as a reason to do away with religious education and catechesis programs. Rather, these words express how God can speak directly to our hearts. Intimate union with God occurs as we cooperate with God’s grace. Catechesis has an important role to play in our faith formation and spiritual growth. But we only grow spiritually when we open our hearts to God and develop a relationship with him.
Adults -Do you make time for silence to hear the Lord speaking to you?
Teens - When do you make time to listen for the Lord’s voice?
Kids - Ask Jesus to help you listen for His voice when you pray.
Responsorial- Psalm 51: 3-4, 12-13, 14-15
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners shall return to you.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.
-This is David’s famous act of contrition, which he prays after he commits the sins of adultery and murder. David pleads for mercy and a new heart. Try to attend the Sacrament of Reconciliation before Easter.
The Second Reading- Hebrews 5: 7-9
In the days when Christ Jesus was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears
to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
This is a beautiful passage on the humanity of Jesus. It speaks of Christ as pleading with God “in tears” and “loud cries.” He becomes perfect or mature by the way he handles hardship, suffering and death. Because of his own experience of suffering, Jesus, our High Priest and brother, can sympathize with us in our pain and suffering. Furthermore, through his suffering, Jesus is exalted and gains salvation for all who accept him. What good have you seen come from hardship?
The Holy Gospel according to John 12: 20-33
Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, "Sir, we would like to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me. "I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it and will glorify it again." The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, "An angel has spoken to him." Jesus answered and said, "This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself." He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.
The religious leaders are worried that the “whole world” is flocking to the side of Jesus. The first evidence of this is the appearance of some Greeks who come to Philip to ask if he can arrange for them a meeting with Jesus. Their presence shows that Jesus has come to save not just the Israelites, but all people. The following are eight observations on this discourse from John’s Gospel:
1.)Jesus begins his discourse by speaking of his “hour”- a reference to his return to God. he will pass through death, be raised up, and return to his Father.
2. Jesus uses the analogy of a wheat grain to speak of life and death. Just as a grain of wheat must first die before it bears fruit, so too must Jesus die prior to his Resurrection, and so too must we die to sin and selfishness before we bear godly fruit in our lives.
3. “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life, will preserve it.” This means that those who cling to their lives, concerned only about themselves, will eventually lose out on the meaning of life, which is to love and serve others. Thomas Merton talks about our true self and false self. The true self is that part of us that seeks to follow God and his ways. The false self is that part that wants to be independent of God and his ways, the part that is self-centered, controlling, jealous, etc. this self we must “hate” – or we might say “deny” – and not allow to control our lives. This false self must be transformed through prayer, fasting and penance.
4. “Whoever serves me must follow me…the Father will honor whoever serves me.” Serving Jesus means, among other things, being willing to lay down our life for others—to die to the desires of our false self. To serve Jesus is to follow him in his path of love and to carry our cross.
5. “Save me from the hour” is a reference to Jesus’ agony in the garden. It is a beautiful statement about Jesus’ humanity. As a person who loves life and people, he has no desire to die. He recoils from it. Yet, if going through this “hour” is what he must do, then he is willing to embrace it.
6. “Then came a voice from heaven” is reminiscent of the voice that spoke at Jesus’ baptism and transfiguration. “I have glorified the Father.” Jesus gives “glory” to the Father (and so do we) by following the will of God.
7. “Now is the time of judgment in this world. Now the ruler of this world will be drawn out.” The judgment is our “yes” or “no” to Jesus. When we say “yes,” love is released into the world, and darkness and evil are overthrown—and vice-versa.
8. “When I am lifted up, I will draw everyone to myself” is a reference to Jesus’ Cross and how the force of his love will attract and draw people to him.
Adults - What does it mean to love as Christ loves?
Teens - How can you say yes to Jesus throughout the events of your day?
Kids - How can you serve Jesus through others?
LIVING THE WORD OF GOD THIS WEEK! - “Each one of us should look fervently and devoutly on the crucifix today, and try to compare our willingness to suffer those crosses sent to us by God, with the crushing cross and passion our Savior Jesus Christ gladly accepted for us and not for his own sake. Do not let the conclusion you draw stun you into inactivity, but rather let it shock you into a new outlook on life; a new resolve to serve, follow and imitate our loving Christ more closely in future. So may it be for all of us.” -Excerpted from The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O'Sullivan, O.F.M.