Divine Mercy Sunday
From the Pastor’s Desk
April 16, 2023
‘Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.’”
Brothers and Sisters,
He is risen! Truly, he is risen!
When Jesus encourages Thomas to investigate His wounds, this isn’t a rub-it-in-your-face moment. Or a reaction to Thomas “doubting” the other apostles who testified to witnessing the Risen Lord. Instead, Jesus’ intention is one of mercy. His wounds, still present, assure that His sacrifice will forever be present. Like Thomas, Christ extends the same offer that we may enter into a more profound experience of Jesus, receive his mercy, and take his call for conversion to heart.
Today marks the “official” day by which the new Order of Penance should be incorporated. You may even miss those subtle shifts if you blink or sneeze when receiving the sacrament. Maybe because, for the penitent, there are no blaring changes. Yet, just like any change in our Sacramental experience – like many priests felt odd responding at Mass, “The Lord be with you- And with your spirit.” – you need not feel embarrassed if these changes though subtle, throw you off. This new Order at present provides meaningful encouragement for priests to provide pastoral guidance to the penitent, who then is encouraged to be “rightly disposed,” or in other words, make a good examination of conscience. If you’ve been away from reconciliation for a long time or have struggled with this sacrament recently, please give it one more try. If helpful, consider scheduling a meeting with Fr. Anthony or me (and reach out to any of our staff you’d be comfortable speaking with about the sacrament), and we will do our best to make you feel comfortable. While our sins are the most significant obstacle (along with admitting them!), I know some people are worried about not having the right words to express themselves.
Don’t fret. Nothing in the Sacrament of Reconciliation guidance states that you must use a specific tone or phrase – and if you are nervous, we’ll guide you. The Order includes 11 prayers that serve as Acts of Contrition and permit the penitent to use their own words. The most important words are those from Jesus, who says to us, like Thomas, “Do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Trust in Jesus’ love and mercy.
One element in the Sacrament of Reconciliation that most of us are unfamiliar with is the words included in the dismissal. As the priest says, “Give thanks to the Lord,” the penitent may reply, “for his mercy endures forever.” As I was encouraged by a parishioner (who recognized it’d been part of the sacrament already), it’s good to include the Praise as we go forth. I will do my best to use these words at the conclusion regularly and consistently. Still, please be patient with me (and I’ll most certainly be patient with you).
Finally, as we continue to celebrate the Easter Season, I encourage you to offer Praise and thanksgiving for those who have completed the fullness of the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil last week: Billy, Minnie, Chuck, Matthew, and Steve. The Lord has undoubtedly strengthened them on this journey – and they are an excellent witness to all of us as we reflect on the goodness of God. Thank you to their sponsors and the RCIA team who helped prepare them. The Lord is magnificent in his blessings.