The season of Advent is in full swing!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
The season of Advent is in full swing! The themes of the Gospel for this Sunday (Mark 1: 1-8) and next Sunday, also called Gaudete (Latin for rejoice) Sunday (John 1:6-8, 19-28) center on repentance and conversion of heart to our Lord Jesus. These Gospel selections focus on John the Baptist and his public preaching about the coming of the Christ into the world. Jesus is the Light of the world and He calls us to repent and be converted to Him. Of course, this implies that we need to practice repentance and grow in conversion! Otherwise, why would our Lord give this message to us each year, and even more than once per year?
The truth is that we are in need of ongoing repentance and conversion in our lives. It is possible, as witnessed by several saints, that we can grow in our self-knowledge each day and in our love for our Lord each day. This process of conversion implies that there is never one set moment in which everything regarding our personal commitment to discipleship to our Lord is complete. Repentance and conversion is a life-long, daily habit.
The best aid we have for conversion is the Sacrament of Confession. I encourage everyone to make a good Confession during Advent. We will have many opportunities for our parishioners to receive this Sacrament of Divine Mercy in the coming days. I encourage you to plan now! I include here more teaching on this goodness of this Sacrament of Conversion from our Catechism of the Catholic Church (1422-1427):
“’Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God's mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion.’
It is called the Sacrament of Conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus' call to conversion, the first step in returning to the Father from whom one has strayed by sin. It is called the Sacrament of Penance, since it consecrates the Christian sinner's personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction.
It is called the Sacrament of Confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament. In a profound sense it is also a "confession" - acknowledgment and praise - of the holiness of God and of his mercy toward sinful man. It is called the Sacrament of Forgiveness, since by the priest's sacramental absolution God grants the penitent "pardon and peace."
It is called the Sacrament of Reconciliation, because it imparts to the sinner the live of God who reconciles: "Be reconciled to God." He who lives by God's merciful love is ready to respond to the Lord's call: "Go; first be reconciled to your brother."
"You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God." One must appreciate the magnitude of the gift God has given us in the sacraments of Christian initiation in order to grasp the degree to which sin is excluded for him who has "put on Christ." But the apostle John also says: "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." And the Lord himself taught
us to pray: "Forgive us our trespasses," linking our forgiveness of one another's offenses to the forgiveness of our sins that God will grant us.
Conversion to Christ, the new birth of Baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the Body and Blood of Christ received as food have made us "holy and without blemish," just as the Church herself, the Bride of Christ, is "holy and without blemish."
Nevertheless the new life received in Christian initiation has not abolished the frailty and weakness of human nature nor the inclination to sin that tradition calls concupiscence, which remains in the baptized such that with the help of the grace of Christ they may prove themselves in the struggle of Christian life. This is the struggle of conversion directed toward holiness and eternal life to which the Lord never ceases to call us.
Jesus calls to conversion. This call is an essential part of the proclamation of the kingdom: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel." In the Church's preaching this call is addressed first to those who do not yet know Christ and his Gospel. Also, Baptism is the principal place for the first and fundamental conversion. It is by faith in the Gospel and by Baptism that one renounces evil and gains salvation, that is, the forgiveness of all sins and the gift of new life.”
Through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. Michael and St. Paul, may the Holy Spirit help us to repent and be more and more converted to our Lord Jesus!
In Christ through Mary,