Thursday, September 5, 2013

I had dinner this evening with a small group of priests who serve in the north central part of Pennsylvania.  It was a wonderful evening of prayer and fellowship.  We talked about Syria and the Holy Father's call for a day of prayer and fasting for peace.  We shared our common experience of financial struggles & fund raising in our parishes. We discussed a few movies that some of the guys had seen or want to see.  We enjoyed a wonderful meal prepared by a parishioner.  And each of us went home feeling a little more connected, a little less isolated,  and a little more supported.

The highlight for me was that I got to go to Confession & had a bit of spiritual direction.  This good and holy and very human priest went with me to the foot of the Cross and helped me leave the terrible burden of my faults and failures there.  He gave me the absolution I so sorely needed.  He carried out his sacred ministry given by Christ Jesus to forgive sins.  "Whose sins you forgive are forgiven."   I wanted to cry of joy and relief, but... well... you know... guys and crying...

I often get asked if priests have to go to confession & who do they go to.  Well, yes we have to go, at least I have to go...and often.  I am a miserable sinner.  I may not break the 10 Commandments directly, but in my thought and attitudes I don't uphold them totally.  And priests go to confession to another priest--any priest.

Tonight I celebrated the sacrament with a close brother.  Just as often it is a priest I've never met.  Sometimes I get good advice.  Sometimes it is a warm encounter and sometimes the encounter seems clinical and mechanical.  BUT ALWAYS the result is astounding!  God never withholds His merciful love.  He always forgives.

It is a miracle of Love and Grace.  If you have not been to confession for awhile, now is the time to go. Get your soul scrubbed clean and polished so you can shine like the person God made you to be!

Monday, September 2, 2013

(CNA/EWTN News).- Departing from his typical reflections on the Sunday gospel, Pope Francis used his Angelus audience today to call for peace throughout the world, particularly in conflict-ridden Syria.

“I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from the deep within me,” he said to the crowds in St. Peter’s Square on Sept. 1.

“There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, but in these days my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming,” continued the Pope.

“For this reason, brothers and sisters, I have decided to call for a vigil for the whole Church,” he announced.

It will be “a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, in the Middle East, and throughout world.”

The vigil will take place on Sept. 7, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace. Those who can will gather in St. Peter’s Square from 7 p.m. until midnight: other local Churches are requested to join in the fasting and prayer by gathering together.

Pope Francis extended his invitation to “fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.”

“Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace!” said the Pope.

“All men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace,” he charged.

“I make a forceful and urgent call to the entire Catholic Church, and also to every Christian of other confessions, as well as to followers of every religion and to those brothers and sisters who do not believe: peace is a good which overcomes every barrier, because it belongs all of humanity!”

The Pope went on to lament the use of arms and its negative impact on civilians, the unarmed, and children, particularly recently in the “martyred country” of Syria.

“With all my strength, I ask each party in this conflict to listen to the voice of their own conscience, not to close themselves in solely on their own interests, but rather to look at each other as brothers and decisively and courageously to follow the path of encounter and negotiation, and so overcome blind conflict,” he said.

Pope Francis also asked the international community “to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace in that country without further delay.”

He rejected the use of chemical weapons and requested that humanitarian workers “be granted access so as to provide the necessary aid.”

The Pope continued his insistent appeal for peace: “it is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony within and between peoples, but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue; this is the only way to peace.”

Noting Mary’s universal motherly concern, Pope Francis said, “Let us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children!”

As he has done on previous Sundays, Pope Francis led the crowds in invoking her intercession: “Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!”