From the Pastor February 26, 2017

8th Sunday in

Ordinary Time – A


Last Sunday Before Lent


On Ash Wednesday all are invited to be marked with the burnt remains of last year’s palm branches. One reason for this over 1,000-year-old custom is to recall our mortality: “Remember, that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
The other is to prepare for being washed clean of sin in Baptism, or for those already baptized, to be rewashed of sin in the Sacrament of Reconciliation: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”
Today I reflect on one of the two versions of the revised Mass orations ‘For the Forgiveness of Sins.’ From now until our Lenten Penance Service
on Wednesday, April 5, I will offer many ideas to help you make a good Confession before Easter.


Collect – For the Forgiveness of Sins – A


Graciously hear the prayers of those who

call upon you, we ask, O Lord, and forgive

the sins of those who confess to you, granting us in your kindness both pardon and peace.

– or –

Be merciful to your people, O Lord, and absolve them from all sins, so that what we deserve by our offenses may be avoided by your pardon.

Through our Lord … for ever and ever. Amen.


EGO TE ABSOLSO. Latin for “I absolve you,”
these words begin the Prayer of Absolution
said by the Priest; but can’t God forgive sins without a Priest? Of course God can, but God normally chooses NOT to act without His Church and her minister! Just as someone else must baptize and confirm us; feed us Holy Communion; anoint, witness vows and ordain us, God normally forgives us through a Priest who absolves us after confessing our sins to him. Why?


When Jesus gave the Apostles and their successors, the Bishops, and their assistants, the Priests, the power to forgive sins in His Name, He said: “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” [John 20:23]
By this Jesus provided a confidential and secure place to get EVERYTHING off our chest … or rather, off our soul. For it is not always possible to ask forgiveness from those we offend; they could be dead or unknown; it would only make matters worse; etc. Since every sin offends God, the Priest who represents both God and the Church speaks in their name. And since he cannot be whimsical about – or ignorant of – what he forgives or holds bound, a Priest must know the sins committed – by number and kind for all mortal, serious or grave sins, and a general admission for lesser, venial sins. Only through Sacramental Confession can we truly celebrate all we pray for in these two Collects: forgiveness and absolution … the confessing of our sins … and assurance of God’s pardon and peace.


Prayer over the Offerings – Forgiveness of Sins – A


We offer you, O Lord, the sacrifice of conciliation and praise, that, being moved

to compassion, you may both pardon our offenses and direct our wavering hearts.

Through our Lord … for ever and ever. Amen.


We cannot control our fallen nature, combat our selfish desires, or conquer sin without the help God offers us through His Church. For in the graces won for us by the Sacrifice of His Son, God has already provided all we need to change our wayward hearts, to be forgiven, and to be fortified against temptation. However, to USE these graces we must make ourselves ONE with Christ’s Sacrifice – by offering ourselves with the bread and wine offered at holy Mass.


Prayer after Communion – Forgiveness of Sins – A


Grant us, merciful God, that, receiving

in this gift the forgiveness of sins, we may

be able by your grace to avoid sinning from now on and to serve you in sincerity of heart.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Just as we need booster shots to keep diseases like tetanus from ravaging our body, we need a weekly dose of Eucharist to keep our soul from getting sick. But Holy Communion does not work by magic; we must be attentive to the Scripture readings and homily; active participants in the hymns and rites, actions and silence of holy Mass – on a regular basis. This Lent, give God a chance to literally ‘get inside’ you to change you for the better. Come to Daily Mass; take part in Lenten activities; pray, fast and give alms. See you on Ash Wednesday as we start our annual Lenten journey!


In His holy Name,




Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS