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from fathers desk

Dear Parish Family,

Last week we celebrated Mass together for Corpus Christi, the Feast Day of the Body and Blood of Jesus; we also began a Message Series on the Sacraments. We have long been without the Most Blessed Sacrament as a parish family and so it seems important to name and deepen the object of our yearning. We hunger for the Sacraments because they are the powerful ways that our heavenly Father bestows his grace upon us.

Last week Tertullian taught us that “the flesh is the hinge of salvation.” It sounds even better in Latin: caro salutis  cardo. Now we can appreciate the play on words: caro, carnis (flesh) and cardo, cardinis (hinge, pivot, axis). The Latin shows Tertullian as a clever teacher developing a phrase that sticks in the brain. From caro we get carnivore or carne in Spanish. From cardo we get cardinal, as in cardinal virtues - the “pivotal” virtues.

The point is we are tactile, bodily, fleshy people. We are body and soul, not just spiritual but physical and “touchy feely.” The Sacraments use physical realities (bread, wine, water, oil) to effect transformation in the soul. The physical impacts the spiritual. Each Sacrament has matter and form. These physical realities are called the matter of the sacrament. The form is the words or gestures that accompany the matter.

Today we focus on another Sacrament and on Father’s Day. We delve into the Sacrament of the Father’s Mercy and our experience of Confession or Penance or Reconciliation. It is the Sacrament of many names! So what might you think is the matter, the “stuff”, of the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Perhaps the words of absolution, those beautiful words of our Father’s Mercy may offer a clue:

“God the Father of Mercies, through the death and resurrection of His Son, has reconciled the world to Himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins…”

Those last words: I absolve you from your sins. To absolve means to loosen from or to release. And we might be surprised to learn that the matter or stuff of Confession is the sin itself, and the desire to be freed from that sin - what we call contrition. So, the matter of our hearts and the sin that weighs on them are separated or loosened through absolution. No longer does sin grip the soul but the soul is released and freed. I absolve you from your sins means I separate your heart from the sin that weighs upon it. What a beautiful gift, power and responsibility that Jesus shares with his priests!

Our spirits are lightened by the Sacrament of Confession. As a regular participant in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I attest personally to the feeling of being light and free as my brother priest prays the words of absolution over me. As a Confessor, I also attest to the light and free feeling for those who confess experience. There is a beautiful movement, a transformation from feeling weighed down to feeling uplifted and it has to do with the removal of the gunk of sin from the heart, the releasing from what binds or grips our spirits.

I humbly invite you to return to the sacrament. I am hearing Confessions outside in the Garden: Monday - Wednesday - Friday at 8am, and Saturday at 4pm and 6pm. All weather permitting. Two benches are arranged for social distancing. Also, I am happy to schedule an appointment in the garden. Just give me a call!

May the Mercy of our Father shower down upon open hearts!

Fr. Joel Wilson