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Dear Friends in Christ,

Last week I concluded with the wisdom of Saint John Henry Newman: “To live is to change, to be perfect is to have changed often.” We might ask ourselves how we have changed over the course of these months. In some ways, for better and in other ways, could be for worse. No neutral ground exists in the spiritual life. Either we are advancing in the ways of holiness or retreating, progress or regression. In the language of cycling: no coasting, a track bike.

We are in week two of our Message Series, Are You Prepared?” “For what?” you might ask. It is time to dedicate ourselves to advance in the spiritual life, in the words of Newman: to change often (and for the better). Saint John the Baptist is the great change agent of the New Testament. He fearlessly announces the coming of the Messiah while at the same time, proclaiming repentance for the forgiveness of sins. His baptism was not the same one we experienced in the font; it was a particular baptism of repentance which foreshadowed and prepared the people for Trinitarian Baptism.

Although we already belong to the Lord, in a deeper sense we admit that the call to conversion is perpetual. God continues to draw his beloved creation to himself, and that process of growing in intimacy with the Lord is also an invitation to change, to belong ever more fully to God. “Come up higher, friend!” Jesus would tell Catherine Doherty.

In the reading from Isaiah the Prophet some major earthmoving is depicted: “Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; the rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley.” In our own lives, we might ask what kinds of rearranging would better prepare us for the coming of the Lord.

Perhaps there are some mountains in our lives that need to be lowered. The mountains of work and worry, of social media and “doom scrolling,” of pettiness - the mole hills we have turned into mountains. Some valleys may need to be lifted as well. These are aspects of our lives that should be more important but that have sunk in our priorities, including prayer and the Sacraments, but especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Without the ability to gather, I fear many may “opt-out” of Confession when it is so important to “opt-in.” The Sacrament begins with a good examination of conscience. For a confession refresher,  use this guide. See the flyer in the bulletin for Reconciliation times here at OLPH and in neighboring parishes throughout Advent. I do my best to make appointments for the sacrament as well. It is my humble privilege to be an instrument of the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness in the Sacrament. Reconciliation is so important spiritually. It functions sacramentally (and so efficaciously) not unlike John the Baptist’s baptism of repentance, which removed obstacles in the hearts of the people in order that they could receive the Good News of our Lord Jesus.

I hope and pray we can all make the effort to receive God’s grace through Confession, but also more broadly to prepare Him ample room in our hearts this season.

Yours in His mercy,
Fr. Wilson

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