Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday Reflection


April 18, 2014
GOOD FRIDAY

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 * Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9 * John 18:1-19:42

As a college student, leaving all that was familiar had a way of not fitting into my plans. On Good Friday, I recall the moment of my calling. After months of trying not to hear God’s relentless voice, I could take it no longer. Kneeling in a Eucharistic chapel, I pleaded aloud: “Lord, what do you want me to do?”

Desperate for an answer, I opened my prayer book and flipped it open to a page at random. Time for some vocation roulette! “Why don’t you give yourself to God once and for all… really… now!” Oops! I fumbled frantically for a second opinion. “‘Go, preach the Gospel. I will be with you.’ Jesus has said this, and he has said it to you.” Houston, I thought, we have a problem. On to random page number three: “If you see your way clearly, follow it. Why don’t you shake off the cowardice that holds you back?” Strike three and you’re out!

I looked immediately at the crucifix, just like we each look at the cross this Good Friday. I remember hoping against hope that I could find just one muscle on Christ’s body that was not tense in pain out of love for me. If I could just find one, I naively thought, then I would not have to give everything. For it felt like what God was asking of me was pretty much everything.

At that moment, I recall being ashamed to look at the cross.

Raised anew by his strength alone, this Good Friday, “Let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us: looking on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, who having joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame.” -Hebrews 12:1-2

Father Michael Sullivan, LC
Fr Michael Sullivan is the Legion’s vocation director, chaplain of Pope John XXIII High School, and a Fightin’ Texas Aggie Wannabe.

------------
St. Mary's Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Holy Thursday Reflection


April 17, 2014
HOLY THURSDAY

Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14 * 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 * John 13:1-15

The majestic opening words of the Gospel for the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper have always been awe-inspiring to me: “Jesus knew that his hour had come….” He was “fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God.”

Jesus’ power as the Eternal Word is set side-by-side with the humility of his actions on this evening: precisely because he was aware that he was returning to God, “he rose from supper and took off his outer garments…. Then he… began to wash the disciples’ feet.”

The message is clear: this is who our God is. His power and majesty are revealed in his ability to set both aside and perform the task of a slave. Jesus reveals to us the true nature of love: “He loved his own in the world, and he loved them to the end.” All of them, by the way: Judas was still there, and Jesus knows that he will betray him.
  • Jesus continues to show us this love as he gives himself to us in the Eucharist, and he commands us to imitate him. Can I allow him to teach it to me?
Father Jonathan Raia
Father Jonathan began as associate pastor of St. Mary’s in July 2013. He was ordained a priest in 2009.

------------
St. Mary's Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lenten Reflection for Wednesday of Holy Week


April 16, 2014
WEDNESDAY OF HOLY WEEK

Isaiah 50:4-9A * Matthew 26:14-25

Jesus faces the betrayal of a friend, which sends him into the hands of his enemies. When Judas offers to betray Christ, he asks the chief priests, “What will you give me?” It is often easy to focus on what others can give to us, and lose sight of their inherent value. This type of selfishness objectifies others and places their worth in what they can do for us.

Judas sold Christ for thirty pieces of silver. Christ became nothing more than an object traded for money to Judas. When we approach Christ with an attitude of demanding something for ourselves, we will turn away from him as soon as following him becomes difficult. We will be easily swayed by offers of affection, comfort, or financial gain, as Judas was. Christ has already given himself to us through his incarnation, suffering and death on the cross, and in the Eucharist. He should be approached not with demands, but with gratitude and love.

  • Have I betrayed Christ in any way? What was I seeking instead of Christ?
  • Do I approach Jesus with a thankful heart? How has Jesus given himself to me?

Annette Denton
Class of 2014
Master of Public Service and Administration

------------
St. Mary's Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lenten Reflection for Tuesday, April 15


April 15, 2014
TUESDAY OF HOLY WEEK

Isaiah 49:1-6 * John 13:21-33, 36-38

“Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”

As we continue through Holy Week, we get this scene of the Last Supper, and we hear these heavy words from Jesus. The disciples are confused by Jesus’ statement, and they simply look at each other, wondering about whom Jesus is referring to; surely none of them will turn against him. In reading this Gospel, my mind kept going to the passage in Genesis when the Lord asks Cain where his brother is, to which he replies, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Surely we are each other’s keepers. As members of the Mystical Body of Christ, we rely on one another to continue growing in faith, especially in our darkest moments. You never know where you will find the doubtful or the weak.

We need to always be alert and see how the devil is not only trying to tempt us, but also trying to tempt our brothers and sisters. Even those with the strongest of faith experience doubts. Simon Peter ends up denying Jesus three times, as it is foreshadowed at the end of the reading.

Amidst all the darkness, Jesus fills us with hope by saying that we “will follow later.” This is the promise that we will be reunited with him in his glory. So let us await his glorious resurrection.

  • What are some ways Satan might be trying to tempt you?
  • What is keeping you from truly giving your heart to God?
  • What is holding you back to following Christ?

Anonymous

------------
St. Mary's Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Lenten Reflection for Monday, April 14


April 14, 2014
MONDAY OF HOLY WEEK

Isaiah 42:1-7 * John 12:1-11

The Gospel today gives us a glimpse of a man whose life has been radically transformed by an encounter with Jesus Christ. Lazarus was a normal guy. He had friends, went to the store, and enjoyed leisurely pastimes. Eventually he grew ill, fought sickness, and died. Lazarus could be me or you.

It is not until Jesus Christ comes into the picture that Lazarus becomes a noteworthy figure. Lazarus is freed from the confines of death that entrap all other people and rises to new life in Christ.

We hear in the Gospel that Lazarus caused many Jews to believe in Jesus. Lazarus became a walking testament to the power of Jesus Christ. His every action and conversation made Christ present to those around him, and Lazarus lived with the knowledge that every breath was a gift from God. His life could not help but echo the cry of the psalms, “The Lord is my light and my salvation.”

We too then, who have the joy of knowing Christ, should spend every living moment shining his light.

  • In what area of my life do I need Christ to bring me fully alive?
  • How do I walk each day with the knowledge that Christ has brought me back from the dead?
  • How can I make my life a living testament to the glory of God?

Colby Jackson
Class of 2014
Major: Management Information Systems
Future Plans: I’d like to be a saint some day, but at the moment I am applying to study as a seminarian for the Diocese of Austin.

------------
St. Mary's Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Holy Week and The Triduum


Some insights into Holy Week and the Triduum from Pope Francis to start us off:
This week begins with the festive procession with olive branches: the entire populace welcomes Jesus. The children and young people sing, praising Jesus.

But this week continues in the mystery of Jesus’ death and his resurrection. We have just listened to the Passion of our Lord. We might well ask ourselves just one question: Who am I? Who am I, before my Lord? Who am I, before Jesus who enters Jerusalem amid the enthusiasm of the crowd? Am I ready to express my joy, to praise him? Or do I stand back? Who am I, before the suffering Jesus?

We have just heard many, many names. The group of leaders, some priests, the Pharisees, the teachers of the law, who had decided to kill Jesus. They were waiting for the chance to arrest him. Am I like one of them?

We have also heard another name: Judas. Thirty pieces of silver. Am I like Judas? We have heard other names too: the disciples who understand nothing, who fell asleep while the Lord was suffering. Has my life fallen asleep? Or am I like the disciples, who did not realize what it was to betray Jesus? Or like that other disciple, who wanted to settle everything with a sword? Am I like them? Am I like Judas, who feigns loved and then kisses the Master in order to hand him over, to betray him? Am I a traitor? Am I like those people in power who hastily summon a tribunal and seek false witnesses: am I like them? And when I do these things, if I do them, do I think that in this way I am saving the people?

Am I like Pilate? When I see that the situation is difficult, do I wash my hands and dodge my responsibility, allowing people to be condemned – or condemning them myself?

Am I like that crowd which was not sure whether they were at a religious meeting, a trial or a circus, and then chose Barabbas? For them it was all the same: it was more entertaining to humiliate Jesus.

Am I like the soldiers who strike the Lord, spit on him, insult him, who find entertainment in humiliating him?

Am I like the Cyrenean, who was returning from work, weary, yet was good enough to help the Lord carry his cross?

Am I like those who walked by the cross and mocked Jesus: “He was so courageous! Let him come down from the cross and then we will believe in him!”. Mocking Jesus….

Am I like those fearless women, and like the mother of Jesus, who were there, and who suffered in silence?

Am I like Joseph, the hidden disciple, who lovingly carries the body of Jesus to give it burial?

Am I like the two Marys, who remained at the Tomb, weeping and praying?

Am I like those leaders who went the next day to Pilate and said, “Look, this man said that he was going to rise again. We cannot let another fraud take place!”, and who block life, who block the tomb, in order to maintain doctrine, lest life come forth?

Where is my heart? Which of these persons am I like? May this question remain with us throughout the entire week.


The Triduum is made up of the three days before Easter - Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. It is a single prayer of final preparation where we enter into the redemption of humanity and the salvation of the world made present in the Resurrection of our Lord.

This is the holiest part of the year and makes present the mystery of Jesus passion and death before He rises again.
  • Holy Thursday - The Mass of the Lord's Supper, it is the celebration of the first Eucharist in the upper room. This is when we have the annual washing of feet. Usually there is no other Mass celebrated on this day. Extra hosts are consecrated and then all of the Blessed Sacrament are taken from the Church and the tabernacle is left open to signify our longing for Christ. We have adoration after this mass as our last act of worship before the sorrow of Good Friday. 
  • Good Friday - Celebration of the Lord's Passion. There is no Mass this day. Usually there are Stations of The Cross and a Communion service. This is when we have veneration of the Cross and the entire Passion of Christ is read. 
  • Easter Vigil - This is the high-point of the Church's year. During this celebration of Christ's death and Resurrection we have the RCIA candidates and elect receive the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist). The vigil must take place after night falls. It starts with an Easter fire outside of the Church. Then the paschal (Easter) candle is lit and processed into the Church. Then we all share the light of Christ with one another. Afterward, we have the Liturgy of the Word, which will have many readings about the story of God's Salvation history (7 Old Testament and 2 New Testament readings). Then after the homily, we celebrate baptism and confirmation. After this we celebrate the Eucharist. It is a long and absolutely beautiful liturgy with many "smells and bells". 
We should prayerfully enter into the coming Holy Week in preparation for Christ's rising from the dead. Christ have mercy on us all!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lenten Reflection for Palm Sunday, April 13


April 13, 2014
PALM SUNDAY

Matthew 21:1-11 * Isaiah 50:4-7 * Philippians 2:6-11 * Matthew 26:14-27: 66

Thinking about the best and worst days you’ve ever had is a good entrance into the mystery of Palm Sunday. In comparison, think about Jesus’s visit to Jerusalem. He experienced both a high and a low far beyond anything we will ever experience. The two don’t seem to fit together, but they had to happen together. Even though they did not realize it, the people who cheered Jesus and hailed him as the Messiah exalted him because of the sacrifice he would offer of himself. Yet, when the time came, many of them—without really knowing or truly understanding it—would demand that sacrifice when they asked for Jesus to be executed.

The day that Jesus suffered and died is called Good Friday, and, in a sense, that’s a funny name. People ask, “What’s so good about Good Friday?” “Didn’t Jesus die?” “What’s good about that?” All of these are fair questions. I’m sure the disciples on that Friday didn’t understand how good would come from the events of the day. Without the Holy Spirit, they were unable to figure out how everything fit together.

We have an advantage that the disciples did not. We have already read the next chapter in the Gospels—we know why everything happened and we know what happens next. Jesus knew that submitting himself to his Father’s will and embracing death, would free billions from eternal death. This is why we are a people of hope and why we know that it is very good, indeed.

Deacon David Reed
Deacon David is a permanent deacon at St. Mary’s Catholic Center.

------------
St. Mary's Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Lenten Reflection for Saturday, April 12


April 12, 2014
THE FIFTH SATURDAY OF LENT

Ezekiel 37: 21-28 * John 11: 45-56

On this last Saturday of Lent, the prophet Ezekiel is practical about details, and says we should be united in politics (one prince), in worship (one sanctuary), and in our country and world (one land).

Our Gospel tells us that many of the Jews had seen what Jesus was doing and put their faith in him; however, some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus was doing. To the religious leaders, Jesus’ miracles could not be from God. So, there is an emergency meeting of the religious leaders, Sadducees and Pharisees, chief priests, elders among the people, experts in the law; and their conclusion was . . . “If we leave him alone, all will believe in him, and the Romans will take away our land and nation . . . one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish”.

Jesus lived out the hopes and the injunctions of Ezekiel. He interacted with politics, religion, and social customs. He cured the sick and the handicapped on the Sabbath and broke religious taboos; he threatened political structures where even the high priest was the tool and appointee of the Romans; he ate and drank with publicans and other non-observant people. Jesus was showing us how to share the best of himself, even at the risk of his life.

  • Do we allow fears or people-pleasing, or an exaggerated feeling of our own ego to prevent us from following the values of Jesus when we know we should?
  • Do we sometimes look the other way and just let things slide past so we won’t be confronted or corrected?

Deacon Switzer Deason
Deacon Switzer Deason serves as a permanent deacon at St. Mary’s Catholic Center.

------------
St. Mary's Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Lenten Reflection for Friday, April 11


April 11, 2014
FRIDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF LENT

Jeremiah 20:10-13 * John 10:31-42

“I’m tired.” “I’m frustrated.” “Life is too hard.” “I didn’t sign up for this!” How many times do we hear or even say these words? We feel the pressing weight of daily responsibilities and the heaviness of life.

Today’s Liturgy guides us to pray: In my distress I called upon the Lord…
Do I “go to God” when I am in need? Do I ask for help? No, I’m an independent woman! No, I’m a guy—I can figure this out! I wonder if self-reliance could be one of the biggest struggles of our time. It is both a sin—the matter is a lack of trust in God—and a lie that the Evil One wants us to believe to prevent us from having a true relationship with the Father.

…and he heard my voice. The Father hears the cry of the poor one who calls out to him. But, to be heard does not imply that God has to do what we want! Trusting in him is not about results; rather, trust takes us far beyond our own understanding and into the depths of God’s love and mercy. It is there where he receives us and where we can experience communion with him.

I love you, O LORD, my strength, O LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer.

  • Do I ask for help when I am in need, or am I self-reliant?
  • Do I believe that God hears my voice?
  • Do I desire intimacy and communion with the Lord?

Resolution: Today, pick a practical way in which to trust God more.

Sr. Elena Morcelli
Sister Elena Morcelli is an Apostle of the Interior Life Sister and campus minister at St. Mary’s Catholic Center.

------------
St. Mary's Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lenten Reflection for Thursday, April 10


April 10, 2014
THURSDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF LENT

Genesis 17:3-9 * John 8:51-59

This Gospel reading is an example of the people in Jesus’ time doubting him, just as we doubt him in our day and age. Many times we believe that if we could only see Jesus in person we would finally believe, and all our doubts would be gone. But in the Gospel, Christ was speaking face to face with people, telling them the Good News, and they didn’t believe. He didn’t walk around glorifying himself with his own actions, he pointed all back to his Father.

Christ challenged the Jews at that time, and us now, to be countercultural. He was preaching a Gospel that was very different than the norms of his time, and by doing so, he created many enemies. When he spoke the truth, he lost many followers. He did not soften up the message back then, and he does not soften up the message for us now. With our world being even more immoral than in his time, he is calling us to be even greater saints and to bring others with us.

  • What actually comes to mind when we hear Jesus say “I Am”?
  • How often do we doubt in Christ’s love?
  • How can we go about purifying our love for Christ during this Lenten Season?

Berny Ross
Class of 2015
Major: Accounting

------------
St. Mary's Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Eating Manatee on Fridays of Lent?

When the Americas were being explored and colonized, many of the animals were unknown to the Europeans. Because many of the explorers were Catholic and bound by the law of the Church, they sought clarification on what would be considered "meat" they could eat on Fridays - remember that you would abstain on all Fridays during this time. In addition denying many of the natives access to the foods they ate, would have been a cultural barrier. Thus, they would send descriptions of the animals back to Rome and ask for clarification.

Interesting to note (because they are primarily water creatures) such animals as beavers, turtles, otters, manatees, and capybaras were all put under the "fish" title. In parts of South America, capybaras are still a regular item on the dinner table on Fridays in Lent.

I can imagine the letter about the capybaras (to the Pope) went something like this:
Your Holiness,

I have found a large tasty creature we all want to eat on Fridays.  Please advise whether this is would be considered a fish. It stands several feet tall and looks like a gigantic guinea pig. It is tasty, just as fish is, and swims in the water, just like fish. The natives have taken a liking to the animal and if they don't get to eat on Fridays, they might throw a fit.

Please advise whether this huge rodent is a fish.

In The New World,
I am,
Montel Montenegro Montemayor Monterey, S.J.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lenten Reflection for Wednesday, April 9


April 9, 2014
WEDNESDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF LENT

Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95 * John 8:31-42

“And the truth will set you free.” This phrase that Jesus speaks in today’s Gospel has become clichéd in our society, but what does it really mean? Imagine you are sitting in front of a piano. You have no musical background whatsoever, and you have never even touched a piano before. Now try playing the piano. Without any experience or guidance, no matter how hard you hit at the keys, you can only make noise, not music.

Now, imagine watching a world-renowned pianist. Years of study and practice give him the musical expertise necessary to glide along the keys and play beautiful songs that resonate with your soul. This pianist is able to play such enchanting music because he understands the rules of playing the piano. This lets him explore, dream, discover, and even create new melodies. We too we need rules in our lives to live in peace and create harmony. If we can realize this truth, then we can understand that it comes from Love himself, and we can truly be free to live and to love as he does.

  • What are some examples of rules that have been imposed on me by parents, society, professors, etc. that I may have disliked at the time, but were for the best?
  • What obstacles in my life are preventing me from being free to choose the good? (Sins? Attachments to school? Work? Boyfriend/girlfriend? Food? Possessions?)
  • Create a specific resolution to help overcome your biggest obstacle.

Tran Ngo
Class of 2015
Major: Accounting
Future Plans: I want to get my CPA license and work at a non-profit.

------------
St. Mary's Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Lenten Reflection for Tuesday, April 8


April 8, 2014
TUESDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF LENT

Numbers 21:4-9 * John 8:21-30

Our lives parallel those of the children of Israel in this reading. Once we have agreed to live as faithful Catholics, we set foot on the road toward holiness. However, we often become impatient with God. Although our hearts tell us that God knows best, our human brain is impatient. We may even become angry and complain to God, our Father, who loves us and never leaves us.

The lives of the saints show us how beautiful graces can blossom out of suffering. For example, St. Gemma Galgani suffered through her mother’s death at a young age. However, through her union with God, she was touched by a fire of extraordinary love. Our Blessed Mother had many sorrows, but in her love, she continues to care for us as our mother, and leads us closer to Jesus.

Let us aspire to hold a love in our hearts as strong at that of St. Gemma Galgani and our Blessed Mother Mary so that we may overcome, through God’s grace, all tribulations and obstacles, and fall into closer intimacy with our Creator.

  • What tribulations has God sent me in the past? In the present? Do I willingly suffer through these obstacles out of love?
  • How have I overcome these tribulations and what graces has God sent me in return?

Rosita Zubieta
Class of 2014
Major: Business Management
Future Plans: After graduation, I want to continue to learn outside of the classroom walls with a managerial marketing role in Dallas/Fort Worth. I am excited to set foot into my professional career as a disciple for Christ as a result of the spiritual formation I received at St. Mary’s.

------------
St. Mary's Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Lenten Reflection for Monday, April 7


April 7, 2014
MONDAY OF THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT

Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62 * John 8:12-20

Today, we see that God forgives and provides for sinful people through our savior, Jesus, and calls them to a life of holiness. We are called to forgive our neighbors rather than judge them, and pray for a deeper conversion of their hearts that leads them towards a life of holiness where they follow their conscience under God’s guidance.

The only way we can hear this calling and do it well is to know God personally and to walk in the guidance of his Holy Spirit, as Daniel did in the Old Testament. God often provides opportunities for us in response to our prayers, but leaves it up to us to follow his guidance of the Spirit and act on those opportunities in our lives to lead people closer to our Savior.

  • Do you accept your neighbors as brothers and sisters in God, and yearn for them to strengthen their relationship with God?
  • Do you call your attention and actions to God throughout the day, and seek his will?
  • Do you follow his Spirit boldly?
  • Do you take advantage of opportunities granted by God to share his love and speak up for the life he calls us to live?

Ryan Efaw
Class of 2014
Major: Nursing

------------
St. Mary's Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

21 Reasons To Go To Confession & Why Catholics Confess Sins To Priests



There are several questions we need to sort through before we get to the reason we all need Confession.
  • Is the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) necessary to have your sins forgiven or can you go straight to God? 
  • Why do we need this Sacrament? 
  • Where did it come from? 
  • What does sin do? 
We have to lay some groundwork before giving adequate answers.

What Sin Does
Sin causes damage in an three-fold way:
  1. With God
  2. With Others
  3. With Ourselves
Most people easily see that sin can damage the relationship between us and God. This is why all Christians seek forgiveness of sins in some way. But, this isn't the only damage done. St. Paul tells us, in several of his letters, we are all united to God in one body of Christ - the Church. One example of this teaching:
"We, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another." - Romans 12:5
So, when we sin we can damage others. As Paul says in his long teaching on the Body of Christ in 1 Corinthians:
"If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy." - 1 Cor 12:26
Thus, we not only damage the relationship with God, but also with other members of the Church. The Catechism teaches:
"1440 Sin is before all else an offense against God, a rupture of communion with him. At the same time it damages communion with the Church. For this reason conversion entails both God's forgiveness and reconciliation with the Church."
The third damage caused is to ourselves. We are created for goodness and holiness. When we sin, in a sense, we become less of who we were created to be. This damage needs to be repaired also. This healing only happens when sin is forgiven.

Who Forgives Sins?
Only God has the authority to forgive sins. Yet, this authority is mediated through others. The Jews questioned why Christ was forgiving sins, because they did not realize He was God. We must not forget that Jesus was also a man. He passes on this authority to forgive sins to his apostles.

After the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples who were gathered in the upper room, scared out of their minds and confused. Christ comes and breathes the Holy Spirit on them and then commissions them to forgive sins. This is only the second time God breathes on humans. The first is when He breathes life into Adam. Breath is a symbol of the Holy Spirit.
"On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. (Jesus) said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."" - John 20 19-23
The apostles are sent as the Father has sent Jesus - with the authority to forgive sins. But, how could they know which sins to forgive and which to retain, if the sins were not confessed? This is why the book of James says this:
"confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed." - James 5:16
In this context of this verse, a person is told to "summon the presbyters of the church" (James 5:14). Presbyter is the Greek word for priest (or elder).

Therefore, based on the Biblical evidence, we see forgiveness of sins is explicitly tied to confession to a priest, who has the authority to forgive sins, which is given by Christ. Christ thus heals the relationship through the priest and we are reconciled to both God and His Church - healing the two-fold damage done in our relationships.

Can You Go Straight to God?
Yes and no. We are told, as we see clearly in Scripture above, that we are to confess our sins to one another. Thus, the ordinary way we have our grave sins forgiven is through the Sacrament of Confession. Thus, this is the way that Christ has established as the ordinary way to forgive grave (i.e. mortal) sins. But, there are extreme circumstances where God may forgive grave sins outside of Confession if the person has perfect contrition (sorrow) for their sins, but these are extraordinary.

Also, we are only required to go to Confession once a year during the Easter season, and only if we have committed a mortal sin. Thus, all venial sins can be forgiven by going straight to God, though they can also be forgiven in Confession, and this is recommended whenever possible.

Can only Catholics Have Their Sins Forgiven?
The simple answer is no. While confession is the ordinary way to have your sins forgiven, it is not the only way. The Catechism says:
“When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called "perfect" (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible” (CCC 1452).
If someone is not Catholic (thus they do not have recourse to the Sacrament), then they can be forgiven, with perfect contrition and confession of their sins to God. If a non-Catholic is in danger of death, they can receive the Sacrament - if they are a baptized Christian.
"If there is a danger of death or if, in the judgment of the diocesan Bishop or of the Episcopal Conference, there is some other grave and pressing need, catholic ministers may lawfully administer these same sacraments to other Christians not in full communion with the catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who spontaneously ask for them, provided that they demonstrate the catholic faith in respect of these sacraments and are properly disposed." (Code of Canon Law, canon 844.4)
So, Why Go to Confession If you Can be Forgiven Without It?

Many reasons, in fact, I came up with at least 21 of them:

21 Reasons To Go To Confession
  1. God commanded we confess our sins to one another in the Bible. (James 5:16)
  2. It is the ordinary way to have our sins forgiven.
  3. We receive grace to resist sin through the Sacrament, as well as forgiveness.
  4. We learn humility by having to confess to another person.
  5. There is built-in accountability.
  6. Our relationship with the rest of the Church is healed.
  7. We receive counsel from the priest.
  8. We can be comforted hearing the words of absolution.
  9. All are sins are wiped away.
  10. Helps give you the strength to forgive others.
  11. It doesn't cost anything.
  12. We may not be positive that we have "perfect" contrition without it.
  13. Helps us go deep within and think about how we can improve.
  14. It feels good emotionally.
  15. When we realize (again) we are sinners, it is easier to be patient with others.
  16. Always confidential - what is said in the confessional stays in the confessional.
  17. No more guilt.
  18. We are better prepared to receive the Eucharist.
  19. Forgiveness is a necessary part of growing in holiness.
  20. Our consciences can be better formed.
  21. If we have mortally sinned, then Confession brings us back into the family of God - The Church as well as restores sanctifying grace in our souls!
Related Links:
**Is Confession To a Catholic Priest Necessary or Can You Go Straight To God?
**Being Contrite
**What Happens If I Die With Mortal Sin Without 1st Going To Confession?
**Can a Non-Catholic Go To Confession?
**Confession From The Priest's Perspective

Related Videos:
 





Sunday, April 6, 2014

Lenten Reflection for Sunday, April 6


April 6, 2014
THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT

Ezekiel 37:12-14 * Romans 8:8-11 * John 11:1-45

Our readings appear to focus on faith, death, and rising from the dead. One of the themes is that if we abide in Christ and keep faithful to God’s commandments, we too will be raised from the dead to a new life in Christ, body and soul. This is foreshadowed by the prophet Ezekiel is his vision of the dry bones in our first reading, and then fulfilled by Christ in the raising of Lazarus from the dead. The Church, through Christ, is teaching us that even if we are “dead in our sins,” our faith and belief in Christ can and will raise us up spiritually and bodily; if we but repent and believe in Christ and the teachings of his Church.

In our second reading, “If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the One who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through the Spirit dwelling in you.” (Romans 8:11) We should want to shout from the rooftops, and like Martha proclaim to the world, in response to Christ’s admonition the he is “the Resurrection and the Life;” “Yes Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” (John 11:27)

Let’s do whatever it takes and fix our eyes on Jesus, the risen Christ.

  • Through the sacrament of reconciliation, do we truly and sincerely repent in order to rise to a new life in Christ?
  • When you contemplate your own death, what do you really believe about your own personal resurrection?

Deacon Glen Milton
Deacon Glen is a permanent deacon at St. Mary’s Catholic Center.

------------
St. Mary's Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Lenten Reflection for Saturday, April 5


April 5, 2014
SATURDAY OF THE FOURTH WEEK OF LENT

Jeremiah 11:18-20 * John 7:40-53

Preconceived notions can dramatically alter the way we interact with other people. When we have faulty ideas about others, we can fail to take the time to actually get to know them. It’s easier to just place them in neatly labeled boxes, rather than trying to understand their true dignity.

In this Gospel reading, it is quite definitively determined that Jesus cannot be the Christ, simply because he is from Galilee. Never mind his powerful teachings or miracles; he is reduced solely to where he is from. And because this does not match up to the established requirement, he is written off despite other obvious signs to his divinity.

Lent is an ideal time to examine what sort of flawed perceptions we may have about the people in our lives. Not only that, but even what sort of flawed perceptions we may have about God. Ultimately, the best way to go about removing these misguided opinions is to form real relationships. It may be more difficult, demanding, and messier. However, it is so worthwhile, as it frees us from unnecessary limitations and allows us to appreciate others for who they truly are.
  • In what ways does my current perception of God limit him?
  • Do I have preconceived notions about any person in my life? Could I reach out to this person during the Lenten season?
Samantha Schott
Class of 2015
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Future Plans: I want to pursue a career in research, potentially in the development of artificial organs or new technology for joint replacements.

------------
St. Mary's Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Lenten Reflection for Friday , April 4


April 4, 2014
FRIDAY OF THE FOURTH WEEK OF LENT

Wisdom 2:1A, 12-22 * John 8:1-11

For many people, the holidays come with a subliminal understanding of acceptance and love for all. To help us understand the setting a little bit further, let us take a look into why Jesus returned to Judea. The Jewish feast of the Tabernacles is a weeklong feast set apart between September-October. During the feast, celebrants live in self-made booths to remember Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and their subsequent wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. Therefore the feast of the Tabernacles can be thought of as Israel’s version of Thanksgiving. Keeping this is mind, picture yourself coming home for a Thanksgiving celebration. Would you not hope for a warm reception from those at home?

While Jesus’ unfavorable homecoming might seem unlikely, there are many fellow brothers and sisters who share in that experience. For many, returning home may not always provide the same “soul recharging” as for others. Where should they go then? Jesus ultimately returned to share in a festival that gives thanksgiving to his Father. Because God the Father remains always faithful, we should strive to look to him and the Trinity to be our ultimate “soul chargers.”

  • Have I ever denied the Holy Trinity in others? In myself?
  • Do I place the worth of my happiness on earthly things?

Mónica Roel
Class of 2014
Major: Petroleum Engineering
Future Plans: After graduation, I plan to work in the oil and gas industry.

------------
St. Mary's Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Lenten Reflection for Thursday , April 3


April 3, 2014
THURSDAY OF THE FOURTH WEEK OF LENT

Exodus 32:7-14 * John 5:31-47

The Gospel reading for today is definitely a weighty one. Jesus is speaking to the Jews, discussing testimonies on his behalf. As I reflected on the reading, there was something that specifically stood out and made an impression. “But I have testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf.” (John 5:36)

I’m sure that there is so much to delve into with these few lines, but it made such an impression on me because Jesus is saying that his acts are testimony enough for us to believe in him. He says that these are a “testimony greater than John’s.”

This led me to challenge myself. We can say that we believe, that we love God, but do we reflect that in our actions? The works that we perform will testify on our behalf. We must ask ourselves:

  • Does our love for God show in our actions?
  • Does our faith go beyond just what we say into what we do?

Gabriel Lancale

------------
St. Mary's Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Fr. Barron Comments on Noah Film