There’s something that a priest learns shortly after he is ordained when he starts hearing confessions. He doesn’t learn anything new about what you confess. He’s spent years studying all of this. He’s just hearing this now, maybe, for the first time. But the one thing he learns that he’s a little surprised by is the love he finds in himself. When a priest is hearing confessions, he does not care what the problem is. He has a great love for every soul who comes into that confessional, and he wants nothing more than to make sure that everyone leaves that confessional in true peace in the friendship of God. It is a truly supernatural thing, this love.
So continuing on with a few things I’d like to emphasize before my departure … I’m calling these the Pelonius Sermons, after Shakespeare’s character in “Hamlet”, who rather longwindedly advised his son who was leaving for school how to conduct himself when away from home – the father’s parting advice. Today we touch on some important matters concerning Sundays and Mass Attendance. Sundays are to commemorate our relationship with God, His worthiness of our honor and homage, the fittingness of our giving Him honor, the pleasure with which He receives it, the reward that He gives those who rightly honor Him. At the center of this, of course, is the Mass, the unbloody representation of Calvary. But what does the Third Commandment then forbid and enjoin? The Third Commandment forbids servile work on the Sabbath. The Third Commandment and the first precept of the church also require that we attend Mass on Sunday, and this is binding on all who have achieved the use of reason and are not excused for some legitimate reason (sickness, travel, weather, etc.). The precept of the church implies that one is to hear Mass in its entirety from the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar until the Last Blessing.
Sermon given at 2018 parish Confirmations.
What was it that Adam did? He severed the bond between God and man – he cut us off from our Father. And how did Christ restore this loss? Yes, he paid our debt, made up for our disobedience by giving His life in a perfect act of obedience to His Heavenly Father. But if that was all that was done, why would the church proclaim at the Easter Vigil, “O felix culpa” O happy fault that merited such a redeemer. In order for Adam’s sin to be called a happy fault, the repair of that fault must have brought us something that we did not have before, and something better than what we had before. What can that possibly be? I can think of only one thing: the Eucharist.
The purpose of this sermon, therefore, is to encourage devotion to the Eucharist as a means of restoring our idea of fatherhood. For by the Eucharist we participate in the life of our Heavenly Father.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Here under the appearances of bread and wine is the creator of the universe, He who has always existed, who has never not existed, He whose nature it is to exist. Here He is in the Eucharist, for us, because that is the best way that God himself could find to be with us.
When Man creates things that are disordered and ugly, those things are not a reflection of Man but rather of Man’s disorder, Man’s brokenness. But in God there is no disorder, and therefore it would be repugnant to God to create that which is not beautiful, for the creation reflects the creator just as the art reflects the artist. And in this case, the creator is not just beautiful but is beauty itself.
All of creation and everything in creation is a reflection of God in some way, some aspects of God. On Trinity Sunday, we consider one part of God’s creation which reflects in a particular way that God is a Trinity, and then we will see some practical consequences that that ought to have for us. That particular aspect of God’s creation that we are talking about is marriage.
Septuagesima is a time for us to gradually work our way into Lent so that we can be prepared and make the most of that holy season. And at times, Lent can be really grueling – we’re hungry, we’re tired, we spend a lot of time thinking about our sins and what we deserve for our sins. But let us keep our eye on the goal – what is encouraging? What makes all this worth it?
It’s the whole reason why Christ became Man and suffered and died for us. For all eternity, He has had one goal in mind – to unite Himself to you forever. It’s been an eternity, and yet finally, here you are. Our Lord’s heart yearns to be united to ours, He burns with the desire of being loved by us. When our Lord says that “With desire I have desired to eat this pasch with you”, St. Lawrence Justinian interprets this to mean our Lord’s desire to unite Himself to us in Holy Communion. Our Lord will not be denied. He will go to great lengths to be with us. He will find a way to come to those who love Him.
Today we look at some practical details about the sacrament of Confession. Confession is so important that we should be intent on getting it right, and so sacred that we should be cautious to approach this sacrament with reverence. And yet it is so common that we often slip into error. In addition, many people were never taught correctly about how to go to confession.
The point of the sermon is not to make people scrupulous about if they are doing all things right in the confessional, but to help people be a little more efficient and more fruitful. That way we can be a little more analytical about sins so that we can know ourselves better and we can make better confessions.