John the Baptist, Confession, and Perfect Contrition

12-06-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

I hope your Thanksgiving was as nice as mine. Mine was a bit quieter than normal, since we had far fewer people than usual. But it was still a wonderful day. We enjoyed a great meal with some close family.

Having fewer people meant that I actually had more time than usual to talk with those who were there, including my mother. Sometimes, at big family gatherings, there are so many people and conversations going on that it’s hard to really talk with one or two people. The small crowd made it easier to spend some time with the few people who were there, and that was good.

Ever since I was a boy, I have been captivated by John the Baptist. After Jesus, he is my favorite Biblical character. I was probably about six years old when I first learned his story, and I took a liking to him right away. His odd clothes and unusual food, as well as the fact the he was Jesus’ cousin, all made me take a liking to him right away.

As I’ve gotten older, I think what most attracts me to John the Baptist is his complete commitment to Jesus. John was ‘all in’ when it came to serving Christ, regardless of what people thought of him. This makes him an excellent example for each of us. We don’t have to eat the odd food or wear the strange clothes John did, but we should all be as committed to Jesus as He was!

In today’s Gospel John the Baptist tells the crowds, and us, that repentance is the most important way to prepare for the coming of Christ. We do this best by making a good Confession. Every Catholic who can safely do so should make a good Confession this Advent. We will have at least two priests hearing Confessions at the regular times in our Church (Saturdays from 9-9:30am and 3:15-4:15pm). We are also adding extra time for Confessions of Fridays this Advent, from 7:15am – 7:45am and from 3-4pm.

Obviously, there are some people who, due to their high risk during this pandemic, cannot come to Confession in person at this time. Such people should make a good examination of conscience, admit their sins to the Lord, promise to get to regular Confession as soon as they can do so, and pray an Act of Perfect Contrition.

I am including an Act of Perfect Contrition for those who may not know it:

‘O My God I believe in You, hope in You, and Love You above all things. Because I love You, I am sorry with all my heart for having offended You. May I never offend You again. Be merciful to me, O God, for I am a sinner. Amen.”

I learned that prayer from my second-grade religion teacher, Sr. Mary Lisa, C.S.S.F., who taught us about Perfect Contrition. It is for those who, for reasons beyond their control, are unable to get to Confession in person. Perfect Contrition presumes that one is sorry for their sins not so much because they fear God, but because they love Him so much that they are sorry to offend Him. It is intended for use in emergencies, such as a pandemic like this. If you have any questions about this, just give me a call and I will be happy to talk you through this process.

Remember that this Tuesday is the Solemn Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Even though it is a Holy Day of Obligation, we are currently dispensed from having to attend Mass that day, as we are on Sundays at this time. Nonetheless, it is good for those who can to attend Mass that day. Masses for the Immaculate Conception will be offered in our Church on Monday evening at 5:30pm, and on Tuesday 6:45am, 8am, and 12:10pm, 4pm, and 7:00pm.

Please keep me, and our whole parish in your prayers. I appreciate that so many of you pray a Hail Mary for me every day. You are certainly in my prayers.

Have a great week!

Fr. John