Laetare Sunday

03-27-2022From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Today, the Fourth Sunday of Lent, is often called Laetare Sunday. Laetare comes from the Latin words that mean rejoice. The priest often wears rose colored vestments on this Sunday, rather the usual Lenten violet, reminding us to rejoice in the Lord.

Lent is a penitential season and there is so much sorrow in the world that can make it hard to be joyful. But Laetare Sunday reminds us that Christians always have reason for a certain holy joy. We can be joyful that God loves us and sent Jesus to save us. We can rejoice that He hears our prayers and allows us to offer our sufferings to Him, as our share in the Cross of Christ, to help us on our way to Heaven.

Another reason to be joyful is that God is willing to forgive our sins. It was good to see people at last week’s Penance Service, although the crowd was smaller than usual. I hope that those who did not make the service will make good Confession this Lent.

With that in mind, I’d like to share some questions and answers about Confession. They are taken from a question and answer session with Pope Francis, and offer some very good thoughts about Confession.

Why do we have to go to Confession?“When I go to Confession, it is in order to be healed, to heal my soul, to heal my heart, and to be healed of some wrongdoing.”

But why do we have to Confess to a priest?“First, forgiveness is not something we can give ourselves. I cannot say: I forgive my sins. Forgiveness is asked of another, and in Confession, we ask forgiveness from Jesus.”

Then why can’t I just ask Jesus privately to forgive my sins, without going to a priest in Confession?“Because our sins are committed not only against God, but also against our brothers and sisters and against the Church. That is why it is necessary to ask pardon of the Church in the person of the priest.”

But I feel ashamed when I tell my sins to the priest. Why would Jesus want me to feel ashamed?“It is healthy to feel a little shame. When a person feels no shame, we say they are ‘shameless.’ Shame does some good because it makes us more humble.

Reflecting on the pope’s words, I think his comment about our sins affecting not only God but also our neighbors and the Church are especially important. Many of our sins are committed against other people (lies, gossip, anger, impatience, etc. – not to mention the good deeds we don’t do for others). All of our sins weaken the Church, because the Church is ultimately the sum total of her members. When one of us sins, the Church is less holy. Just as each of our good works builds up the Church, each of our sins weakens her. Hence the priest, representing not only Christ but also His Church, forgives us in the name of God and His Church.

With all this in mind, be sure to go to Confession this Lent. There are pamphlets called A Primer for Confession around the Church. These not only tell you what to do in Confession, but also offer a good Examination of Conscience to help you prepare for Confession.

Next Saturday, April 2, I will have the privilege of celebrating the Acies Mass for the Legion of Mary at our Church. Many of you have attended this Mass before, and are welcome to do so on Saturday. It is a beautiful way to honor our Blessed Mother, and to ask for the help of her prayers. Perhaps you can attend the Mass as a way of offering an extra prayer for peace.

It is hard to overstate the importance of praying for peace at this time. Please pray for it daily, especially by means on the Holy Rosary. Please also remember that Hail Mary for me, and be assured of my prayers for you.

Have a great week!

Fr. John