At this time, many of us wrestle with ourselves about what we can give to others, especially to persons who are dear to us, for Christmas. Oftentimes, we think about items that can be purchased. We want to give things that our recipients will enjoy, need or use. Some of us may be bemoaning the fact that we may have a limited amount of money to spend on gifts this year.
Regardless of how much or how little we have to spend on gifts for this Christmas, the finest gift that we can all offer to others is that of our best selves. Celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation frees us to do just that. This coming Thursday, December 10th, St. Peter Parish, Mansfield, is to host the Tri-Parish Advent Communal Penance Service at 5:00 p.m. A number of priests plan to be present to hear confessions at this service.
Let’s look at how celebrating this Sacrament frees us to offer the gift of our best selves to others. We sin as we wander away from the One Who loves and accepts us for all that we are. Sin occurs as we find ourselves too busy or too tired to pray. If and when we give in to the inclination to put prayer on the back burner, this hurts all of our relationships, beginning with the way we see and regard ourselves. On the one hand, under the influence of sin, we can believe and feel that we are important because of that which makes us different from others. As this happens, we lose the ability to be sensitive to what others need and want. Our giving to others can thus be based upon our need to give, rather than upon the needs and desires of those to whom we would give. Our giving can be the expression of an ego trip.
On the other hand, sin can lead us to be down on ourselves as we see that we can’t provide for our loved ones as others are able to do this for their families.
As we celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we are set free to see ourselves as the Lord sees and regards us. We can thus grow in the ability to respect and value ourselves. The manner in which we regard and value ourselves rubs off onto others. A great treasure that we can offer to persons about whom we care is to invite and to enable them, by our own example, to value themselves as the Lord sees and values them.
A fruit of experiencing for ourselves the Lord’s reconciling love is that we will want to pray more fervently for persons toward whom we are inclined to offer gifts. Prayer helps us to be more sensitive to needs and desires of persons to whom we would express our generosity. In this setting, there is a proper place for providing gifts that cost money. Prayer enables us to be effective and efficient in purchasing gifts that will benefit those who receive them. Hopefully, the things that we give to others will serve as signs of an on-going willingness on our part to be there for them as the Lord wants this to happen. Is this not an expression of giving that continues to give? Celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation frees us to offer this kind of gift to others.
A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY TO WITNESS TO OUR FAITH IS TO OCCUR THIS TUESDAY, DECEMBER 8TH. On this day, we will be observing the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of our Blessed Mother. This is the Patronal Feast of our country. For this reason, this Solemnity is a Holy Day of Obligation, meaning that it is as vital that we participate at Mass on this occasion as it is that we come to Mass each weekend. Masses for this Solemnity are scheduled as follows: on Mon., Dec. 7th, at St. Mary Parish at 7:00 p.m.; on Tues., Dec. 8th, at St. Mary Parish at 9:00 a.m. with the School Community, and at Resurrection Parish at 7:00 p.m.
Shaking loose from what we would otherwise do by participating at Mass on this Holy Day offers a special opportunity to witness to our Faith, particularly to non-Catholics by sharing why we gather for worship on this special occasion.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Nelson Beaver – Pastor