07 June 2009

Trinity Sunday

Today is Trinity Sunday. For Catholics in the United States, our "Easter Duty," as it is commonly referred to, is to receive Holy Communion at least once during the Paschal Season. In the United States, the Paschal Season begins on the first Sunday of Lent and ends, but is inclusive of, today.

So, have you received Holy Communion this Paschal Season? More importantly, have you received the Sacrament of Reconciliation this Paschal Season?

While Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Reconciliation are usually tied together colloquialy, as the Easter Duty, in fact a member of the faithful is only obliged to receive Holy Communion during the Paschal Season. Basic Church teaching is that every person who has received her or his First Communion must receive Holy Communion at least once each year during the Paschal Season. (Canon 920) Further, once a person has reached the age of discretion, he or she is obligated to confess his or her grave sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least once each year. (Canon 989) There is no particular obligation to attend to the Sacrament of Reconciliation during the Paschal Season. However, that does not mean one may neglect the Sacrament of Reconciliation and receive Holy Communion without ever attending sacramental confession (unless, of course, one never commits a grave sin).

To the contrary, sacramental confession is necessary for the proper reception of Holy Communion by anyone who is conscious of grave sin. I was in the Cathedral in Austin, Texas in July, 2006. After mass ended, the faithful lined up for confession. It was a sight that I have never seen. Nearly everyone in the church lined for Reconciliation! It made me think hard about my own devotion to that Sacrament. The Lord has given us this marvelous gift--we can injure him gravely and still be forgiven. No matter what insult or injury we cause to our Precious Lord, he is always ready to forgive us. Our sin--no matter what--can never get to big for God. Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation we are liberated from our sin by the absolution of Christ, given through the Priest. What a tremendous gift!

However, in my own parish, Reconciliation is only offered two hours each Saturday. I have heard our priests remark that they have to bring something to read, because it can be a long two hours for them. Why is this so?

Why do we "faithful Catholics" who attend Mass nearly every Sunday fail to attend to the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Pride. We think we haven't committed grave sin. Or, we haven't taken the time to search our conscience enough to determine what sins we are guilty of. We think that we are okay. After all, we're attending Mass and trying every day. We may slip once in a while, but on the whole we are doing pretty well. We even congratulate ourselves. Sure we slip every so often, but our sins are not grave sins. Or, so we think.

Consider the love that Christ has for us. Consider that Christ, true man and true God, knew us as he hung on the cross. Did he think of me? Did he consider the sins that I have committed and have still to commit in my life? He certainly did. He knew me like he knows me now. Still He gave His precious blood, his pain, his agony, and his human life for me! Then, he sent the Holy Spirit to aide me in this life. And my response--my pride tells me I am doing okay. That is the devil. Pride is the root of all sin. Turn to our Lord and Saviour and give yourself mercifully, humbly, and contritely to Him. Offer up your sin. Offer up your successes. Offer up your very self to the Lord who loves us and has bought the gift of our salvation with his own suffering. Go to confession, and drink up the grace that the Lord makes available to all by his Love.

Pope John Paul II, who may be canonized this year, went confession throughout his adult life, and especially as a priest, bishop, cardinal, and the Pontiff, once a week. How can we need to the Lord's forgiveness any less?

This Sunday, Trinity Sunday, we celebrate the mystery of the Holy Trinity. The Father, lover and creator of all, sent His only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, as the sacrifice for our salvation--to break through the barrier of death and overcome sin in the world. And, begotten from the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit attends to us even now. Three persons in one unified and magnificent God.

Our minds are too weak to understand the mystery of the Trinity, Words are too inadequate to describe our Lord.

But, still we are called to offer to the Lord ourselves. Do that today, and pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit in your life that you may continue to offer yourself humbly to God. Seek reconciliation with Him through the confessional. Love the Lord. For He has loved us so much; what we offer in return is slight, but make it the best offering possible.

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