Fr. Bryan Howard
5th Sunday in Easter – Year B – 29 April 2018
The love of God is not a prize to be won, or an award to be earned. It’s not given to those who are good and taken away from those who are bad. It is a freely given gift. God formed you in the womb, gave you life, and caused you to grow. He’s loved us from the moment of our existence, and, since you didn’t do anything to earn God’s love, there’s nothing you could do to make Him stop loving you.
Sometimes we think that we have to do good things to make God love us. We think that we have to get our lives together before we can come to God, that we have to stop sinning, overcome our vices, and become a “good person,” in order to come to God. In fact it’s just the opposite. We do good things because God loves us, and without His help it’s impossible to become holy.
Sometimes we think that we’re not worthy of God’s love, or mercy, or compassion. We think that our actions, what we’ve accomplished, make us valuable and give us dignity. We have human dignity because we’re God’s children and were made in His image and likeness. Does the mother of a bank robber love her child any less than the mother of the president of a bank? No. Mother’s love their children because they’re their children. God loves us because we’re His children.
Think of St. Paul. In our first reading we heard about his arrival in Jerusalem for the first time after his conversion. How was St. Paul converted? He didn’t go to God and ask to be converted, God went to Him, knocked him on his backside, and struck him blind. You’ve heard that God works in mysterious ways? Well, sometimes He uses a bullhorn instead. Just ask St. Paul. This is how it works for us as well. God first comes to us, calls us to Himself, and gives us the strength to leave behind our old sinful ways and grow closer to Him.
In the Gospel Jesus says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.” Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Our job is to bear fruit, and the fruit that we bear is good works, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, works of faith, hope, and charity. How do we bear fruit? How does a plant bear fruit? The roots take in water and nourishment, which the plant uses to cause the branches to grow the fruit. If Jesus is the vine, then He is the one giving us, the branches, the nourishment we need to bear fruit. We have to remain in Him. A branch that’s cut off of a vine will wither and die. If we cut ourselves off from Christ, then we will wither and die, spiritually, but if we stay connected to Jesus, then He will continue to nourish us.
As St. John says in the second reading, “And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he gave us.” We don’t follow God’s commands to make Him love us, we follow His commands because He loves us. At the beginning of our second reading, St. John wrote, “Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.” This reminds me of something that we read in the letter of St. James, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
We all, at times, fail to live out the love of God. We all sin. Do we strive to overcome our sins with the help of God? Do we strive to love in deed and in truth? Stay close to the Eucharist. The Eucharist that nourishes us with the love of God and helps us to remain close to Christ. As the Fathers of the Church used to say, “When we receive the Body of Christ, we become the Body of Christ.” But, if we receive the Eucharist dishonestly, when they way that we live doesn’t reflect the faith that we profess, then we haven’t helped ourselves. We’ve made it worse. If we receive the Eucharist while living in a state of mortal sin, then that is a sin against the Eucharist. Now remember, a mortal sin isn’t just any sin, it’s a very serious sin that we commit knowingly and deliberately. This is why the Sacrament of Confession is so closely related to the Eucharist. Through it Jesus forgives our sins and strengthens us against them.
This is how we come to God, not as perfect people, but as broken people asking to be made whole. Most of us ask far too little of God, He wants to make you a great saint; accept His grace and live it.
Fr. Bryan Recommends
The Priest is Not His Own
by Archbishop Fulton Sheen
I’ve recommended books by Archbishop Fulton Sheen before, and when I was thinking of books on the priesthood to recommend it didn’t take long to settle on this one. He was born in 1895 and ordained a priest on September 20, 1919. He was consecrated a bishop in 1951 and archbishop in 1969. He is most famous for His television show, Life is Worth Living, which ran from 1951 to 1957, and a followup show from 1958 to 1968. The viewing audience is estimated to be as at least 10 million or as high as 30 million viewers every week.
His book on the priesthood is not really a theological explanation of what the priesthood is, but it’s more of a spiritual look at the priesthood. He writes about who the priest is, why we need priests, what priests do, and how priests should live. He gives practical advise to priests on how to grow in holiness, and how to draw souls to Christ.
He focuses on the fact that the priest is meant to imitate Christ, to be an alter Christus. Christ came as a victim offering Himself for our sins. He was born in order to die, and He died for us, to save us. If Christ came to offer Himself for us, His flock, then every priest is called to do the same, to offer Himself for his flock. Hence the title, The Priest is Not His Own.
This book is really written for priests and seminarians, but if you want to understand the priesthood better, then this is one of the best places to start.
Next Week: Three Kinds of Love
Equipped is about giving us information and techniques to help people to grow as parents and help their children to grow in virtue, especially chastity and self control, but the last chapter, “Confidence in Divine Mercy,” reminds us that Christianity is not about following a bunch of rules for their own sake, but about growing in our relationship with our Loving God. After all, as Dr. Scott Hahn says, sin isn’t just broken rules, it’s broken lives and broken relationships, and sin distances us from God, because it is incompatible with Who He Is. We didn’t do anything to earn God’s love, He loved us before He made us, so we can’t do anything to lose God’s love. We don’t do good things to try to make God love us; we do good things because God loves us.
We read in chapter 9, “But their (children’s) greatest need in life is not a good understanding of sexuality, a good sexual track record, or even good parents – their greatest need in life is God, including an understanding of their adoption as His children, as well as his Divine Mercy.” The information and tools in this book can help you to avoid and overcome temptation, but, as much as we try to minimize it, we all still sin sometimes. God’s gives us His mercy so we can return to His love, be strengthened by His grace, and continue to grow closer to Him. As St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? Now the sting of death is sin: and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who hath given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast and unmoveable; always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:55-58).
Fr. Bryan Howard
4th Sunday of Easter – Year B – 22 April 2018
Everyone must sacrifice things in their lives. There is no path in life that you can take that doesn’t include sacrifice. This is true whether you’re married or unmarried, rich or poor, healthy or sick, religious or atheistic. In fact, in every decision you make, you’re sacrificing something else. When you choose what you’re going to do this evening. There are only so many hours in a day. If you choose to spend an hour going for a walk, then you can’t spend that hour at home watching TV. So, how do we choose which things to hold on to and which to sacrifice?
I think the best way I can explain that is to tell you how I made that decision, the most important one I’ve ever made, to follow God’s call and become a priest. It started when I was a child. I was raised in a Catholic home. We prayed together, we went to Mass together every Sunday, and we had crucifixes and images of the saints in the house. We lived with my Maw Maw and Paw Paw, and they would pray the Rosary together every night before bed. I learned how to pray the Rosary laying on the foot of their bed praying with them. I went to public schools, so I had to go to CCD classes at my parish, St. Clement of Rome. My mom would go through the lessons with me just like she went through all of my lessons for school. This reinforced that religion was normal, and that it was important. I didn’t start seriously thinking about the priesthood until the eighth grade, which at that time was the year we made Confirmation. My initial reaction was, “No Way! You’ve got the wrong guy!” I used all of the normal excuses to avoid thinking about it: I want to get married and have kids, I’m not good enough, I don’t have what it takes.
Two things came together that year to help me seriously consider that call, as God often does, He just wouldn’t leave me alone. First, the parochial vicar, Fr. David Dufour, called my house to speak with me. He asked me to be one of the readers for the Confirmation Prep Program Masses. When the teacher had asked in class, I hadn’t volunteered, but I couldn’t say no to the priest directly. This was a great gift. We had training before each of the Masses we would read at, and in those trainings Fr. David taught us how to pray with the Bible. Through reading at Mass I got to know the Mass better. I had always liked going to Mass, but now I was beginning to understand the Mass, to feel a connection to it, and to develop a love for the Mass.
Second, my CCD teachers for that year, George and Gay Hernandez, introduced the class to our Perpetual Adoration Chapel. Since I lived close to the Church, I started to ride my bike down and go to the chapel on my own time. I would pray with the Bible, and I would ask God to tell me what He wanted me to do. That call or attraction to the priesthood never went away, no matter how much I tried to deny it.
This went on for a couple of years. In high school I went on a retreat with the Church’s youth group. On the bus, I asked God to make it clear to me what He wanted me to do, what He was calling me to. Part of the retreat included adoration. As I knelt before the Blessed Sacrament and prayed, I felt an incredible sense of peace come over me, my fears and anxieties went away, and I could sense God reassuring me that it was alright and that He would always be with me. In that moment, I accepted that God was calling me to be a priest and decided to follow that call wherever it lead me. There are more ups and downs to the story, as it would be almost 11 more years before I was actually ordained, but that was, in a way, the first step, and I can say now that’s it’s the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. I can’t imagine being happier doing anything else.
The Church has named today as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Today, we celebrate those men and women who have chosen to follow God’s call to dedicate their lives completely to Him, priests, brothers, and sisters. In the Archdiocese of New Orleans there are 342 priests (213 diocesan priests, 53 or whom are retired, and 125 religious order priests), 63 religious brothers, and 370 religious sisters. Those numbers sound pretty good, but you have to realize that many of our parishes that used to have 2, 3, 4, or more priests now have only 1 or 2. Our Lady of Lourdes used to have 2 and now only has 1, and I can only think of 1 parish that has more than 2, and it’s run by the Dominicans. When you consider the entire country, in 1965 there were 58,632 priests for 48.5 million Catholics and in 2017 there were 37,181 for 68.5 million Catholics. That’s 21,000 fewer priests for 22 million more Catholics. If you think that sounds bad, listen to this, in 1965 there were 179,954 religious sisters in the U.S., but in 2017 there were only 45,605, which is 134,000 less. Have you ever wondered why in the 50s and 60s you saw sisters everywhere, in the parishes and in the schools, and now you don’t see them anywhere.
We need priests in the Church. Without priests there is no Mass and no Reconciliation, no Eucharist. Young men and women, consider that priesthood or consecrated life. Ask God what He is calling you to do with your life. Parents, encourage your children to think about their vocation, what God is calling them to. It’s true that they can be happy doing many different things, but God is the one who made us, and He made us for a purpose, and following that call will be more fulfilling than anything else. And everyone, we all need to pray for vocations. Jesus Himself told us, “Pray, therefore, the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers for the harvest.” Since Mary, our Blessed Mother, is the one who always shows us the way to her Son, let’s offer her prayer for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and that all those who are being called right now may hear and answer.
The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony
We’re coming to the end of this series of bulletin articles on the Seven Sacraments which began on September 3 and will finish in May with the articles on the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. In my article about Holy Orders, I mentioned that Marriage is a Sacrament of Service calling husband and wife to serve one another and their family in love and help one another get to heaven. Today, we’ll go a little bit more in depth on what marriage is.
When you see a marriage ceremony on TV or in a movie, there is a moment when the person officiating, the priest or judge, says, “I now pronounce you man and wife.” If you’ve been to a Catholic wedding you may have noticed that this doesn’t happen. The priest is there to witness the exchange of vows on behalf of God and the Church and offer God’s blessing to the newly married couple, but he doesn’t pronounce them married. The bride and groom are married in the moment when they exchange vows with one another. The blessing, exchange of rings, and prayers of the Church are important, but far more important is the exchange of vows. Through those vows, made honestly and with good intentions in the presence of the Church and the community, God unites man and woman in the bond of marriage and gives them grace to live out those vows.
In the marriage vows a husband and wife basically promise three things, called the “three goods” of marriage. First, they promise to be open to life. The priest or deacon asks, “Are you prepared to accept children lovingly from God and to bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?” and the couple respond, “I am.” The intention to accept children lovingly from God and to raise them lovingly is at the heart of marriage. Just as God shared His love with us by creating us and bringing us into His family, so married couples are called to imitate God by being open to the new life that God wishes to give them and expanding their families.
Second, they promise to be faithful to one another. In their vows husband and wife promise to be faithful “in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love you and to honor you.” It’s relatively easy to be faithful in good times and in health, but it’s much more difficult in bad times and in sickness. This promise is not just to not mistreat one another or cheat, but it is something positive as well. They promise to love and honor one another, which is to put the good of your husband or wife first.
Finally, they make these promises “all the days of my life,” or, in the other version of the vows, “until death do us part.” The vows are not meant to be temporary. Some people think that it’s too much to expect people to keep a promise like this for their entire lives, but God and the Church have a higher view of humanity. We know that a husband and wife can, with the help of God, love and honor one another for their entire lives. This doesn’t mean that it’s easy, but it’s definitely worth the sacrifice. For my part, one of my greatest joys as a priest is to see families growing together in love, whether they’re just starting out or have been together 50 plus years. Witnessing their joy and love for one another motivate me and give me encouragement for the future.
Next Week: Fr. Bryan Recommends
Chapter 8 of Equipped, “Supportive and Structured Parenting,” is specifically on parenting styles and gives some practical tips on good parenting. Now, obviously I’m not an expert on parenting, but I would think that it’s good for every parent to occasionally do a self examination on how they are parenting their children.
What is the goal of every parent? It’s to raise your children to be the best men and women that they can become, the men and women that God is calling them to be: good, well rounded, holy, virtuous, and able to thrive when they go out into the world. Ask yourself, “Is the way I’m parenting my children encouraging and helping them to develop these traits?”
One of the main points of this chapter is the need for supportive and structured parenting. If one of these is emphasized to the detriment of the other, then the way you guide your children will become unbalanced and won’t help them grow into well rounded people. I can’t tell you how to do this, not only because I’m not a parent, but because every person, every parent and child, is unique. What I do know is this. If you try every day to be a slightly better parent than the day before, to strengthen areas where you’re weak and grow in virtues that you lack, to keep Christ at the heart of your family, and continuously return to Him when you fall away, then you’ll do the best job that you can.
Fr. Bryan Howard
3rd Sunday in Easter – Year B – 15 April 2018
When I got into the parish, one of the first things that I did was to place this crucifix on the altar. You may have noticed that the crucifix always faces towards me. Some people have asked me about that, and today I want to use this altar crucifix to explain something about the Mass. You know that the Mass is a prayer. In fact, it’s the highest prayer of the Church. But, when we pray, who are we talking to? We’re talking to God. The Mass is a prayer that the entire Church offers to God. We use the same prayers and readings on the same days throughout the entire Church. The same Mass is offered everywhere in the world. If you go to Mass in another country, or go up the road to the Spanish Mass at OLPS Sundays at 12:30 or to Mary, Queen of Vietnam, even if you don’t understand the language, you recognize that the order of the Mass, the prayers, and the actions of the priest are all the same. One Mass is offered throughout the entire world to the one God.
That’s why I put the crucifix on the altar with the corpus facing me. In the prayers at the altar, I may be facing you, but I’m not really talking to you, I’m talking to God. In the old days we showed this by having the priest and people face the same direction, with the priest turning to address the people at the appropriate times. That Cross is a reminder for all of us, but mostly for me, that the Mass is a prayer that we offer to God as one community. It’s a reminder that I’m not the focus of the Mass, God is.
Okay, so the Mass is a prayer that the priest offers to god for the people, but what exactly are we offering? In our second reading St. John says, “I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.” Jesus ascended bodily to heaven to present His suffering to God the Father and to intercede on our behalf. St. John calls Jesus our “advocate.” The term used here comes from legal terminology. The advocate is similar to a defense attorney. It’s someone who testifies on our behalf and intercedes with the judge. That’s what we do in the Mass. The priest, standing in the place of Christ and in His name, offers the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ to God the Father for the Church. I can’t do anything in my own name. That would be worse than useless; it would be the sin of presumption, but, if I offer it in the name of Jesus and with His authority, then I can call down the Holy Spirit to turn ordinary bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, which are then offered to God in the Mass. When the priest offers the Mass, or hears confession, or anoints the sick, he is acting in persona Christi, in the person of Christ. It isn’t the priest himself who offers the Sacrifice of the Mass or forgives sins, it’s Jesus working through the priest.
So, that’s what the Mass is: the Church gathering together to offer the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross to God the Father, but we’re called to offer something ourselves, too. The bread and wine are brought up from the congregation because they represent your offering to God. When I take the bread, and lift up the paten, the little plate, to present it to God, spiritually put your offerings on the paten with the host. Offer God your own sufferings, your own acts of love and kindness, your own needs and prayers and those of your loved ones, especially those who are most in need. Say to God, “Accept my offering with the offering of Your Son. Unite my sufferings to His sufferings, and as this bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ, transform me through the Mass to resemble Christ more in the way I live my life.”
Celibacy for the Kingdom
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus Christ speaks of those who choose to be celibate for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. The practice of celibacy has endured in the Roman Church and in the Greek Churches to this day; however, there has always been debate about it. There are those who wish to end clerical celibacy, or at least to make it optional, but I fear they don't understand what they wish to do away with. The question is not whether it is useful or not, Christ himself recommended it (Mt. 19:12), the question is why.
In the seminary, we were often told that priests are "in the world, but not of the world." Priests live in the world, in the midst of the secular culture, the media, and the everyday lives of normal people, but we are not of the world. We live in the world as those who are about the business of God the Father. Celibacy is one of the main ways that we live this reality, as well as detachment from material possessions and obedience.
The Catechism of the Catholic Churchsays, "Celibacy is a sign of this new life to the service of which the Church's minister is consecrated; accepted with a joyous heart celibacy radiantly proclaims the Reign of God (CCC 1579)." This statement gives the main reason for the practice of priestly celibacy in the Roman Catholic Church: complete dedication to the Lord.
The life of celibacy allows the priest to be completely devoted to the service of God and of His Church, and to the service of the people entrusted to His care. It allows us to order our lives to God instead of to the world. Instead of worrying about raising a family and all of the concerns that go with it, we focus on prayer, the sacraments, and the care of souls.
Although the practice of priestly celibacy is primarily a theological concern, there are also practical benefits from it. Priest are payed by and taken care of by the Church, because being a priest is a full time job. If priests had families, we would need a much bigger salary because, as you know, children are very expensive, or we would need to be part time, but then our parishioners would suffer. However, this is a minor reason, the Eastern Orthodox Churches have married priests and they make out just fine.
This reminds me of another reason that some people want to allow priests to marry. They say that more people would want to become priests if they could also get married. However, the Eastern Orthodox Churches show that this is false. They allow priests to choose marriage or celibacy and most of them have a shortage of priests just like we do. This shows us that the priesthood is not chosen by people, but that priests are called by God; our job is to respond to that call.
An important part of Catholic culture is sacrifice. We fast during Lent to prepare ourselves for the Resurrection of the Lord, we fast out of sorrow for our sins, and we fast to increase our desire for God by denying ourselves. Priestly celibacy is also a fast, or a sacrifice; it is abstaining from marriage. When we fast from anything, we choose something that is good, that we like, to fast from. We don't fast from bad or evil things, because we're supposed to avoid those anyway. Fasting from something good is our way to saying that God is better than that thing, than chocolate, or television, or meat. Priestly celibacy is not forced on the priest, it is something that we choose; it is a sacrifice that the priest makes because he puts God first in His life, above everything else, even above having a wife and children.
In this way it is also a sign of the Kingdom of Heaven. We give up marriage because we are not living just for this world and the things of this world (res mundi); we are living for God and the things of God (res Dei). We are living in the expectation of the Kingdom of God, of the second coming of Christ, and of the resurrection of the dead. More than just a sacrifice, celibacy is a witness that reminds everyone that God is with us, that He loves us, and that we are called to love Him "with our whole heart, our whole soul, our whole mind, and our whole strength."
Chapter 7, “Parental Controls and Media Literacy,” begins to get into the tools that you can use to help yourself and your family build up your virtue and self control. Humans are creatures of habit. Every time we make a decision and act upon it, we reinforce that behavior in ourselves. If we continue to act in a certain way, then it can eventually become a habit, and, if we continue, it will become part of our character. The problem is, it’s easy to form bad habits and hard to form good ones, and it’s easy to break good habits and hard to break bad ones, so we need all the help we can get.
The goal is to have the ability to regulate ourselves and control our own impulses, so that we control our desires instead of letting them control us. However, we know that it’s hard even for adults to do sometimes. There are all kinds of ways that can help with this, and each family has to decide what measures are best for them. When you go on a diet, the best way to control your cravings is to not keep junk food in the house. The same is true of pornography. You can keep the computers in public areas, not allow people to use their smart phones and tablets in their rooms, use parental controls, filters, and monitors, and set a good example yourself.
Teenagers hate to be told that something is adults only, especially when it doesn’t sense to them. When it comes to sexual content, if it’s not fit for being watched by children, then it’s probably not fit to be watched by adults either. The best way you can help your children develop virtue and self control is to set a good example.Treat the opposite sex with respect, especially your wife or husband, don’t tell crude jokes, don’t watch tv shows that amount to soft core pornography, and don’t listen to music that glorifies sexual sins. Your children will pay more attention to your actions than to your words. Seeing you try to live a virtuous life will encourage them to try as well.
Fr. Bryan Howard
Divine Mercy Sunday – Year B – 8 April 2018
Pope St. John Paul II named the second Sunday of Easter Divine Mercy Sunday in the year 2000, which is why I have the image of the Divine Mercy placed here in the sanctuary. In the 1930s our Lord appeared to a sister of Our Lady of Mercy in Krakow, Poland, Sr. Faustina Kowalska. Jesus spoke to Sr. Faustina, now St. Faustina, of His mercy, His desire to pour out His mercy on all peoples, and that people should draw close to Him. He told her to have a painting done of what she saw, Jesus, with His hand pointing to His heart, and red and white rays coming from His heart, with the inscription, “Jesus, I trust in You.”
The rays of light are meant to remind us of the grace of God the poured from Christ on the Cross. They represent the water and blood that flowed from His side when He was pierced by a lance on the Cross. He told St. Faustina, “The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls.”
Of course, an image by itself can’t do anything. It is what the image stands for that has the power. This image is meant to raise our minds to God and help us think about His love for us, His grace, and what He did for us on the Cross. God is the source of all grace, and all graces flow from the Cross.
We talk a lot about grace in the Church, but have you ever wondered, “What is grace?” The word grace means “gift.” Grace is a gift freely given by God and it is meant to draw us closer to Him. It is simply God acting in our lives. Graces can cause us to think about God or heavenly things, they can help us to resist temptation, and they can strengthen us to do what we know is right. Grace never forces us to do anything, because God respects our free will; grace only suggests, encourages, and calls, like Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio.
You were probably taught as a child that it’s rude to ask people for a gift. When it comes to grace you need to get over that instinct. If you were starving to death would you just sit waiting for someone to bring you some food, or would you go out and find some? Well, we need grace to nourish us spiritually just as surely as we need food to nourish us physically. There are some graces that God will give you regardless, but there are some that you’ll only get if you make yourself ready for them.
The first thing you can do to get more grace, is to ask for it. It’s like a child asking mom for more vegetables; there’s no way she’s going to say no. So, when we ask God for grace, He will give it to us. Think about what sins you struggle with the most, or what virtues you need to grow in the most, and ask God for those things specifically. This is an act of humility, and God will respond by giving you grace.
Second, respond to grace. As I said earlier, grace is an invitation or a suggestion. It’s takes work and effort on our part, too. But, what you do respond to God’s grace, you get more of it. Here’s an example that happens pretty often. I sit in the confession for about 20 minutes before every weekend Mass, starting half an hour before Mass and ending 10 minutes before Mass. So, if you’ve never seen the confession light on, you just need to get here a little earlier. A lot of the times, I’ll hear 1 or 2 or no confessions, so most of the time I’m just sitting in there, but I’m sitting in there with that green light on, and people see that light, week after week, reminding them that I’m there. That light is an opportunity for grace, and invitation from God. If someone responds to that invitation, then they also get the graces of the Sacrament of Confession, which leads to more graces calling them to fight harder against there sins, or giving them the motivation to start praying more and trying to improve their relationship with God. But if you never respond to that first grace, then you never get any of those other graces.
Something as simple as a light, or an image, or as profound as the Eucharist, is an opportunity for grace and an invitation from God. During this week, pay attention to those things. What invitation is God giving you, and how are you responding to it?
Fr. Bryan was pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes from July 3, 2017 to June 2022.