Our Diocesan Eucharistic Congress
We are now into the fourth of our six weeks of Lent, with the holiest of weeks, now only 14 days away. Are we benefiting spiritually from this time that is strategically focused on our striving for salvation – our Eternal Happiness? We have been fortunate for several years now to have our Diocesan Eucharistic Congress occur right in the middle of our Lenten preparation. For those who avail themselves of this fantastic day and a half of soul-searching, spiritual stimulation, coupled with a heart-cleansing anonymous Confession (with 15 priests to choose from each hour), their Lent becomes a resounding success. Please take notice that Bishop Estevez has authorized, “a Plenary Indulgence for all who attend the Eucharistic Congress… and participate religiously in the solemn Eucharistic celebration which is customarily held at the conclusion of a Eucharistic Congress.”
A plenary indulgence (versus a “partial”) entails the remission before God, or forgiveness, of ALL the temporal punishment that is due to be suffered (purgatory) due to our already forgiven sins. And one needs to become free from any current sins including those we are about to confess. It is important to know that Sacramental Confession is always a requirement to receiving an Indulgence, along with reception of Holy Communion, and prayer for the Holy Father (one “Our Father” and one “Hail Mary” suffice). It is ideal that these (Confession, Communion, and prayer for the Pope) be fulfilled on the day the good work is performed. However, in recent times, papal permission was given that the required Confession and Communion may take place several days before or after the work (the Congress). Our Parish Penance Service happens to occur 4 days after the Congress. We must remember…gaining an indulgence requires freedom from all attachment to sin (even venial sin).
We parishioners are even more fortunate, because the day after the Congress, on Sunday evening March 18th at 7:00 P.M., we begin our Lenten Parish Mission, with renowned missionary, Fr. Tom Sullivan from the Fathers of Mercy. Barely a hour and a half of your precious time will be taken up, Sunday evening through Wednesday evening March 21st. Many of us have been knocked off our Lenten good intentions, and this is a perfect answer to getting mentally and spiritually back on track. The closing Wednesday talk by Fr. Sullivan will only be 15 minutes, introducing our Parish Penance Service with 8 priests here to assist for minimal waiting. Our speaker, Fr. Tom, will be available for Confession as well. Make plans now to participate in as many of these spiritual opportunities as you possibly can.
All of this timely Lenten attention being paid to the Blessed Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist…which is none other than the fantastic Gift that Jesus promised us before his Ascension, that He would, in addition to sending us His Advocate (the Holy Spirit), “He would remain with us until the end of time.” Unfortunately that Gift of His Real Presence is of no merit to us… if we do not really believe, adore, hope and love Him. And, if we do not take the time to show our belief (after all it is God our Creator) with regular visits to personally provide Him our thanks, praise, adoration, and trust, along with our prayerful concerns and petitions.
My brothers and sisters, this is Our Faith. The “life guidelines” of His Commandments, Precepts and Beatitudes are what we are called to embrace between our visits. Oh, that you could converse with those living in the highly persecuted areas of our world, that only wish and pray that they could view, visit, and receive this Magnificent gift of His Real Presence. Sadly, most of us don’t just take it for granted, we don’t even go that far. Recent reliable surveys have verified that the majority of us (Catholics) are totally indifferent to this primary Article of our Faith, and do not even believe that Jesus is present in the Consecrated Host they have been receiving Sunday after Sunday, for most of their lives. Even more sad, with that mindset, sacrilegious receipt of Christ abounds…as so many see no need to make regular confession of social and private sin, and bring judgement (condemnation) upon themselves (1Cor11:27-29).
I know I must sound like a broken record to many, but as a Pastor of Souls here at Mary, Queen of Heaven, there is nothing I can recommend to any of you, that will have more benefit for you (and those you love), than to initiate an adoring relationship with our Lord. If you are one of those who have real doubts about Jesus really being present in the Consecrated Host of the Eucharist, and if you have difficulties, stresses, sorrows, illness, any spiritual and physical needs…please heed my plea to begin spending time alone in front of the Tabernacle (or the exposed Christ in the Monstrance at a Holy Hour).
Saints have gone from sinners to Saints by this very experience. Modern day conversions abound with devout, solidly Protestant men and women, simply out of curiosity, spending time with the “alleged real presence” in a Catholic tabernacle. They have their hearts softened and the belief transformed. Peace, real inner peace, is the common denominator in the multitude of their conversion stories. If we do not believe, or if we profess to believe, but don’t care…please attend the Eucharistic Congress (and its great array of spiritually motivating speakers) and our own (every Friday morning to Saturday Morning) 24-hours of Adoration of Christ exposed in the Monstrance in our chapel. Please at least test my ardent claim…”You will be glad You did.”
Yours in firm belief in His Real Presence,