Roman Catholic Parish


March 24, 2019

Dear All,

You will certainly have figured out by now, that these last few columns have been about the history of the Church's practice of reconciliation of sinners has been heading for the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance here at Manchester on Sunday 24 March.

The point of such a celebration lies in the recognition that sin isolates us from God and from those whom God has gathered to himself in the community of the faithful. At the same time, the community is eager to have its fullness restored and sinners are in need of the prayers and support of the community as they undertake the more or less difficult task of penance.

A gathering of the Church -the community God has made his own in Baptism and Eucharist -- and of the Church's sinful members - who have slipped away from God's work to do their own thing - brings all of these elements together in one liturgical setting. In such a service, the Church rejoices in God's gift of graced existence; the sinner acknowledges his 'limping' participation in that life; and the whole congregation, repents and rejoices that the gift is renewed and the Church is once more made whole by the reconciling power of God.

The opportunity for private confession is always afforded in these services for those who feel the need or the wish to be on the receiving end of God's work. There should always be some people who feel no need for Confession, but are willing to linger for a bit of time to support by prayer those who do seek to take advantage of the opportunity.

For those of you who have not seen such a service - ever or in some time - the shape is simple:

An opening hymn; a reading or two; a homily; a common expression of repentance, the chance for Confession; performance by each individual of an assigned penance; and leave-taking.

There will be five priests available for hearing confessions: three from Bennington, one from Wilmington and YT.

Lent is a season of repentance. It makes sense only if we take seriously our individual need for repentance. The celebration of such a service - an extra, for sure, but not an unnecessary one - gives to those who have been serious about Lent so far a chance to express that seriousness. For those who have let Lent begin and almost slip away, this is a second chance to start; think of it as Ash Wednesday without the ashes. There are not many such second chances in life!

Come alone, if you must. Come as a family if you can. Come even if you don't need forgiving (said he with tongue in cheek!) Leave as members of a reconciled and reconciling community.

Really and truly and penitentially yours,



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