Pastor’s Letter – Dec. 17, 2017: Approaching the Throne of Grace – Confession and Absolution
I am happy to announce that we have filled our parish administrator position. Deacon Craig Lundberg will be joining our staff. Dn. Craig most recently has been serving at St. Elizabeth in Bothell and has been serving as deacon in the Archdiocese for 5 years. He comes with extensive pastoral and administrative experience. We are happy to welcome Dn. Craig to our staff and parish.
I want to thank Helen Jolly for coordinating the giving tree once again this year and also those who helped out with the project. Special thanks to all those who took cards from the tree and participated in preparing the gifts for those families in need. To see all the gifts in the vestibule was amazing and is an expression of the generosity in our parish. Thanks to Rob Van Tassel who spoke on behalf of Catholic Community Services and all the work CCS does on our behalf in serving the poor. If you have not already contributed to CCS please consider doing so.
Last Sunday the figure of St. John the Baptist was presented to us in the liturgy as the forerunner, the one who prepares the way for the Christ. St. John the Baptist performed a baptism of repentance: that is, people came to him acknowledging their sins. When they did this they were symbolically washed/baptized in the Jordan River. Acknowledgment of sins is the first and necessary step in conversion. The next step is to place one’s life and future into the hands of Jesus; to welcome him into our personal lives and let him love us with his grace. Once this relationship with Jesus begins to grow, he enters into all our relationships and decisions. In other words we develop a conscience, a Jesus conscience that begins to guide us in our relationships and decisions.
Confession isn’t just about admitting sin. Perhaps more importantly, it is about conscience formation, viewing our life, behavior, and attitudes in light of the Gospel and the teachings of the Church. If more people had a sense of sin and formed consciences perhaps there would be less abuse in our society. Confession keeps the soul in check and monitors behavior. If there is no standard or moral law in which to form conscience, then degrading and abusive behaviors will proliferate and be justified throughout society.
This Wednesday, Dec. 20th at 7pm is our parish Advent Penance service. This will be the opportunity for our parishioners to go to confession before Christmas. Confession is a moment of grace. It gives us the opportunity to examine our conscience before God and to see where we find ourselves lacking and failing. Then to approach the throne of grace confessing our sins and receive absolution and pardon in Christ’s blood shed on the cross through the ministry of the priest. There is no greater way to relieve guilt and experience peace and be renewed than to hear the words of absolution. The words of absolution sacramentally actually do what they say, they forgive sins. Like last year, we will have many priests available to hear confessions on Wednesday evening. This is a great way to prepare for Christmas.
And finally, like last year, there will be two locations for the Christmas Eve 5pm mass, the church and the Pastoral Center. It seemed to work well last year having two locations for that mass to relieve overcrowding in the church. Masses on the morning of Dec. 24th will be masses for the 4th Sunday of Advent.