Third Sunday of Lent

Dear Friends,

We have scheduled a Healing Mass on Saturday March 26th at 11am, presided by Msgr. Seamus Brennan. All who need healing from a variety of spiritual, emotional or physical ills are welcome, and in particular, any Catholic who has a serious illness or who has become weak because of advanced age is welcome to receive the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. This sacrament is administered by the priest through the laying on of hands and anointing with the Holy Oil of the Sick on the forehead and the palms of the hands. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “This sacred anointing of the sick was instituted by Christ our Lord as a true and proper sacrament of the New Testament (James 5:14-15 and Mark 6:13). The special grace of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick has as its effects: – the uniting of the sick person to the passion of Christ, for his own good and that of the whole Church; the strengthening, peace, and courage to endure in a Christian manner the sufferings of illness or old age; the forgiveness of sins, if the sick person was not able to obtain it through the sacrament of Penance; the restoration of health, if it is conducive to the salvation of his soul; the preparation for passing over to eternal life. (CCC, 1532)

Here I wish to clarify a common misunderstanding: This sacrament used to be referred to as Extreme Unction or Last Rites, which sometimes led people to believe that the only proper time to call the priest for this sacrament is when someone is about to die. The Church wants us to know that this Sacrament can be administered several times for the same person, if necessary. One might certainly become seriously ill more than once in a lifetime, or may face serious surgery on several occasions. In each instance, one can receive this anointing.

We encounter Jesus the divine healer at every Mass. But during a healing Mass, the theme of the entire Mass is healing – through prayers, through the Word of God, through the sacrament of anointing and the reception of Holy Communion. Healing Mass is an opportunity for everyone to pray for the Lord’s healing touch upon whatever we need to be free from – an illness or mind, body or soul, a negative feeling within us, an inability to forgive, unhealthy tendencies. All are welcome to attend this spiritual event and experience the Lord’s healing touch.

Another very important means of healing is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Lent is an ideal time for this and that is the reason that people make it a point to go to Confession during this season to be freed of our sins. Unfortunately ‘sin’ has become a dirty word that we prefer to avoid in our common parlance. And yet we see the devastating effects of sin that brings us so much unhappiness and heartaches within us and in the way we deal with others. The very first words of Jesus when He began His public ministry were: “Repent and believe the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt.4:17) That was what we heard when we received ashes on our forehead as we began the Lenten journey.

In order to make this wonderful healing Sacrament of Confession/Reconciliation more available for us all, Msgr. Brennan and I have decided to offer more opportunities from next week onwards for the remainder of lent. Thus, the regular Saturday confessions will be from 3 – 4:30 and both of us will be available. And two days of the week – on Mondays and Fridays – we will be available for Confession for about 15 minutes after the 8am Mass.

Jesus said to His Apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). Haven’t we all felt the attractive power of sin in our lives? Haven’t we all regretted the hurtful words and painful deeds that made others unhappy? But the good news is that we can start all over again with the goodness of the Lord who is the healer in the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession. Why not use this golden mine for our own good? Please call the
parish office if you have any questions.

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal