On Mass times and the power of worship

Out of the nine pastoral priorities that came out of Alive In Christ (our parish pastoral vision) back in 2016, two of those dealt with worship:  developing a more vibrant weekend experience and creating a culture of one people.

What do we mean by vibrant, unified worship?  I’m sure all of us have had the experience when the church is full and there is a great energy in our worship.   One example is our Christmas Masses that we held in the Activity Center while we were out of St. Mary’s!  This has an impact not only on regular churchgoers but on those who may be coming into the church as visitors or guests.

Currently, we have about 2000 people a weekend coming, but a total capacity of 3800 seats at the six Masses we offer (52% capacity).  We can gain a lot in vibrancy when we are not so spread out.

Vibrant Weekend Experience – Recently you might have taken part in a parish survey on Mass times. Additionally, this past Saturday evening Fr. Scott and I met with those who regularly attend our 7:30 PM Mass. The whole point of this is to gather the direct input of parishioners in order to have a productive discernment on the best times for us to worship as a community.

Not surprisingly, even the suggestion of changing Mass times is a cause for unease for those to whom worship is a priority. Please know that no final decisions have been made.  Your responses and comments are going to help guide the decisions of parish leadership as we move forward.

One People, One Church – We heard loud and clear in Alive In Christ a desire to have more unity among our language speaking communities. This has been identified as a priority of Archbishop Lucas and the whole archdiocese as well.   Many discussions have taken place with Hispanic and Anglo leaders towards a vision of consistently worshiping together.   These discussions continue and we thank you for your input as to how we can insure the best possible experiences for everyone.

Both of these priorities will involve some change, which is never easy.   Therefore, we need to understand why these priorities are so important.

It’s vital for Catholics to realize the overall trends that we face. During a 16 year period (see graph below) there has been an annual 2% drop in weekly attendance across the whole archdiocese. This is the result of parishes not having a strategy for evangelization.  Thanks be to God our parish does have a strategy that is based deeply on ChristLife (Discovering Christ). Though still in the beginning stages, we are making great progress in helping more and more adults know a relationship with Jesus is possible and make him the center of their lives.  God is moving hearts.  The fruit of that will be a people desiring to worship Him!

We need the partnership of the whole parish to live out this new way of life.  Our mission from Jesus is to reach not only to inactive Catholics but all those in the Norfolk area who do not know Jesus. To do this we all have to be united and be willing to “step out of the boat” in various ways. The ultimate reward is seeing other people come to life in Jesus and knowing him better ourselves in the process.

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How to go to Confession – be not afraid!

Going to confession for the first time in 5, 10, 20, 30 (or more) years can be quite scary. Besides feelings of shame or embarrassment, we may simply have forgotten how to go to confession.

Here is a practical guide to the various steps of going to confession.

Step 1: Examine your conscience

This is the most important part of confession. Before you can confess your sins you need to know them. Typically a person goes to confession and tells the priest the sins they can remember since their last confession. If their last confession was 20 years ago, it might be rather difficult. The key is to tell the priest all mortal (serious) sins that you remember (to the best of your ability).

We typically remember those “big” sins, but if you need some help, here are a couple examinations for adults and single people. When telling them to the priest, say the sin itself and the number of times you committed it (or at least a general estimation, like, “I didn’t go to Mass for 20 years”).

When thinking of these sins remember that the priest has heard everything before. You are not going to surprise or shock him.

Also, think about confession as going to a doctor. If you don’t tell the doctor your arm hurts, he won’t be able to diagnose it and offer a cure. Similarly, if you don’t tell the priest a sin, he won’t be able to offer absolution for it and help heal that spiritual wound.

Step 2: Come to Confession

Here are the times to celebrate the Sacrament in our parish:

    • Tuesday-Friday: 4:45-5:20 pm, Sacred Heart Church
    • Saturday, 4:15-5:15 pm, St. Mary’s Church
    • Priests are also available by appointment if you’d like some more time.

Step 3: Meet the priest and start your confession

Wherever confession takes place, the priest typically will start first, saying, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” Then it will be your turn to talk. Since it is your first time in a while, it is best to let the priest know that, and say something like, “Father, this is my first confession in x amount of years. These are my sins.”

Go ahead and start telling the priest your sins. Do your best to remember them. If you need to, write them on a piece of paper ahead of time.

Step 4: Listen to the priest’s consoling words and say your act of contrition

The priest will respond with words meant to encourage you on your journey of faith. He will then give you a specific “penance,” which could be a set of prayers or something related to your sins. After that he will invite you to make an act of contrition, a prayer expressing your sorrow for your sins. If you are worried about that, most confessionals have the act of contrition printed and visible to see. If they don’t, then let the priest know and he will guide you through it.

Alternatively you can print your own copy of the following prayer or simply say a prayer from your heart. Here is one example of an Act of Contrition:

My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy.

Step 5: Bask in the mercy of God and say your penance

You did it! Take a while in the church to thank God for what just happened. God just wiped your sins away! They’re gone. Praise him and allow God’s peace to flood your soul. Then do whatever penance the priest gave you.

Re-commit your life to Jesus Christ, and as you leave the church, start a new chapter in your life. God is always there whenever we fall. Trust in his mercy and allow his grace to permeate every aspect of your life. Plan to head to confession again soon.

Take the One Percent Challenge

 Grace to pray for this week: For a consistent space in my day to hang out with Jesus.

Dear Friends in Christ,

Before the Second Vatican Council “Pre-Lent” was an official season. The idea was that Lent provides the best fruit went we hit the ground running. Makes perfect sense. In a face-paced world we look up and find we’ve missed the better portion of a very important season.

This weekend we’re highlighting a relationship with Jesus through personal prayer and the amazing gift of perpetual Eucharistic Adoration in our parish. For over two years we have been keeping vigil with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So much grace has been received. Don’t ask me, ask your neighbor who takes that hour during a certain night. They will tell you what Jesus is doing for them.

We don’t have to be “skilled” at prayer to spend one hour with Jesus. All we have to do is……..well, do it. In the Gospel from St. Mark this weekend, Jesus goes from village to village announcing the arrival of the Kingdom. His presence brings life. In certain places Jesus stayed long enough for people to bring those in need of healing to him.

The same Jesus – the Divine Healer – is waiting for us in our homes and the St. Joseph’s Adoration Chapel at St. Mary’s. Is he calling you to spend more time with him per week?

Will you take the One percent challenge with us this Lent?   Find this handy resource card in your Reboot packet or pick one up at either Church this week and get started by adding just 15 minutes to your schedule.   Or visit The One Percent Challenge Website.

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Now is the time to make a standing date with him. You will never be the same.

God love you!

Fr. Dan Andrews

P.S. …….You can listen here in case you missed the Homily Message from this Weekend on the 1% Challenge!  For questions about Perpetual Adoration, please contact Jodene Jedlicka at 402-750-1620 or email her at jodenejedlicka@live.com

  • Friendship with Jesus means looking forward to time spent with Him.