Sunday, November 15, 2009

Apocalypse Now

Time is running out on our Liturgical Year. The new liturgical year begins in two Sundays with the beginning of Advent. The Sacred Scripture chosen for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time reflect not only the end of the Liturgical Year, but the end of time. Our readings from the Book of Daniel and the Gospel of Mark are apocalyptic. These readings presume a struggle between the forces of good and evil. But far from striking the fear of hell into us, apocalyptic Scriptures promise that in the end the power of God will break through. God is victorious over evil. Christians are to stand ready for either their own personal judgment or the judgment of the world at the end of time.

I've always viewed the Sacrament of Penance, confession, as a foretaste of purgatory and heaven, a foretaste of the end of time, at least mine own. In this sacrament Jesus scrutinizes us as we present to Him who we are. The Sacrament of Penance, even before we set foot in the confessional, indicates that we come before the Lord with a repentant heart. Only the repentant can enter the Kingdom of God and the confessional in a sense is the symbolic vestibule of God's Kingdom, the symbolic judgment seat of God that every Christian must enter where the soul is made perfect. In purgatory the soul is made perfect for eternity in heaven. Confession is a foretaste of this perfection when we leave with our sins forgiven our souls perfectly clean.

But alas, in the world temptation overwhelms us and we once again fall into sin, sometimes habitual sins. We're not perfect yet, but God is working on us and at our personal judgment there will be no return to the world with its temptations and sins. The soul by the grace of God, the Blood of Jesus and the Resurrection of Christ becomes perfect forever and enters the perfection of heaven where there is no such thing as temptation or sin.

When is the last time you experienced a foretaste of your personal judgment and purification in the Sacrament of Penance? Remember, only repentant sinners enter the Kingdom of God and the repentance must take place prior to the judgment if one has a snowball's chance in hell to enter heaven. Think about it.


Templar said...

Very true Father, and part of my yearly commitment has been to try and go to confession every other month, and my personal pledge to myself was to try and go monthly. However I wish the availability of the Sacrament was greater. At the parish closest to my home (not St Joseph) I have been twice turned away this year as the Priest needed to excuse himself to vest for Mass. Once at St. Joseph this year I decided to attend on a Saturday specifically to go to confession before Mass, only to find it had been canceled that evening due to a very busy schedule of events at the Church. I'm sure that was announced and I missed it, but my point is there is such a very small section of time (less than 2 hours of one day of the week) where the Confessional is open it is difficult to coordinate. I remember my youth growing up, when the Confessional's and their little red "occupied" lights constantly illuminated were available throughout mass, as well as before and after. Of course the Parish of my youth had a varying number of 3 to 5 Priests assigned, which is simply unheard of these days. I know Priests today are as over worked and harried as the laity, but I wish confession were "easier" to get to. I wish it were easier to do too, but that's my fault at least.

Anonymous said...

Once again, Father, your wordsmithing shines!
I recently thought to myself that the Sacrament of Penance was my favorite Sacrament. Then, I thought again. Gotta have Communion or I'd just wither away. But Penance is a practically a tie.
And YOU put those feelings into perfect words.