Thursday, March 29, 2007

Penance Service tonight!

Parish Penance Service tonight, 7:30 pm, SAA Church.
This past Sunday, Anon asked, “Fr G- can you give some more info about what a penance service is? You mentioned it today, but I'd like some more info.”

Thanks, Anon. A penance service is a communal celebration of the Sacrament of Penance. By that I mean that it is when a community, typically a parish community, gathers together to reflect on and participate in Reconciliation. It is commonly done during Lent and Advent, in preparation for Easter and Christmas, respectively. The Sacrament itself is still celebrated privately with each penitent confessing to an individual priest, but the Confessions are prefaced by communal prayers and the Word of God.

So, this is the basic layout for tonight’s service:

Fr. Mike will begin the celebration with a greeting (as we do at the start of Mass), and then an opening prayer. We’ll then listen to the Word of God as we normally do at Mass, and Fr. Mike will offer a reflection of the Gospel which is focused on reconciliation, forgiveness, repentance, conversion, or all of the above.

Shortly thereafter, he’ll lead us in an Examination of Conscience which helps to know what to confess. This is usually followed by an Our Father and closing prayer. At the end of the service, Fr. Mike will then explain that there are several priests on hand to hear individual confessions, who they are, and where they are stationed in the Church. The stations for each priest will be set up in such a way that each penitent can go either face-to-face or anonymously (typically, behind a screen) to the priest. After a penitent has made his/her confession and done their penance, they are free to go.

It is always a powerful and intimate experience to reconcile with God and the Church in Confession. No doubt. But, it is especially meaningful to do it in the midst of our parish family. I hope that you and many others will come tonight to receive God’s mercy in a real and tangible way as we prepare for the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our Savior.


At 6:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fr. Greg:
I went to a Lenten service tonight and all the statues in the church were covered by cloth. I remember this when I was growing up that all the church statues were covered during Lent. Why is this not done at St. Andrews?

At 6:51 AM, Anonymous Kat said...

Don't forget you say the act of contrition as a community... and not do what I did at advent saying "wait don't I have to say the act of contrition?"


At 10:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm confused- you say the act of contrition as a group, but do NOT repeat it after your private confession? So you just leave after receiving penance? I know I sound squirelly- but confession is already uncomfortable and I don't want to feel stupid to boot!

At 10:31 AM, Anonymous Not Anonymous said...

How long will the service go (including going to confession)? Well, what's an estimate?

At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Kat said...


I actually fussed about it with Fr. Greg this past advent... ok mainly because I have a horrid time memorizing things and had been 'practicing' the act of contrition the whole time I spent in line so I was a little disappointed...

Basically Confession is the same as usuall, you get your pennence and you recieve absolution just no additional act of contrition.

At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's been a while since my last confession, so I sat down with pen and paper in hand and realized I had more to confess that I originally thought- funny how that works! Something stuck me- I seem to be confessing to one thing consistently each time I go to confession. It is about giving forgiveness. I am always confessing that I was not/am not forgiving of this one particular person. I have begun to think I do not know how to do it. Honestly- maybe I am clueless. I have looked at the things this person has done both in the past and continuously, considered why this person may behave this way, sometimes actually felt a bit sorry for them, and have prayed for patience, compassion and understanding in dealing with them. I try not to recall all the past events that have hurt me, but when this person is in my life, either in person, by phone or even email, I feel my anger with them return. I try not to let it affect my actions, but I haven't always been successful. This person is not going away,- I'm kind of stuck with them. How do I finally allow this person to be who they are and be okay with it?
Note- I've been trying to deal with this for many, many years.

At 12:22 PM, Anonymous Kat said...


I know you weren't nessisarily asking me but here are my 2 cents for what they are worth. I don't know. In my own life I have a couple of people I have struggled forgiving for things, my father being the #1 one. I had to forgive myself of the blame I took upon myself and for my actions and inactions before I could even look at starting down the road of forgiving him and I had to admit to and reailze that no matter how badly he had hurt me and sinned aginst me I had done things and sinned aginst him as well and I had to admit to them and ask forgiveness for both from him and Christ... and that was hard, really hard. Though I will never have a relationship with my father, for safty reasons more then anything else. Anger (rage) doesn't boil to the surface after I did that at the mere mention of his name anymore and I can talk about things without wanting to puke or hide.

At 12:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have gone through something very similiar. Although I have forgiven the individuals in my life who have hurt me greatly, not a day goes by where I don't think about it all and it causes me great sadness. I found talking to someone a great help. That alleviated a lot of my anger. Once you're over your anger, I think you'll be able to forgive. Also, receiving the sacrament of reconcilliation was also very helpful. I too said the same thing over and over until one day, I guess the grace of God kicked in, and I was able to reconcile it all. Don't give up.

At 4:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone who knows: What does the Easter vigil on April 6 entail and how long does it last? (asking so to know what to tell a babysitter). Thanks.

At 5:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's looooooong!

At 7:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 8:02 PM, Anonymous me said...

Did you notice that Kat is the only person who has used a name on this page?

At 8:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This question is not relevant to this post but I have been struggling with this, and would like you to help me.

Why do Catholics think that animals do not have souls? Does the Bible talk about this or is this just our assumption?

At 8:49 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

Anyone who knows: What does the Easter vigil on April 6 entail and how long does it last? (asking so to know what to tell a babysitter). Thanks.

Uhh, I haven't been at it at SAA yet, but usually bank on 2-3 hours depending on crowds. you have many more readings then usual, plus baptisms and conformations I think SAA has a decent sized RCIA class sooo.... depending on how fast Fr. Greg and Fr. Mike are... ????? It is long.

At 8:50 PM, Anonymous short hair said...


That is a question I have been wanting to ask for a while. Thanks for asking.

At 11:50 PM, Anonymous Joan said...

Something stuck me- I seem to be confessing to one thing consistently each time I go to confession. It is about giving forgiveness.


I too struggle with this one to the point where rage and plans for revenge used to overwhelm any inclination for forgiveness. I can only offer what has helped me.

- Pray regularly in His presence, asking God to help...'Please help me to not be angry, please help me not to hurt them, please help me to forgive, please help me to do Your will' doesn't hurt to ask His Mother to help you also.

- More frequent attendance at Mass. I believe it has helped me to be more patient and forgiving. I'm at times amazed that daily Mass has become such a part of my routine and I actually feel worse when I miss Mass than when I don't have time to eat that day.

- More frequent confession. It's like a major cut. You can try to treat it on your own, but it will probably get infected. You can try to treat the infection on your own, but it will just spread. You're better off getting the wound professionally cleaned and closed and then going back for regular appointments until it's healed. You also need help to learn how to properly handle the saw so you can stop getting cut.

- Talking with someone who can help you to find the right path to fix this. Ideally that's with a regular confessor, but until you are there, it may be easier to schedule an appointment to talk with a priest about it and then gradually build up to confession with that priest.

At 8:05 AM, Anonymous Kat said...


I think you and I were seperated at birth. Your post was like looking in a mirror about my issues with anger. It used to be that "losing my temper" consisted of screaming, cursing, slamming cabnet doors and stomping around. Now there is just a raised voice and occasionally cursing. Mass and frequent confession helps. Now if I could just get the language 100% under control, when you grow up with the ability to make battle hardend marines blush it is a bit hard to stop "peppering" your speach with such language.

At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about issues of trust- can you forgive someone and still choose to withhold your trust? I have one relationship in my life that's kind of like a mine field. Some days- all is great and the scene around me is great. the nexy day, I'm admiring the same view, take a step and- BOOM! And then the process of forgiveness starts all over again. It isn't a relationship I can sever without damaging a more important one in my life (sound complicated, huh?). So if I am approaching each new step with a large amount of caution and apprehension and/or if I'm staying put in my nice, safe place- have I really forgiven my offender? Is lack of willingess to trust others not really trusting myself?

At 10:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rage is tough- almost addictive. I find that if I give in to it, it becomes this ugly cycle- I persevrate on a topic, I get annoyed, I think some more, I get angry and then I need to erupt. It is almost like I can't dispose of the rage without the eruption- and then I feel much better. I begin to associate that good feeling with the rage- strangley enough. I have found than talking to someone who cares enough to be really honest helps- NOT just someone who lets me vent, as that was also part of my rage cycle. Instead, talking with someone who forces me to look at my part and be accountable helps tremendously. Then- I don't need to dump the anger. Confession helps too- its like handing my feelings over to God to dump for me. Rage for me was BAD- very unhealthy and destructive. I still have moments when it grabs me, but fortunately there are fewer now.

At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about issues of trust- can you forgive someone and still choose to withhold your trust?

Good question. Could you be forgiving but not allow said person to invade your life with their issues? How do you feel a full sense of forgiveness but still feel the need to reject that person to protect yourself and your family?

At 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how to unlock the function key on my keyboard- baby played with it and I'm clueless on how to fix.....urghhh

At 1:20 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

This past year was full of reasons I had to justify my anger with others. I got to a point where I just didn't know how to stop feeling angry. I recently took inventory in my life and realized some enlightening, if not disturbing things.

It's been difficult for me to let go of anger toward those who have hurt me because of the "benefits" my anger gives me emotionally.

Pain was the underlying factor of my anger. Therefore, anger, combined with a lack of my willingness to forgive, gave me a way to protect myself from more harm. However, those "rewards" only perpetuated anger and impeded my emotional and spiritual health.

As long as I stay angry, I don't have to deal with the hurt(I go to great lengths to avoid dealing with hurt). It also keeps me from recognizing that I am flawed and my offender(s) do actually have positive attributes.

Anger was becoming so pronounced that it was beginning to provide a sense of meaning in my life and making feel "powerful".

I started to define myself by contrasting myself with my offender(s). It was becoming like- letting go of all my negative feelings towards them would leave me feeling almost empty- kind of void of myself.

I read an article which discussed Christian forgiveness. It talked about how hatred must be replaced with something that creates self-worth- like charity- living a life of true Christian charity. Then redefine yourself as a person who loves rather than one who hates, through acts of self-giving. The new identity I would create, in the place of the one I had created through my anger, would now come through love.

Charity and love involve giving of self and moving toward others. This love was perfectly exemplified in Christ Jesus.

This understanding has helped me realize that staying angry and being unwilling to forgive was extremely self-indulgent. In
being unwilling (some use the word unable), I was serving only me.

At 11:18 PM, Anonymous Joan said... the person...

I think that's the biggest reason for frequent confession, ideally with the same priest; or having a priest you can discuss these things with outside the confessional.

It took a long, long, long, long, long time for me to get to this point. A couple of months ago another one of these incidents happened. While I didn't start screaming and throwing things (good move), I lit a cigarette for the first time in many years (bad move) and started having the internal 'don't get angry' vs. 'how dare she, I'm going to...' discussions with myself. After smoking half of the cigarette, I realized I was headed in the wrong direction (yet again) and went to the closest open church. After about 20-30 minutes of 'please stop me from being angry, please help me forgive, please help me not to hate her, please help me not to be vengeful, please help me do Your will' over and over again, I found the anger and hurt gone.....and realized that even though I had handled it better than the past, my actions still weren't in keeping with His teaching and went to confession the next day.

Will this person do something similar in the future, it's quite possible, but I pray not.

When I think really hard about the actions of others that have resulted in my pain (and at times rage) I realize it was carelessness and/or 'they know not what they do.' Our love, compassion, and forgiveness can help them see a need for change. I know how hard it is to turn over the leaf - it's more like turning over the entire forest; and with issues like this, turning their forest and mine will take time.

After forgiving them, it is possible to protect yourself without rejecting them. Again, that's the importance of being able to discuss the specifics with one person who can properly guide you in this.

But that's just me. Like I said, I've been working on this a while and though daily Mass, prayer and adoration, and frequent confession have made a tremendous improvement; I'm still working on it.......It and a few other things.

At 8:52 AM, Anonymous mindy said...

I confided in someone close to the person with whom I've the most issues to see if she would mediate the situation. Here's a prayer an she sent me-

Lord Jesus Christ, take all my freedom, my memory, my understanding and my will. All that I have and cherish you have given me. I surrender it all to be guided by your will. Your grace and your love are wealth enough for me. Give me these, Lord Jesus, and I ask for nothing more.

She suggested I take note of the memory part and surrender my memory of hurt within this relationship. Another thing she suggested is to pray the Our Father rather than just say it. I thought about what she was saying- I can't count the number of times I've recited it, but this week I've actually been praying it.

At 1:25 PM, Anonymous Joan said...

Thanks Mindy,

I'm taping it to my computer!!


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