Tuesday, December 8th, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Check the bulletin for mass times. This will also be the kick off for our Jubilee celebration of the “Year of Mercy.” As Pope Francis stated in his Papal Bull:
The Holy Year will open on 8 December 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. This liturgical feast day recalls God’s action from the very beginning of the history of mankind. After the sin of Adam and Eve, God did not wish to leave humanity alone in the throes of evil. And so he turned his gaze to Mary, holy and immaculate in love (cf. Eph 1:4), choosing her to be the Mother of man’s Redeemer. When faced with the gravity of sin, God responds with the fullness of mercy. Mercy will always be greater than sin, and no one can place limits on the love of God who is ever ready to forgive.
For a number of years I have been reading a daily meditation by Fr. Richard Rohr. Recently he has been writing about the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous and seeing how deeply spiritual this program is. In one of his meditations he saw the connection of this program with our penitential rite at mass.
Opening with “Hi, I’m Joe, and I’m an alcoholic” is a humble and honest admission of deep need, which is what the Catholic penitential rite, “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy,” is supposed to be. Jesus taught us that God’s love is not dependent on our “worthiness.” He healed and ate with sinners and outcasts when he was on earth. He told parables, like those about the Pharisee and tax collector (Luke 18: 9-14) and the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), where the one who did it wrong ended up being right and the one who seemingly did it right ended up being wrong. The entrance requirement for an A.A. meeting is not worthiness, but unworthiness, not capacity, but deep need – just as it should be.
Worthiness is not the issue; the issue is trust and surrender. As Therese of Lisieux said, “Jesus does not demand great actions from us but simply surrender and gratitude.” Let’s resolve this once and for all: You’re not worthy! None of us are. Don’t even go down that worthiness road. It’s a game of denial and pretend. We’re all saved by grace. We’re all being loved in spite of ourselves. A.A. had the courage to recognize that you don’t come to God by doing it right; you come to God by doing it wrong, and then falling into an infinite mercy. The Twelve steps wisely call such mercy “Your Higher Power.”
I also want to add what only the Gospel is fully prepared to proclaim: You’re absolutely worthy of love! Yet this has nothing to do with any earned worthiness on your part. God does not love you because you are good. God loves you because God is good! (Center for Action and Contemplation)
What is the Purpose of your Life?
An exploration of the purpose of our lives- why are we here; the challenges, suffering, and choices we face along the way- while reflecting on both ancient and modern traditions. Presented by parishioner Fred Lange.
When: Sunday, December 6, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Where: Holy Spirit Chapel (We will meet in the chapel or move to the sanctuary if the group size is too big)
If you have heard Fred Lange speak before, you know that what he presents is always entertaining, challenging, and thought provoking.