This initiative consists of all parishes in the diocese offering the sacrament of Reconciliation on all the Wednesdays of Advent and Lent from 7:30-8:30pm in addition to other scheduled times for Reconciliation at your parish.
Below are bulletin reflections for Rejoice in God’s Mercy, the diocesan renewal of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Please insert these reflections into your parish bulletin each Sunday from Feb 11 to Palm Sunday.
- Note that Some parishes may need to extend the time to accommodate the number of penitents or speak about the initiative in advance to encourage parishioners to take advantage of the earlier dates. Make Reconciliation available at your parish on Wednesdays February 21, 28; March 7, 14, 21 & 28, from 7:30 – 8:30pm.
You might like to use this paragraph to advertise the initiative in your parish bulletin:
The Diocese of Calgary invites you to experience the peace, love, and joy brought by participating in the sacrament of reconciliation. In addition to the regular parish schedule, the sacrament of Reconciliation will be available at parishes throughout the Diocese of Calgary all the Wednesdays of Lent from 7:30 – 8:30pm.
In addition to the regular parish schedule, the sacrament of Reconciliation will be available at parishes throughout the Diocese of Calgary all the Wednesdays of Lent from 7:30-8:30 p.m.
February 11, 6th Sunday of ordinary time
Catholics celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation because we recognise that sometimes we fail to do as we ought and because we believe in God’s mercy and forgiveness. Action: Share your faith in God’s mercy with others and let them know that it is available for them also.
February 18: Lent I
As we begin Lent, the desert is not a place for us to fear, but a place of encountering the Holy Spirit. The Spirit can reveal what binds us, as well as what steals from our freedom to be the person God created us to be. Action: Throughout the forty days of Lent, pray to the Holy Spirit to advocate for you and free you from whatever keeps you from greater intimacy with God.
February 25: Lent II
While Peter tells Jesus “it’s good to be here”, he is also genuinely terrified. The work of a Christian calls for our courage, trust, and faith. The challenges of Christian living bring us out of complacency and into authentic discipleship where we encounter Christ in one another. Action: Go outside of your comfort zone. Ask the Holy Spirit to identify Christ to you in people you may have overlooked.
MARCH 4: LENT III
Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. He quickly responds to the appalling acts taking place in the temple with holy audacity, righteous anger, and consuming zeal. Just as Jesus clears the temple, if we are living temples of the Holy Spirit, we can also ask what abominations are taking place in us. Action: Pray to the Holy Spirit to identify what needs to change in your life. Dare to ask God for help and mercy.
MARCH 11: LENT IV
The image of the crucifix is itself a prayer for many Catholics. We are encouraged to rest our eyes upon the crucifix and see the One, who has created all things. As you ponder the meaning of the Cross, above all consider this: God chose that His only Son suffer upon the Cross that we might be healed. Action: Spend time in quiet in front of a cross or crucifix. Observe how this contemplation affects you.
MARCH 18: LENT V
A seed must die to produce new life. In dying to self we choose to trust and to exercise faith, hope and love. These virtues lead us into intimate contact with God and transform us into new life in the image of Christ. Action: What can you do to die to self during this week of Lent? Which virtues will help you to glorify God in this way?
With Passion Sunday we begin the final week of Lent and prepare ourselves to celebrate the Paschal Triduum. Rejoice in God’s Mercy has aimed to invite you to participate more readily and more easily in the sacrament of Reconciliation. Most parishes have a regularly scheduled time for Reconciliation throughout the year or by appointment. Jesus never said it would be easy to follow him but he also gave us this sacrament to help us own up to our failings, receive his strength, and start anew. Action: Take concrete steps to make the sacrament of Reconciliation an integral part of your life as a disciple of Christ.
When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.
This may seem like an odd question to ask, but how many of you have ever asked yourself about Nativity scenes – in particular, when the first one (beside the obvious one in the Bethlehem stable) actually took place? Well it never occurred to me to ask. My eyes were opened on this matter when I read an article about Pope Francis making a surprise visit to a Franciscan shrine in Greccio, Italy. There he knelt in front of a shrine created by his namesake. On Christmas Eve 1223, this was where St. Francis of Assisi purportedly erected the world’s first Nativity scene.
Pope Francis would later tell a group of young people, on yet another impromptu visit, that this birth was an example of how “God lowered himself, obliterated himself to be like us, to walk before us, but with smallness, that is, you can say, humility, which goes against pride, self-importance, arrogance.” And it was a star that led the Three Wise Men to this site, which prompted the Pope to insist that we look out for a &lquo;special star that calls us to do something greater, to strike out on a journey, to make a decision.”
At St. Mary’s University, here in Calgary, we organize under the banner of what we call the St. Mary’s Star. Four qualities of Mary (simplicity, clarity, purity and confidence) are each represented by one of the four letter M’s that form the star. It is our commitment to students, and to the community, that we will honour all learners who come to our door, and because of our small class sizes that allow us to focus on the whole person, we truly believe that everyone has an opportunity to discover who they are. That is the remarkable gift of an education: that people can discover their own special star.
The truth about education is that while it is intensely personal, focused on self-improvement and intellectual development, it is also communal in many ways, preparing students for their roles in the wider world. At St. Mary’s we know that our students will take their special talents out into the community, but with a clear foundation that has taught them to focus on social justice and the greater good. We invite them to search for their special star, knowing that together, in community, they will form a dynamic constellation. And perhaps at Christmas this is one of the greatest gifts we can imagine.
The Star of Bethlehem, also known as the Christmas Star, is mentioned in the nativity story of the Gospel of Matthew. The Gospel tells us that “ in the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “in Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel [Matthew 2:1-6].” When Herod heard this, he called for the wise men – learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared – and sent them to Bethlehem. He asked them to come back after they had found the child, telling him the exact route so that he could also go to visit the child. The wise men went on their way following the star that led them to their destination. When they arrived they fell on their knees worshipping Jesus and offering their gifts. Before leaving for home, they had been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, so they returned to their own country by another route.
- Family Quiz (find the answers in the Bible):
- What was the birth place of Jesus (name town and country)?
- When did the event take place?
- What were the names of the wise men?
- Where did the wise men come from?
- Name the gifts they brought with them.
- Family Activities:
- On a clear night during Advent go outside and find the brightest shining star. See if you can name it.
- Create your own Star of Bethlehem. Then create smaller stars. You can hang them from the ceiling or from the Christmas tree.
- Make a Christmas star mobile.
- Read the Christmas story and meditate on it.
- Talk to your children about the miracle of Christmas and what it means to all of us.
- Sing hymns or songs that mention the Christmas Star.
There have been many attempts to explain the Christmas Star scientifically. The conclusion is that the Star of Bethlehem cannot be naturally explained by science. It was a temporary and supernatural light. After all, the first Christmas was a time of miracles. May our eyes be opened to the extraordinary miracles of this Advent and Christmas season.
It’s 11:00 Saturday morning in Cochrane, Holy Adoration. As is my custom, I enter the Christ the King Chapel at St. Mary’s, lean my diamond willow walking stick against the frame of the stained–glass nativity scene, and once more follow the example of the shepherds in adoration of the Real Presence.
Fellow parishioner, Warren Harbeck, noticed that I had something in common with the shepherds shown in the stained–glass windows: the shepherds arrived with their walking sticks too. After Holy Adoration, he asked me to share about why I delight in following the shepherds‘ example.
As I enter, I try to leave the concerns, that have weighed me down since my last visit, outside the door.
I don’t talk to the others around me. I sit, and occasionally kneel. Reading scripture or prayers that best express what is in my heart, I release to God any remaining problems and troubles, and then quietly adore the Presence on the altar before me. This is the best part of the visit. I feel closest to Him, loved, opened to be changed more into who He wants me to be, and am asking the Holy Spirit to continue leading me along the path that God has planned for me. Confusion, unsettled feelings, anger, impatience, and problems are gone. And I’m smiling inside and out, happy, relieved, energized, and ready to handle whatever will happen to me, my family, and my neighbours when I step outside the chapel.
With our world so confused and so unsettled, this is the time to take an hour to pray before the Lord who understands our lives better than we do.
Indeed, week by week, we can join those shepherds of two thousand years ago, and sing from the depths of our souls, “O come, let us adore Him; O come, let us adore Him; O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!”
"Everybody has their own particular gifts from God, one with a gift for one thing and another with a gift for the opposite." (1 Corinthians 7:7)
At this time of the year, it can seem like we are bombarded with the idea of gifting – both receiving and giving. Suggestions abound on someone else's idea of what you would like to receive or what someone else would like to receive from you.
Upon reflecting on this idea of gifting, I was reminded of a story that Fr. John Shea shares in his book The Legend of the Bells and Other Tales. It is the story of a person who was a teacher for many years, and at Christmas, as was the custom at the school where he taught, students would bring gifts. After about the third year he could guess what the gift was by the size of the gift box. For example, long flat boxes would contain handkerchiefs (it was in the day when handkerchiefs were being used). He developed a habit, and that was to throw the box in the closet unopened until he needed a handkerchief. Only then, would he go to the closet and open the box. On one such day he opened such a box and much to his surprise he discovered an antique pocket watch! Imagine, all the time he possessed an antique watch and didn't know it.
This story is a reminder that we all have God-given gifts and qualities that make each one of us, children and adults alike, unique. It is our purpose to discover, unwrap and use these gifts to help ourselves, others, and to bring about God's kingdom on earth. As we age, mature, and grow in wisdom our gifts will be expressed in different ways for different tasks. An added benefit is that we will discover new gifts!
During these seasons of Advent and Christmas, and during the whole year, let us become aware of our many gifts; let us go beyond the outer package. Who knows what we may discover… perhaps an antique pocket watch?
Let us see the evidence of God's gift of love which is so plentiful to each one of us. May God's blessings and gifts be with you and your family in a special way during this holy time.
Written by Norline Johnson, Religious Education Secretariat, Senior's Corner Coordinator.