From our pastor, Father Neil Herlihy:
Within the next few days, we celebrate the feast of Saint Patrick. He was a priest and bishop in the fifth century. As a youth, he lived in Britain, was kidnapped and taken to Ireland where he lived as a servant. After about six years, he escaped and went back to Britain. He later returned to Ireland as a missionary and taught the people about the Christian God, and prepared many of them for baptism. He often used a shamrock, a three leaf clover, to teach about the Trinity (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). He worked tirelessly in his ministry and won a very special place in the hearts of the Irish people.
The following wonderful prayer asking for the Lord’s protection and guidance has been attributed to Saint Patrick:
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ below me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right hand, Christ at my left hand,
Christ in the hearts of all who think of me,
Christ in the mouths of all who speak of me,
Christ in the every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
As we reflect on this prayer, we are reminded to focus on Christ as we are in the midst of our Lenten journey and the glory of the Resurrection awaits us. This season of Lent is a good time to enhance our spiritual life in the spirit of St. Patrick, and bear good fruit in our lives. One way to do this is to avail ourselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Sacrament is not here to punish us. Rather it is available to get us closer and closer to the God who loves us and wants the best for us.
Catholic News Service reports that at a recent Papal Audience, Pope Francis reminded the faithful of the great need for the Sacrament. He had previously spoken about Baptism, Holy Communion, and Confirmation. Those sacraments give new life, he said, but sin eats away at that new life and can destroy it.
Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation to cleanse our souls. Pope Francis told us not to wait, to be courageous, and not afraid of confession. With great insight, he realized that one might walk into the confessional with a heavy heart, but freedom brings forgiveness and lightness. He said, “Every time we go to confession, God embraces us and celebrates.”
As disciples who embrace the gospel message of Christ, we are invited to pray the prayer of Saint Patrick and accept the invitation of our Holy Father to avail ourselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation as we continue and persevere on our Lenten journey of faith.