It sounds foreboding and depressing, but it’s not. The end is what we look forward to as Christians. The key is not to forget the end, the goal—life with God forever. This time of year the readings at Mass remind us of important endings: the end of the Liturgical Year, the end of this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, as well as the end of the world and our own individual, time-bound lives in it.
Each of these “endings” point to the same thing: we are urged to respond with eagerness and gratitude to God’s invitation to flee to Jesus for God’s mercy. Now is the time for mercy; when we die, it will be time for God’s judgment. When we are judged, we want to be standing in God’s mercy, as a survivor in a lifeboat.
Responding to God’s offer of mercy entails two things: fleeing from sin, and fleeing to Jesus. You cannot do one without the other. The sacrament of Reconciliation is a concrete act by which we do both.
So, before the imminent endings (the Liturgical Year and the Jubilee Year of Mercy), I urge all of us to take advantage of the opportunity to receive the gift of God’s mercy and the plenary indulgence connected to this year of grace one more time. While the holy doors at designated sites throughout the diocese closed last Sunday, the holy door at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception remains open until the close of a special Mass marking the end of the Year of Mercy on Sunday, November 20 at 2:00 p.m.
I hope you will take the opportunity to pass through the Cathedral holy door before the end of Sunday’s special Mass with the intention of deep conversion, repentance for all sins, and a desire to receive God’s mercy and live by the Gospel. Having passed through the holy door, go to Mass and Confession, and pray the prayers associated with the granting of the indulgence.
For those who are not familiar, an indulgence is either the full or partial remission of the temporal punishment associated with sins committed. Sacramental confession absolves us from the guilt of our sins and the eternal punishment due to them, but not the temporal (temporary) punishment due to them. An indulgence is the special spiritual means to address temporal punishment. (The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 1471-1479, gives a fuller teaching).
As our end approaches, we are urged to act, to run to Jesus, our salvation. The Church, his visible Body on earth, is the lifeboat, the modern day “ark”. Life in Jesus should be our life’s meaning and joy.
After the Election
As a contentious and strange election year concludes, I urge all to pray for those who have been chosen to lead us, both locally and nationally. I have always thought a career in politics, while noble, is also fraught with spiritual danger. Perhaps this is why Scripture urges us to pray for our civic leaders.
Let us pray that our leaders will be mindful of protecting the most vulnerable: not only those at the beginning and end of human life, but also immigrants, migrants and their families, who have come to this nation seeking work and safety for their families. Let us pray that our leaders will uphold the dignity of all and work for the prosperity of all, uphold religious freedom and the common good.
Annual Catholic Appeal
I want to express my own special thanksgiving to all the faithful who have already responded to this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA). The ACA is critical for the Church to carry out its work, and ultimately strengthens all of our parishes, schools and people. If you have not yet had the opportunity to respond, please prayerfully consider making a gift from the gifts that God has given you. Information on how to give is on the diocesan website at kcsjcatholic.org. You may also return the form that you were sent via mail in late October.
Happy and blessed Thanksgiving!