From Our Pastor: State of Grace and Precepts of the Church
On this feast of the baptism of the Lord we are reminded of the great gift Christ gave us in baptism and how He showed us the way. This gift we must treasure and keep unstained into everlasting life. It his great mercy Jesus gave us the sacrament of Reconciliation to help us preserve that grace in our life of faith. His mercy and grace poured out in that sacrament not only forgives our sins, but forgets them, makes us new, and strengthens us against future sin.
In one of our parish's Christmas Eve homilies, many heard something that confused them. A priest talked about how we needed to be in a state of grace to receive the Eucharist, and that included the need to go to confession at least once a year. This is one of the precepts of the Church, which I will teach on in the next few bulletin articles. The precepts of the Church are requirements to be a Catholic in good standing. One of those requirements is the necessity to go to confession at least once a year to prepare to receive communion at least once a year. If you are not in a state of grace that doesn't mean you shouldn't go to Church, as many people think that not receiving communion means don't go, but on the contrary, if you are not in a state of grace and ready to receive the Eucharist then we need to be at Mass all the more. The obligation for keeping holy the Sabbath is to attend Mass, not to receive the Eucharist. Receiving the Eucharist is complete grace, but to receive that grace we must be disposed to receive that grace. If we are not disposed/spiritually ready then we still go to Mass, but we don't go up for communion. THEN we run to the sacrament of confession to prepare us to receive the gift of the Eucharist.
As I have already said in some of my homilies, we must go to confession at least once a year, but if you get the oil changed on your car every few months, you should probably get the oil changed on your soul as well in the grace of confession. Run to this sacrament more often. We can go weekly, monthly, every other month, every few months, but we MUST go at least once a year. If it has been more than a year since your last confession, RUN to the grace that is waiting for you in this most amazing embrace of the Lord in this sacrament, where the Father in heaven is waiting as in the story of the prodigal son.
Don't let shame or pride or laziness or relativistic thinking or fear to keep you from this sacrament, as these are all tools of the devil to keep you from this sacrament. Sin still exists. Acknowledge that sin in your life and run to be freed from sin and be made new into that beautiful son or daughter of God that He made you in the adoption of baptism. As the ritual says, "See in this white garment the outward sign of your Christian dignity. With your family and friends to help you by word and example, bring that dignity unstained into the everlasting life of heaven." As it says, we can't bring ourselves unstained into the everlasting life of heaven on our own. We need our family and friends in the faith to help us by word and example, and most of all we need the grace of the sacraments, especially confession and the Eucharist, as a free gift from God to make us new and bring us unstained into the everlasting life of heaven as His sons and daughters. Run to confession regularly, so that we may run to communion regularly, but always know we need to be here in His presence at the Mass ALWAYS!!
Rev. Steven Arisman