“Let’s all get in the car”

Wrote this for this Sunday's parish bulletin.
When I was in my later years of elementary school and in high school, every six or eight weeks or so, on a Saturday afternoon, Dad would often ask, “Hey, when was the last time we all went to confession?” The three of us, my brother and sister and I, would look at each other in puzzlement, shrug our shoulders, and say, “We don’t know.”

Dad with banjo
Then dad would say, “Well, if you guys don’t know, then I guess it’s time for us to go again. Let’s all get in the car and drive over to church and go to confession.”

During all of my childhood years, both of my parents always gave us very good example when it came to living the faith. Very soon after I learned talk, my mother and father taught me how to say my prayers before going to bed. The idea of doing anything that would get in the way of Sunday Mass just never came up. Such an idea would have been a total non-starter. Dad belonged to a number of Catholic men’s organizations: the Catholic war veterans, the holy name Society, and the Men of Malvern – a Catholic men’s retreat league. Once every year Dad went on a weekend retreat with that Malvern group. Mom was a member of the church choir and the church ladies’ sodality. She used to go on weekend retreats to when we were older. In fact, some of them were right here on Staten Island, at the Mount Augustine Retreat Center which stood not very far from here.

Both of my parents took very seriously their responsibility for giving us children a solid foundation for a strong faith life. I am thankful to both of them. I am especially thankful to my Dad, who in his own way gave me a very deep realization of the importance of frequenting the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Advent, as you know, is one of the two penitential seasons in the church year. It’s an opportunity for us to examine our lives, to examine our consciences, and in a spirit of humility, hope and confidence, approach the Lord to ask him for forgiveness. It’s an opportunity for us to receive the grace of renewal in our relationship with Jesus.

As family members, especially as parents, it is a sign of deep love and concern to encourage those close to us to receive the grace of the sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Holy Communion during this season of Advent.

As your pastor, I pray for all of you every day. Let us pray for each other, that this period of Advent be an opportunity for all of us to grow closer to our Lord Jesus Christ.