This initiative consists of all parishes in the Diocese offering the sacrament of Reconciliation on all the Wednesdays of Advent and Lent, from 7:30-8:30 p.m., 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 on February 19 and 26, March 5, 12, 19, 26, and April 2 and 9.
- 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 all the Wednesdays in Lent after Ash Wednesday: March 8, 15, 22 and 29, April 5, and April 12.
Rejoice in God`s Mercy
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 19: Seventh Sunday in 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. The priest can help you and you can trust the Holy Spirit to guide you. Even if you don`t know how you can change your life, showing up makes you open to the grace that the sacrament brings. The Diocese of Calgary invites you to re-discover the meaning of the sacrament of Reconciliation in your life. Action: Speak about the sacrament of Reconciliation with someone this week. Share a positive experience or discuss your reservations with a priest or someone you know who participates in the sacrament.
February 26: Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. The Ash Wednesday Gospel opens the season of Lent by discussing the three practices that we are invited to take up: prayer, almsgiving, and fasting. The Gospel passage is taken from Jesus`Sermon on the Mount wherein he tells the disciples that he has come not to destroy the Law but to fulfill the Law through love. The Law of love is not about external appearances but about the truth in the heart. It is less important how we appear to others than how God sees us in secret. If you find any contradictions, use this season to restore wholeness to your life. Action: How are you going to express prayer, fasting, and almsgiving this Lent? Make a plan.
March 5: First Sunday of Lent
The readings today present two very different dialogs. In the first reading, Adam and Eve speak with the devil (the serpent) and, believing the lies he tells them, fall into sin. In the Gospel reading Christ rejects all of the devil's approaches and rebukes him. We need to turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel. Bringing our sins to confession renews our relationship with God and restores us to the joy of his salvation. Action: Begin your journey in Lent by ending any negotiations with the devil and opening up communication with God.
March 12: Second Sunday of Lent
Like Abraham, we need to trust in God to help us live the life God has laid out for us. God will transform us if we let go of what is holding us back. What is God asking us to leave behind? What barriers are stopping us? Action: Pray for an increase of faith and hope so you can act on the sacrifice God has asked of you.
March 19: Third Sunday of Lent
In Lent we contemplate our baptism and our reconciliation with God. God gave us living water at our Baptism. The new life we receive in baptism commits us to a 'holy boldness' by which we can reach out to our community and live this life to the full. Though we often fail, God calls us back and through reconciliation we can continue to live our baptismal graces. Action: Like the woman at the well, reach out to someone in your community; by your actions they will know God.
March 26: Fourth Sunday of Lent
In today’s second reading, Paul quotes an early baptismal hymn, “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you!” In our baptism, God reaches out to anoint us, to heal us, and to make us whole. This overflowing of grace calls us to be children of light and to do great things for God. In confession we allow the light of Christ to expose the darkness in our life so that we can be set free to do God’s will. Action: Reach out and touch someone in your life, or a stranger, by performing a random act of kindness.
April 2: Fifth Sunday of Lent
Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Just as he raised Lazarus from the dead he can bring you to life. Reconciliation helps us turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel by removing the obstacles that hold us back. Action: On the path to Easter and the celebration of Christ’s resurrection, reflect on the words of Ash Wednesday, “Turn away from sin.”
April 9: Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord
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. Reconciliation is a sacrament that Catholics can receive at any time. In addition to Rejoice in God’s Mercy on Wednesdays and scheduled diocesan penitential services, most parishes have a regularly scheduled time for Reconciliation throughout the year. If you are not available at the scheduled time or if your situation is complicated and you think you might need more time than usual, the sacrament is always available by appointment with the priest. 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.
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As part of our Diocesan mission and obedience to the words of our Lord to “Feed my lambs, feed my sheep,” Together in Action granted “good gifts” of funding to many amazing organizations across southern Alberta in 2016. In Lethbridge, we granted to the Interfaith Food Bank Society, run almost entirely by volunteers. Each year, more than 100 volunteers come through their door to give “good gifts” of time to the lives of the food bank’s clients. Many of them are passionately committed, serving regularly, often several times a month. Staff are committed to giving their volunteers a positive experience. Funds from Together in Action ensure they have a quality volunteer program. This commitment promotes long term volunteer retention and helps manage organizational costs effectively.
A bit farther north, in Airdrie, Deacon Gary Haney works with St. Dismas Prison Ministries. This organization works with an extremely marginalized population – recently released inmates. Together in Action funds the organization’s Let’s Journey Together Program. Volunteers with this organization give “good gifts” of circles of support around released inmates, helping them transition back into the community. The connections built within these circles anchor these vulnerable individuals to stability, acceptance and often, housing and employment. Deacon Gary Haney loves to tell the story of this organization and passionately believes in the work.
Do you or your parish support a charity that you are passionate about? Do you have an organization that you love and give the “good gifts” of your time or money to? We’d love to hear from you! Connect with us to tell us about it! If we feel it’s a good fit for the Together in Action Granting Program, we will solicit an application from the charity. After that, it will be up to the committee and the Bishop. As the donors who make Together in Action possible, we believe you have a voice in suggesting the spread of “good gifts.” Contact the Charities & Development Office at (403) 218-5534 for more information or to get the nomination form.
This year the Church celebrates the 25th anniversary of World Day of the Sick instituted by St. John Paul II in 1992. On this 25th anniversary, we return to the grotto at Lourdes, where the first World Day of the Sick began. Pope Francis in his message for World Day of the Sick this year reminds us that, “Like Saint Bernadette, we stand beneath the watchful gaze of Mary. The humble maiden of Lourdes tells us that the Virgin, whom she called the Lovely Lady, looked at her as one person looks at another. Those simple words describe the fullness of a relationship. Bernadette, poor, illiterate and ill, felt that Mary was looking at her as a person. The Lovely Lady spoke to her with great respect and without condescension.
This reminds us that every person is, and always remains, a human being, and is to be treated as such. The sick and the those who are disabled, even severely, have their own inalienable dignity and mission in life. They never become simply objects. If at times they appear merely passive, in reality that is never the case.
After her visit to the Grotto, thanks to her prayer, Bernadette turned her frailty into support for others. Thanks to her love, she was able to enrich her neighbours and, above all, to offer her life for the salvation of humanity. The fact that the Lovely Lady asked her to pray for sinners reminds us that the infirm and the suffering desire not only to be healed, but also to live a truly Christian life, even to the point of offering it as authentic missionary disciples of Christ.
Mary gave Bernadette the vocation of serving the sick and called her to become a Sister of Charity, a mission that she carried out in so exemplary a way as to become a model for every healthcare worker. Let us ask Mary Immaculate for the grace always to relate to the sick as persons who certainly need assistance, at times even for the simplest of things, but who have a gift of their own to share with others.”
This year, we also thank Bishop Henry for all his support and leadership in the Health Care Ministry within our diocese. Bishop Henry has been at the forefront of many ethical and moral debates in health care in our province, always advocating for respect for human dignity from the womb to the tomb. Bishop Henry has been a guiding beacon of insight and light in sometimes the darkest of times, when human dignity and life were challenged to the max.
Our Health Care Apostolate of the Diocese has been immensely blessed with Bishop Henry’s support in continually providing designated priest chaplains to Calgary, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat for Pastoral Care of the sick, elderly and dying. The department also has enjoyed much support in allowing us to provide ongoing training and education for all our staff and volunteers in the diverse areas of holistic health care.
Thank you Bishop Henry for your unwavering support and guidance since your arrival as our Bishop in 1998! On behalf of all of us in the Health Care Apostolate, God bless you and keep you in your retirement years.
The Diocese of Calgary, St. Luke’s Catholic Church, and Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church will be partnering in a series of joint prayer through Lent 2017. Our services of joint prayer will focus on the theme of the reconciliation that Protestants and Catholics must make as followers of Jesus Christ. We will recall his great prayer for both of our denominations to “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” This does not negate the important aspects of the doctrinal differences between Catholics and Lutherans, but only serves to further our working towards perfect unity in Christ and between Christians which must begin with acts of love and charity recommended by the Gospel.
Pope Francis in his Homily on the occasion of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation said: “We ask him, ‘Lord, help us by your grace to be more closely united to you and thus, together, to bear a more effective witness of faith, hope and love.’ This is also a moment to thank God for the efforts of our many brothers and sisters from different ecclesial communities who refused to be resigned to division, but instead kept alive the hope of reconciliation among all who believe in the one Lord.” We will say prayers of supplication and give thanks with our Protestant brothers and sisters and as we continue the work of Christian unity in the Diocese of Calgary.
Join us on Wednesdays, March 8 and March 22 at Hope Lutheran, 3527 Boulton Road NW; and on Wednesdays, March 15 and March 29 at St. Luke’s Church, 1566 Northmount Drive NW at 6:00 p.m. for a free “Soup and Bread” supper followed by the prayer service at 7:00 p.m. each of the four evenings.