Saturday, January 26, 2013

Confession - WHY? HOW?

Let's face it - the Sacrament of Reconciliation (commonly called Confession or Penance) is not popular. 
Pope Francis going to confession

OK so we faced it!   Now what? 

Popularity does not make something right or wrong. Coming face to face with our sins is not fun and it never will be, but it is necessary.  Perhaps it helps to think of Confession like childbirth - a painful experience that results in new life.

Admitting our sins is, paradoxically, a way of showing our deep need of Jesus, the savior of the world.  He saves us from sin!  In fact the very name "Jesus" means savior.  We do not need to hold on to our sins, or justify them to ourselves, or rationalize them, or be ashamed of them any more. Every "confession" is a profession of the saving power of Jesus Christ. 

Jesus clearly hands on His authority to forgive sins in John 20:23.  Of course, only God forgives sins, but it is equally true that God works through people! Our sins affect not only our relationship with God, but our relationships with other people.  So we face this reality when we confess to a priest or bishop.  He re-presents to us the forgiveness of God and the forgiveness of our neighbor.  How good Jesus is to make our forgiveness so complete! Remember - Jesus is both God AND man.  To be "right with Jesus" is to be right with BOTH God and our fellow man.

Here is a quote from our Metropolitan, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, given in his Presidential Address to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, November 12, 2012

"To believers also the Church must ever preach faith and penance,” declared the council fathers in the very first of the documents [of Vatican II] to appear, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. (SC, n. 9)...
The premier answer to the question “What’s wrong with the world?” “what’s wrong with the church?” is not politics, the economy, secularism, sectarianism, globalization or global warming . . . none of these, as significant as they are.  
As Chesterton wrote, “The answer to the question ‘What’s wrong with the world?’ is just two words: ’I am,’”
I am!  Admitting that leads to conversion of heart and repentance, the marrow of the Gospel-invitation. ...

Here is a short video explaining WHY we go to confession, followed by a handy link to step-by-step instructions for receiving this amazing sacrament.

Click this link for instructions on HOW to go to confession -

Monday, January 21, 2013

St. Joseph's Table 10 March 2013

Good afternoon! Sunday, March 10th, will be the return of the Annual St. Joseph's Table at St. Benedict's! This is a longstanding tradition in our parish and is one of the major fundraisers for our St. Vincent de Paul Conference (assisting those in need in our community). Please see below for details and ways in which we can use your help!

#1. The St. Vincent de Paul Society is sponsoring a St. Joseph's Table on Sunday, March 10th at 1:00 PM at St. Benedict's Church (in the cafeteria). There will only be one seating. Tickets are $20/adults and $5/child (12 and under). Advance reservations can be made by emailing Kathy Michalski at Tickets will also be on sale after all masses beginning in February. Please contact the rectory for more information. PLEASE NOTE: PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS EARLY SINCE ONLY A LIMITED NUMBER WILL BE AVAILABLE AND WE HAVE SOLD OUT THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS!

#2. VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR THE ST. JOSEPH'S TABLE ON MARCH 10TH!: Please contact Agnes Smith (@ or contact Agnes @ 832-2086 if you are able to help with set up, serving, and/or clean up. **

** NOTE: This will count for service hours for our religious ed students--you must be a Freshman in High School (or older) to volunteer.

#3. BASKETS NEEDED FOR THE ST. JOSEPH'S TABLE: Back by popular demand will be our basket raffle at the St. Joseph's Table! Please contact Megan Andrews @ if you would like to donate a basket! Advance raffle tickets will be available for sale prior to the Table. More details to come!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Week of Christian Unity

From the 18th to the 25th of January, we redouble our prayer for Christian unity.

In this Year of Faith, we have been asked to reexamine the documents of the Second Vatican Council.  One of these documents is called Unitatis Redintegratio, commonly called the "Decree on Ecumenism" in English.

The first paragraph of this conciliar document clearly and unambiguously expresses the sentiments of the Catholic Church in regard to Christian unity:
The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council. Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only. However, many Christian communions present themselves to men as the true inheritors of Jesus Christ; all indeed profess to be followers of the Lord but differ in mind and go their different ways, as if Christ Himself were divided.  Such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature.                  The full text is here -

Recently, Pope Benedict XVI spoke directly and clearly about Christian unity (20 Jan 2013) saying:
One of the most serious sins that disfigures the face of the Church is against its visible unity, especially the historical divisions the have separated Christians that haven't yet been overcome.

 It's a moment always welcome to believers and communities, which awakens in all the desire and spirit of commitment to full communion.

The Pope will close the week of prayer for Christian unity 2013 by presiding at vespers in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls alongside representatives of other churches and communities.

As both the Second Vatican Council and our present Pontiff have made clear, we need to pray more and work more for the unity of all Christians.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

It's Not Over: Christmas Season

The Christmas season is NOT over.
The Holy Family, Nave Window
St. Benedict's, Amherst NY

It is very tempting to let the secular world determine when Christmas starts and ends.  But that is not the Catholic understanding.  For us the liturgical season of Christmas BEGINS on Christmas Eve and ENDS with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

We must be careful not to let the world of commerce usurp our sense of sacred time.  Businesses use our holy days to make money, and while it is certainly admirable for people to earn an honest living, we must not let consumerism determine Christmas.  For too many Christians, that is exactly what happens.

Please keep your Creche scene on display throughout the liturgical season of Christmas. Click HERE for details about Christmas and the Creche scene. Understandably, our trees may need to come down earlier, but don't let that determine the end of Christmas! Become aware of how the Church's celebration and the secular world's celebration of Christmas differ.  Keep Christ in Christmas for His entire season of grace.

Nave Window
St. Benedict's, Amherst NY
Here is how the Christmas Season unfolds for believers:
Christmas celebrates the mystery of the Incarnation - God became man or to put it in biblical terms: "The Word became flesh."  Jesus is truly God and truly man.

Dec. 26 - we recall the first person to die for the Christian Faith - the deacon and first martyr, Saint Stephen.  This day reminds us of the seriousness of our Faith. This is also true of the feast of the Holy Innocents on the 28th of December.

The Feast of the Holy Family reminds us how important the family is.  Jesus was truly like all of us.  Jesus, Mary and Joseph are highlighted as a group.

click image for details

January 1st we observe the most ancient feast day of Mary - Mary, Mother of God (Theotokos). This reminds us of Mary's unique, mysterious and wonderful role in salvation history.

Epiphany is celebrated to remind us that Jesus is Christ for ALL people.  The magi represent all people, all nations, recognizing Jesus as Lord and Messiah.


There is an ancient hymn used by the Church in the Office of Readings (Matins).  It is particularly appropriate for Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord:

Te Deum - Ancient Hymn
God, we praise you; Lord, we proclaim you!
You, the Father, the eternal –
all the earth venerates you.
All the angels, all the heavens, every power –
The cherubim, the seraphim –
unceasingly, they cry:
“Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts:
heaven and earth are full of the majesty of your glory!”

The glorious choir of Apostles –
The noble ranks of prophets –
The shining army of martyrs –
all praise you.
Throughout the world your holy Church proclaims you.
– Father of immeasurable majesty,
– True Son, only-begotten, worthy of worship,
– Holy Spirit, our Advocate.

You, Christ:
– You are the king of glory.
– You are the Father’s eternal Son.
– You, to free mankind, did not disdain a Virgin’s womb.
– You defeated the sharp spear of Death, and opened the kingdom of heaven
    to those who believe in you.
– You sit at God’s right hand, in the glory of the Father.
– You will come, so we believe, as our Judge.

And so we ask of you:
give help to your servants, whom you set free at the price of your precious blood.
Number them among your chosen ones in eternal glory.