Fr Noel O’Leary SMA, Parish Priest of St Joseph’s SMA Parish [Blackrock Road] led a Reconciliation Service for the fifth evening of our Novena of Prayer in Honour of Our Lady. The Novena will conclude with the SMA Annual National Pilgrimage to Knock on Saturday, 23 May 2015.
The readings for the Reconciliation Service were taken from 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 and John 4:7-10.
The following is an edited version of Fr Noel’s remarks during the Service. Several SMA priests were available for individual confession.
This evening we are being challenged to look at different areas of our world and our response, both globally and closer to home.
We are being asked to reflect on our relationship with God and with one another, the blockages and the walls we often allow ourselves to be surrounded by.
Jesus says, ‘By this everyone will know that you are my disciples’. He was not talking about dress code, learning, hard work or titles. He was talking about love.
Love is the heart of the Gospel. Failure to live by this command of Christ is not only the worst sin, but in a sense, the only sin for a Christian.
The Love that Christ speaks of is where we open ourselves to give love and receive love. In doing so, we enrich and liberate ourselves.
We so often say there is joy in sharing. God showed us by giving His Son, His only Son who in turn committed the greatest act of love by the giving of his very life.
However, as we open ourselves to love, we may not always receive as we give and hurt and pain from this experience can block us from opening to others in a loving manner. So often it is those that we love that hurts us most because as we open ourselves to them more and as we receive their love, so also pain and misunderstanding can take its place. With such experiences we put up walls and barriers to protect us, or so we think and it prevents us from being true to ourselves and true to what Christ asks of us.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is not only a great sacrament of forgiveness, giving us peace, it is also a sacrament of healing. It heals the wounds caused by sin. Like any wound it needs to be looked after and tended to, otherwise we will not recover completely. The Church recognizes the ‘wounds of sin’ and presents us with a sacrament ‘bringing varied healing for the multiple works of sin.
Before the individual celebration of the sacrament the congregation reflected on some of the ways we are tempted and sin.
For limiting our love to words. Lord, have mercy.
For being impatient to others.
For being irritable, and lacking in self-control.
For bearing a grudge and harbouring ill-feeling towards others.
For failing to apologise when we were wrong.
For failing to ask for forgiveness when we hurt someone.
For being judgemental.
For being selective in our love.
For failing to trust in God’s unconditional love for us.
For failing to return God’s love.
For failing to appreciate and return the love of others.
For failing to love ourselves with a wholesome love.
For failing to take care of our environment.
Prayer after Confession
Lord, open our hearts when they are closed.
Warm them when they are cold.
Soften them when they are hard.
Brighten them when they are in darkness.
Lighten them when they are weighed down with worry.
Calm them when they are troubled and afraid.
Heal them when they are wounded.
Mend them when they are broken.
May the Lord guide you in the way of His Love, and fill you with Christ like patience.
May He give you the strength to walk in newness of life and to please Him in all ways.
May He bless you Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Go in the grace and peace of the Lord who frees us from our sins.