Bulletin (March 18, 2007)

This Sunday we hear the beautiful Parable of the Prodigal Son. That parable speaks to us about the desire of God to reconcile us to himself in Christ. Next Saturday you and I have a marvelous opportunity to experience that reconciliation. On March 24 priests from all over the Archdiocese will be at St. James' Cathedral, from ten in the morning till five in the afternoon. Think of it not so much as a group of weak, sinful men - which we priests certainly are - but as the Father waiting to receive you. Make a good examination of conscience, but what matters are not all the details, but your contrition and the Father's inconceivable mercy. This Archdiocesan Day of Reconciliation is part of our Cathedral's Centenary (one hundred year) celebration. Do not miss this unique opportunity. On that same day I invite you to participate in the annual Cathedral Walk. We will leave from Holy Family Church at 7 a.m. Those who take part in the pilgrimage can receive a Plenary Indulgence for themselves or for a loved one.

There will not be confessions here at Holy Family on Friday evening. Fr. Ramon will be taking part in the School Auction Procurement Party at the Pacific Institute. I will be chaplain for a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat. The retreat is for those seeking post-abortion healing. I ask your prayers for the women and men who will participate in the retreat, as well as for myself and the others who will be directing it.

All of us have some deep regret in our lives – parts of our soul that only God can heal. It may be the sin of abortion, which unfortunately has become so common today. It may be some other area of sin. Last week the Catholic Northwest Progress had an article on the importance of facing sin. They had a good quote from Fr. Frank Shuster, pastor of Assumption Parish in Bellingham. He noted that people avoid going to confession because it’s hard. “Sin hurts. That’s part of sin. We’re ashamed, we feel guilty,” he said. “Instead of going into the sacrament to be healed of that sin, that guilt, we choose to refuse to do it, and choose to hold onto the guilt,” Father Schuster said. “When they talk about how Catholics really dig into guilt, actually we offer a way out of the guilt, in a way no other tradition does.” Amen. We have always seen the Sacrament of Reconciliation as one of the most powerful ways of receiving God’s mercy and healing.

Shortly before his death in 1996, Fr. Henri J.M. Nouwen wrote a helpful book on reconciliation: The Return of the Prodigal Son. The book is a meditation on the famous painting by Rembrandt. Fr. Nouwen describes how the painting questioned him. Who are you? Which of the figures do you identify with? His first thoughts were that he did not know what it was like to be the prodigal son, to be held and loved, to rest his head on the Father. He was one of the onlookers. Nouwen wrote, "For years I had instructed students on the different aspects of the spiritual life . . . But had I, myself, really ever dared to step into the center, kneel down, and let myself be held by a forgiving God?" Fr. Nouwen admits that he resisted being held by the Father. Many times he tried to run from God, to escape his glance. Eventually he saw the great truth that we cannot return to him on our own. Jesus, eternal Son of the Father, became man precisely so we could participate in that embrace. In today’s second reading St. Paul puts it bluntly, “For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Cor 5:21)

I invite you to use well these final days before Holy Week. My prayer is that each member of Holy Family Parish, beginning with your priests and deacons, will profoundly experience God’s mercy and healing.

Este Domingo tenemos la parabola del Hijo Prodigo. La parabola nos habla del deseo de Dios para reconciliarnos a si mismo en Cristo. El proximo sabado tendremos una oportunidad maravillosa para experimentar esa reconciliacion. El 24 de marzo sacerdotes de toda la Arquidiocesis estarán en la Catedral de St. James para confesiones, desde las 10 a.m. hasta las 5 p.m. Me han asegurado que en cada hora habrá sacerdotes que pueden confesar en español. No perder esta oportunidad. El mismo dia les invito participar en la Caminata Anual hasta la Catedral. Saldremos del nuestro templo de Holy Family a las 7 a.m. Los que toman en esta peregrinacion pueden recibir una Indulgencia Plenaria que se puede aplicar personalmente o para un ser querido.

No habrá confesiones este viernes aquí en Holy Family. El Padre Ramon tomará parte en una actividad relacionada con la subasta de la escuela parroquial. Yo seré el capellan para el Retiro del Viñedo de Raquel. Este retiro es para los que buscan sanacion post- aborto. Pido sus oraciones para los que participen en el retiro, tambien para su servidor y los otros que van a guiar el retiro.