Forgiveness and Healing

1. God’s Forgiveness: Healing Of the Soul

Confessions here are currently available by appointment and upon request, though those with COVID-19 symptoms or who are at risk from contact with another or who were recently out of province may not enter the church building.

Restrictions also affect our priests’ ability to go out to anoint or visit the sick the sick or dying.

But if someone not in a hospital wishes confession, anointing, or related pastoral care,
please call 306-807-0960
between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.

If someone in a hospital or Wascana Rehab wishes for confession or anointing, please contact one of the following numbers to make arrangements:

Pasqua, 306-519-1380.
Wascana, 306-530-6511.
General, 306-519-1405.

The painting above, of St. Ambrose refusing to let Roman Emperor Theodosius come into the Cathedral of Milan for Mass, has everything to do with our situation today. Today, many people commonly don’t come to confess their sins to a priest because, although moved by temptations to hurt others with some things they do or fail to do, they want to carry on as if they were ok, and not seek God’s forgiveness and healing through the Church. In the picture above, that was Theodosius and his soldiers.

In a rage at news of a few people’s terrible wrongdoing, he had sent orders to have an entire community killed. After he calmed down a bit, he sent word to repeal the order, but too late – his soldiers had slain 7000 people there, most of them totally innocent of what had enraged him. So, he went on to church, because he was a generally good guy (right?). Bishop Ambrose, knowing of the event and acting in accordance with Catholic teaching on God’s mercy and justice, stopped them outside the Cathedral, condemned Theodosius in diplomatic but firm words, and refused to let them in until repentance and  long public penance were done. When penance was finally done, Theodosius entered the church, threw himself on the floor, and wept. Ambrose allowed him to come back to Mass. This happened; see sourcebooks.fordham.edu/ancient/theodoret-ambrose1.asp and www.newadvent.org/fathers/340951.htm for the longer version of the events.

Jesus had told the apostles,Those whose sins you forgive are forgiven; those whose sins you retain are retained” (John 20:23). Ambrose told Theodosius, “The Lord Himself, Who alone can say, ‘I am with you,’ Mt. 28:20 if we have sinned, does not forgive any but those who repent. I urge, I beg, I exhort, I warn…” (Letter 51, 11-12). It is uncomfortable to go to confession, but those who suppose that it is something miserable to be avoided (we hear this from some parents who don’t want their children to receive First Reconcilation for that reason) should see the faces of people who come out of the confessional. They are typically radiant with a very special peace, joy, humility, purity and all around happiness. Receiving forgiveness in this way is so important a part of one’s faith life, all Catholics must receive instruction in it, and have their First Reconciliation, at the same time as they prepare for First Communion. To sign up, please find the form in the section, “God Empowers.”

We have also experienced destructive rage at St. Peter Parish, expressed in the two vandalisms of 2019. Many people in our society and world are enraged at the Catholic Church, particularly because of the terrible sins of a few priests and nuns who, though they were supposed represent Catholic faith and morals, did the exact opposite sometimes, and that repeatedly made the news. Like Theodosius, many anti-Catholic people do not distinguish between the wicked who disobey our great laws, and those here who do obey them. But that distinction makes all the difference.

We who come to church to keep trying to follow God’s law, discipline any wild inclinations, repent of sins and be improved, need, like Theodosius, to learn from the Church how to improve. Then we need, like Ambrose, to live and speak the wise mercy and justice of God carefully and courageously, to stand up for the rights of all people, to help undo the negative image of the Church that is often painted in the media, and to forgive.

It is in PDF format, and great for printing and bringing to use during a confession.

An Optional Prayer After Confession

What thanks do I not owe to Thee, my God!
Not only for having created me, redeemed me, and called me into the bosom of Thy Church,
but still more for having waited for my return while I was wandering from Thee in the miserable paths of sin;
for having so often pardoned me, as I hope Thou has done this day,
and for having preserved me from so many other sins, into which I should have fallen had I not been preserved by Thy gracious hand.

But my enemies will not cease to tempt until death, and if Thou support me not, alas! I shall soon begin again to offend Thee more grievously than ever.
Grant me then, through the merits of Jesus Christ the precious grace of final perseverance.
The Divine Saviour has assured us that whatever we ask in His Name, Thou will grant it to us.
I entreat Thee, therefore, through all that Thy dear Son suffered for me, never to let me forsake Thee any more.

I feel the greatest confidence that, if I continue to pray for this grace, I shall obtain it, because Thou hast promised to hear our prayers. But I tremble with fear lest, in some unguarded moment, I forget my dependence on Thee, fail to invoke Thy help, and thus relapse into my former misery.  Grant, therefore, that in all my temptations I may have instant recourse to Thee, by invoking the holy Names of Jesus and Mary.

Thus, O my Lord, I may confidently hope to die in Thy grace, and to love Thee forever in heaven, where I shall be sure never to be separated from Thee, and to be consumed in the fire of Thy holy love for all eternity.

Amen.

2. Healing of the Body

Jesus showed great compassion in His earthly ministry, healing countless people of all kinds of injuries, diseases and conditions, and sometimes raising the dead back to healthy life. Sometimes, however, he did not save in these ways, for various reasons. Most notably, He did not save Himself from being tortured to death on the cross, for it was necessary to His salvific mission that he undergo it. As he died, he said to a repentant criminal dying beside Him, “Today you will be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Similarly, throughout subsequent history, God has sometimes done miraculous healings in answer to holy prayers; but sometimes He does not. At another part of this website, St. Augustine is found to attest to a variety of healings. Individuals at St. Peter and elsewhere in the Archdiocese have attested to experiencing miracles. Some accounts of miracles elsewhere online are credible.

Miracles are extraordinary occurrences. Part of the Church’s moral teaching is that people must exercise prudence, moderation, justice and perseverance in their care for their bodies. And compassion is rightly given to and needed by others who suffer bodily pains and weaknesses. For these reasons, we urge all our members always to assist and give, as they prudently can, to a variety of charities, to observe times of fasting within moderation, and to defend the human rights of the poor and oppressed especially.

If you would like a send a request for prayers for healing, for the general intercessions at Mass, or for the bulletin, or for Father in particular, please let us know. There is no cost. If you would like a Mass to be offered up for the intention of a healing, please contact the parish office. There is no cost, exactly, for that either, but a voluntary offering of $10 to add as a sacrifice to the sacrifice of the Mass can be accepted.

3. Healing of Emotional Pain

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” Jesus taught (Matthew 5:5). The Gospel records indicate that Jesus wept at the death of His friend who died (John 11:35-36); He went to a deserted place when his cousin John the Baptist died (Matthew 14:13); He wept over the wickedness of His people, who were His children, and over the terrible devastation that would come to Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44); and He agonized emotionally in anticipation of being tortured to deathMatthew 26:38-45). So, Jesus did not quench or criticize the feelings of grief; nor did He let them so overwhelm Him as to speak or act badly. He expressed grief naturally, and took consolation in the details of His Father’s plan.

Our hearts go out to those who suffer the loss of loved ones, and to those who are pained by all kinds of calamitous events.

Being a small parish, we do not have our own counsellors, support groups, etc. Catholic grief support programs are sometimes offered at nearby parishes, such as Holy Trinity or Christ the King. We recommend contacting them to find out what they presently offer. We also recommend The Caring Place and Catholic Family Services. Our parish priest is happy to talk and pray as well. Please see the contact information on our front page. Please also see the “If you need someone to talk to or pray with” section there.

We have a small team of lay ministers who make pastoral visits to shut-ins in our area. Regrettably, the current pandemic has temporarily placed severe restrictions on what we can do in this respect.

There can be many types, causes, and degrees of emotional pain. God is often described as a physician in the Bible; one point to be drawn from this is that there is something good and necessary about physicians. Physicians universally agree that many people suffer much more emotional pain than they should due to hidden illnesses that can be diagnosed and treated. The Catholic Church officially acknowledges this too, and, wishing for relief for sufferers, recommends that those who may be affected prudently seek medical advice. For faith does not replace reason or medicine; rather, these address different needs of the human person made and loved by God.

Trusting in God’s most wise and generous graces, His complete knowledge and power, we hope for the salvation of even the worst sinners (keeping in mind the final graces that God offers), and look forward to that time when Jesus will say to us as He did to the repentant criminal who was dying beside Him, “This day you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). For that will be for us the beginning of what was prophetically described of our final, true and heavenly home:

I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride dressed for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice call from the throne, ‘Look, here God lives among human beings. He will make his home among them; they will be his people, and he will be their God, God-with-them. He will wipe away all tears from their eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness or pain. The world of the past has gone.’

Revelation 21:2-4

4. Healing of Family Relationships

Parts of Pope Francis’ letter On the Joy of Love in families would well be read and discussed together by family members, especially husband and wife. Chapter 4 (which begins on p. 71 of the pdf file) pertains to love in general. It begins:

For we cannot encourage a path of fidelity and mutual self-giving without encouraging the growth, strengthening and deepening of conjugal and family love. Indeed, the grace of the sacrament of marriage is intended before all else “to perfect the couple’s love” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 1641). Here too we can say that, “even if I have faith so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2-3). The word “love”, however, is commonly used and often misused.

Our daily love

In a lyrical passage of Saint Paul, we see some of the features of true love:
“Love is patient,
love is kind;
love is not jealous or boastful;
it is not arrogant or rude.
Love does not insist on its own way,
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrong,
but rejoices in the right.
Love bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

The rest of the chapter is a commentary on this passage.

Couples in particular would do well, after going through chapter 4 together, to read paragraphs 217 to 258 in chapter 6, starting on p. 164 of the PDF file.

In any case, those whose relationships are in trouble are encouraged to contact our pastor for advice. Email stpete@sasktel.net, or leave a voicemail at 306-545-4411, and your message will be delivered to Father. Catholic Family Services also offers counselling and a variety of programs to meet a variety of needs. For more information, please see cfsregina.ca. May God bless you with courage, prudence, spiritual strength, and helpers to sustain you and benefit your relationships!

5. Healing of Cultures

A few years ago, our priest invited one speaker of each non-English language in the congregation to come forward. After a surprising number of people were lined up together at the front, we were all invited to say the Our Father in our own languages, which made the prayer especially beautiful! Our parishioners and pastors come from many cultures. Catholic culture, common to all cultures and languages, wishes to confirm all that is good in them and bring healing to any elements that need it. For every human culture has both immense value as well as imperfections, which we submit to the service, improvement, and protection of God. Racism has no place here.

It is a well known and sad fact of history that many European missionaries, including many priests and nuns (not all of them, of course), were not simply or fully missionaries of Catholicism, but to considerable extents also missionaries of European cultures. Some of their methods and message did tremendous damage to indigenous peoples.  Since the consequences of that damage are still felt today, we must do what we can to pray and help those affected.

Our parish normally hosts blanket exercises several times a year, and school children come to learn. For more information on activities and programs in our Archdiocese, please see archregina.sk.ca/indigenous-relations.

6. Healing a Wounded Church

The Church suffers much violence from outside as well as from inside. Speaking of the former, St. Paul encourages us:

For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

2 Corinthians 4:6-12

From the inside, we suffer from sins of our members, especially those that cause scandal. Theodosius, being a kind of major role model in the Church of his time, certainly caused scandal by killing the 7000; but that was minor compared with the sexual abuse scandal in our day. Although the evil priests who did terribly anti-Catholic things in secret to the most vulnerable were very few, their damage was incalculable. The rest of us suffer with and for the victims, as we try to help them:

May the victims, helped to heal by the good Church that cries and suffers with them, also come to say, “the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God.” By the intercession and closeness of the Blessed Virgin, may their terrible burden be now removed. May they see from now on the loving eyes of Christ and Mary, and may trauma be confined to the past.

It is nearly a year since Archbishop Don Bolen and other local bishops spoke at the annual congress about the decline seriously affecting our local church. Archbishop Don instructed the parishes to pray about, discuss and address: communities getting smaller, aging populations, difficulties passing on the faith to the young, reaching out to young families, the cost of building upkeep, pastoral challenges, finding volunteers, tired volunteers (when too few help out), and tensions within communities.

At the same congress, Ukrainian Catholic Bishop Bayda noted that the key to the solution of the decline stated over and over again by our popes, and he quoted:

The parish is not an outdated institution… [I]f the parish proves capable of self-renewal and constant adaptivity, it continues to be “the Church living in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters.” In all its activities the parish encourages and trains its members to be evangelizers. It is a community of communities, a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey, and a centre of constant missionary outreach.

Pope Francis, Evangelium Gaudium, 28.

Faith must always be presented as a gift of God to be lived out in community (families, parishes, associations), and to be extended to others through witness in word and deed… A radical conversion in thinking is required in order to become missionary, and this holds true both for individuals and entire communities. The Lord is always calling us to come out of ourselves and to share with others the goods we possess, starting with the most precious gift of all – our faith. The effectiveness of the Church’s organizations, movements, parishes and apostolic works must be measured in the light of this missionary imperative. Only by becoming missionary will the Christian community be able to overcome its internal divisions and tensions, and rediscover its unity and its strength of faith.

Pope St. John Paul II the Great, Redemptoris Missio, 49.

The sins of those priests who caused the sex abuse scandal began with at least a partial loss of faith – with denials in their mind of the Catholic truths about the wickedness of what they would do, and/or about what God would let them get away with. If they are tempted to think that Jesus’ words indicate that their other, good and merciful acts, or their faith,  or God’s forgiving nature, or their reception of the Eucharist, etc., would save them, such interpretations are well disproven by doctors of the church, in this case, by St. Ambrose’s pupil St. Augustine in City of God, the latter half of book 21.