If you’re preparing for the Sacrament of Confession (which you ought to celebrate sometime during Lent) here is a litany of Repentance. What is good about this approach is that it lists many attitudes and drives that are sinful and thus helps us to look a little deeper, beyond our external behaviors to the deeper dirve that give rise to sin. I have put the Litany in pdf form and you can get it here: Litany of Penance and Reparation
There is also an Examination of Conscience that is pretty good and is available here: Examen
Reason # 20 – The Final Wish of a Dying Friend – Consider the following scenario. You are crossing the street with a friend and suddenly as if out of nowhere a large truck is bearing down on you both. Your friend sees it coming and pushes you out of the way but takes the full force of the hit himself. Coming to your senses you run to your friend who lies dying in the road. In grief you lament his imminent death and thank him for saving your life. You say, “What can I ever do to thank you for what you have done?!” And he says, with his dying breath, “Please go to Church and remember me at the altar every Sunday.” ….Would you do it? …..Of course you would! This is the final wish of a dying friend who saved your life.
Well, isn’t this what Jesus did? Just before he died for us he left us a last request: “Do this in remembrance of Me.” Do what? you might say. Here is Jesus request in context: The setting is the Last Supper that Jesus had with his disciples on the last evening before he died. As he sat at table with them he said, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer…” Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you. So here is what we are to do in memory of Him: celebrate the Holy Mass, receive Holy Communion! It seems so little and yet so many have drifted away from this last request. It must have been important to Jesus since it was his final request.
So here is a powerful reason to come home, to fulfill the final wish of a dying friend, a dying Savior and Lord who saved your life, who died in your place: “Do this in memory of me.” The Book of Psalms also says it so well: “What return (what thanks) can I ever give the Lord for all the good he has done for me?! The cup of salvation I will take up, and I will call on the name of the Lord.” (Ps 116:13) What a beautiful line to remember as you see the priest lift up the Chalice at every mass and remember the final wish of a dying friend.
Reason # 18 – The Good Priests. Much has been written lately about the sins of some priests who horribly committed sexual abuse. May God bless those who were victims of such priests. But the vast majority of priests are good, holy and dedicated men who given themselves selflessly to God and the service of his people. I can testify to many good priests who helped me along the way. The priests who serve us in the Church are not perfect men but most all of them love God and his people. They work long hours and are present at some of the most difficult and joyful moments of our lives. Most of them are quiet servants, answering late night phone calls, celebrating early masses, sitting through long meetings and patiently listening to our concerns, struggles, joys and hopes, questions, and doubts. They celebrate the Sacraments with devotion, both for God and their people. And truth be told most Catholics love their priests, pray for them, respect them and value their service.
So here is a reason to come home: many good priests are waiting to serve you and celebrate the significant moments of your life. Many good priests await your return.
Here is a beautiful Video that celebrates the ministry priests among us:
Reason # 17- Jesus is Here Right Now. If I were to credibly announce to the Washington DC area that Jesus Christ was going to come down from heaven and appear in my Parish Church of Holy Comforter – St. Cyprian, the place would be packed! Media Satellite trucks would line the block. Crowds in the hundreds of thousands might well gather; all to see Jesus. But the truth is, Jesus IS here, right now. He presides as High Priest at every liturgy we celebrate. He remains present in our tabernacle. He’s here! He preaches the sermon, stands at our altar and feeds us with his Body and Blood.
The Choir in my Church often sings the Gospel song “Jesus Is Here Right Now.” while we receive Holy Communion. Are you looking for Jesus? Here’s here, right now! A great reason to come home.
Here are two powerful videos that celebrate the True Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament: “God in the Streets of New York.” Behold how Jesus walks the streets of New York and see the remarkable reactions of many people in the video. Some glance shyly, others reash out to touch, others cry out from a distance, one man throws open his window and cries “Glory.” The second video is actually the same footage, but a musical version, a remix or sorts.
Reason # 13: The Warning. Jesus says quite plainly in the Gospel of John, “Amen, Amen I say to you, Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and Drink his blood, you have no life in you.” So the warning is clear enough: if we don’t receive Holy Communion each Sunday, we are starving ourselves spiritually and are dying, if not already dead, spiritually. I once quoted this text to a woman who was away from the Church and she said, “Oh, I have life in me.” “Well,” I said, “I’m just telling you what Jesus said, and he says you don’t.” 🙂 I wasn’t gonna back down. Sometimes we just have to stick to what scripture says!
And really, we ought to just listen to Jesus here and not get into arguments based on our own subjective self-evaluation. Besides, no one is a fair judge in his own case!
So here is a powerful reason to “come home” to the Eucharist. Without Jesus in Holy Communion, you starve. Come on home now; you gotta eat! Don’t block your blessings! An old Gospel song that we sometimes sing says, “Come over here, where the table is spread, and the feast of the Lord is goin’ on!” Enjoy this video of the old Gospel song in a Catholic Context.
Reason # 12: The Promise. The Lord Jesus makes some pretty powerful promises to those who faithfully and fruitfully receive his Body and Blood in Holy Communion: I am the bread of life, who ever comes to me will never hunger…I am the living bread that comes down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread I will give is my flesh for the life of the world…Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day…whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him…the one who feeds on me will have life because of me…Whoever eats this bread will live forever. (John 6:35ff).
So here is a central reason to come home: Holy Communion is not some empty ritual; it is a partaking of the living Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus. Many people today have lost touch with the power of the Eucharist. Sadly, many people put more faith in Tylenol than in the Eucharist, since when they take Tylenol they expect something to happen. But they expect little or nothing from Holy Communion. But look at the promises of Jesus! He promises radical transformation and new life to those who receive with faith. Take Jesus at his word!
Try not to understand the Eucharistic promises in a magical way. Sacraments, in order to be fruitful, require that we receive them with faith and that we be open to their full effects. It is an absolute truth that everyone who receives Holy Communion truly receives the Body and Blood of Christ. But not everyone receives it as fruitfully. Picture two people at an Art Museum. One person is a well-trained artist who appreciates art history; knows color, shadow, and techniques; knows the personal styles and stories of artists and the subjects they paint. The other person has no such training, or even an appreciation for art. Now both of them look at the same work of art, say a Rembrandt, but the one appreciates it richly while the other is downright bored. This is how it can be with the Sacraments. The Lord makes wonderful promises to us if we receive the Eucharist, but what we bring to each Holy Communion is also important. Beg the Lord to help you grow in appreciation for his greatest gift—the gift of his very self in Holy Communion. If you do, I promise you, Jesus will bring forth in you new life and powerful transformation that will usher you right into eternal life. It is Jesus who promises, and Jesus always keeps his promises. Reason # 12to come home is the promises of Jesus in the Eucharist. He promises his True Presence and amazing transformation to those who receive it with faith.
The following video explores the true presence and recent miracles that confirm Jesus’ promise in the Eucharist. I think the video is very balanced and scientific in its exploration of these miracles.
Some churches in the Archdiocese, including the Cathedral, offer a Latin Mass. Some have a “traditional” Latin Mass. Someone told me they’re different, but couldn’t say how. Can you explain it?
The term “Traditional Mass” usually refers to the Celebration of the Mass in Latin according to the form that the Mass had before 1965 when many changes began to happen to the Mass. In 2007 Pope Benedict issued a Motu Proprio Letter entitled Summorum Pontificum. In that letter he removed most restrictions on the celebration of the form of Mass that had been in use up until 1965. The letter referred to this older form of the Mass as the “Extraordinary Form” but most Catholics who attend it simply call it the Traditional Latin Mass. Some of the features of the traditional Latin Mass are these:
The Mass is celebrated almost entirely in the Latin Language. The sermon would obviously be in English and the readings could be read in English after their proclamation in Latin.
The Mass is celebrated with the priest and the people all facing the same direction. Some have negatively described this as “the priest having his back toward the people.” But the truer description is that the priest and the people are all facing the same direction looking to the liturgical east, looking for Christ to come again.
The liturgy is conducted almost entirely by the Priest and servers in the sanctuary. The faithful follow the mass using hand missals and can therefore pray the Mass with this assistance.
Holy Communion is received kneeling at the altar rail.
In addition there are many other elaborate details and ceremony that are simplified in the new Mass (which the Pope calls the “Ordinary Form) currently in use. In the Traditional Latin Mass There are many more signs of the cross, genuflections, bows and other gestures.
The older form of the Mass also features certain prayers such as the prayers at the foot of the altar and the prayers after low mass that have been dropped in the new, Ordinary Form, of the Mass.
In the Archdiocese of Washington the Extraordinary Form of the Mass in Latin is celebrated regularly at St. Mary Mother of God in downtown Washington, at Our Lady Queen of Poland (part of St. John the Evangelist Parish) in Silver Spring, and St. Francis De Sales in Benedict Maryland.
The Traditional Latin Mass is celebrated in three forms: Low Mass (which is recited by the Priests and servers), Sung Mass (in which the priest sings many parts of the Mass), and Solemn Mass (the most elaborate and beautiful form in which the priest is assisted by a deacon and subdeacon and much of the Mass is sung in elaborate Gregorian Chant).
I am privileged to be able to celebrate the Mass in this older form about once a month. It is a very beautiful liturgy and gives an experience of being in touch with Catholic heritage. This is the form of the Mass that most of the saints of old knew and experienced. Since the Pope has made this liturgy more widely available many Catholics have begun to rediscover some of the beauty of this form of the Mass. Some attend it exclusively, others every so often. But it is another example of the rich diversity of the expression of the One Catholic faith here in Washington and throughout the world. Below are some YouTube videos of this Mass in case you have never seen a Mass of this kind. The second one is actually an excerpt from a movie showing once again that we can find expressions of our Catholic faith in our wider culture.
Incidentally, it is also possible to celebrate the newer (ordinary form) of the Mass in the Latin language. This is what is done at St. Matthews Cathedral. The mass is celebrated just like it usually is today (with the priest facing the people etc.) except that it is largely in Latin.