Welcome to S. Michael’s today for Passion Sunday. The focus of Lent moves ever more directly now to centre on our Lord’s passion and death as we approach Holy Week. One of the important disciplines of Lent is personal examination. This leads to a deeper recognition of our own sin, indeed our separation from God. For many Christians a sacramental confession before a priest is a significant part of the pilgrimage of Lent. In A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, this is called ‘Reconciliation of a Penitent’.
Traditionally the Anglican stance on confession to a priest is summed up in the words, ‘All may, none must, some should.’ The reality is that in most Anglican parishes private confession is rare, and it is even fairly uncommon in Anglo-Catholic parishes which might be expected to have retained this tradition. Many Anglicans possibly feel that the General Confession that begins the Mass is sufficient to clear the decks with God. Many informal conversations include penitential material, but they aren’t formally sacramental. Our confessions in any context, whether alone, in the Mass or in general conversation, are always joyfully received by God who desires to forgive our sin. However I do think that for many, receiving a personal message about the mercy of God proclaimed personally in private confession is a great gift worth having.
Recently Pope Francis proclaimed a Holy Year of Mercy for his Church during Penitential Celebration. He said that reconciliation opens up a gift of mercy from a merciful God. ‘Be merciful, as your Father is merciful (Luke 6: 36).’ Francis writes, ‘Coming out of the confessional, we will feel its force that restores life and returns the enthusiasm of faith. After confession we will be reborn.’ One of our Anglican forebears, Thomas Becon, chaplain to Archbishop Cranmer, wrote that ‘Confession bringeth high tranquillity to the troubled conscience of a Christian man.’
The Sacrament of Reconciliation, which brings the grace of mercy, comes with certain special protections. Our prayer book states, ‘The priest exercises this ministry in complete confidentiality. The penitent is therefore able to confess in the assurance that the priest will not refer to the matter again, except at the penitent’s request, and under no circumstances will ever repeat to another person what has been divulged.’ (p.750)
It is important to prepare for confession prayerfully and intentionally. The grace comes not so much in the number of sins recalled, but rather in the depth of desire for God’s mercy and forgiveness as the foundation for a changed life.
I encourage you to consider making a confession in preparation for Easter. During Holy Week, priests will be available to hear confessions in the Pilgrims’ Chapel and in the Lady Chapel following the 6:00 pm Masses on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week, and at other times by appointment.
Yours in Christ
Fr Andrew Starky
• Sunday School: during the 10:00 am Mass. Details Marla Hughes (960 0753).
• Donations for Easter flowers: envelopes are available at the back of the church.
• Sales Table: today after Mass. Tickets now available for the Easter raffle, $2 each or 3 for $5. Details Anne Ladd (981 5012).
• You are invited to a cup of tea or coffee after the evening service each Sunday.
• The Meditation Group meets tomorrow at 5:15 pm in the parish lounge. Details Kathryn Starky (385 0197) or Margaret Maclagan (359 9215).
• The Bible Study Group meets tomorrow at 7:15 pm in the school staffroom. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
• The Vestry meets on Tuesday, beginning with Mass at 7:00 pm.
• Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Kathryn Starky.
• Resonance Ensemble: concert celebrating the 100th anniversary of Lilburn, a snapshot of NZ’s history of music with live commentary. Conductor Philip Norman. Thursday 26th March, 7:30 pm at S. Michael’s. Door sales $20 and $15.
• Keeping Good Company presents Even in Death by David Winfield. See poster.
27, 28, 30 March 7:30 pm, 29 March 2:00 pm at Academy Funeral Services Chapel.
• Annual Reports to the parish office, preferably by email, by 14 April, please.
• Lunch at Regatta on Avon: Easter Day 12:15 pm. Details Kathryn Starky.
• Royal School of Church Music: presentation of awards and workshop with Andrew
Reid (Director), followed by refreshments. 15 April, 8:00 pm at S. Michael’s.
• Inasmuch basket: please continue to support the City Mission with your gifts.
Preparations for Easter at S. Michael’s
• Flowers: offers of help to Diana Smith (960 4100).
• Volunteers to make palm crosses on Saturday, 10:00 am. Details Claire Preston.
• Names for foot-washing on Maundy Thursday to John De la Bere, please.
• Maundy Thursday Watch: after the Mass, the Blessed Sacrament remains on the Altar of Repose until the next day. Members of the congregation keep watch for an hour during the night. If you can do this, please sign the list in the porch, so that we can ensure that at least two people are present at all times.
• Working Bee in the church: Holy Saturday at 10:00 am.
• Rehearsals for clergy and servers: reminders will be sent to all concerned.