by Rev. Jeff Loseke
This Sunday, Lætare Sunday—whose name comes from the first words of the Entrance Antiphon at Mass, Lætare Ierusalem (Rejoice, Jerusalem)—marks the halfway point in Lent and invites us to begin experiencing the joy of the Resurrection even as we continue our journey to the Cross. Hopefully, our Lenten practices and penances have been chipping away at our hardened hearts so that they are already being freed from temptation and slavery to sin through God’s grace. Our works alone are incapable of effecting this interior change, however. Only in cooperation with God’s work do we experience the movement from darkness to light.
Were an athlete or a musician to wait until the last minute to begin practicing for a contest or performance, he or she would not likely perform to the best of his or her ability. All the weeks and months of potential growth would have been squandered through procrastination. I would suggest that we ought to consider our spiritual life with a similar mindset, especially during Lent. Too many Catholics, perhaps, like to wait to the last minute to go to Confession before Easter so that they will be “squeaky clean” for Easter Sunday. Unfortunately, by putting off the Sacrament of Reconciliation to the last minute, one is left to struggle through Lent without the particular help of that sacramental grace. While on the one hand, Confession in the eleventh hour will bring us full forgiveness of sins prior to the Easter Mysteries, on the other hand, it leaves us potentially in a state of sin now, stymieing the effects of sanctifying grace, which could have been growing in us over time. The fullness of our Easter joy is potentially stunted because of our tardiness in choosing to be freed from sin as soon as possible. The earlier we are freed, the longer we walk in grace and grow in joy.
Almost everywhere you go, a number of extra opportunities are being made available during Lent for the faithful to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Do not wait to take advantage of the opportunity to know God’s mercy as soon as possible, to live in His light, and to experience His joy right now! Had the Prodigal Son not waited so long to return to his father’s house, he would not have had to face starvation and destitution. Why, then, should we wait to be forgiven? Rather, we should be running to our Savior, who cannot wait to give us the fullness of His joy. Therefore, with the whole Church we cry out: “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were in mourning; exult and be satisfied at her consoling breast.
The Reverend Jeffery S. Loseke is a Priest of the Archdiocese of Omaha and is currently the pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Gretna, Nebraska. Ordained in 2000, Fr. Loseke holds a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) from the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm in Rome and is working to complete his doctoral degree (Ed.D.) in interdisciplinary leadership through Creighton University in Omaha. In addition to parish ministry, Fr. Loseke has served as a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force, taught high school theology and college-level philosophy, and has been a presenter for various missions, retreats, and diocesan formation days across the country.
Art: The Confession by Giuseppe Molteni, 1838