Over the years the practice of celebrating the Sacrament of Penance has changed greatly. In the early church the sacrament could only be received once after baptism. Moreover, it was a public sacrament in which penitents would confess their sins in front of the whole community. The sacrament was reserved only for the most serious sins, such as adultery and murder.
Through the centuries it became more common for the sacrament to be celebrated only between a penitent and a confessor, and lesser sins were included in the confession. Far from being celebrated only once, it became the custom to use the sacrament regularly, even weekly. With this varied history it is no wonder that many misconceptions concerning the sacrament exist.
Allow me to clarify one of them. Although Catholics may use the sacrament whenever they have sinned, they are only required to use the sacrament in situations where there is serious sin. Since many of us are able by God’s grace to avoid serious sin, it is possible for a Catholic to go for years without receiving the sacrament and still fully participate in the life of the Church.
Even though we are required to use the sacrament only in these specific situations, there is still a value to receiving the Sacrament of Penance in connection with major events in one’s life or at certain times of our liturgical year. In this way, lesser faults of our lives can be lifted up to God for forgiveness and healing. One such opportunity is the season of Advent. As we prepare to celebrate the gift of Christ at Christmas, it is fitting for us to examine our lives and ask God’s forgiveness for the ways we have been deficient as disciples. It is particularly appropriate to celebrate the sacrament in a communal setting in which we acknowledge our common need for forgiveness and renewal.
We will have an opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance in this way on this Wednesday, December 19th at 7:00 p.m.
As you prepare for the feast of Christmas, please consider whether it is a time for you to enrich your celebration through the Sacrament of Penance this week. Your presence will not only be for your benefit, but also will support other members of our community who are seeking God’s forgiveness.
Fr. George Smiga
CHRISTMAS DECORATING VOLUNTEERS – are needed to decorate our Church on Sunday, December 23rd at 12:15 p.m. This is a wonderful opportunity for all to help transform our church for the holiday season. The more the merrier. Families are welcomed and encouraged to help! Please call the parish office at 440-946-0887 to volunteer your services.
CHRISTMAS EVE, CHRISTMAS DAY AND NEW YEAR’S DAY – Liturgical Minister sign-up sheets are on the bulletin board by the kitchenette. Please sign up if you can assist with these Masses.
BIBLE STUDY – that meets on Tuesday mornings in the Visitation Room will not gather again until Tuesday, January 8, 2019.
NOEL CONCERT – This Sunday, December 16th at 4:00 p.m. you can hear CityMusic Cleveland in the program MAGIC WINDS. CONDUCTOR: Stefan Willich and SOLOIST: Frank Rosenwein, Principal Oboe of The Cleveland Orchestra, bring for us compositions of Mozart and Strauss. This concert is free with a free will offering. We hope to see you all.
SINGING FOR CHRISTMAS MASSES – If you are willing to sing, please consider joining our Music Ministry for Masses on Christmas Eve (4:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. or midnight) and/or Christmas Day (11:00 a.m.). Our repertoire will include Christmas carols only. Please join us for rehearsal on Thursday, December 20th, 7:00-9:00 p.m. If you are interested, please contact Agnieszka (Aga) Bieniek at [email protected] or 440-946-1128 ext. 119.
2019 MASS BOOK – The Mass Book is open, and we are currently offering Mass Intentions throughout the remainder of the year. Please stop by the Parish Office if you would like to schedule Masses.
SACRISTANS – are needed to serve for our weekend liturgies. Please contact the parish office if you are interested.
FREE FRESH PRODUCE – Our next senior market is this Monday, December 17th from 2-4 p.m. in the Banquet Center. Please spread the word. Our November market served 174 people.
LEAF – Our next LEAF meeting is this Monday, December 17th at 7:00 p.m. in the Nativity Room. If you have a loved one who is incarcerated, consider attending LEAF (Listening, Empowering, Assisting Families). LEAF is a non-denominational ministry where relatives and friends of those incarcerated can join with others in conversation and fellowship. Meetings are anonymous, and registration is not required. Visit www.leafministry.org or call the St. Noel parish office at 440-946-0887 for more information.
TECH WITH A TEEN – After the 9 and 11 a.m. Masses on Sunday, January 6th, teens will be available to help parishioners with any new technology they might have received over the holidays such as tablets, laptops, or cell phones. Appointments are not necessary, feel free to stop in the Resurrection Room following the morning Masses. If you are a teen and would like to volunteer your time, please email me at [email protected] and let me know which time you would be available to help.
THANK YOU – The St. Noel Food Pantry and Social Justice Ministry extends a sincere thank you to the Women’s Advent Tea for their contribution of $325.65 to the Social Justice Fund.
SOCIAL JUSTICE FUND – In 2018, the Social Justice Fund distributed $16,522.98 to assist people with rent payments, utility bills, emergency lodging, and other immediate needs. The Social Justice Fund also supports the monthly meal at St. Augustine, the Food Pantry, the AERC, the Senior Market, the Neighbor to Neighbor Meal (along with the Endowment Fund), LEAF, and the jail ministry. Our commitment to support those in need flows from our faith. Thank you for your faith and your support of the Social Justice Fund. You can contribute to the fund via our monthly collection or online at stnoel.org/social-justice.
FOOD PANTRY NEEDS – The pantry is in need of the following items: cereal, spaghetti sauce in jars, jelly and paper products. You can financially support the pantry through our social justice collections and through the website.
WINTER COAT/JACKETS NEEDED – We distributed over 60 coats at the December Neighbor to Neighbor meal. We will do it again in January. Bring any donations to the clothing bin outside the food pantry or to the church office. Our neighbors loved the coats!
N2N RESOURCE ROOM – Along with coats, the N2N Resource Room is looking for reading glasses, hats, socks and gloves to distribute at the Neighbor to Neighbor meal. Bring them to the church office anytime. We distributed over 20 pairs of glasses last month.
NURSE NEEDED – The N2N Resource Room would like to add another nurse to our monthly schedule. Nurses do blood pressure readings and are available to talk with those coming to the meal. Please call Anthony if you can help at the meal (440-946-1128 x122).
AERC OPPORTUNITIES – Our Adult Education Resource Center is looking for volunteers interested in child care and transportation. Success for many of our clients is much more likely if we can assist with their children and help with transportation. Call Anthony if you can help (440-946-1128 x122)
EUCHARISTIC ADORATION – has made a difference in the lives of the men and women who spend time before the Blessed Sacrament on Mondays between 1-9 p.m. Each holy hour that you make in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament releases his grace and power upon you, your family and your parish. We are looking for an additional person to fill in the 5-6 p.m. time slot. If you are free and would like to experience this, please call Jan at 440-951-5593 or the church office. If you are unable to make a definite commitment, please stop in anytime during Eucharistic Adoration and you will be richly blessed.
AUGUSTINE CALENDARS – are available for purchase in the parish office for $25 each. Checks are made payable to St. Augustine.
NOEL FELLOWSHIP – No meetings on December 20th & 27th. Meetings will resume March 7, 2019. Merry Christmas to all!
OHIO BISHOPS & GUN VIOLENCE – The Catholic Bishops of Ohio call upon Ohio’s elected leaders to adopt prudent policies to help curb gun violence. HB 228, as passed by the Ohio House, raises concerns over “duty to retreat” provisions. The Bishops are urging constituents to contact their Ohio senators to amend the bill in the Senate to include reforms suggested by the Governor’s workgroup on addressing gun violence. More information is available on the table in the narthex and on the website (stnoel.org).
CLEVELAND RETROUVAILLE WEEKEND – is scheduled for January 25 – 27, 2019. Has your marriage become unloving or uncaring – your relationship cold, distant – thinking about a separation or divorce? Are you already separated/divorced but both of you want to try again? Then the Retrouvaille program may help. RETROUVAILLE, which means rediscovery, is supported by the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, but it is open to couples of all faiths. This program consists of a weekend experience for couples and six follow up sessions. A registration fee of $150 is required to confirm your reservation. For more information concerning the program, or to register, please call Marce or Liz Gliha at 440-357-6580 or 800-470-2230, or go online to www.helpourmarriage.org.