At the beginning of Lent, the priest or a lay minister said the following formula as they imposed ashes on our foreheads: “Turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel!” The season of Lent is a time of grace because it calls on us to turn back to God. During many of our Lenten liturgies we hear the voices of the prophets who spoke in God’s name summoning us: “Come back to me with all your heart.” We often pray with the psalmist, “Take away our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh instead!” Change of heart then is a central goal for these forty days.

There are many ways in which we try to accomplish this change of heart. In my mind one of the most pre-eminent ways to do this is to approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Going to the sacrament during the Lenten or Easter season has been a long tradition in the Church. It is probable that the younger generation has not even heard about fulfilling one’s Easter duty. The sacrament of reconciliation offers us a great opportunity to examine our lives and provides the impetus to change course.

I know that in recent years the sacrament has fallen into disuse and probably has lost its appeal among certain Catholics. The extensive media coverage of priests’ sexual abuse scandal has eroded the trust of the faithful in their priests and as a result, many Catholics are understandably hesitant to approach the confessional. In some places the parishioners are not afforded ample opportunities to avail themselves of the sacrament. In the past it was convenient to go to confession just before attending Sunday Mass. Nowadays the individual has to make a separate trip to make his/her confession.

For me, both as a priest and as a baptized Catholic, in a certain sense it is easier to receive the Holy Eucharist than the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It would seem that some people can go up to the Table even without thinking. It takes less effort. Everyone is singing and praying and we are all feeling great together. We are almost drawn towards the Table of the Eucharist.

To experience the Sacrament of Reconciliation is totally another matter. It takes courage and effort to face ourselves in God’s presence and to examine our lives. It takes grace to acknowledge our sinfulness. It takes humility to confess our sins to God in front of another human being who could be even more sinful than I am. As we know, every sacrament is an encounter with the Risen Christ. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation we encounter Christ who forgave sinners. We can experience what Matthew, Peter, Zaccheus, the sinful woman and other forgiven sinners in the New Testament experienced.

The sacrament is very helpful also because it holds us accountable. None of us can be our own spiritual guides. Often we can play mental games with ourselves, especially in certain areas. By confessing our sins to another human being who stands in the place of Christ, we are giving him the permission to tell us things that we do not like to hear. By holding ourselves accountable we also compel ourselves to work harder to counter our sinful tendencies.

In the Scriptures sin is considered to be an act of pride, of self-sufficiency. Ever since Adam and Eve decided to be self-reliant and to do away with God, every sinful person echoes the same sentiment. We want to become a god unto ourselves. The antidote for sin then is humility. There is nothing more humbling than to kneel before a man who may be as sinful as we are and say, “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.” That very act of humility makes it possible for us to receive God’s forgiveness.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church has these important words on the Sacrament of Reconciliation:

“The whole power of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship.” Reconciliation with God is thus the purpose and effect of this sacrament. For those who receive the sacrament of Penance with contrite heart and religious disposition, reconciliation “is usually followed by peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation.” Indeed the sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true “spiritual resurrection,” restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God of which the most precious is friendship with God. (#1468)

As you are aware, we have ample opportunities to approach the sacrament in our parish. The priests hear confessions daily between 8:00 and 8:15 am, and on Saturdays from 3:00 to 4:00 pm. As we approach Holy Week we will have even more possibilities for confession. I would like to encourage all of us to make the effort to approach the sacrament this Lent. On March 31, Tuesday, at 7:30 pm the parish will celebrate the sacrament in a communal setting with opportunity for individual confession. There will be several priests available. I do hope that many of us can participate in this important celebration of God’s mercy.

Lent is a time of renewal. May the Lord give us hearts that beat in synchrony with His will! And may Easter find us renewed in heart, soul and mind!

Mission Statement: As children of God, living in a Catholic community of faith, we are united by the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Aware that all we have is gift and grace from our Heavenly Father, we strive to give of our time, talent and treasure to build His kingdom on earth. We live this mission, challenged by the Word, nurtured by the Sacraments, and enlivened by the Spirit, to serve our brothers and sisters in peace, justice and dignity. All are welcome on this journey.

Liturgical Schedule


   Monday through Friday

   8:30 am - Upper Church


   4:30 pm - Upper Church


   7:30 am - Upper Church

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   9:30 am - Gym

   10:30 am - Upper Church

   12:00 pm - Gym


   1st and 3rd Friday

   after 8:30 am Mass

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   8-9 am - Upper Church

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Contact Information

St. Paul of the Cross

320 South Washington Street
Park Ridge, IL 60068

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Phone: (847) 825-7605

Mass Schedule

Monday - Friday

8:30 am - Upper Church


4:30 pm (vigil) - Upper Church


7:30 am - Upper Church

9:00 am - Holy Family Chapel

9:30 am - Gym

10:30 am - Upper Church

12:00 pm - Gym