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to live the Gospel"

Our Mother of Good Counsel,
located in Bryn Mawr, PA,
just 20 minutes west of Philadelphia,
welcomes all!

Advent, Music and Liturgy

Dear Friends, 

What better time than the holidays to think about the beauty of music surrounding us in our lives and more to the point, in the glory of music in our worship.  With Advent now upon us, we have a beautiful season of reflection  to contemplate the coming of Christ and His redemption. Through this unique gift of music, may our Advent songs draw us deeper into and towards the Eternal Light of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us.

During Advent, with thoughts of God dwelling with us, we might consider that music emanates from the very same place in our core where Christ dwells.  Through the gift of music, we can open up to the depths within us, touch the heart of God, and soar to the realms of heaven with the songs of the season. 

In his essay on Liturgy, Music and the Cosmos, which inspired this article, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI expounded on this theme. He stated that three realms exist:  the silence of the fish of the sea, the loud cries of the animals of earth, and the song of the birds of heaven. We share in all three, bearing within us, the silence of the depths of the sea, the burden and shout of the earth, and the heights and song heaven: silence, crying and singing. 

He goes on to say that at Mass, in right Liturgy, the liturgy of the communion of the saints, we are restored in this totality, of silence and singing, by opening to the depths and learning to fly like the angels.  By lifting up our hearts, we bring the sound buried deep within to sound again. At Mass, we are restored to the depths and the heights, the quiet and the song.  We sing with the angels, are silent with the waiting depths of the universe, and thus, Liturgy redeems the earth.

As we await and prepare together, the coming of Christ this Advent Season, let us be mindful of the role music plays in carrying the mysteries of God into our lives. Our sacred song, resonant in the soul, prepares the heart in quiet contemplation, quickens the spirit in joyful anticipation, and sparks the mind with awe and wonder that Our Savior will soon be with us. We’ll then sing with the gladness of the heavens as Christ brings us the fullness of his resounding and everlasting joy.

Most sincerely yours,
Jo-Ann Stigliano
Director Music Ministries

Pope Francis Expands Priests’ Confessional Powers

Dear Friends,

In the past few days you have probably seen headlines like:

“Pope Francis allows all priests to forgive sin of abortion”

Just to put this into context, abortion has always been one of the "reserved sins" – very serious sins that were “reserved” for bishops only to forgive. 

Some of the others are:

  • physically attacking the pope
  • a priest absolving his accomplice in sexual sin
  • a bishop ordaining a bishop without papal approval
  • a priest directly breaking the seal of confession
  • an offense like throwing away or desecrating the Holy Eucharist.

The normal process for sins like these went like this: when they were confessed to a priest, the priest had to tell the penitent to come back to the same priest at a future date. In the meantime, the priest had to obtain from the local bishop the permission to absolve this penitent of this sin.

Personally, this restriction has never directly affected me.  By the ancient tradition and practice of the Church, Mendicant friars (Augustinians, Franciscans, Dominicans, Servites, Carmelites and a few others) have been “exempt” from this procedure and allowed to absolve these reserved sins without visiting the bishop.

When I was in Japan, the bishops there had already allowed ALL priests to absolve the sin of abortion. As long as I have been working here in the US, most if not all of the dioceses in the USA have given this authority to all priests who have permission to minister in their jurisdictions. I know that this was specifically the policy in the Archdiocese of NY when I was there and has been so in Philadelphia for a number of years.

Pope Francis had given that authority to all priests worldwide for the Year of Mercy, which ended last Sunday.  He has now expanded it to all priests even after the Holy Year.

This is a wonderful manifestation of God’s mercy!

Through the years it has been a privilege be part of this sacrament, which brings so much peace, healing, forgiveness, comfort and reconciliation to those who seek these things from our loving God.  Abortion has the potential to cause so much pain on so many levels of a person’s being.  Two (of many) reasons for this are the facts that (1) the act runs so much against the grain of the maternal instincts, and (2) it is within the human body that the act takes place.  Often the Sacrament of Reconciliation is the starting place - a very significant starting place – for healing toward wholeness that might take a long time.  As ministers of God’s forgiveness and healing, we priests need to bring the best of God’s mercy and human kindness and understanding to the penitent. 

One thing that has bothered me through the years is that nearly all the people who have come to me as a priest in Confession to seek God’s mercy and forgiveness have been the women whose child has been aborted.  Usually there is a man involved as well.  Most probably the father of the child, but not necessarily. A man who is part of the decision process.  Who perhaps helps make the arrangements.  Or perhaps it is another woman, a sister, cousin or best friend, or even a mother who helps make the decision and/or the arrangements. 

Yet most of the time it seems that it is the baby’s mother alone who is saddled with the heavy moral burden.  When the mother comes to the Sacrament of Reconciliation to seek healing, peace and forgiveness, I rejoice!  But I also worry about the husband, boyfriend, sister, cousin, best friend who also bear the burden of this sin but who perhaps don’t feel the need for healing and peace.  All of these participants need God’s love and mercy.  I could probably count on one hand the number of people who have confessed, “I helped my wife/girlfriend/sister/cousin obtain an abortion.”  I pray for all those who carry this weight and hope that they too seek God’s mercy in the sacrament. 

To sum up, I am happy that Pope Francis has expanded these permissions and hope that this act of his signals the huge expansiveness of God’s love and mercy to all of us sinners. 

Click here to read a recent article about this topic in CatholicPhilly.com. 

In Him,
Fr. Liam
Parochial Administrator

The Right Place to Start

In this article Archbishop Chaput shares his reflections and valuable guidance with us as Catholic citizens of our beloved United States of America following the recent elections.

Please click here to see the article.

Morning Prayer at OMGC

Here at Our Mother of Good Counsel, each Monday through Saturday morning, we celebrate Morning Prayer in common following the 8:00am Mass. Everyone is invited (around 8:30am) to join us in the daily chapel for this beautiful way to begin the day!

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