Note: While I'm using the bulletin from my own parish as an example, I've no doubt that they published what they did due to "orders from on high".
In our parish bulletin (page2) appears what is being passed off as the Spiritual Works of Mercy. Some of us older types might notice the problem immediately, having received solid training thanks to the Baltimore Catechism. For comparison, here are those works as they appear in that Catechism; you'll have to scroll down to Question 813. As you compare the two, you'll notice one major difference.
In the Baltimore Catechism version, please note that the First Spiritual Work of Mercy is "Rebuke the Sinner". In the bulletin you'll notice that it has been rendered "encourage sinners to seek forgiveness". The others remain essentially the same.
So why do today's Catholic leaders eschew "rebuke the sinner"? Quite simply, they are part and parcel of what can be called the "church of nice". You see, it's not considered "nice" to rebuke anybody, although both the Old and New Testaments are replete with godly men (and Our Lord Himself) with rebuking those in sin, particularly those who are obstinate about it. It's not "happy-clappy smiley-face" enough for those whose spinal columns are calcium-deficient. Perhaps they don't believe in the reality of hell. The latter is a grim reality, and those who rebuke the sinner simply see that is where the sinner is headed if he or she doesn't repent.
That dovetails into today's Gospel reading from Mark. The very first recorded word that Jesus uttered in Mark's Gospel is "repent". It even comes before "believe the Gospel". The order is important. However, too many of our leaders want to put false "happy faces" on God's clear teachings that they distort them in the presentations: hence the distorted version of the Spiritual Works of Mercy. Too often they won't even tell Catholics what actions constitute inherent sins for fear of pricking seared consciences. What doctor worthy of the name would withhold a truthful diagnosis to a sick patient? How would that patient be able to follow proper remedies, uncomfortable those these remedies might be? But that is what the "church of nice" is doing to Catholics in their pews.
Let us pray that our priests find the resolve and courage to preach the whole truth to Catholics so that they can come to true, soul-saving repentance this Lent.
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