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Throughout this season of Lent during the Year for Priests, the priests of the Archdiocese of Boston are doing something new.
Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley asked me to lead this important initiative of priests and the entire Church to encourage Catholics to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This initiative is called “The Light is On For You.”
Each Wednesday evening this Lent, from 6:30-8:00 p.m., the priests of the Archdiocese of Boston are going to be opening every church and chapel to welcome back Catholics to the sacrament of confession.
Jesus once said, “Heaven rejoices more for one repentant sinner, than for 99 that never needed to repent.” Every time someone returns to the sacrament of confession, heaven celebrates and that unbelievable experience of joy becomes ours when we’re forgiven.
In Jesus’ great parable of the Prodigal Son, we see how much the father rejoices at his child’s return home. The father runs out to greet him, restores him to his full dignity as an heir, and exclaims, “My child was lost and has been found. He was dead, but has come back to life again.” This great story describes what happens in the sacrament of confession.
The sacrament is God’s great lost and found department for his sons and daughters. We find ourselves enveloped in God’s love. We experience the full measure of Jesus’ resurrection. We who are dead to sin are brought back to life again.
One of the great joys of being a priest is being God’s instrument to reconcile one of His children to Him through the sacrament of confession. The priest sees the tremendous joy and relief that people experience in being freed from their sins. Confession is one of our greatest gifts from God.
I go to confession frequently myself, not only to confess what I’ve done wrong, but also to receive the grace to become a better disciple, a better priest, a better bishop. I’m a sinner and I need God’s grace.
Confession gives us a chance to start over, to hit the reset button of our lives. It shows how forgiving and kind our God is and it helps us grow in compassion and love for others. Come to confession to receive God’s mercy, for peace of mind, to deepen your friendship with Jesus, to receive spiritual healing, to increase your sense of joy, and to experience Christ’s saving grace.
Maybe you say “it’s been too long,” or “God couldn’t possibly forgive me.” You’re wrong. God’s love for you is greater than all the sins you’ve committed or could commit. Now is the time to come and have God take away the burdens of sin and guilt that can so often weigh us down.
Jesus came to the world to save each one of us. He loves you so much and wants to help you now with whatever issues you face. He wants to fill you with joy, love and freedom.
Every priest in every church and chapel in the Archdiocese of Boston will be waiting to welcome you. Please see to it that we are busy -- share this message with family and friends by inviting them to come with you on any Wednesday evening of Lent, from 6:30-8:00 p.m.
Maybe you’ve been waiting for a sign to return to the Church or to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This is your chance to re-establish and strengthen a relationship with God that will last forever. Please visit TheLightIsOnForYou.org to learn more. God bless you.
Most Rev. Robert F. Hennessey is Auxiliary Bishop of Boston.