Lent is not just the season of repentance; it is the season for reconciliation.
Jesus is the Great Reconciler and the Church is His reconciling community.
On Ash Wednesday, as we received our ashes, we were called to “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” The Gospel or Good News we are called to believe is that Jesus came to reconcile us to the Father.
Following the Second Vatican Council, the Church’s understanding of the Sacrament of Penance deepened and documents began referring to it as the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Our need for penance is still very real, but the emphasis has changed from our brokenness due to sin to forgiveness and the healing and restoring effects of the sacrament.
Sin is real. It distances us from Jesus, but it also separates us from others. Guilt disrupts our relationships with others. We feel out of sync. We know that we are broken and yearn to be made whole. Our separation from the Body of Christ, the Church, is very real when we are separated from the Eucharist.
Jesus also yearns for our relationship to be restored. It is when we encounter Him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation that our relationship is restored and we are also reconciled with His Body, the Church.
When we have been away from the Sacrament of Reconciliation for a long time, it is often difficult for us to make the decision to return. There can be many reasons but they all fade when we realize that God’s mercy and forgiveness is ours for the asking.
I have asked every parish in the Diocese of Dallas to have their doors open on Wednesday, April 4th, from 6:30-9:00 p.m. to welcome anyone seeking the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Whether it is someone who has been away from the Church for awhile or a Catholic who attends Mass regularly but has not gone to confession in some time, we invite them to take advantage of this special night.
This initiative, called The Light is On For You, originated in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. during the time that I served as auxiliary bishop there, so I saw first-hand how successful it was and how meaningful it could be in the lives of the faithful. Because of that, I asked our priests and ministry leaders to make this evening available here in our diocese.
A light in the window is an ancient sign of welcome. Jesus will be waiting for you. No reservations are needed.
The Light is on for you
This post is also available in/Esta entrada también está disponible en: Spanish