.- A pastoral initiative in the nation's capital this Lent will encourage Catholics to experience God’s love and mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
“Lent is a time to heal,” said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C.
The cardinal announced that his archdiocese will once again take part in a penance campaign known as “The Light is On for You” and will be joined by the faithful of Arlington.
All Catholic churches in the Archdiocese of Washington and the Diocese of Arlington will be open for Confessions and silent prayer every Wednesday during the season of Lent from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
In an online video, Cardinal Wuerl discussed the campaign as an opportunity for the faithful to deepen their relationship with Christ by uniting themselves to his merciful love, which “absolves us from our faults.”
He invited all Catholics, especially those who have fallen away from the Church or the Sacrament of Penance, to experience “a renewal of spirit through the gift of confession.”
The campaign, which has become an archdiocesan tradition, originally started in 2007. Other dioceses across the U.S. and Canada have introduced similar efforts based on it.
The initiative’s website, www.thelightison.org, offers resources including a guide to confession, examinations of conscience and frequently asked questions about the sacrament.
“The Sacrament of Reconciliation is the story of God’s love that never turns away from us,” said Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington in a video explaining the Lenten campaign.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a “tangible instrument” that allows us to truly “experience” God’s forgiveness, he said.
Through the sacrament, we can “experience God’s love that heals us, forgives us, strengthens us and sets us free,” he explained.
The bishop urged Catholics not to fear that their sins are too horrendous for God to forgive.
“His love is bigger than all the sins of humanity put together,” he stressed, adding that the priest will help those who do not remember how to go to confession.
Bishop Loverde pointed to examples of Christ’s mercy in the Scriptures, including the parable of the prodigal son, the forgiveness of the woman caught in adultery and the promise to the repentant thief on the cross.
God will also forgive our sins if we come before him with “an open heart” and desire to do better, he said.
He urged those who have fallen away from the sacrament to “come back home” and allow this Lent to be “a new springtime” for all members of the Church.