‘The Light Is On For You’

BRAINTREE -- Recognizing the need for God’s grace and forgiveness in the lives of Catholics, the Archdiocese of Boston is launching The Light Is On For You, an initiative to make the Sacrament of Reconciliation more available this Lent.

Cardinal Seán O’Malley has announced that every Wednesday of Lent, from Feb. 24 to the Wednesday of Holy Week, March 31, every parish within the Archdiocese of Boston will be open from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. for penitents to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Central Region Bishop Robert Hennessey, who is spearheading the initiative, hopes that shrines and chapels run by religious orders will join in the effort.

Bishop Hennessey said that “anonymous individual confessions” will be available.

As part of the initiative, the archdiocese has launched a Web site, www.thelightisonforyou.org. The site includes information on the sacrament including guidelines for the examination of conscience, the Act of Contrition, videos about the sacrament, and parish resources for promoting the initiative.

Scot Landry, the archdiocese’s Secretary for Institutional Advancement, said that the Web site will be helpful to Catholics who have not been to the sacrament in awhile.

Landry added that he hopes all Catholics will go to confession at least once during Lent.

Bishop Hennessey said that Wednesday confessions could be more convenient for Catholics to attend, rather than the customary Saturday afternoon times that are available at many parishes.

“Saturday has become a very difficult day for people to go to confession because of the way life is now,” Bishop Hennessey said.

St. John the Evangelist Parish in Chelmsford already holds Wednesday evening confessions which, according to parochial vicar Father William Ventura, can draw 12 to 15 people. He also said that numbers for confession increase during Lent.

“Part of that is we speak of confession often from the pulpit,” Father Ventura said. “People will give it as much importance as priests do. If we show and teach the initial nature of this sacrament, people respond well to that.”

“The loudest cry we hear in the Church is reform, reform, reform,” Father Ventura added. “There can be no external reform unless we have internal reform first, and that comes from the confessional. That comes from saints and all saints are born in the confessional.”

Father Edward Riley, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Holbrook, lauds the renewed emphasis on the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

“It has been somewhat neglected in promoting it in the Church,” Father Riley said. “It’s so needed. It’s what gets rid of sin in the world. Sin brings so much pain in our lives.”

Landry said, “As a lay Catholic, it’s moving to me that the priests of the Archdiocese of Boston, during this Year for Priests, sought to embrace a pastoral initiative that shows everyone they are here for us and love us with pastoral zeal. That they will be available in the confessional on Wednesday evenings whether or not Catholics show up, is a reminder of how these priests are always there for us throughout our faith lives.”

“That they would choose this initiative as a way to live the Year for Priests is a wonderful indication of the type of men who have answered the call to serve as priests of Jesus Christ in the Archdiocese of Boston,” he said.

Bishop Hennessey added, “We can never earn God’s forgiveness. That was done by Jesus on the cross. What we do is accept a gift we can never earn, which is God’s redemptive healing for the forgiveness of our sins.”