Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we approach the Season of Lent, it is always important for us to take stock of our spiritual lives. By the Church's traditional prayer, fasting and charity, we draw closer to Christ and to the Church. Our souls are laid open to be strengthened by Christ's love, grace and forgiveness.
Lent is a privileged moment to focus on forgiveness. As Pope Francis notes in his Lenten Message for 2014, "wherever we go, we are called as Christians to proclaim the liberating news that forgiveness for sins committed is possible, that God is greater than our sinfulness, [and] that he freely loves us at all times ... " Forgiveness of course, is a process with many facets. We need to receive forgiveness: the forgiveness of Christ and the Church, and the forgiveness of others whom we have offended. We must also, in turn, offer that forgiveness, even when it has to come from deep within our hearts.
As Catholics, the primary way to seek forgiveness, year-round but especially during Lent, is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In that encounter with Christ through the humanity of the priest, we acknowledge our sinful separation from God's love, we seek forgiveness and Christ stands ready to reconcile us.
This Lent, while the normal routine of confessions and Lenten devotions will still be offered in parishes, the Diocese of Rockford will add a special focus. On April 9, the final Wednesday of Lent before Holy Week, throughout the Diocese confessions will be offered from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Where possible, parishes will offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation the whole time. Where staffing does not allow that, neighboring parishes will coordinate their offerings of confession on that day.
The goal of this day is captured in its slogan, "Be Reconciled." There are many people who have felt the longing for reconciliation but, because of fear or other reasons, have put off going to confession. If you know someone who has been away from the Sacrament of Reconciliation, invite them to "Be Reconciled" on April 9 or anytime during Lent. If that person is you, the opportunity for reconciliation, to talk about your questions or concerns with a priest or just to make your Lenten confession is there. Let's make this Lent a time of deep and joyful reconciliation which Pope Francis has called us to.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend David J. Malloy
Bishop of Rockford
10:30AM [Interpreted for Deaf]
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