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Seek the Lord for March by Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr

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The Light is On for You on Tuesday, March 19, is a special day set aside in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to receive God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The name of this initiative reflects the reality that the Sacrament of Reconciliation, also known as Confession or Penance, is a sacrament of healing and a light that is calling us home. In Scripture, light is frequently associated with Christ and darkness is always associated with sin or the Evil One.

The Catholic Church is sometimes accused of being obsessed with sin. It would be more accurate to say the Church is obsessed with forgiveness. The words “forgive” and “forgiveness” appear frequently in our prayers and liturgy, as well as in the Bible.

But sin is an undeniable reality in the history of humanity, beginning with the original sin of Adam and Eve in the third chapter of Genesis. And sin touches all of us. “For there is no distinction; all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).

The penitential season of Lent is the Church’s yearly reminder of our own sinfulness. At the same time, this annual 40-day walk with Christ in the desert is an invitation to “repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15).

In the Gospel reading from Luke for the First Sunday of Lent, we see the devil tempting Jesus with hedonism, pride, and power – just as he tempts us.

On the Second Sunday of Lent, Jesus warns his listeners that they are no better than certain sinful Galileans. Twice he says: “But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did” (Lk 13:3; 13:5).

That repentance theme also appears earlier in Luke’s Gospel. “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do,” Jesus says. “I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners” (Lk 5:31-32). That means all of us. We all need Christ the physician, who waits for us in the confessional.

Repentance, which is sincere regret or remorse, is a necessary first step for reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Beyond that, however, Christ sets no limits. It does not matter how long it has been since one’s last confession, or the gravity of one’s sins. As Archbishop, I invite all Catholics in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to avail themselves of this healing sacrament, especially on Tuesday, March 19. On that date, which is also the Feast of St. Joseph, the spouse of the Blessed Virgin, I have asked every parish or pastoral region to offer Confession from 7 to 9 p.m. Bishop Binzer and I will be among the priests hearing confessions that evening. To learn more, please visit the website www.EncounterPeace.org.

This is the sixth consecutive year the Archdiocese has offered The Light is On for You. Be assured, however, that the light of the confessional is always on for you. Most parishes offer the sacrament on at least a weekly basis, and priests will make appointments for other times.

No matter what your situation, there is no need to be embarrassed or fearful in approaching a confessor, either face to face or behind a screen (according to your preference). The priest will welcome you, as God welcomes you, and will help you to make a good confession. At the end he will pray, “through the ministry of the Church, may God give you pardon and peace,” and then absolve you of your sins.

With this grace to strengthen you, may your Lenten journey bring you peace, joy, and the fullness of life – the gifts that Christ wants to give all of us.

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