Archdiocese leaves the light on for confession during Lent

"Be courageous. Go to confession."

Those were the words Pope Francis used during a general audience last month at the Vatican. He described how the forgiveness experienced from visiting the confessional brings freedom and lightness.

During the season of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, March 5, the Archdiocese of St. Louis is joining the U.S. bishops' campaign, "The Light is ON for You," to provide several opportunities for Catholics here to receive the sacrament of penance during Lent.

The archdiocesan Office of Laity and Family Life and the Office of Sacred Worship have coordinated with each of the 10 deaneries of the archdiocese to offer special times for confession over a period of several weeks during Lent. A list with times, dates and locations are available at www.archstl.org/confession.

"As the season of Lent draws near, it is a time to reflect upon the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ," Archbishop Robert J. Carlson wrote in a letter that accompanied a packet of information on reconciliation opportunities, which was sent to all parishes. "It is also a time for all of us to experience the Fatherly love that supported and gave strength to Jesus, as He faithfully accepted God's will that would eventually lead Him to His Cross.

"We experience this supportive love of God when we partake of the sacraments, especially the sacraments of Holy Communion and reconciliation," the archbishop continued. "Reconciliation is a wonderful opportunity to turn away from sin and draw closer to our Lord."

On its website, the Archdiocese of St. Louis provides a guide on how to go to confession, exercises for an examination of conscience before receiving the sacrament and other parish resources. A tri-fold brochure with a step-by-step guide on going to confession also will be available to print out.

During his Feb. 19 general audience, Pope Francis said that the sacraments give new life, but that sin eats away at that life and can destroy it, which is why Jesus gave his disciples the power to forgive sins in the name of God and the Christian community.

"Some say, 'I confess only to God.' Yes, you can say, 'God forgive me,' but our sins are also against our brothers and sisters, against the Church," which is called to be holy, he said. "This is why it is necessary to ask forgiveness from our brothers and sisters and from the Church in the person of the priest."

"I tell you," the pope said, "every time we go to confession, God embraces us and celebrates."

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