Mark your calendars! On Monday, April 18, all Catholic churches in the Archdiocese of New York, the Diocese of Brooklyn, and Diocese of Rockville Centre, will be observing Reconciliation Monday. The Sacrament of Reconciliation – or, if you prefer, Confession or Penance – will be available from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. You can stop in any church, and find a priest waiting and eager to celebrate the sacrament with you. For those of you may feel more “comfortable” receiving the sacrament in a parish other than your own, here is a golden opportunity!
Just about every parish and diocese has special penance services, days of confession, and opportunities for people to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. After all, Lent is that season of the Church year when we are all called in a special way to repentance and conversion. What better way to prepare for Easter than to die with Christ to our sin and rise with Him to a renewed life.
In my pastoral letter, The Altar and the Confessional, I wrote that Catholics should, “Experience the joy of forgiveness! Experience liberation from sin! Keep those confessionals busy! Keep your priests busy about the great work of dispensing the Lord’s mercy! Keep the Sacrament of Penance at the heart of Catholic life!” Based on the number of people who have been receiving the sacrament at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral this Lent, it seems many people are taking me at my word. (If it weren’t Lent, I’d give a rousing Alleluia! But, I’ll wait for the Easter Vigil before I do that.) For those of you who haven’t yet gotten to the confessional – what are you waiting for? It’s never too late! You can still make this a wonderful and fruitful Lenten season.
If it’s been awhile since you’ve received the sacrament, and you’re not quite sure you remember what to do – no problem! The simplest thing to do is just tell the priest, and he’ll guide you through the process. For those who might want to brush up a bit, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has a good resource on their website, which you might find helpful.
There’s something exciting that I’d like to bring to your attention. The three downstate New York dioceses are sponsoring a video contest to promote Reconciliation Monday. Students at any accredited educational institution – elementary school, high school, or college – can produce and submit short YouTube style videos that encourage people to receive the sacrament. The contest winner – the video that gets the most views and votes – will receive $25,000, as will his or her school or parish. There’s also a $10,000 second prize, and multiple third place prizes. You can see the videos and vote for your favorites, as well as find full details and official contest rules, at www.i-confess.com. The contest ends soon, so hurry!