The confessional ‘Light is On for You’
By Nissa LaPoint
The Light is on for You
Rediscover the sacrament of reconciliation and receive forgiveness and reunion with Jesus Christ.
Photo by James Baca/DCR
Stepping out of the confessional at church after receiving reconciliation may flood hearts with joy and give a sense of buoyancy to some parishioners.
Others describe a feeling of peace and express gratitude to the priest who absolves them of their sins, said Father Terry Kissell, pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Aurora.
“It keeps us close to the Lord and makes us honest with ourselves, God and someone else,” Father
Kissell said about the sacrament of penance. “It’s very renewing and uplifting for people.”
That healing feeling and mercy from God will be available at parishes across the Denver Archdiocese Feb. 29 at the same time, from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Bishop James Conley, apostolic administrator of the archdiocese, is asking all parishes to help Catholics rediscover the sacrament and find peace in God’s Church through the campaign called “The Light is on for You.”
Bishop Conley said he appreciates the sacrament both as a priest and a penitent.
“I think the sacrament of confession is the best kept secret in the Catholic Church,” he said. “As a convert to the Catholic Church, it was a whole new experience for me. It’s a wonderful gift of God’s mercy.”
This pastoral initiative, aimed at increasing awareness and participation in the sacrament of penance during the liturgical season of Lent, began in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., in 2005. The Archdiocese of Boston has also started the campaign, he said.
Bishop Conley said the archdiocesan parishes welcome all Catholics to participate, including those who’ve strayed from the Church or who haven’t confessed in some time. Many parishes will also hang banners outside to show that confession is available for those who want forgiveness.
Confession is the means for Catholics to obtain pardon from God for sins committed and reconciles them with Christ’s Church.
The sacrament goes by various names including “confession,” because of the act of disclosing sins to a priest, and the “sacrament of penance,” because it consecrates a person’s personal steps toward conversion.
Going to confession is much like going to a dentist or doctor appointment, said Father Tomasz Wikarski, pastor of Our Lady Mother of the Church in Commerce City. Only this appointment is with God and it’s for the healing of the soul.
“It’s … like when you go to the doctor,” Father Wikarski said. “You are nervous, but this is necessary. Whenever we experience healing we will be nervous.”
However, he said, after confession many penitents leave the confessional feeling better than when they first entered.
“I’ve never seen a person who was unhappy after confession,” Father Wikarski said.
Some parishioners even send thank you cards, he said.
Younger generations may not be familiar with the spiritual benefits of confession, he believes, that has brought the mercy of God to penitents for centuries.
In the early era of Christianity, those who committed grave sins like murder or adultery performed a public penance. It wasn’t until the seventh century that Irish missionaries brought private penance to Europe, much like what is done today between a penitent and a priest.
This method of confession allows for more frequent participation in the sacrament and ensures that sins told to a priest remain confidential.
Confession to a priest is essential for this sacrament, which is prepared for with an examination of conscience. This can be achieved by prayerfully looking at the morality of one’s actions, reviewing the Ten Commandments and considering those times when one may have omitted to do good.
The archdiocese has a list of tips and frequently asked questions on its website (www.archden.org/light) to help those who want to prepare well to make a good confession.
The website also has a list of participating parishes.
The Church describes confession as the strengthening of the sinner and reestablishment of their communion with the Church.
Before all, it’s a means of conversion necessary for entering into the kingdom of God.
“In this sacrament, the sinner, placing himself before the merciful judgment of God, anticipates in a certain way the judgment to which he will be subjected at the end of his earthly life,” according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “In converting to Christ through penance and faith, the sinner passes from death to life and ‘does not come into judgment.’”
For more information, visit www.archden.org/light.