By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
“Everyone say to himself: ‘When was the last time I went to confession?’ And if it has been a long time, don’t lose another day. Be courageous, and go to confession.”
Pope Francis issued that challenge to Catholics worldwide during an audience in February 2014, reinforcing his enthusiasm for the Sacrament of Reconciliation this March with the “24 Hours for the Lord” celebration in Rome, is where on March 14-15 several churches in the city’s historic center opened all night for prayer and confession. Many dioceses around the world hold similar such celebrations during Lent.
The Diocese of Dallas sponsors “The Light Is On,” an annual Lenten confession initiative that began in the Archdiocese of Washington in 2007 and was implemented by the Dallas diocese in 2012.
“The idea of the Light is ON is to make sure that we are ready, that the church is open, that the doors are open and that the light is on for anyone who wants to return to God at that time,” Auxiliary Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel said. “The concept is to have every church in the diocese during this time have someone there to administer the sacrament of reconciliation.”
For the Light Is ON initiative this Lent, the diocese set aside two dates for special times of confession and prayer. The first was held March 25 while the second is planned April 1.
“That is important because it is our way of living our Christian life,” Bishop Deshotel said. “The main message of the New Testament is to turn from sin and to follow Jesus Christ. That’s what we’re trying to accomplish with having this program in our diocese.”
As a time for Catholics to focus on God’s mercy and forgiveness, Bishop Deshotel said the initiative is a perfect fit for the Lenten season.
“The season of Lent is the liturgical season set aside by the church every year for renewal in our lives as followers of Jesus,” Bishop Deshotel said. “Jesus shows us how to prepare for life, how to prepare for temptation, how to prepare for challenges and trials, how to prepare for suffering and how to prepare for our human debt because he himself did that.”
The 40 days of Lent are modeled on the 40 days and nights that Jesus went into the desert to prepare for the great work of redemption that he was going to accomplish, Bishop Deshotel said.
“Jesus did that by fasting, by prayer and by overcoming Satan’s temptations,” he said. “Jesus invites us during the season of Lent every year to enter into the desert with him to renew ourselves and to prepare ourselves for the ultimate destiny of all of our lives: life with God and resurrection to everlasting life.”