By Katherine Long
The light will be on for you at local parishes this Monday, April 10.
Once again this year, churches across the diocese will be open from
4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the Monday of Holy Week, offering Catholics the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
“The Light is ON for You” is an initiative originated by the Archdiocese of Washington and the Diocese of Arlington that has been adopted by dioceses across the country. The campaign invites Catholics to return to and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
In the Diocese of Syracuse, special “Light is On for You” nights of Confession are offered during Advent and Lent. Msgr. Timothy Elmer, the diocese’s Vicar General, sees that timing as key.
Whether getting ready for Christmas or Easter, “people at those times of year are thinking perhaps most especially about the meaning of their Catholic faith,” he said. “I think if you go to church knowing you’re right with God, you’re more right with everybody else in your family and the people around you.”
The timing is particularly good at Easter, which commemorates the resurrection of Christ and the promise of eternal life: “Jesus came to save us from our sins,” Msgr. Elmer said. “What better time to do it [receive the sacrament] than Holy Week?”
Church doors will be open to all Catholics April 10, but those who have been away from Confession are welcomed especially to return to the sacrament.“ They shouldn’t feel uneasy or that it’s unusual or think that their situation is odd, because most of the people going that night, I’ve found, haven’t been in a long time,” Msgr. Elmer said.
Once at church, penitents can expect to join others waiting to go to confession. “I think that can be a reassuring experience, just to be in line…. There’s a certain solidarity that you’re all there for the same reason,” Msgr. Elmer said. “Standing in line helps you prepare, gives you time to think a little bit further about what you want to say, and to think about how good you’re going to feel when it’s all over!”
In the confessional, too, there’s no need to be nervous if you’re unsure what to do. Be honest with the priest and ask him if you need help making your confession, Msgr. Elmer advised. The priests of the diocese “are ready. They’re pleased to help people,” he said.
If you want to brush up on the basics before you head into the confessional, the Guide to Confession on the next page provides all the details you’ll need to prepare. The diocesan website, syrdio.org, also has guides and resources to help you better understand the sacrament and make a good confession.
Churches throughout the diocese will be open for this special evening of forgiveness April 10. Check with your church to confirm that it will be open from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. to hear confessions, or to locate the nearest participating church.