Bishop Douglas J. Lucia and Friar Rick Riccioli, OFM Conv., pray during Day 2 of the bishop’s three-day Lenten mission “Walking with Christ, from Our House to Yours.” The mission streams live from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at 3 p.m. March 31, April 1, and April 2. (screenshot from



By Tom Maguire | Associate editor

Noting the populace is face to face with its mortality amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the friar recommended penance.

“What’s going to happen to me? The people I love. Where is God in all this?” said Father Rick Riccioli, a Franciscan friar and the pastor of the Franciscan Church of the Assumption in Syracuse.

He spoke April 1 on Day 2 of “Walking with Christ, From Our House to Yours” a Lenten mission presented by Bishop Douglas J. Lucia and the Diocese of Syracuse. The hour-long mission, streamed live on YouTube from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse, drew more than 600 visitors. [Watch recorded video of the mission below.]

Day 2 was a penitential service and referenced Scripture including Isaiah 43:20; Luke 22:42; John 19:2-3, 16-17; and Mark 15:23-24.

“Our lives have been upended by this pandemic,” Father Riccioli said. He noted that in normal times, people immerse themselves in work, numb themselves in the gym, socialize, and go to church in what they might consider to be a rote observance of Sunday responsibility.

But now, he said, “we’re stuck.” That, he said, can entail eating or drinking too much or escaping into movies too much “to assuage that uncomfortable silence that invites us to go deeper and look at ourselves.”

He added: “We can fill the silence and the stillness of these days with multiple activities or focus on gratitude — gratitude for the breath we have, gratitude for our life, gratitude and awareness that everything we have is a gift from God. … God knows our sins and loves us.”

Naming our sins in the Sacrament of Penance, Father Riccioli said, “means we own our actions or our failure to act.”

He acknowledged that confession can seem like a root canal or an audit by the IRS. He explained confession through imagining God as a woman in labor: There can be tears in the mother’s eyes during labor and tears in the baby’s eyes when it is born, but as they go through the experience and the newborn is placed in its mother’s arms, “everything else is forgotten.”

Reconciliation, Father Riccioli said, “is our return to God’s loving arms. … God looks at you with great tenderness, and all is forgiven.” 

Bishop Lucia recited words from the Confiteor, and he cited scenes from Christ’s Passion as a way to ask questions of oneself. Alternately reading those questions were Lisa Hall, Director of the diocesan Office of Family/Respect Life Ministry, and Mary Hallman, diocesan Director of Evangelization. Among them:

Do I support others with prayers when they are caught in a crisis of faith? Do I regularly attend Mass to ask for God’s help in my life? Have I harmed others directly or indirectly? Have I mocked others? Do I gossip about people? Have I supported those who suffer? Do I offer help to elderly or infirm family members? Do I accept God’s will in my own circumstances, or am I resentful or bitter?

Information about the Sacrament of Penance is available on the diocesan website.

Day 1 of the mission featured Eucharistic Adoration and a reflection by national Catholic speaker Chris Padgett. The third and final day of the mission will begin at 3 p.m. April 2 and will stream live on the diocese’s YouTube channel. Father Christopher Celentano, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church in North Syracuse, will offer a Mass of Healing. Jeremy Bobak will provide music. Video will be available to watch any time after the stream.

Watch Day 2 below, courtesy Syracuse Catholic Television:

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