By Dc. Tom Cuskey | Editor
Advent is a “purple season,” a traditional time of preparation, penance and sacrifice in our faith. The same can be said of Lent, the other purple season; but in the words of one of my children, once used on a totally different subject, “it’s the same, but different.”
One common, but very special, aspect of our observance of both seasons is The Light Is On For You campaign, an opportunity to receive the grace of the Sacrament of Reconciliation as we prepare for the holy days. The Light is On was first organized and observed in the Archdiocese of Washington and Diocese of Arlington in 2007 during the Lenten season. It wasn’t long, though, before the practice was adopted for Advent as well, and the observance spread across the country.
This year’s observance in the Diocese of Syracuse will be held 4-7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 20. Most diocesan churches will be welcoming those seeking to prepare their hearts for Christmas.
As with everything related to our celebrations of faith, The Light Is On is very much about community, according to Father Christopher Seibt.
“What’s very powerful when this program started was the feeling that everyone is in this together. Whether you’re shopping or filling out cards, in the busyness of the season there is a set time when everyone is invited to stop and together, to get themselves ready to celebrate the birth of Christ anew at Christmas.”
Father Seibt, pastor of Divine Mercy Parish in Central Square, also explains that “whenever we go to confession, it’s a time for us to make a more complete turn to the Lord, to further the work of conversion he has begun in us, and to receive from him the graces we need to be healed.”
Sin causes a rupture in our lives, Father adds, and a disunity between us and God, as well as a disunity from one another.
“We also receive the grace to sin no more. … Each time we go to confession, the Lord works within our hearts more and more with his power, his saving grace and we do make improvements in our spiritual life.”
Father suggests that, as during Lent, Reconciliation involves turning away from sin and renewing our Baptismal vow, “and in Advent it’s more of a cleaning out our hearts …, making room for the Lord to come more deeply in our lives every day. … In Advent, there is more of a tone of joy in confessing.”
Father Seibt adds that the joy is available to all, regardless of how long it has been since one availed themselves of the sacrament.
“The light is on for them, particularly. … That’s the whole reason for this program.” Father adds that “in the darkness of winter, the lights of church are on, you can walk in. It’s warm there. It’s a very reverent moment before Christmas. You can go to confession and really experience a feeling of peace and healing.”
Because of the limited number of priests who may be available, the diocese advises that you contact your local parish to be sure that it will be open for the sacrament that day. You can also ask about regular schedules for Confession. The diocesan website is a great resource to find a parish and to help you prepare to receive God’s grace and mercy.
Visit syrdio.org and click the “Being Catholic” link for more information; the direct link is https://syracusediocese.org/being-catholic/the-light-is-on-for-you-campaign/.
Father Seibt, JCL, is pastor of Divine Mercy Church in Central Square as well as the Mission of St. Bernadette and St. Mary of the Assumption Oratory. He is an advocate in the Diocesan Tribunal and director of the diocesan Office of Liturgy and RCIA.