Recognizing the need for God's grace and forgiveness in the lives of Catholics, the Diocese of Rockford is launching "Be Reconciled," an initiative to make the Sacrament of Reconciliation more available this Lenten season.
Bishop David J. Malloy has asked the 105 parishes in the 11-county diocese to add Wednesday, April 9, to their regular Lenten confession calendar and, where possible, to offer confessions that day from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. It is being called "Be Reconciled" day. A letter announcing the effort was read at all parish Masses March 1-2.
"As we approach the season of Lent, it is always important for us to take stock of our spiritual lives. By the church's traditional prayer, fasting and charity, we draw closer to Christ and to the Church. Our souls are laid open to be strengthened by Christ's love, grace and forgiveness," Bishop Malloy said in a letter to all Catholics, announcing the "Be Reconciled" initiative.
"Lent is a privileged moment to focus on forgiveness. As Catholics, the primary way to seek forgiveness year-round, but especially during Lent, is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In that encounter with Christ through the humanity of the priest, we acknowledge our sinful separation from God's love, we seek forgiveness and Christ stands ready to reconcile us.
"The goal of this day is captured in its slogan, 'Be Reconciled.' There are many people who have felt the longing for reconciliation, but because of fear or other reasons, have put off going to confession. If you know someone who has been away from the Sacrament of Reconciliation, invite them to 'Be Reconciled' on April 9 or anytime during Lent.
"If that person is you, the opportunity for reconciliation, to talk about your questions or concerns with a priest, or just to make your Lenten confession is there. Let's make this Lent a time of deep and joyful reconciliation, which Pope Francis has called us to," Bishop Malloy said.
As part of the initiative, the diocese will be inviting people to confession through advertising and through a new dedicated page on its website, bereconcilied.rockforddiocese.org.
The site includes confession times for all parishes in the Rockford Diocese, "Frequently asked Questions" about the sacrament, guides for the examination of conscience, the Act of Contrition, a video invitation from Bishop Malloy and parish resources for promoting the initiative.
There are also listings for other Lenten activities such as parish missions, Stations of the Cross and Friday Fish Fries.
The addresses and phone numbers for all parishes in the Rockford Diocese are listed at www.rockforddiocese.org. Find current information about "Be Reconciled" by following the Diocese of Rockford on Twitter and Facebook.