By: Joelle Shea, Director of Communications
Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the 40-day period of prayer and penance called Lent. It is a day for us to acknowledge that, even with all of our imperfections, we can strive to better ourselves and draw closer to Christ and His Church. As Catholics, we believe that Lent is a time of preparation for Christ’s death and resurrection, and, to ready ourselves, we often make sacrifices and commit to additional time in prayer or to receiving the sacraments more regularly.
Participation in the Sacrament of Penance – sometimes called the Sacrament of Divine Mercy – allows us to mend our relationship with Christ, which has been tattered by sin. To assist Catholics in the Diocese of Arlington on their Lenten journey, we are again hosting The Light is On for You initiative, whereby every Catholic Church in the Diocese of Arlington and the Archdiocese of Washington – over 200 parishes in all – will be open for prayer and confession on Wednesdays during Lent from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The program starts after Ash Wednesday. It runs on March 16, 23, 30 and April 6, 13, 20.
This is our second year partnering with the Archdiocese of Washington on The Light is On initiative. Given the fact that many of our parishioners live on one side of the Potomac and work on the other, this partnership makes attending Confession even easier. We heard from priests last year who spent nearly three hours in the confessional encountering people who had been away from the sacrament 10, 20 or 30 years. You can read more in this Arlington Catholic Herald story.
To spread the word about this initiative, we post on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. We have advertised on Metro and VRE cars, on buses, in local Virginia newspapers and on local radio stations. We also sent out this press release announcing the initiative.
At www.thelightison.org, Catholics can hear from Cardinal Wuerl and Bishop Loverde, they can read a “before, during and after” guide to Confession and they can print a pocket-sized Act of Contrition to carry with them into the confessional. Brochures with these resources are also available at the parishes.
Of course, no advertisement or website can compare to a heartfelt invitation from a friend. This Lent, please consider inviting Catholics back to this Sacrament of Divine Mercy by helping in one of the following ways:
- Pray! Please pray for those who are considering returning to the Church, that they may experience God’s healing grace.
- Participate! You are all invited to participate by going to confession any Wednesday in Lent from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
- Witness! Parishes are asked to provide a welcoming, prayerful environment during these Wednesday evenings. This means making sure someone can be there if a returning Catholic has a question, needs to be pointed toward the confessional or would like to pray. Last year, for example, a youth group made a holy hour during this time and some parishes hosted Eucharistic Adoration. Please consider contacting your parish to see how you can help.
- Invite! Please invite a friend or relative back to the healing Sacrament of Reconciliation. No sin is too great, and we each have someone in our lives that could benefit from a return to Christ and His Church.
- Spread the Word! Visit our website, www.thelightison.org, and send the link around. Consider posting the link to your Facebook account and passing it around to your friends and family.
With the prayerful collaboration and hard work of our priests and parishes, we were able to welcome home very many penitents last year, particularly those who had been away from the sacraments for some time. As we begin our second year of The Light is On for You, we thank you for your participation and support!