Woven into the fabric of this life’s Lent is the need for mercy. Always this is so, but Pope Francis is asking us to learn the meaning of mercy by tasting it.
An example of lived mercy was the recent day of Prayer and Reparation for a Culture of Violence. When a series of undercover videos revealed a Planned Parenthood official discussing the harvesting and sale of tissues and organs from aborted children, people’s consciences were rightly shocked. The question left to people of good will was, “What to do?”
|Bishop Paul Sirba
Fiat Voluntas Tua
In our diocese, a day of fasting and prayer was introduced on Jan. 22 and was connected with the March for Life at the State Capital. Mercy was connected to reparation. Jesus substituted his obedience for our disobedience — “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19) — and we imitated Our Lord by freely offering our prayers and penance in the way of fasting to repair the evil of violence in our culture.
Jesus accomplished the substitution by offering himself as atonement for our sins. As sacrifice, the Eucharist, Jesus’ Paschal Mystery, is offered in reparation for the sins of the living and the dead. Flowing from the Eucharist is the Sacrament of Penance.
During the Year of Mercy, another lived reality of mercy will be the emphasis on the Sacrament of Confession. Hopefully, in addition to testimonies on forgiveness, the priests of the diocese will offer extended hours of Confession as well as catechesis on this great sacrament.
We desire to bring in people who haven’t celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation in a while, as well as encourage the regulars to receive the inestimable mercy of God expressed personally in the confessional.
Twenty-four hours of Confession at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary will take place March 4-5. In communion with Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and all the cathedrals of the world, God will manifest His great mercy in the Sacrament. The event begins with a penance service for the priests themselves, followed with Confessions from noon on March 4 to noon on March 5, within the prayerful context of Eucharistic Adoration.
Confessions will also be heard Monday of Holy Week, March 21, before our celebration of the Chrism Mass, from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., and before the priesthood ordination on June 3 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. What a great tie-in to the ministry of priesthood and the mercy of God and an opportunity to walk through the Holy Door!
This Lent will be celebrated within the context of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. We ask God to open our hearts to receive His mercy and for us to share it.
From our personal conversion in the Sacrament of Penance, fed by Our Lord in the Eucharist, we are sent forth to share the Good News of what the Lord has done for us.
Other days to keep in mind for celebrating the Year of Mercy within the context of this Lent: the Men’s Conference on Feb. 13 and the Women’s Conference on Feb. 27, both at Marshall School in Duluth.
We remember those who will be coming into the Church at Easter. The Rite of Election is scheduled on Feb. 14 at 2:30 p.m. at the Cathedral.
All are encouraged to attend these beautiful events, and they are situated close to the Holy Door at the Cathedral, so you can gain your Year of Mercy indulgence.
Bishop Paul D. Sirba is the ninth bishop of Duluth.