Universal Diocesan Confession times ahead of Holy Week

With Holy Week just days away, it is not too late to realize how well prepared we are for the Resurrection of the Lord on Easter Sunday.

One way to help in this effort is through participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Throughout the Lenten Season, Parishes have offered extended hours for the Sacrament, in addition to offering Penance Services, where multiple priests from the region are available to hear the confessions of a large number of people.

Realizing the need to have a universal opportunity for this important Sacrament of Mercy, all Parishes in the Diocese of Venice will offer Confessions from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, April 8, 2022, and then again from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 9.  These opportunities are made available so that the faithful may find ample opportunity to receive God’s Mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation during the Lenten Season.

Father Eric Scanlan, Pastor of Incarnation Parish in Sarasota, spoke during a March 31 Penance Service and explained how availing oneself of the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least once during Lent fulfills a specific obligation.

“Rules and obligations are not meant to burden us but to make room for good things to run wild and we need more of that – that holy wildness in our life,” Father Scanlan said.

Pope Francis often speaks about the healing benefits of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, saying that he goes about once every two weeks. “When I go to confession it is in order to be healed, to heal my soul, to heal my heart and to be healed of some wrongdoing.”

The Pope also reminds us that no one is free from sin and that feeling a little “ashamed before God is a grace… Going to confession is going to an encounter with the Lord who forgives us, who loves us and our shame is what we offer him… When one is in line to go to Confession, one feels all these things, even shame, but then when one finishes Confession one leaves free… forgiven, happy. This is the beauty of Confession! Jesus is there…and He receives you with so much love!”

As the Catechism teaches, the priest is acting in Persona Christi, the person of Christ, within the confessional. So, like presenting oneself at the altar to be nourished by Christ in the Eucharist, a person going to Confession, is not ultimately confessing to a priest, but confessing to and receiving forgiveness from Jesus Christ.

Father Scanlan said during the Penance Service that everyone comes to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a sinner, broken, wounded and in need of healing.

“As we reflect on these sins, it is easy to feel discouraged. Don’t listen to the voices of the evil one,” Father added. “God wants you to know that He loves you. He wants to pour His mercy and blessing out to you tonight. It is time to receive that freedom that Christ has for you. When we leave here, we have a new deliverance, a freedom, a holiness that is given to us from the mercy and blessing God pours forth in this Holy Sacrament.”

Please contact your local Parish for additional available confession times.

Lent – a time of preparation

The Lenten Season is a time for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving as we prepare to celebrate the Paschal Mystery of our Faith.

The 40-day Season begins on Ash Wednesday, March 2, 2022, ending at sundown on Holy Thursday, April 14, and is an opportunity for the faithful to undertake the practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving as a means to know Christ better and follow His will more faithfully.

“By uniting the three pillars of Lent – prayer, fasting and almsgiving – one seeks to become a better person, more than he or she has ever been before,” Bishop Frank J. Dewane said.

In his Lenten message for 2021, Pope Francis reflected, “In our Lenten journey towards Easter, let us remember the One who ‘humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross’ (Phil 2:8). During this season of conversion, let us renew our faith, draw from the ‘living water’ of hope, and receive with open hearts the love of God, who makes us brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence from meat for Catholics from the age of 18 to 59, meaning only one full meal and two smaller meals not equal to a full meal are permitted. The Church asks that, if possible, the fast on Good Friday, the “Paschal fast,” be continued until the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday to honor the suffering and death of Jesus and prepare more fully for His resurrection. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence from meat from the age of 14.

Lent is also the time for the baptized to renew their baptismal commitment, while those who desire to become Catholics enter a process of learning and discernment, the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA), in preparation for baptism during the Easter Vigil. An important part of the RCIA process is the Rite of Election, when those hundreds from across the Diocese who seek to enter the Church present themselves to the Bishop. This occurs on the first Sunday of Lent, March 6, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

The precept of confessing grave sins and receiving Holy Communion at least once during the Lenten Season merits a reminder to all. To facilitate this requirement, every Parish in the Diocese of Venice will be open with a confessor present from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., on Friday, April 8, and from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, April 9. Check with your local Parish for additional confession times or the availability of a Penance Service. These opportunities are made available so that the faithful may find ample opportunity to receive God’s Mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

It must be remembered that the three pillars of Lent – prayer, fasting and almsgiving – are not simply things to do during Lent, but much more. Instead, prayer, gives us humility rather than pride, relying on God rather than ourselves; fasting from those things that interfere in strengthening a relationship with God; and almsgiving with compassion for those in need, will make the Lenten journey a fruitful period of renewal.

Diocese-wide Opportunity for Sacrament of Reconciliation late March

Confessionals will open for extended hours throughout the Diocese of Venice in late March to allow everyone ample opportunity to receive God’s Mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

In consultation with the Diocesan Presbyteral Council, Bishop Frank J. Dewane has designated the following days and times for Confession at EACH Parish: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, March 26, 2021, and 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Saturday, March 27.

This Diocesan-wide opportunity for Confession has been made available each Lent since 2012. These times are offered in addition to already scheduled Parish Confession times or planned Penance Services.

The precept of confessing grave sins and receiving Holy Communion at least once during the Lenten Season merits a reminder to all to take advantage of this opportunity.

Pope Francis often speaks about the healing benefits of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, saying that he goes about once every two weeks. “When I go to confession,” the Holy Father added,” it is in order to be healed, to heal my soul, to heal my heart and to be healed of some wrongdoing.”

The Pope also reminds us no one is free from sin and that feeling a little “ashamed before God is a grace… Going to confession is going to an encounter with the Lord who forgives us, who loves us and our shame is what we offer him… When one is in line to go to Confession, one feels all these things, even shame, but then when one finishes Confession one leaves free… forgiven, happy. This is the beauty of Confession! Jesus is there…and He receives you with so much love!”

As the Catechism teaches, the priest is acting in Persona Christi (in the person of Christ), within the confessional. So, like presenting oneself at the altar to be nourished by Christ in the Eucharist, a person going to Confession, is not ultimately confessing to a priest, but confessing to and receiving forgiveness from Jesus Christ.

It was Christ who desired that the faithful “receive forgiveness by means of the ministers of the community,” Pope Francis continued. And it is Christ “who gives this power.”

The Pope notes, through the presence and words of a priest, penitents have “the certainty of forgiveness in the name of the Church…this is having the surety that God forgives us always. He never tires of forgiving us and we must never tire of going to ask for forgiveness.”

Reconciliation in Schools

For the same reasons, Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools have been setting aside time to make the Sacrament of Reconciliation available for students.

For example, at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples, the student, faculty and staff participated in a Lenten Penance Service on Feb. 23. Many of the students took advantage of the opportunity to go to confession with one of the several priests present.

Three priests were available to hear confessions from second and third graders March 4 at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral. In addition, numerous students from St. Martha Catholic School and St. Mary Academy in Sarasota received the Sacrament for the first time on March 7.

Faithful line up for Confession

Staff Report

A steady stream of the faithful at St. Jude Parish in Sarasota waited patiently for their opportunity to take part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation on the last weekend before Holy Week.

This scene was repeated at Parishes throughout the Diocese of Venice after Bishop Frank J. Dewane, with the agreement of the Presbyteral Council, designated April 12 (4-8 p.m.) and April 13 (9 a.m.-noon) as time for Confession at each Parish. This was done to allow the faithful ample opportunity to receive God’s Mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the Lenten Season.

The response was so impressive at some parishes that the confession times were extended upwards of two hours to accommodate the need.

Maria Cortez of St. Jude Parish tries to go to confession at least once a month but admitted she had lapsed since the start of 2019.

“I let unimportant things get in the way of my love for Christ,” Cortez said. “I am not a saint, and this is good for me to be here. With Holy Week here, I knew it was time to return to the confessional and ask for forgiveness.”

Pope Francis often remarks about the healing power of the confessional and urges the faithful to go as often as possible. Parishes and Missions in the Diocese of Venice have regular reconciliation times throughout the year, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org for contact information on the parish or mission nearest you.

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