Pope Francis encourages parishes to use a 24-hour period to be with the Lord and for the Lord. For us, at St. Michael's, that will be from Friday, March 11 to Saturday, March 12. What Pope Francis asks is for us to remember that God is here, nearer to us than we are to ourselves. While in this state of awareness of God's closeness to us, the Pope asks us to examine ourselves to see where we are not being true to who we are in God’s eyes and what we are called to be – a very unique, personal image of God.
Pope Francis has asked the parishes throughout the world to offer extended periods of Confession during these 24-hours for the Lord. Why? We explain below. Here are the extended times for Confession at St. Michael Church:
Friday, March 11: 12:45 PM – 10:00 PM, except when services are in progress
Saturday, March 12: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM, except when services are in progress
Tuesday, March 22: St. Anne and St. Michael Lenten Penance Service: 7:30 PM at St. Anne Church, Garwood.
Why must we go to confession? Because our sinning damages the communion of the Church
"Sin is not only a ‘personal’ thing between myself and God. Sin always has a social dimension, By engaging in it, I have damage the communion of the Church, I have sully the communion of the Church, I sully humanity. . . . The sacrament of Penance is the great gift in which through confession, we can free ourselves from this thing we have done, which damages us and damages the communion of the Church. . . . And so, the absolution by the priest is not an imposition but an expression of the goodness of God, showing me concretely that I have received pardon and can start anew." Pope Benedict XVI
How do I know what to confess? By looking deeply at our thoughts, words and actions to discover their root causes
"A Christian cannot rest easy, assuming that everything is fine. He must discern things and really look at where they come from, what their root is.” Pope Francis
Pope Francis provides these suggestions for questions to ask ourselves:
• Do I turn to God only in my need?
• Do I attend Mass on Sunday and holy days of obligation?
• Do I begin and end the day with prayer?
• Have I taken the name of God, the Blessed Virgin, or the saints in vain?
• Have I been ashamed to say that I am a Christian?
• What am I doing to grow spiritually? How do I grow spiritually? When?
• Do I resist God’s will?
• Do I insist that he does things my way?
About my neighbor
• Do I know how to forgive, to share, and to help my neighbor?
• Have I slandered, stolen from, or scorned the poor and defenseless?
• Am I envious, hot-tempered, or prejudiced?
• Do I care for the poor and the sick?
• Am I embarrassed by my brother’s body or my sister’s flesh?
• Am I honest and fair with everyone, or do I foster a “throw-away culture”?
• Have I led others to do evil?
• Do I observe the spousal and family morality taught in the Gospel?
• How do I fulfill my responsibility for my children’s education?
• Do I honor and respect my parents?
• Have I rejected a newly conceived life?
• Have I extinguished the gift of life?
• Have I helped others to do that?
• Do I respect the environment?
• Am I a believer who is somewhat worldly and only somewhat believing?
• Do I over-indulge in eating, drinking, smoking and being entertained?
• Am I overly concerned about my physical well-being and my possessions?
• How I do use my time?
• Am I lazy?
• Do I desire to be served?
• Do I love and safeguard purity in my heart, thoughts and deeds?
• Do I plot vengeance or harbor resentments?
• Am I gentle and humble? A peace-maker?
(See Pope Francis’ booklet, “Safeguard Your Heart,” distributed after the Angelus on Feb. 22, 2015.)
Now I can examine myself about the concrete actions that mercy requires and by which we will be judged:
• Have I given food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty?
• Have I welcomed the stranger and clothed the naked?
• Have I set aside time and had the courage to visit the sick and the imprisoned?
• Have I helped anyone be released from doubts that make them fearful and that are often the source of loneliness?
• Have I participated in overcoming ignorance by supporting education, especially for the young?
• Have I told those who live in sin about the need for conversion?
• Have I been a neighbor to someone who is lonely and afflicted?
• Have I forgiven those who offend me and resisted every kind of resentment and hate?
• Have I been patient with others based on the example of God who is so patient with us?
• Have I commended my brothers and sisters to prayer?
(See Misericordiae Vultus, No. 15)
End of Examination of Conscience
How to Confess
Together with the priest, you make the sign of the cross and say,
“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
The priest helps you to prepare yourself to trust in God with these or similar words:
“May God, who has enlightened every heart,
help you to know your sins
and trust in his mercy.”
The priest, according to the occasion, reads or recites from memory a text from sacred Scripture that speaks about the mercy of God and invites the person to convert. For example,
“Now after John was arrested,
Jesus came into Galilee,
preaching the Gospel of God, and saying,
‘The time is fulfilled,
and the kingdom of God is at hand;
repent, and believe in the Gospel’” (Mk 1:14-15).
At this point, you confess your sins. If necessary, the priest will help you, asking you questions and giving suitable advice. He will propose a suitable act of penance and then invite you, finally, to demonstrate your commitment to conversion by reciting an act of contrition or some other similar formula. For example,
“Be mindful of your compassion, O Lord, and of your merciful love,
for they have been from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth, or my transgressions;
according to your mercy remember me,
for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!” (Ps 25:6-7)
Now the priest will stand and lay his hands on your head, saying,
“God, the Father of mercies, through the death and the resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself
and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins;
through the ministry of the Church
may God give you pardon and peace,
and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
You answer, “Amen.”
After absolution, the priest says, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good.”
You answer, “His mercy endures forever.”
Then the priest will dismiss you, saying, “The Lord has freed you from your sins. Go in peace.”
What Should I Do after Confession?
Simply be aware of and live in the grace received in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
The grace received through the sacrament is a gift that transforms the heart. God welcomes even small steps by any person who comes back to him. All we need to do is abandon ourselves to the Father’s embrace and to start over again. The celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation does not make people “sinless” but strengthens the desire to respond to God’s freely given love.
Source: Adapted from osv.com 24 Hours for the Lord, short version