Local Catholics urged to experience God’s mercy through penance
Catholics throughout the Diocese of Rochester are encouraged to experience God’s love and mercy by taking advantage of a special opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation next month.
As part of the eighth-annual Day of Penance and Mercy April 1, churches throughout the diocese’s 12 counties will be open for extended periods of time to make the sacrament more available to the faithful.
“Each parish will offer the sacrament for an additional time frame, so that parishes with multiple churches can adjust the times to cover everywhere,” said Don Smith, diocesan coordinator of sacramental catechesis and family life.
Smith noted that the Day of Penance and Mercy was established in 2013 to put a focus on the sacrament and give parishioners the opportunity to celebrate God’s mercy. The day is considered an added opportunity to receive the sacrament and is not an event unto itself, he said.
“Receiving the sacrament keeps us in the right relationship with Christ, with God, with the Trinity and with each other,” said Smith, who noted that parishes have seen steady participation in the sacrament in general. “It is hoped that having this opportunity encourages regular celebration of the sacrament throughout the year.”
The Day of Penance and Mercy is an opportunity to educate people about the sacrament and make them comfortable in receiving it, Smith said, but it also is about reaping the sacrament’s benefits.
“For one person, it’s that freedom of my spirit feels lighter now,” he said of those who receive the sacrament. “For others — and this happens more often with those that receive regularly and frequently — they get to the core of what’s really leading them to sin; what’s really leading them to break relationships with God, with others and with themselves.”
According to Smith, knowledge of what’s at the core of sinful behavior can help people understand and work on the issues that lead them astray. He recalled a homily making that point by Father Daniel Condon, diocesan chancellor, at a reconciliation service several years ago. Smith recalled that in his homily, Father Condon said it was not until he began receiving the sacrament regularly and vocalizing his confession that he was able to put all of the pieces together regarding what was leading him to sin.
“Vocalizing is the important part of confession; we actually have to say it (our sins), so I think the sacrament can really lead us to a better understanding of ourselves, our faith and life,” Smith said. “Through sacrament is how parishioners are able to relate to God and God’s people.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information about the sacrament of reconciliation and how to receive it, visit http://forgiven.dor.org and https://oec.dor.org/sacraments/penance-and-reconciliation. For a list of parish schedules for the Day of Penance and Mercy, visit www.catholiccourier.com/arti cles/2020-day-of-penance.