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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry
Today’s guest(s): Fr. Michael Harrington
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Today’s topics: The Light Is On For You
Summary of today’s show: Lent is a time when we can hit the reset button on relationship with God, to start anew in the the spiritual life and confession is a perfect way to do that. During Lent, the Archdiocese offers the initiative The Light Is On For You in which every church and chapel will be open on Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:30pm for confessions. Scot Landry and Fr. Michael Harrington discuss the beauty and joy of confession and look at some of the resources and reflectiosn available about the sacrament at TheLightIsOnForYou.org.
1st segment: Scot welcomed everyone to the show and reminded Massachusetts listeners that today is an election day. He said that each Advent and Lent the Archdiocese of Boston offers The LIght Is On For You. He compared Lent to baseball’s spring training as a time to return to the fundamentals. Every Wednesday evening this Lent, every church and chapel will be open for confession.
Scot welcomed Fr. Michael Harrington back to the show. He said the best confessors are those who frequent the sacrament themselves. Fr. Mike said the sacrament is one of the gifts for him personally and to the whole Church. It is an expression of God’s merciful love.
Scot began the show with the words of Bishop Robert Hennessey as he launched The Light Is On For You this Lent.
Hello. I’m Bishop Robert Hennessey. Cardinal Sean O’Malley asked me to lead an important initiative to encourage Catholics to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This initiative is called “The Light is On For YOU.” Each Wednesday evening this Lent, from 6:30-8:00pm, the priests of the Archdiocese of Boston are going to be opening EVERY church and chapel to welcome back Catholics to the sacrament of confession. Jesus once said, “Heaven rejoices more for one repentant sinner, than for 99 that never needed to repent.” Every time someone returns to the sacrament of confession, heaven celebrates and that unbelievable experience of joy becomes ours when we’re forgiven.
In Jesus’ great parable of the Prodigal Son, we see how much the father rejoices at his child’s return home. The father runs out to greet him, restores him to his full dignity as an heir, and exclaims, “My child was lost and has been found. He was dead, but has come back to life again.” This great story describes what happens in the sacrament of confession. The sacrament is God’s great lost and found department for his sons and daughters. We find ourselves enveloped in God’s love. We experience the full measure of Jesus’ resurrection. We who are dead to sin are brought back to life again.
Scot said too often Catholics view confession as the judgmental face of God on our sins. Bishop Henessey tries to change that image by looking at God as the shepherd who rejoices in finding the lost sheep or the loving father who welcomes home the prodigal son.That’s how God rejoices in heaven when we return to his loving arms.
Fr. Mike said he gave a talk a few years ago to parents of second graders about to receive the sacrament of first confession. A teacher approached him later and said that most of the parents had the image of the judgmental God and the priests would be harsh in the confessional. Fr. Mike told her that they were projecting an image that is no longer there. He doesn’t find that image in confession any more. There is great care taken today by priests to express the Father’s love and that’s what the children when encounter when they go to confession. Perhaps a lot of these parents hadn’t been to confession in a long time and were projecting a stereotype.
Scot said going to confession, you could be preoccupied with many other things, but we should focus first on the loving face of God. Fr. Mike said if the priest acknowledges we are sinners, he is not being judgmental. We acknowledge our sinfulness in the Hail Mary. We do so in order to open ourselves to the love of the father.
Now continuing with Bishop Hennessey’s address:
One of the great joys of being a priest is being God’s instrument to reconcile one of His children to Him through the sacrament of confession. The priest sees the tremendous joy and relief that people experience in being freed from their sins. Confession is one of our greatest gifts from God. I go to confession frequently myself, not only to confess what I’ve done wrong, but also to receive the grace to become a better disciple, a better priest, a better bishop. I’m a sinner and I need God’s grace.
Confession gives us a chance to start over, to hit the reset button of our lives. It shows how forgiving and kind our God is and it helps us grow in compassion and love for others. Come to confession to receive God’s mercy, for peace of mind, to deepen your friendship with Jesus, to receive spiritual healing, to increase your sense of joy, and to experience Christ’s saving grace.
If you say it’s been too long, or God couldn’t possibly forgive me, you’re wrong. God’s love for you is greater than all the sins you’ve committed or could commit. Now is the time to come and have God take away the burdens of sin and guilt that can so often weigh us down.
Scot said Bishop Hennessey says it’s one of the greatest joys in being a priest to see the joy of the penitent in being forgiven and experiencing God’s love. Fr. Mike agreed a lot of people think God wouldn’t forgive them. He’s heard confession in prisons and in juvenile delinquent homes. He often heard that God could never forgiven them for what they had done, especially young 16 and 17-year-olds. He said, of course, God could forgive them. When they said God couldn’t possibly forgive them, Fr. Mike challenged them that they are not greater than God. God’s mercy is greater than any sin you can commit.
Scot said too often we project human reactions and expectations on God. Fr. Mike said God offers us a chance to begin again, to start over. Scot asked who wouldn’t want peace of mind, friendship with Jesus, healing, and joy? Fr. Mike said he’s heard many people who said the high point of their spiritual conversion was the moment of going to confession.
Jesus came to the world to save each one of us. He loves you so much and wants to help you now with whatever issues you face. He wants to fill you with joy, love and freedom. Every priest in every Church and Chapel in the Archdiocese of Boston will be waiting to welcome you. Please see to it that we are busy – share this message with family and friends by inviting them to come with you on any Wednesday evening of Lent, from 6:30-8:00pm. If you’ve been waiting for a sign to return to the Church or to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, this is your chance to reestablish and strengthen a relationship with God that will last forever. Please visit TheLightIsOnForYou.org to learn more. Thank you and God bless you.
Scot said Bishop Hennessey said Jesus came to save each of us individually. He loves us so much that he wants to help us with whatever issues we face. Fr. Mike said when Jesus said Father, forgive them for they know not what they do, he meant those words for each and every person. If you were the only person on earth, Jesus would have died for you. Fr. Mike says in talks in parishes that God knows you, loves you, and calls each of you by name.
Scot said he hears stories about confessions on Wednesdays that are scheduled to end at 8:30 and go on until 10pm.
Scot and Fr. Mike played a message from Father Robert Reed, president of the CatholicTV network, on confession.
Scot said he was shocked when he first heard this message at how powerful this message was, saying that confession literally saved his life. He recommended everyone go to The Light Is On For you, click on the videos link, and recommend the video of Fr. Reed to friends and family to show them a priest who would hear their confessions not judgmentally.
Scot introduced a humorous video from Matt Weber about going to confession.
Scot said it’s a truly funny story about why he goes to confession face to face instead of behind the screen. Fr. Mike said those are the two types of people, but what’s important is that you go. But what’s true is you always feel so much better after confession. He talked about how he can usually guess how nervous the people coming into confession are and how much he wants to express God’s love for you. Scot quoted Matt: “It’s the best feeling in the world being liberated from sin.” Fr. Mike said the greatest experience is hearing confessions at World Youth Days or major youth events, hearing confessions of young people for four or five hours at a time. Given the opportunity and understanding of the sacrament, young people want to make use of it.
Scot recounted the story of his daughter who went to first confession in January and will have her first communion on Saturday and how even she wants to avoid going to confess to a priest she knows.
Scot recommended Pilot Parish Finder website and smartphone app to help you find a church to go to for confession, especially if you want to find one on your commute home.
Also on The Light Is On For You website is a video that explains How to Go to Confession:
Scot said it’s humorous and was aimed at a young adult audience. Fr. Mike pointed out that if you are unsure in the confessional, every priest will walk you through the examination of conscience or the exact ritual for confession. The priest is there to help you in your particular needs, making you feel comfortable. Scot said he often hears people ask what happens if they forget to confess a sin. Fr. Mike said we do the best we can. We try to bring forward everything we can remember, but if we forget it honestly then it is taken up by God. Scot said he ends his confessions by saying, “For those confessions and any I can’t remember…”
Fr. Mike said the first step in the video is developing a good conscience. He said it is important for parents to help children develop a good conscience.
Scot said some people don’t go to confession, don’t want to confess sexual sins. He said some priests say that it might be easier to say it in a less embarrassing way like “I’ve had impure thoughts” without going into detail about it exactly.
On the Act of Contrition, Fr. Mike said the priest will help the penitent and the person can even just offer a personal heartfelt act of sorrow in their own words. He said the most beautiful acts of contrition have been that sort.
The priest then says the prayer of absolution. Fr. Mike recited it and said it was one of the most beautiful prayers he prays:
God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of your 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 grant you pardon and peace. And I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Last year during Lent we saw on TV the advertisements from the Catholics Come Home initiative, including this one:
Scot said the message in this commercial goes back to the idea of hitting the reset button in Lent. God gives us a chance to get back in his loving embrace again today. Fr. Mike said one of the reasons he loves to administer the sacrament is how much he needs it himself. Scot said he loves that the commercial talks of life with God as an adventure.