Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

The Light Is NEVER OFF For You


Seriously friends … when it comes to God’s mercy and forgiveness – and finding it weekly across our 12 counties – the light is NEVER OFF for you. Please think about and remember that as we continue on our Lenten journey.

Even more importantly, remember it from Holy Saturday 2017 through Ash Wednesday 2018 because the light will be on for you – for all of us – the whole time.

I love the symbolism of the sentiment – The Light is On for You. It encourages us to remember that, as Pope Francis has stated regularly since a few days after his elevation to the papacy, God never tires of forgiving us; it is we who grow weary of seeking God’s forgiveness and mercy.

I confess (pun intended!) to having experienced mixed emotions when dioceses (including our own) across the country responded to the Holy Father’s call for making the Sacrament of Reconciliation more readily available by invoking that phrase – then attaching it to one-time events involving expanded hours for individual Confession.

Don’t get me wrong; that was a good thing. But I wondered then, as I do now, typing these words, whether that sent a “wrong” message.

Across the parishes in our diocese – and every diocese – those little Confessional lights are on whenever a priest is available to us. Our parishes have regular hours scheduled on a regular basis for individual Confession.

Week after week after week … throughout the liturgical year … the Light is NEVER OFF for us.

With that in mind, I urge you to save the Reconciliation schedule in this issue of The Message – or go to our website and download it in digital form. I also urge you to read the brief feature accompanying that schedule; it provides specific references to the Sacrament – and the need for it – straight from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

This statement from the CCC is included in that feature:

By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father's mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful” (CCC 1458).

I love that for a couple of reasons – most importantly because it surely is true. There is, however, another reason that fascinates me whenever I contemplate it.

Remember, this statement is part of the Catechism. There are those who would have you believe that there is this black-and-white world, in which we must follow this or that in order to attain eternal salvation. Many people who espouse that position tend not to engage much when the topic of mercy comes around.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops describes the content of the Catechism this way: “The content of the Catechism is faithful to Apostolic Tradition, Scripture and the Magisterium. It incorporates the heritage of the Doctors, Fathers, and Saints of the Church, and illuminates with the light of faith, contemporary situations, problems and questions.”

From here, then, it is safe to say that the Catechism is the source of all we should follow in our quest for salvation. And it tells us that frequent individual Confession will spur us to be more merciful as our Father is merciful.

Across our diocese, year-round, the light is on for all of us. Let us all resolve to be more faithful in following that light to God’s mercy and forgiveness, and to our own opportunities to show mercy to others.