25/02/2014 5:01 pm
Catholic Bishop, Kieran Conry, is leading a drive to invite Catholics back to Confession this Lent, and he is keen to highlight how your mobile phone can help you to prepare to make a good Confession – whether it is your first Confession in thirty years, or you go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation regularly in your local parish.
This follows a national survey of Cathedrals conducted last year which highlighted a rise in the number of people going to Confession, and a call for additional resources to help penitents prepare for the Sacrament and know what to say.
Bishop Conry said:
“I’ve observed in recent years that more young people, in particular, are celebrating the Sacrament with an increasing number using digital apps to help them prepare and guide them through. There are a number of digital tools available to help people, but whatever age you are, know the priest is not there in the confessional to judge you, but to help you celebrate God’s forgiveness and freedom. There is nothing that you can say that he won’t have heard before. What is said during Confession is completely confidential and isn’t repeated to anyone. So if you’re thinking about going along for the first time, or coming back after a long time, there is nothing to fear.”
God’s mercy has been a recurrent theme in the first year of Pope Francis’ pontificate Recently, he shared that he goes to Confession every two weeks and he heard confessions when he visited a parish within his Diocese of Rome.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is celebrated by Catholics and allows people to share, in total confidence, their shortfalls and failings (sins), and receive God’s forgiveness. Bishop Conry added:
“We all carry in our hearts things that weigh us down – knowledge of our shortcomings and failings, our sins. Every Catholic parish celebrates a wonderful gift of God that enables us to be forgiven, healed and freed from these things, and it is called the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As Lent starts on 5 March – the time of the Church’s year traditionally associated with repentance and forgiveness – the bishops are providing new materials to encourage people to go along and rediscover this channel of God’s love and mercy."
The Bishop’s new initiative is called ‘Confession 2014’ and has as its central message: “Nothing you confess could make me love you less. Come before Him with trust in His mercy.”
These words feature on downloadable parish posters and invitation cards, along with the following quote from Pope Francis: “Jesus receives us with all of our limitations, he brings us the mercy of the Father who forgives us, and transforms our heart, rendering it a new heart, capable of loving him, who loved his own to the end (cf. John 13:1). And this love is manifested in his mercy. Jesus always forgives us.”
Also provided online:
Margaret Mizen, whose son was murdered in May 2008, is one of the people featured in the testimony videos. Reflecting on the meaning of forgiveness in light of her family’s loss, she shared:
"God was a part of our experience from the moment that Jimmy was killed. People often ask me, ‘have you forgiven the boy that killed Jimmy?' I can say hand on heart that I have. I think it just happened as a process, as an expression of the love that God shows me, that I am invited to show other people. So yes, I have forgiven him… If anyone is finding it hard to forgive, I would love to take you in my arms and just let you know how, when you can let go, and you learn to forgive, how it helps you yourself. Archbishop Desmond Tutu says, ‘forgiveness is the best form of self-interest’ and believe me it is. When you don’t forgive, you’ve this weight on your shoulders and it pulls you down. When you forgive and learn to let go, your eyes are opened to a whole new world."
“I just feel that going to Reconciliation - it’s what we share with young people in schools – is really my way of just being able to sit down and talk to God. Yes, there are always things to share that I’ve done wrong – sometimes they are simple things, something they are big things – but for me it gives me a clear heart to be able to go on and do all the other things that I want to do. And I just think it’s just a way of making ourselves pure.”
Our full section on the Sacrament of Reconciliation can be accessed here.
Bishop Kieran Conry is Chair of the Catholic Bishops’ National Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis, and he is Bishop of Arundel and Brighton diocese.
The National Confession Survey revealed that people don’t know what to say in Confession. Survey participants (Cathedral-based confessors) shared:
“People are coming and saying that they are sorry that they don’t know what to say because it might have been 20 years since their last Confession.”
“Some people are coming in saying I don’t know what to say or do because they haven’t been since they were at school or for 30 years, and are asking for help with the words to say.” Another: “People seem to have a fear about the formula of prayers to say and so priests try to put people at ease.”
Pope Francis on a parish visit
The Jimmy Mizen Foundation
5 March to 20 April 2014
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