29-30 March: Francis announces days of penance and prayer for Rome

Pope Francis talks about going to confession.  He talks about confession a lot.  As a matter of fact, he talks about more than his predecessors did.

Now comes this.

From CNA:

Vatican City, Mar 23, 2014 / 06:38 am (CNA).- During his Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis announced that March 29-30 would be “24 hours for the Lord,” during which people can find special opportunities for prayer and the sacrament of confession.

“Next Friday and Saturday we will live a special moment of penance, called ‘24 hours for the Lord.’ It will begin with a (liturgical) Celebration in the Basilica of St. Peter’s (on) Friday afternoon, [I wonder what that would be.] then in the evening and night some churches in the center of Rome will be open for prayer and confessions,” he explained to the crowds in St. Peter’s square on March 23.

“It will be – we could call it –  a celebration of forgiveness, which will happen also in many dioceses and parishes of of the world.”

The Holy Father then noted that “the forgiveness that the Lord gives us” should make us “celebrate like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, who when the son returned home, had a party, forgetting all his sins.”

The Pope’s Angelus message also focused on the theme of the joy of encountering Christ despite our sinfulness.

Sunday’s gospel recounts the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus begins a conversation with a sinful woman who is despised by society by asking her for a drink of water.

“Jesus’ simple request is the beginning of a frank dialogue, through which he, with great delicacy, enters the inner world of a person with whom, according to societal norms, he should not even say a word,” Pope Francis said.

Jesus’s thirst “was not so much for water but for meeting a parched soul.” His request for a drink “highlighted the thirst that was within her.”

“The woman is touched by this encounter: Jesus turns to those profound questions that we have inside, but often ignore. We too have many questions, but we do not have the courage to ask them of Jesus!” the Pontiff exclaimed.

Lent is the appropriate time to look inside, to bring out our true spiritual needs, and ask for the Lord’s help in prayer,” he stressed.

The Samaritan woman’s response to Jesus is “enthusiastic.”

“She runs to the village, that village that judged her and rejected her, and announced that she had met the Messiah: one who changed her life.”

“Every encounter with Jesus changes our lives,” Pope Francis repeated. “Every encounter with Jesus fills us with joy.”

Like the Samaritan woman, we are called to “leave our jars” at the well and “witness to our brothers the joy of meeting Jesus and the wonders that his love accomplishes in our lives,” he urged.

The Holy Father then led the crowds in the Angelus prayer and greeted the various pilgrim groups who had traveled to pray with him.

“I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch!” he concluded.

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  1. APX says:

    Yes, I think sometime around then our parish is doing a 24 hr slot of adoration and confession by order of the Pope.

  2. capchoirgirl says:

    Great idea.

  3. Pnkn says:

    Can’t find anything on USCCB website or local diocesan website or local parish websites. Wrote to USCCB to ask what they are sponsoring.

  4. StWinefride says:

    Excellent idea. We will be in the UK that week-end – I’m sure there will be something organised there also.

    I happened to find out a few years ago that the Woman at the Well is venerated in the East by both Catholics and Orthodox, she is known as either St Photina (Greeks) or Svetlana (Russians). From a sermon picked at random on the Net:


    “…According to a pious tradition, St. Photina continued her missionary work after the Lord’s death and resurrection and was said to have died a martyr’s death in Rome: and this seems eminently fitting and likely. Once she had known the gift of God and who it was that spoke to her at the well, how could she be content to leave others to worship in error what they did not know, or to languish in the darkness of sin, as she had once done?
    How could she not want all people to receive the living water? That also should be our own attitude—we who by baptism have received the grace to worship in Spirit and in Truth in this Eucharistic Sacrifice. Hear, then, the Savior’s words: “Freely you have received, freely give” (Mt 10.8): the missionary spirit flows out of our adoration of the Father through the Son and in the Holy Spirit…”

  5. Pnkn:

    My guess is that the USCCB didn’t know anything about this until you did. In which case, I’m not sure what they can organize this quickly.

  6. I’m thrilled to see our holy father talking about the sacrament of confession.

    I venture to say there is nothing the enemy hates more than the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Confession.

  7. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Excellent idea, but terribly short notice. I assume the Holy Father had already put the various churches of Rome on warning, but what about the rest of the world?
    I can’t see many churches being able to stay open this Friday night all night for Confession at only five days’ notice. Even the opportunity to make some quick plan and announce it at Sunday Mass has been lost.
    My church already has Confession every weekday with four hours of Confession on Saturday, morning and afternoon – as well as Confession before and after every Mass on Sunday. Westminster Cathedral has Confession all day every day.
    Even in Rome, most churches already have an advertised Confession period. If people won’t go to Confession during the normal hours, will opening the churches on a Friday night persuade them? Maybe…Or else they go in on the spur of the moment hazily drunk after a night out…not a good idea.
    Extra Papal exhortation is an energizing fillip, in principle. But like every good idea, it needs to be announced in good time, and given special publicity. Unless the Holy Father’s idea was to confine it to the churches of central Rome.
    Every city has its own atmosphere. In London, if passers-by see that a church is open on a Friday night, many would consider it as an opportunity not for Confession but for theft, desecration or drunken pranks.

  8. Geoffrey says:

    Pope Francis talks about the sacrament of penance and reconciliation more than his predecessors. I am not expecting to see this headline in the secular media tomorrow morning!

  9. Imrahil says:

    Dear Vecchio di Londra…

    Or else they go in on the spur of the moment hazily drunk after a night out…

    I think the confessor could tell. He might suggest to rearrive in the next morning.

    On the other hand, depending on how long the line is and that the penitent is principally willing and honest, I think a confessor could lead a penitent to a valid and good Confession in some time… even if it is a spontaneous decision possibly induced by slight tipsiness.

  10. mike cliffson says:

    Spain :
    Pastoral letter from Bishops read out from Sat 22 masses on,Rome initiative to be copied in a least one Parish per diocese , volunteers required to keep vigil Blessed sacrament wee small hours especiallY ( Fixed roster more security than anything these days, my information), list of priests available for confession requested also.
    Added: Our diocese is going to be at least one parish per largish town , left to local parish priests aka pastors to decide amongst themselves in the smaller places.
    Rome was announced Saturday, after Spanish bishops at least tipped off .

  11. Pnkn says:

    Hello –

    Are parishes, priests, and parishioners really so inflexible that it takes more than 5 days to arrange to have the church open, with confession/stations/ Rosary/Adoration/ Mass ?
    All the USCCB has to do is to contact diocesan leaders to strongly encourage this. All the diocesan leaders have to do is to contact the parishes.

    I would think that there are other ways of communicating to parishioners AND the community at large in addition to the bulletin……

  12. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Pnkn, I don’t think it’s inflexibility, is it? – it’s just that the bishops and dioceses all need to be informed about the idea, and then tell all their parishioners. There are four days left, and eg our own Archdiocese here still has no inkling of the Holy Father’s plan, to judge from their website.
    Most parishes (all the ones I know) organize a fervent 40 Hours Devotion during Lent, usually this week or next, with the usual all-day Confessionals and Sung High Masses.
    To have another such within a few days of it would seem rather de trop. But perhaps this custom has lapsed in Rome?

  13. Pnkn says:

    Does anyone seriously think that there are bishops in the USA who have not already heard of the Pope’s plan ?
    Lack of information on a website is lack of website posting, not lack of knowledge !
    Is it unthinkable that the USCCB was incapable of a two or three sentence email to all bishops requesting each diocese do as much as possible to implement the Pope’s suggestion ?

    When is it ever de trop to add a Mass, Confession hours, stations, Rosary, Adoration ? Seriously ?

    Is Catholicism in the USA so bereft of devotion that one person and one priest cannot be found to give 24 hours to God in each parish (mission parishes excluded for the priestly functions)?

  14. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Q. When is it ever de trop to add a Mass, Confession hours, stations, Rosary, Adoration ?

    A. When it’s already taking place within the same week, for the 40 Hours Eucharistic Adoration.

  15. Pnkn says:

    There can never be too many offerings of the Mass!
    There can never be too much Adoration !
    There can never be too many opportunities for Reconciliation !
    There can never be too many prayers of the Rosary !
    There can never be too many opportunities to pray the Stations !

    Please, tell me the quota that God desires and accepts as sufficient and beyond which praise, adoration repentance, prayer are excessive !

  16. Pnkn says:

    Q. When is it ever de trop to add a Mass, Confession hours, stations, Rosary, Adoration ?
    A. When it’s already taking place within the same week, for the 40 Hours Eucharistic Adoration

    Ah. So everyone has the exact same schedule so that they are able to take advantage of Mass, etc within the same periods of time ?

    Sounds like God is available whenever some human decides God is available. Hardly Christian, definitely not Catholic.

  17. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Pnkn –
    As I say, we are blessed to have all the devotions you mention in our church every week of the year, thanks to extraordinarily faithful and hardworking priests: and in the coming week we have a 40-hours Eucharistic Exposition (not merely a single vigil).
    Perhaps you are not so fortunate?

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