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The Last Word - March 2020

The light of Christ awaits you

In preparation for Lent, one of my favorite Scriptures to read is the First Letter of St. John. ­In this letter, the beloved disciple invites us to fellowship with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. St. John identifies God as Light, in whom there is no darkness, and he says, “If we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7).  Sin is the darkness we choose that results in the dimming of the light of Christ within us. Thankfully, the sacrament of reconciliation restores the light.

St. John states that “If we acknowledge our sins, [Jesus] is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing” by the power of his Precious Blood (1 John 7:9).  If we are truly sorry for our sins and make a firm commitment of our will not to do them again, we are welcomed to the foot of the cross. Confession gives us the opportunity to lay down our sins at the cross, and as the blood of the Lord falls upon us, all our sins are washed away. In this moment, we are forgiven, healed, and strengthened. It is here that the love of Jesus becomes tangible and palpable as the darkness of sin gives way to his light. Catholics should frequently seek out opportunities to experience this most joyous moment of reconciliation with the Lord.

Unfortunately, many Catholics no longer go to confession on a regular basis. Some have drifted away out of fear, some out of pride, some out of a lack of understanding, and many because they have become caught up in the distractions of life. However, for those who exercise the virtue of courage and return to the sacrament, it is an experience they won’t soon forget.

Every year, I hear the confession of someone who has been away from the Church or from confession for perhaps 10, 20, or even 50 years or more. My response to them is, “Welcome home! God has never left you in all that time and has worked with you to have you here at this perfect moment.” When the love of God lifts the weight of sin off that person’s shoulders, the change is immediately visible. The darkness of sin gives way to the Light of Christ, and joy permeates the heart.

We are blessed in our diocese to have The Light is On, a week of additional opportunities for confessions. This year, it will be the fifth week of Lent.  It is an opportunity for all, especially those who have been away from the Church and from the sacrament, to receive the gift of God’s love and forgiveness through reconciliation. Not only are the lights of the churches on for you during these evenings, but the light of Christ awaits to restore to you what the darkness of sin had stolen. Be courageous! Be enlightened!

By: Fr. Philip Clement, administrator of St. Peter the Fisherman Parish, Machias