For 24 hours, the doors of Chicago area Catholic Churches will be open to Catholics and non-Catholics alike seeking forgiveness and prayer as part of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Festival of Forgiveness.
Beginning at noon Friday to noon Saturday, two dozen Catholic churches, campus ministries and shrines will offer opportunities for Catholics to participate in the sacrament of confession and reconciliation and for other visitors to receive prayers of healing. That includes Holy Name Cathedral, where Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich will offer the sacrament and prayers. Other parishes will offer special opportunities to do likewise, the archdiocese said.
The archdiocese’s first-of-its-kind 24-hour forgiveness festival is in response to the call of Pope Francis, who has described the Catholic Church as a field hospital comprised of the wounded and a place that, by God’s grace, is an instrument of healing and forgiving mercy.
Last year during Lent, Pope Francis held a 24-hour festival of forgiveness in Rome.
“Every human being lives with elements of brokenness. Every human soul knows its fragility,” the archdiocese said in promoting the festival on its website. “In Chicago, we are more aware than ever of the wounds inflicted on our city and its people by violence, gangs, drugs, domestic abuse, child neglect, economic injustice and a spirit of mistrust among people of different races, cultures, languages and ways of life. . . . The Catholic Church in Chicago wants to be a field hospital where all people can find the medicine of God’s mercy.”
This season before Easter is an appropriate time for self-examination and to “get back on track,” Cupich said.
“Pope Francis recently challenged believers around the world, even his own colleagues, to do a heartfelt examination of conscience,” Cupich noted in a briefing on the website. “This means asking ourselves what in my life am I not giving to God, my worries, my sinfulness, my weaknesses and struggles. The Pope reminds us that in examining our conscience, we should thank the Lord for all the good we have received and at the same time call to mind our sins and ask forgiveness. The season of Lent is a great time to . . . allow God to reshape our lives and our behaviors.”