"In the poor and outcast we see Christ's face; by loving and helping the poor,
we love and serve Christ." — Pope Francis, Message for Lent 2014.
Letter from the Pastor
Dearest friends in Christ,
As we begin this Lenten season, our bishop, Most Rev. Gregory John Hartmayer, wrote another beautiful letter about the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Knowing that not all parishioners read the Diocesan Website or the Southern Cross, I decided to provide it here:
Peace and all good things!
I think it was St. Jerome who said that at the end of our lives all that we truly own is our sinfulness.
On the night before he died, Jesus said to his Apostles: "whose sins you forgive are forgiven and whose sins you retain are retained". The Church, in her wisdom, was inspired to develop a sacramental ritual by which we can experience, here on earth, the forgiveness of our sins. Through God's grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, together with our true and sincere contrition, we can enjoy the gift of God's divine mercy. At the heart of the New Evangelization is conversion to Jesus whose Gospel is the saving grace for humankind which brings great joy. Pope Francis, in his first Apostolic Exhortation, traced the link between the acceptance of a personal relationship with Jesus and the joy that comes from the forgiveness of sins. He wrote, "The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness."
The Bishops of the United States have initiated an effort to make the Sacrament of Reconciliation more available to Catholics in their local parishes. This initiative, entitled "The Light is ON for You”, is meant to encourage Catholics to avail themselves of the opportunity to experience the warmth and hospitality of their parish priests in celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation more frequently, especially during the Lenten Season. I have asked our priests throughout the Diocese of Savannah to increase the number of convenient times when the Sacrament of Reconciliation will be made available to the faithful. These additional opportunities should be announced or printed in the parish bulletin. We are all sinners and in need of God's abundant and unconditional mercy. Let us begin this Lenten Season by making a thorough examination of our consciences, owning our sinfulness and with contrition asking for the forgiveness of our sins. "The Light is ON for You” is a reminder that God is waiting for us to arrive at a new awareness of his love for us through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This is a wonderful opportunity for entire families to experience growth in their spiritual lives by a greater infusion of God's grace by the forgiveness of their sins. I think St. Jerome was right. All that we really own is our sins. As we begin this season of Lent, let us remember that "The Light is ON for Us".
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+ Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., Bishop of Savannah
Fr. Justin R. Ferguson