“I hope that this year also such a privileged moment of grace on the Lenten journey will be lived in many churches around the world in order to experience the joyous encounter with the mercy of the Father, who welcomes and forgives everyone.” – Pope Francis, Lent 2017
Beginning with Opening Mass on Friday, March 29 and continuing until the next afternoon, the Diocese of Orange will host “24 Hours for the Lord,” as part of Pope Francis’s international initiative.
While many local parishes will host penance services during Lent, the continuous events at Christ Cathedral campus between the third and fourth Lenten Sundays include round-the-clock confessions, Masses in several languages, processions and 24-hour adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
The Opening Mass takes place in the Arboretum, followed by a procession to the Cultural Center where exposition of the Eucharist and confessions in three languages will commence.
“This is an event that presents everyone with time to spend looking at what has kept us away from God,” says Lesa Truxaw, director of the diocese’s Office for Worship.
“The opportunity to go to confession at hours that work for their schedules is something that is very appealing,” Truxaw adds. “Having access to confessors is important to many people who have been away from the church for a long time.
“They come back through this experience,” she says. “The weekend offers a deeper, more personal experience for them.”
The 24-hour events are open to anyone from any parish, including RCIA candidates who haven’t received the sacrament of penance and want an opportunity to more closely explore the sacrament, Truxaw notes. A special RCIA event is offered during the event only to those who have registered.
A featured activity during the event will be a labyrinth in the plaza outside the Cultural Center and the Arboretum. The labyrinth offers participants the opportunity to pray by recounting the journey of Christ, Truxaw says. “It is not a maze, but a path,” she notes, “a form of prayer with Catholic roots that allows us to pray in a physical way. The labyrinth involves both the head and the feet.”
A Holy Hour for Youth will be held at 9 p.m. the first evening, Friday the 29th. A communal penance service takes place at noon on Saturday, March 30, and the event closes with Benediction at 2:30 p.m., Truxaw says.
Bishop Kevin W. Vann decided the diocese would participate for the third year, she explains, after first hosting the event in 2016 during the Year of Mercy and again in 2018. Along with the Holy Father, Bishop Vann invites all people – particularly Catholics who have turned their back on Catholicism, and occasional Catholics – to receive the mercy of God through Eucharistic Adoration and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
“This is especially a time to invite back to the Church those who have fallen away from the practice of the sacraments and are just waiting for the door of God’s mercy to be opened for them,” Bishop Vann says.
The full “24 Hours for the Lord” calendar of events, including times and locations on the Christ Cathedral campus, is available at rcbo.org/24-hours-for-the-lord/.