Manila (Agenzia Fides) - It will be a place always open, where the mercy of God is ready to welcome the faithful 24 hours a day: this is the new chapel of Divine Mercy, whose construction has been launched for Lent 2023 - with the laying of the first stone - in the Archdiocese of Manila by Cardinal Jose Advincula, Archbishop of the city. The chapel, which is expected to be completed in a few months, is located in the complex of the Minor Seminary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Makati, in the neighborhood which is the political and financial heart of the city.
"In the wake of the 2015 Jubilee of Mercy and the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines (2021), we thought of a place where, at any time, a person can approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The doors are always open to return to the Lord who awaits us", said the Cardinal. "Jesus, he continued, is the visible face of God's mercy. He shows us the merciful patience of God who arouses in everyone the deep desire to return to Him, regardless of the number of sins and mistakes we may have made in our lives. In the sacrament of reconciliation we encounter the boundless love of the heart of Jesus".
The Church of Manila today addresses all the baptized with the words of Saint Paul: "We implore you in the name of Christ: be reconciled to God" (2 Cor 5, 20). Reconciliation with the living God is accomplished through the sacrament of confession, which brings us into contact with the Father, rich in mercy, and brings us back into his arms. The sins committed are forgiven through the Sacrament of Confession, which proves to be the place where the great miracles of divine mercy are manifested. Blessed are all those who profit from the gift and the miracle of Divine Mercy!".
The procedure for the Sacrament of Confession has had some problems in the past two years due to the pandemic. Churches often reduced the practice and had to build a place with a special transparent glass partition or a divider between the priest and the penitent. There has sometimes been talk in the Philippines of using cellphones or video calls as possible means of hearing Confession, but the Bishops have advised that technology should only be used for spiritual direction or to give spiritual guidance. However, a certain rarefaction of the request for access by the faithful to the Sacrament of Reconciliation has been noted in the parishes.
Taking up the Sacrament as the central moment in the personal and community journey of faith, the parish churches in Manila, during the Lenten season, constantly send notices to the faithful to remind them that priests are available for confessions. It is in this context that the initiative of the Chapel of Divine Mercy falls, a place which will symbolically always be open, even at night, by organizing a special rotation of the priests of the diocese.
In the same spirit, in another province, that of Leyte, in the center of the Philippines, a special cart was designed and built to transport the confessional to the outlying areas of the city and villages. Our Lady of Lourdes parish in the city of Tacloban, Leyte province, has launched the "mobile confessional" which carries the sacrament to remote neighborhoods, apartment buildings and villages. The initiative was born with the idea of reaching mainly the elderly, who are often unable to move, but, as it happens, it ends up involving young people, families, adults who see the arrival of the confessional as a moment of grace, as "a special visit from the Lord to their region and take advantage of the occasion to go to confession". The parish priest, Father Benedicto Catilogo, seeing the faithful arriving and queuing to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, described the experience as "uplifting and moving". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 21/3/2023)
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