By John Michael D. Pineda
Umatuna Si Yu’os
As this past Wednesday marked the beginning of March, Christians around the world observed the beginning of the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday.
For 40 days and nights, with prayer and penance along fasting and abstinence (See Statutes for Lent), we are also encouraged to discipline ourselves to be merciful and charitable through “almsgiving,” which means donating money or goods to the poor and performing other acts of charity.
Clad in purple Lenten vestments, Archbishop Michael Byrnes celebrated Ash Wednesday Mass, along with his brother priests of the Archdiocese of Agaña, on March 1st at the University of Guam Calvo Fieldhouse in Mangilao.
As foot traffic increased into the Fieldhouse and the faithful began to gather – the majority of whom were students, faculty, and staff of UOG – members of the clergy of the Archdiocese wearing their Lenten stoles were seated in different stations where people could receive the Sacrament of Penance, also known as the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession. “I’m so glad there’s Confessions here,” says DonaMila Inta Taitano, UOG employee.
According to the Rite of Penance, “The season of Lent is most appropriate for celebrating the sacrament of penance… so that all the faithful may have an opportunity to be reconciled with God and their neighbor and so be able to celebrate the paschal mystery in the Easter triduum with renewed hearts” (No. 13).
With chairs organized across the gym floor as pews for the Holy Mass, Archbishop Byrnes began his homily, greeting the many people that were seated on the rear bleachers rather than the seats near the altar, Archbishop joked, “This is a very Catholic celebration indeed,” as laughter ensued from the assembly. Later on, touching upon the Readings and the Gospel of the Mass, the Coadjutor Archbishop of Agaña emphasized how our Lord is “slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.”
With the season of Lent in our midst, we are called upon to reflect on how God, our Father, is gracious and merciful. Archbishop Byrnes recounted a story from his childhood when he had gotten in trouble and could not forget “the look of [his] disappointed father.” The Archbishop encouraged the faithful to “turn to God,” that instead of keeping to ourselves thinking that “God already knows my sins,” not needing to go to Confession, we must turn to our Father and repent.
Disclosing our secrets is not easy, as Archbishop mentioned, because we do so only to people we trust. Although one may say that “God already knows,” if we cannot disclose our sins to Him, then we do not trust Him. Aside from giving alms, fasting, and praying, Archbishop Byrnes encouraged everyone to reconcile with God and have a personal relationship with Him. “A clean heart create for me,” as sung in the Responsorial Psalm. To fulfill our duties to our neighbors with love, “harden not your hearts,” trust in Him and be reconciled with the Lord.