After reciting the Angelus prayer on Sunday, Pope Francis encouraged all those present to celebrate “24 hours for the Lord”, a prayer initiative which will be held on Friday 28 and Saturday 29 March.
The event will be a moment of penance that will begin with a celebration in St. Peter’s Basilica on Friday afternoon, and various churches in the centre of Rome will stay open during the night for prayer and confession. “It will be a festival of forgiveness”, he said, “that will also take place in many dioceses and parishes throughout the world”.
The idea for the festival, said Archbishop Rino Fisichella in a March 10th interview with Avvenire, came from the Synod on the New Evangelization, during which many Synod Fathers recalled the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the “brother” sacrament of Baptism.
It also had its origins in Pope Francis’ frequent messages of mercy. “For this reason we thought it was useful, during the period of Lent, to provide people with a time for reconciliation with God and with themselves,” said Archbishop Fisichella. “The hope is that the event – located near the Fourth Sunday of Lent, in which the Gospel proposes the theme of mercy – can become a tradition in the life of the Church as an expression of commitment to the new evangelization.”
The Holy Father on Sunday also reminded the faithful that Monday 24 is World Tuberculosis Day, and he asked for prayers for all those who suffer from this disease.