Culled from Vatican News. See original article HERE

Pope Francis encourages Catholics around the world to participate in the 24 Hours for the Lord initiative, and to unite themselves spiritually in those nations where public gatherings are banned due to the coronavirus outbreak.

By Devin Watkins

“24 Hours for the Lord” is an initiative organized by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, and held annually on the Friday and Saturday preceding the fourth Sunday of Lent.

A church in every diocese around the world is kept open for 24 consecutive hours. The faithful are encouraged to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to pray in spiritual union with the Holy Father.

Unusual circumstances

At the Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis called the initiative “an important Lenten appointment for prayer” and a good opportunity to go to Confession.

This year’s recurrence will take place under restricted circumstances, due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Many countries have banned public gatherings and limited some freedom of movement to stem the virus’ spread.

“Unfortunately in Rome, Italy, and in other nations this initiative cannot be held under its traditional format due to the coronavirus emergency,” said the Pope.

Pray to participate

But he urged Catholics in countries without restrictions on gatherings to continue “this beautiful tradition.”

“I encourage the faithful to draw near sincerely to the mercy of God in Confession and to pray especially for those suffering due to the pandemic.”

For those who are unable to participate directly in the 24 Hours for the Lord initiative, Pope Francis said he is certain they will be able to experience “this penitential moment through personal prayer.”