If you are concerned that you are unable to receive absolution by not going to confession during the pandamic, the Apostolic Penitentiary of the Holy See, has published a resource for bishops, THE CARE OF SOULS AND THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS DURING THIS PANDEMIC.
Bishop Chad Zielinski would like to share the following with you from the document:
“Where the individual faithful find themselves in the painful impossibility of receiving sacramental absolution, it should be remembered that perfect contrition, coming from the love of God, beloved above all things, expressed by a sincere request for forgiveness (that which the penitent is at present able to express) and accompanied by votum confessionis, that is, by the firm resolution to have recourse, as soon as possible, to sacramental confession, obtains forgiveness of sins, even mortal ones (cf. CCC, no. 1452).”
• perfect contrition requires • the love of God • the sincere desire for forgiveness • the ardent commitment to receive the sacrament of reconciliation when available
This is reaffirmed in Pope Francis's homily on March 20, 2020:
“I know that many of you go to confession before Easter… Many will say to me: ‘But Father…I can't leave the house and I want to make my peace with the Lord. I want Him to embrace me… How can I do that unless I find a priest?’. Do what the catechism says. It's very clear. If you don't find a priest to go to confession, speak to God. He's your Father. Tell Him the truth: ‘Lord. I did this and this and this. Pardon me.’ Ask His forgiveness with all your heart with an act of contrition, and promise Him, ‘afterward I will go to confession.’ You will return to God's grace immediately. You yourself can draw near, as the catechism teaches us, to God's forgiveness,s without having a priest at hand.”
CCC, no. 1452: When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called "perfect" (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.
There are a variety of different Acts of Contrition suggested in the Rite of Penance. Here are a few of them.
Act of Contrition (traditional)
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.
Act of Contrition (alternate form) My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy.
An Act of Contrition inspired by the Gospels Father of mercy, like the prodigal son I return to you and say: "I have sinned against you and am no longer worthy to be called your child." Christ Jesus, Savior of the world, I pray with the repentant thief to whom you promised Paradise: "Lord, remember me in your kingdom." Holy Spirit, fountain of love, I call on you with trust: "Purify my heart, and help me to walk as a child of light."
An Act of Contrition inspired by the Gospels Lord Jesus, you opened the eyes of the blind, healed the sick, forgave the sinful woman, and after Peter's denial confirmed him in your love. Listen to my prayer: forgive all my sins, renew your love in my heart, help me to live in perfect unity with my fellow Christians that I may proclaim your saving power to all the world.
An Act of Contrition to Our Lord Jesus Lord Jesus, you chose to be called the friend of sinners. By your saving death and resurrection free me from my sins. May your peace take root in my heart and bring forth a harvest of love, holiness, and truth.
An Act of Contrition to Jesus, the Lamb of God Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Lamb of God; you take away the sins of the world. Through the grace of the Holy Spirit restore me to friendship with your Father, cleanse me from every stain of sin in the blood you shed for me, and raise me to new life for the glory of your name.
An Act of Contrition inspired by Psalm 51 Lord God, in your goodness have mercy on me: do not look on my sins, but take away all my guilt. Create in me a clean heart and renew within me an upright spirit.
The Jesus Prayer Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Coronavirus Update #2, Extended Suspension of Mass and Public Gatherings
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
As the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic increases across the USA and various parts of the world, I am reminded of the Lord’s words in Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear: I am with you; do not be anxious: I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” As a Church and individual families, with greater prayer and fervor we turn to Christ as a source of strength amidst challenge, confusion and difficulty.
On March 17, 2020 (PN BCZ 20/06), I issued a decree to suspend public celebration of Masses and all Church gatherings. It came with extreme anguish of heart, mind and soul. I have repeatedly preached about the gift of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and to have to suspend the celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass comes with great difficulty. I and the priests have shared the thirst we have for the smiling faces and prayerful responses of the faithful at Mass to return very soon.
Given the current mandates by Governor Dunleavy due to the increase of COVID-19 throughout the State of Alaska, all schools will be closed until May 1. In keeping with this decision and that of all the Region XII bishops, the following will be effective immediately until May 1 for the Diocese of Fairbanks:
• The suspension of public Masses and all other gatherings. Please pray that public gatherings will resume soon as it is safe to do so. • All remain dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. We are reminded to “keep holy the Lord’s Day.” • Priests will continue to offer daily private Mass and are encourage to livestream when possible. • The public celebration of Holy Week liturgies are suspended. These liturgies will be live-streamed from the Cathedral and those parishes that have the capability. • For those to be baptized and receive Full Communion into the Church at the Easter Vigil will be postponed until public Masses are resumed. Each parish will determine the time and date. • First Holy Communion and Confirmations are postponed until after public Masses resume.
I realize this is extremely disappointing and I ask that the sacrifices that all make be united to the sufferings of Christ on the Cross. Please pray for our health care workers, supermarket employees and countless individuals who daily expose themselves to the threat of the Coronavirus to provide essential services.
Parishes are encouraged to open their church buildings for individual prayer, adoration, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and confessions while maintaining physical distancing and other precautionary measures that health officials have recommended to minimize the threat.
I ask that you join me in prayer asking Our Lady of Guadalupe to intercede for us during this pandemic. Be assured that all of you are in my daily rosary and Mass intentions. May our hunger for the Eucharist and other Sacraments be a source of grace to strengthen our faith.
Sincerely in Christ,
†Most Reverend Chad W. Zielinski Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska Diocese of Fairbanks
Together in Christ: CNS Responds to the Coronavirus At a time when society is reeling from the Coronavirus pandemic, the Church and its media – print, web, social, radio and television – are helping its people face this unprecedented challenge. The Holy Father together with the Bishops are calmly taking the necessary steps to prevent the contagion’s spread while at the same time bolstering spirits and praying for those who are most in need of care.
Catholic News Service is covering all aspects of the crisis, and we will continue to do so for as long as needed. What follows are a selection of stories from this week meant to inform, inspire and reassure. https://cnstopstories.com/2020/03/25/ethicists-lawyers-see-dangers-in-rationing-of-scarce-health-resources/ Catholic ethicists warn that “Decisions regarding the critical care of patients during the current crisis must not discriminate on the basis of disability or age.”
https://cnstopstories.com/2020/03/25/vatican-asks-bishops-to-help-faithful-celebrate-holy-week-easter-at-home/ The Vatican has asked Catholic bishops around the world to provide their faithful with resources to support personal and family prayer during Holy Week and at Easter.
https://cnstopstories.com/2020/03/25/gospel-of-life-needed-now-more-than-ever-pope-says/ Defending life is not an abstract concept but a duty for all Christians and it means protecting the unborn, the poor, the sick, the unemployed and migrants, Pope Francis said.
https://cnstopstories.com/2020/03/24/religious-find-inventive-techniques-of-caring-for-community-in-isolation/ As people self-isolate and retreat from daily life amid the COVID-19 pandemic, priests and women religious have become beacons of hope globally as they mobilize in unconventional ways.
https://cnstopstories.com/2020/03/23/every-man-for-himself-is-not-a-solution-to-pandemic-pope-says/ As more and more countries start to feel the economic pinch due to the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis urged business leaders to seek solutions that will not hurt employees and their families.
https://cnstopstories.com/2020/03/20/if-you-cant-go-to-confession-take-your-sorrow-directly-to-god-pope-says/ People who cannot get to confession because of the coronavirus lockdown or another serious reason can go to God directly, be specific about their sins, request pardon and experience God’s loving forgiveness, Pope Francis said.
Coronavirus Update, Suspension of Mass and Public Gatherings
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Yesterday, I was on a phone conference with the governor’s office and faith leaders around the state related to the COVID-19 /Coronavirus pandemic. Doctor Anne Zink, Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer, predicts significant spreading of the virus over the next several weeks in the state. She acknowledged the moral conflict that significant social changes to combat the virus pose, especially for faith communities. This is a serious situation that requires our community as a whole to make significant changes to minimize the threat.
It is with this in mind that, effective March 18, the public celebration of Mass and other parish activities is suspended until April 3, at which time we will re-evaluate the situation. This includes all public liturgies, Masses, Benediction, Stations of the Cross, communal penance services, faith formation classes, and other types of communal church activities.
While I am taking the extraordinary step of dispensing Catholics from their Sunday/Holy Day obligation to Mass, it is important to remember that we are still expected to “keep holy the Sabbath.” The faithful are reminded that while we may not gather together for the Sacrifice of the Mass, individuals and families should pray the readings of the day and offer a spiritual communion asking for the grace to receive Christ with humility as did our Blessed Mother, Mary. We will be working on a way to stream the private celebration of Mass via our diocesan website and other social media outlets.
I realize that the inability to attend Mass is an enormous sacrifice. For our communities that have the benefit of regular celebration of the Mass and other Sacraments, this offers an opportunity for us to be spiritually united with our brothers and sisters in remote communities throughout the diocese and the world who go weeks or months without the benefit of the Sacraments. This should create within all of us a holy longing to receive our Lord and Savior in the Eucharist and a renewed reverence for Christ physically present in the Blessed Sacrament.
Parishes are encouraged to open their church buildings for individual prayer while maintaining social distancing and other precautionary measures that health officials have recommended to minimize the threat.
This is a difficult decision for me to make, but I believe it is important for the health and safety of our communities. Every Mass I offer during this crisis will include a specific intention for the health and well-being of you and your families and an end to this pandemic. Please join me in this prayer intention. May our hunger for the Eucharist and the other Sacraments be a source of grace for us.
Sincerely in Christ,
†Most Reverend Chad W. Zielinski Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska Diocese of Fairbanks