Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates Candlelit Evening of Prayer in Downtown Washington

“Light the City” is a peaceful pause during Lent

March 1, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, celebrated Mass on Saturday, Feb. 28 as part of the one-night evening of prayer, “Light the City.” Held at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, the Mass was followed by teams of volunteers going out into the streets of Washington’s Dupont Circle neighborhood to invite passers-by to come into the cathedral to light a candle and pause peacefully in prayer amidst the busyness of a night in the city.

“Light the City” was held 10 days into Lent, the 40-day penitential period before Easter and the celebration of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Lent is a time when the faithful are called to “remember with the help of the Church’s liturgy all over again how much we need to pause and simply say ‘Thank You, Lord,’” said Cardinal Wuerl in his homily. During Lent, we place a special focus on the gift of God’s mercy and forgiveness, the cardinal continued, “We accompany Jesus into the desert, join him in his ministry of compassion as he draws close to every form of human suffering, and take up the cross with him.”

Lent is seen as an opportunity for the faithful to deepen their relationship with Christ by uniting themselves to God’s merciful love, which absolves Catholics from their faults. Saturday night’s event at the cathedral also included opportunities for people to go to confession. This ties in also with the archdiocese’s annual Lenten confession initiative, “The Light Is ON,” in which all Catholic churches in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area are open on Wednesday evenings for confession and quiet prayer.

The cardinal referenced remarks that Pope Francis made about how he would describe himself: “I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord, Jesus Christ.” The cardinal then noted, “Lent is the time when we recognize there is forgiveness. God does love us, seeks to embrace us in that love and is prepared to wipe away all of our sins.”

Cardinal Wuerl concluded his homily by saying, “The prayer of all of us should be that this Lent might be a time of grace as we prepare for the Passion, death, and Resurrection of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.” “This Lent let us simply ask for God’s loving embrace.”

After Mass, the cathedral was open until midnight to welcome people inside to talk with a priest, go to confession, light a candle and spend quiet time in reflection or prayer.


The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 95 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

Chieko Noguchi
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