The bishops of Mexico have designated April 3, the Friday of Passion Week, as a National Day of Penance amid the spread of the coronavirus. The day is also the commemoration of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

According to the Code of Canon Law, every Friday of the whole year is a penitential day.

The Mexican bishops’ liturgical commission made the announcement in a statement released March 29, calling for fasting and online participation in a penitential Holy Hour. “In the light of the Word of God which calls us to conversion, we will make together an act of perfect contrition,” the commission also noted.

The Mexican bishops referenced the March 20 note from the Apostolic Penitentiary which explains that “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.”

The prelates asked the faithful to “pray presenting ourselves before the Lord and pleading him for his help, he who is our intercessor before the Father in the grave contingency that we are suffering, with an attitude of humility and confidence, asking him for forgiveness of our sins, that he may obtain for us the spiritual and bodily health that all peoples need.”

“The Church calls us at this time of Lent to conversion, penance and to be reconciled with God and our brothers,” the bishops stated.

They also called the faithful to join their sufferings to Christ, perform spiritual and corporal works of mercy, pray the Stations of the Cross and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and for devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows.

Mexico’s deputy secretary of health, Hugo Lopez-Gatell Ramirez, reported in a March 30 tweet that the Ministry of Health has recorded 1,094 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 28 deaths in the country.