Thursday, May 20, 2010
SACRAMENT OF PENANCE, CONFESSION, HOW OFTEN SHOULD IT BE PROVIDED?
When I first came to St. Joseph in 2004, only one priest was needed to hear Confessions on Saturday from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM. For a good bit of the time, no one would be coming in for confession. I could read, pray and day dream. Eventually over the course of the years, I emphasized Confession in my homilies and writings. For about four years now, we need to have two priests hearing Confessions for the full hour. If I had a third priest,that would be helpful. We often go past the full hour for Confession because of the lines.
I believe the cure for so few choosing to celebrate this "not an optional" Sacrament is:
1. Teach what sin is, specifically what mortal sin is and the necessity of the Sacrament of Penance as the normal means for Christ and the Church to forgive the mortal sinner and reconcile him to Christ and His Church.
2. Teach number "1" as often as possible.
3. Make sure the Sacrament of Penance is taught as both a positive and negative experience, being realistic--sense of fear and sense of relief for many.
4. Allow the option of anonymity for confession.
The one area that I have struggled with is offering this Sacrament more often than on Saturday. Of course we offer it as a Penance Service with multiple priests during Advent and Lent. During Holy Week, we hear Confessions after the Stations of the Cross offered at 12:10 PM and 3:00 PM on Good Friday--very long lines and very good Confessions!
I've thought about offering it one additional night a week at around 6:30 PM, with no finishing time, so people don't think they can show up at 7:30 PM and create a long line. If I did this, what night of the week would be best? Keep in mind priests have meetings galore weeknights! What's more important a meeting or a Sacrament? Would people come during the week?