Monday 18 February 2008

The Sacrament of Penance

The Owl of the Remove has a very interesting post about confessions. He suggests that part of what is wrong is that Saturday is just not a good time to hear them. Here in the Adur Valley, I do half an hour on Saturday morning in Shoreham, half an hour on Saturday evening in Upper Beeding, and half an hour on Thursday morning in Steyning. The response is not encouraging, really. I suppose about a third of the Sunday Mass attendance come to the Advent and Lent Penitential Services (which have individual confessions and absolution as part of it), but this means that two thirds of the parish probably hardly ever come. As those of you who are parishioners know, I do preach about it and I do encourage it, but it doesn't seem to have much effect.
I would like really to make it available during Sunday Mass sometimes. I used to do that occasionally when I was a University Chaplain. Yes, yes, I know; perhaps it isn't liturgically ideal, but I think that probably it is more important to get people back to the sacrament. But one needs another priest who also thinks it's a good idea.
Now we celebrate the Extraordinary Use on Saturdays, the numbers who come to confession on a Saturday morning have improved a little.
But I must say I like the Washington idea as told by Fr Owl; that every priest should be in his confessional throughout the diocese one evening a week during Lent. That's very creative and might well catch people's imaginations.
And would people find an evening slot, perhaps with Eucharistic Adoration, more acceptable?


gemoftheocean said...

Hey, Halleluia!!! You're back. I'll be sure to give you a plug.

gemoftheocean said...

Gave you a plug.

the owl of the remove said...

Good to see you back, Father!

Anonymous said...

I had been under the impression that "we don't do" Confession during Mass anymore. However, when I lived in Madrid for a year, I found out that it is absolutely standard there that there are priests in the confessionals for most, if not all of Mass. Now, those of course were large urban parishes, with between three and five priests. In the parish closest to my home where I normally went to (and which has Sunday Masses at 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 18:00, 19:00 and 20:30), there were two to three priests in the confessionals from half an hour before each Mass, and one of them stayed there throughout. And there were people making confessions uninterruptedly. There, it still was normal, and people weren't uneasy about it. Often they knelt not at the side, but in front of the confessional (they don't have curtains there), thus seeing and being seen by the priest.

Adrienne said...

Gem sent me over. Looking forward to more.

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

I'm sorry Father finds a poor response to his efforts to bring people back to Confession.

Sorry, but not surprised.

During "the changes", the Sacrament of Penance
was renamed the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Along with a modified version of the rite of confession, priests were telling us from the pulpit as well as in the confessional, that frequent confessions were unnecessary, except for grave sins (as if we didn't know !)

Little by little, the practice of frequent confession declined to where it is today.

I honestly don't see the practice being revived, except through the return of traditional worship, such as the "old" Mass and Eucharistic adoration, (and, of course, some much needed catechesis !)

Anonymous said...

It might help if, in your homily, you reminded people that only those in a state of grace can receive communion. It worked for me when I heard it from the pulpit and made me think my reflexive behaviour.

There is an interesting tale about Cardinal Ottaviani commenting at a large open air mass in Brazil conducted by Paul VI, when the vast ensemble rose as one to receive communion: "Who would have thought that so many would be in a state of grace!".