We had a small coffee/donuts gathering after the last Mass on Christmas Day. I struck up a conversation with Fr. and mentioned that I was making a real effort to get back into a groove with my prayer life, Mass attendance and obedience to the Church laws. He commended me, which was nice. I told him that one thing that could help facilitate this for me would be more frequent confession times. Right now we have once-monthly confession with the option of trying to make an appointment which is usually at least a three-week wait. During Lent there are a few more options. He told me that before they switched from 30 min a week to 45 min a month, the average number of parishioners per month receiving the sacrament was about 20 (about 5 per Saturday.) Now, he says he sees about the same amount per month during monthly confession and a few appointments. I was astonished because we have, now, over 4,000 registered households in our parish (not sure how many are active but Masses are packed.) Does this seem right? I thought every Catholic should be going to confess at least a few times a year. I hate confession and feel awkward and humiliated by it, but I try to go at least every few months and I don't accept communion if I have mortal sin on my soul (which I often do.) Everyone else at Mass seems to accept communion. Father said that most people just ask God for forgiveness and move on. He seemed redigned to it. Is this normal?
Lack of attendance seems like a poor excuse since the more you offer it the more they will come. And if he's really concerned with it, he should speak about it during homilies to encourage people to go. Confession, IMO, is the most underused sacrament of our time.
What a sad change! I hate to sound like an old codger, but I was taught as a boy (by the Jesuits-pre VII) that weekly Confession was the norm. They said that in this modern world, surrounded by so much moral corruption, even a Saint needed to confess at least once a week.
I think the lack of attendance at Communion is the fault of our priests who do not preach the need of Confession in their Sermons. The reason for this quite likely is the pastor is afraid that they will offend the congregation who will respond either by not attending Mass or by witholding contributions!
I have to say that being from another country, I was very shocked to find out that most people in my church thought confession is not necessary. Sincerely, I think it goes to a lack of proper teaching of the Church teachings. I was encouraged in my home country to attend to confession every two weeks and in my country most people attend to confession at least once a month. Priests do confessions prior to every mass. This part seems lacking in the USA. I have even known people from the church who have told me that the Church doesn't require anybody to attend to confession. In fact, I was told by one priest that because Catholics are not a majority in the USA their rules are less rigid and therefore they don't want to "push" confession on people because that might drive them apart from the church. All I can say is that I was shocked.
It's important to remember the distinction of what is required by law and what is recommended by pastoral advice.*
Can. 988 §1 The faithful are bound to confess, in kind and in number, all grave sins committed after baptism, of which after careful examination of conscience they are aware, which have not yet been directly pardoned by the keys of the Church, and which have not been confessed in an individual confession.
§2 The faithful are recommended to confess also venial sins.
Can. 989 All the faithful who have reached the age of discretion** are bound** faithfully to confess their grave sins at least once a year. *
Catholics are only required to go to confession if they are aware they committed grave (also distinguished as mortal or serious or lethal) sin (and in special cases of certain public crimes delineated in canon law). There is no law saying that a Catholic must go weekly or biweekly or monthly or during Advent, etc... So, chiding US priests for not teaching that people should go regularly as if they were duty bound to do so is not appropriate, since that is not the teaching of the Church (specifically that people must go regularly).
What should be clearly taught is that grave sin must be confessed at least once a year (the 'Easter duty') and it should be confessed much more sooner, namely, at the next available session for Confessions or by appointment. Then, as pastoral advice is to go more often for the sake of venial sins and the grace of the sacrament and to help stay away from mortal sin.
Right or not, the fact that fewer and fewer Catholics take the opportunity to receive the grace that comes with the Sacrament of Reconciliation is indicative of our need for adult faith formation. We are a Sacramental Church. Jesus instituted these “efficacious signs” so that we may more fully participate in the devine life here on earth. Unfortunately, most Catholics do not understand or believe that the Sacraments are efficacious (they accomplish what they symbolize). Accordingly, many see the Sacraments as a suggested way of expressing our faith that was established long ago by people to address the needs of a people who lioved long ago.
The fact of the matter is that the Sacraments, Eucharist and Reconciliation in particular, are totally Scriptural, the continuation of Christ’s work of redemption and increasingly relevant in our society and culture.
For those who “hate” the Sacrament of Reconciliation, stop looking at it as the burden of confessing ones transgressions to another human being, and open yourself up to the reality of becoming reconciled with Christ. There are some awesome passages in the Catholic Catechism regarding Reconciliation. One of my favorites is “The Conversion of the Baptized” paragraphs 1427 & 1427. Outside the Catholic Church this is what is referred to as being “born again” something I was adamantly opposed to until I had a conversion experience (during a Catholic retreat) and then read this passage.
Thank you! It does not help that the parish recently shut down the use of confessionals. Now confession is offered in a small room adjacent to Fr's office. Fully lit, two arm chairs, a cross, a ficus and a little plug-in angel water fountain. It reminds me of a therapist's office and I've always prefered private, anonymous confession.
A Catholic has a reasonable right to the sacraments in their proper forms. And so, the option for anonymous confession should be available. When this happens in a Reconciliation Chapel, it's often done with the use of a half wall so that you can confess anonymously, or, walk around the wall for face-to-face.
If anonymous confession isn't being offered, take that up with the pastor and if he doesn't restructure the chapel to allow anonymous confessions, take it up with your bishop.