General Absolution Services?


#1

What on earth are they?
During yesterday's homily, Fr. mentioned general absolution services and made some joke about doing them often on a cruise ship.
From that, I though it was some sort of act of reparation... but the name doesn't make sense.

Can anyone explain this to me?


#2

During Lent, to handle all those who want to make confessions, some parishes will host absolution services, where you’ll have some readings, a communal act of contrition, and then there will be multiple lines set up and manned by different priests to all hear confession at the same time. It works, but for those of us who prefer the screen in between the priest and confessor, the privacy leaves a lot to be desired.


#3

[quote="smndtupidisaftr, post:2, topic:307115"]
During Lent, to handle all those who want to make confessions, some parishes will host absolution services, where you'll have some readings, a communal act of contrition, and then there will be multiple lines set up and manned by different priests to all hear confession at the same time. It works, but for those of us who prefer the screen in between the priest and confessor, the privacy leaves a lot to be desired.

[/quote]

Oh! That's what my first confession was like.
I thought it was something totally different. He kind of made it seem like everyone was absolved without actually saying their sins to a priest... which seems...odd.
Thanks!


#4

[quote="waanju, post:3, topic:307115"]
Oh! That's what my first confession was like.
I thought it was something totally different. He kind of made it seem like everyone was absolved without actually saying their sins to a priest... which seems...odd.
Thanks!

[/quote]

There is general absolution of sins, but that is only for dire circumstances.


#5

[quote="smndtupidisaftr, post:4, topic:307115"]
There is general absolution of sins, but that is only for dire circumstances.

[/quote]

It seemed like that is what he was talking about... but his examples didn't seem to have dire circumstances. What is dire?

I'm not doing this to question Fr. He's very nice, but he's kind of very "flexible" when it comes to rules, and I want to know the right way to do things.


#6

[quote="waanju, post:5, topic:307115"]
It seemed like that is what he was talking about... but his examples didn't seem to have dire circumstances. What is dire?

I'm not doing this to question Fr. He's very nice, but he's kind of very "flexible" when it comes to rules, and I want to know the right way to do things.

[/quote]

A cruise ship sinking, for instance, hence the joke. Any case where Fr. wouldn't have time to hear lots of confessions individually. In that case he may give general absolution.

It's an abuse to give general absolution under any other circumstances, as far as I know. Not valid, but definitely illicit.


#7

There are three forms to the sacrament of Penance.

Form One is the traditional form usually celebrated either just before Mass or on a Saturday afternoon. Father is available in the confessional and, after making a private examination of conscience, you go in and confess your sins either face-to-face or behind a screen.

Form Two is the community Penitential Service many parishes celebrate:
Liturgy of the Word, Homily, General Intercessions, Examination of Conscience, Act of Contrition, followed by a private confession.

Often, such as in my hometown, several priests will get together during Advent and Lent and do the rounds, celebrating a Penitential Service in each community in turn with all the priests available to hear private confession.

General Absolution is Form Three of the Sacrament of Penance. It is licit to be used when there is no time to hear everyone’s confession (going into battle or the plane is crashing) or there are wayyyy too many people for one priest to hear everyone’s confession in a reasonable time. A condition of this form is that one is suppose to verbally confess any mortal sin at the next occasion.

It was common, in the last two parishes where I was a member, to have a Penitential Service with General Absolution during Advent and Lent. It was an illicit practice because people could easily go to confession before any Mass if they wanted to but they generally avoided Form One of confession and waited for the biannual Penitential Service. I have to confess that I was one of those people. For those Services the church was usually packed.

In 2002 the word came down that Fr. was not to do that any more. In our parish it stopped cold when the 2002 Lenten Penitential Service included private confession instead of General Absolution. Almost no one availed of the priests’ services that evening and I’m not sure that everyone was aware that they had not been given Absolution.

Since then, the attendance at Penitential Services has decreased radically. In a parish of 1500, with no regularly scheduled Confession at the time, I think last Lent we had about 10 people at the Service and few availed of the Sacrament. The new Pastor has scheduled Confession every Saturday afternoon so it’ll be interesting to see what happens with this Advent’s service.


#8

[quote="Phemie, post:7, topic:307115"]

The new Pastor has scheduled Confession every Saturday afternoon so it'll be interesting to see what happens with this Advent's service.

[/quote]

This is fantastic! I bet if he makes a point of preaching about the sacrament during his Sunday homilies, he'll see a definite increase.


#9

An actual event:

I lived in Hong Kong during the SARS crisis. To minimise person to person contact obligation to attend Mass was dispensed with and a General Absolution was given to everyone. It was of course conditional upon everyone individually going to Confession after the crisis was over.

An example of another “dire” situation would be if there was a priest on a plane that got into difficulties and might crash he could give a general absolution which again would still mean that any surviving Catholics would have to go individually to Confession.

Likewise a general absolution might be given to soldiers before a battle but again they would have to individually confess if they survived the battle.

The answer to your question is that a general absolution should only be given if some life threatening situation was at hand and if given each person still has to go to Confession and confess any sins that were covered by the general absolution.


#10

[quote="babochka, post:8, topic:307115"]
This is fantastic! I bet if he makes a point of preaching about the sacrament during his Sunday homilies, he'll see a definite increase.

[/quote]

Beyond advertising Confession in the bulletin, it appears he has no interest in preaching on it, at least not directly. Someone actually brought that up at the parish meeting he called last week and he made it clear that he was not going to be doing that.

But it seems to me that several of his recent homilies, without ever saying the words 'confession' or 'penance', were calling us to prepare to meet our Maker.


#11

Thanks be to God, we have just the opposite at our parish. It’s a Cathedral, but in a small, rural diocese.

Our Franciscan friars hear confessions on Saturday afternoons for 2 hours, and again on Thursday nights for 90 minutes. On Thursdays, the line is often 15 or more people, waiting for confession to start, and more come as time goes on. I don’t go anywhere near the Saturday times; it’s packed.

We also have confession once per month for Confirmation students AND parents (and available for other family members and catechists), during Adoration, with Benediction to follow.

They are always hearing confessions after daily Mass, and often between Sunday Masses.

They preach often about the need for confession.

Our rector does not do community penitential services. He thinks that they are a waste of time for priest and penitent. He’s told me, “I’m thinking, ten minutes into the service, that I could have heard two or three confessions already. I imagine that the people are thinking the same thing–that they could either be done already, or that much closer to being absolved.” During Advent, and Lent, we’ll have extra Confession times scheduled, prior to the noon Mass and in the evening.


#12

[quote="Phemie, post:7, topic:307115"]
… I'm not sure that everyone was aware that they had not been given Absolution. …

[/quote]

That was me once. By the time I was 10 or 11 years old, our parish had a General Absolution service a few times a year. Fast forward 15 years … by then I'd moved. I attended a penance service, and the realization came rather slowly that the priest wasn't giving Absolution. By slowly, I mean that the cathedral parish had scheduled two Penance services, and I attended both of them … waiting for the Absolution.

It was one of those moments when the scales are pried from your eyes, and the light is so bright you'd just like to close them but can't.

Not that I'd ever want to go back; rather, it was the beginning of realizing that the "cutting edge" modern religion class I'd been raised on was in fact quite wrong.


#13

[quote="sw85, post:6, topic:307115"]
A cruise ship sinking, for instance, hence the joke. Any case where Fr. wouldn't have time to hear lots of confessions individually. In that case he may give general absolution.

It's an abuse to give general absolution under any other circumstances, as far as I know. Not valid, but definitely illicit.

[/quote]

Oh, the joke was that he said them on cruise ships where lots of debauchery was going on and he had a captive group of people to give general absolution to.
Which is what he said he actually did. The joke was the debauchery on cruise ships.

Which I thought was weird. Like people aren't actually sorry, but you absolve the ship as a whole? That's why I thought it meant a sort of reparation.


#14

[quote="thistle, post:9, topic:307115"]
An actual event:

I lived in Hong Kong during the SARS crisis. To minimise person to person contact obligation to attend Mass was dispensed with and a General Absolution was given to everyone. It was of course conditional upon everyone individually going to Confession after the crisis was over.

An example of another "dire" situation would be if there was a priest on a plane that got into difficulties and might crash he could give a general absolution which again would still mean that any surviving Catholics would have to go individually to Confession.

Likewise a general absolution might be given to soldiers before a battle but again they would have to individually confess if they survived the battle.

The answer to your question is that a general absolution should only be given if some life threatening situation was at hand and if given each person still has to go to Confession and confess any sins that were covered by the general absolution.

[/quote]

OOOH okay, so not like casting out a net and people being lucky enough to come underneath. Because I thought that was weird. The whole homily was kind of minimizing the importance of confession "Mortal sins are almost impossible to commit unless you willfully miss mass. All other sins can be taken care of with good works... or fasting (if you're into that sort of thing chucklechuckle)" But at least he said the words "mortal sin". Only two of us knew what mortal sin is! And he did hint that MAYBE he'll set aside a half hour or so to hear confessions before Advent is over, if enough people want to. Which is AWESOME.


#15

I much prefer the graces I get from going to a service that offers a chance for private confessions during it or better yet - just lining up & receiving the sacrament during scheduled private confession times.

My parents church have a communal service two times a year, they did a general absolution but they had a packed church and 1 priest available. I cannot recall if the priest said go to private if you have a mortal sin or not as this was during Lent. I did go to a private confession time not long after that. For years growing up, I rarely went to confession privately after going for the first time as a 10 year old as the 2x times a year thing was all my parents did post Vatican II.


#16

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