What is the purpose of a communal penence service?


I think I understand that the only normal method for absolving sins is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And only in dire situations is it licit to conduct a general absolution.

Considering this, why do so many parishes continue to offer communal penance services? If not for the purpose of intentionally disregarding the rules, what exactly is the purpose of these services? Perhaps I am misunderstanding the intent, but I believe that most parishioners who attend these services think that they have been absolved.



General absolution and the communal penance service are two different things. You are correct in what you say about general absolution. But the purpose of a penance service is to help the parish community to enter into the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent. It consists of the public reading of appropriate passages from Scripture, a homily and an examination of conscience. It then can also include private Confessions. But general absolution is not a part of the service unless there is a grave necessity. See #1482 and #1483 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.