Posted by: Christine | May 14, 2011

On Confession Schedules

It seems that in some places, the sacrament of confession is a priority, and in others, it is not.

I thought I’d get my soul cleansed today, so I went bright and early to my local parish at 3:15pm, so I could have some prayer time before the usual 4pm kick-off.  With my books and prayer cards at the ready, I arrived at the doors, only to meet the cleaning crew who debated for a few moments whether or not they should allow me to enter.  Upon peeking into the nave, I saw they had just finished mopping/waxing (I couldn’t tell) nearly the whole church, and that my route to the confessional would have to traverse this area.  So, I said thanks anyway to the nice men cleaning and changed my plans.

Off I went to another parish, a few towns away from my own, where I used to go for weekday Mass sometimes.  I found the church’s bulletin in my back seat, and confirmed that they do offer confession from 4pm-5pm (in addition to every day in conjunction with evening weekday Mass – woohoo!).  Pulling into the parking lot, I found it packed with cars, and a limousine in front of the church.  Alas! A wedding was running late.  I hightailed it to the local library where I used their facilities, then drove back to the church, and the wedding wasn’t over yet!  Gah!

I’m all for weddings (and for clean floors, too), but it seems like the sacrament of confession becomes like the little brother in A Christmas Story forgotten in the snow in favor of more exciting or [perceived-to-be] more pressing matters.

Last year, in my own parish,  confessions were preempted for a wedding.  I think if I were getting married (God willing) I would refuse to take a 3pm time slot on a Saturday.  I wouldn’t want to be in danger on walking on folk’s ability to receive the sacrament – people [should] count on it!  In fact, in this imaginary scenario, I’d love to conspire with the groom-to-be and the priest to actually offer confessions before the Nuptial Mass and to advertise as such in the paper programs (and daresay, in the invites: “You’re cordially invited to clean your slate; we all should”).

The sacrament of reconciliation is an important, vital, part of our lives as Catholics, and it is how we can reunite ourselves to Christ and bind ourselves more closely with Him.  It shouldn’t be shooed to the background, a mere 45 minutes a week for a parish of 1000+ families.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to go to confession this week, but what if I did?  What about people who go as a last-shot, and who might not return or seek another parish if turned away?  In my opinion (which probably isn’t truly imHo), parishes need to attend to all the different parishioners, including those they don’t expect to see.

A few weeks ago, the National Catholic Register posted a blog article called “Supply Side Confession: The Economics of Mercy.”  The point it makes, essentially, is that Catholics might not be coming in droves to confession because the parish, by offering it for only brief weekly periods, is really saying that it’s not important enough to merit more frequent scheduling or more prominent bulletin advertisement.  Something to consider.


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