From a reader…
At the end of today’s mass (Feast of the Assumption), the priest announced no confessions would be heard because “Sundays and solemnities are joyous occasions, so we don’t hear confessions.”
I was dismayed. I find reconciliation to be so very joyous, and I am sure God does too! God’s mercy poured onto me—my soul reconciled to His!
I’d like to say something to the priest, but I’d like to make sure I’m not incorrect before I do.
Is it normal to not hear confession on Solemnities? Is there a reason?
Is there any prohibition against Sunday confession?
What immediately came to mind was what Our Lord said:
Dico vobis quod ita gaudium erit in caelo super uno peccatore paenitentiam habente quam super nonaginta novem iustis qui non indigent paenitentia … Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:7 RSV)
Had the priest said, “Folks, no confessions today because I have a dentist appointment”, I’d get. But… no confessions because we are happy? Who says that joy precludes confession of sins?
When a Catholic comes to understand her sins and experience the grace that urges us all to confession and absolution, she will know how merciful God is, which is a cause for ineffable joy even as she still feels compunction.
Even when you are sorry for your sins, aren’t you also happy that Christ gave us the Sacrament of Penance? This is the ordinary means by which Christ wants the sinner to be reconciled. What’s more joyous than that?
What might we call this? Grave joy? Happy sorrow? This is similar in a sense to the seeming contradiction which informs the famous felix culpa of the Exsultet (and Augustine and Ambrose).
There is no prohibition of confession on Sundays or Holy Days, Feasts, Solemnities, etc. As a matter of fact, I know quite a few priests who hear confessions for a while before Masses, yes, on Sundays and feasts.
Furthermore, it is entirely appropriate for a priest to hear confessions during Masses on Sundays and feasts! In Redemptionis Sacramentum 76 we read (my emphases and comments):
Furthermore, according to a most ancient tradition of the Roman Church, it is not permissible to unite the Sacrament of Penance to the Mass in such a way that they become a single liturgical celebration. This does not exclude, however, that Priests other than those celebrating or concelebrating the Mass might hear the confessions of the faithful who so desire, even in the same place where Mass is being celebrated, in order to meet the needs of those faithful. This should nevertheless be done in an appropriate manner.
Cf. Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter (Motu Proprio), Misericordia Dei, 7 April 2002, n. 2: AAS 94 (2002) p. 455; Cf. Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Response to Dubium: Notitiae 37 (2001) pp. 259-260.
There is nothing to prevent the reception of sacramental confessions during Mass on any day of the week, or during any liturgical service, that is, during Mass or recitation of the Office.