PRIESTS! BISHOPS! ACTION ITEM! Ideas, some novel, some not so novel, for increasing CONFESSIONS

Have I ever urged you …

GO CONFESSION!

Yes, I believe I have.

I have also urged priests and bishops to preach, teach, admonish, in season and out, about the Sacrament of Penance and to hear confessions.  Get into the box.  People will come.  It’s not complicated.

First, an article with my comments.  Afterward, some documentation from the Holy See about a CONCRETE way to increase the use of the Sacrament of Penance.

From Crux:

BALTIMORE – Confession has a confession to make: The sacrament of reconciliation isn’t the draw it once was.

A recent Pew Research Center study found that only 43 percent of American Catholics avail themselves of confession at least once a year. And from there, the numbers get grimmer. A paltry 17 percent go more than once a year, and a scant 7 percent go monthly[And yet, even of the Catholics who go to Mass on Sundays, go to Communion?  Each sacrilegious Communion harms the whole Body of Christ.  Is it any surprise that the Church is a mess right now?]

Usually offered in the middle of the weekend on Saturday afternoons, confession can be a hard sell for busy Catholics. The subject matter, sin, also can be a stumbling block in a culture that can be, at times, too enamored with accentuating the positive.  [Accentuating the positive?  WHAT?  It’s obsessed with exalting wickedness!]

Confessing our shortcomings – on social media, in the therapist’s office and elsewhere – is more popular than ever. But seeking absolution and greater connection with God? Not so much.

That’s why some priests are pushing back against empty confessionals in novel ways. It’s time for confession to make a comeback, they say.  [“Novel ways”… okay.  I’m game.  What would they be, I wonder.]

“It wasn’t preached, and it wasn’t made available,” Father Michael DeAscanis said of the decline. “The more we talk about the benefits of confession and the more we make it available, make it easier for people. I think you’ll see this rediscovering of confession.”  [Ummm… that’s novel?  Telling people about it and then getting into the box?   Mind you, I am NOT complaining!]

The priest is pastor of St. Philip Neri Parish in Linthicum Heights, Maryland, and parish administrator of St. Clement I Parish in Lansdowne, Maryland.

Father Brian Nolan joined St. Isaac Jogues Parish in Carney, in Baltimore County,  as pastor about a year and a half ago and realized the regular Saturday afternoon confession time wasn’t going to cut it.

“Probably the worst time of anybody’s week,” Nolan told the Catholic Review, the news outlet of the Baltimore Archdiocese. “Like, who stops midday on a Saturday? What we say in general that is you meet people where they are. Everybody comes on Sunday.”  [Gosh, I dunno about that.  My home parish had confessions from 3:30-5:00 on Saturdays and then again 7:30-9:00 (or until done).  More than one priest.  There were lines.]

He started offering another session on Sunday night, right before St. Isaac Jogues’ most popular Mass. Nolan said the parish is making slow and steady progress encouraging more attendance.

“Some people could say, well, sin is negative, but it’s real. And to ignore it, it’s like ignoring cancer,” Nolan said. “Instead of being weighed down by sins and blocking at times the grace of God in your life, why not have a free, full availability of receptivity to God and his grace?”  [Very good.  Still waiting for the “novel” part.  Is it possible that the writer, social media coordinator for the Catholic Review and the Archdiocese of Baltimore, hasn’t heard this before?]

Charles Strauss, associate professor of history Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, said the decline in confession in the United States began in the 1960s. Before that, from about 1840 to the 1950s, the sacraments, including confession, were woven into the daily lives of many Catholics, especially recent European immigrants.

“Frequent confessions, weekly or monthly, just became part of the cycle. You know, part of the schedule of one’s life,” said Strauss, who also serves as executive secretary-treasurer of the American Catholic Historical Association. “And it was not just regulated by parents, but by authority figures like Catholic schoolteachers, mostly religious and by parish priests.” [Remember what I have said about the fusing of various forces into a single halcyon icon in the minds of those who grew up in the 60’s?]

The decline in confession can’t be traced to one cause, but many factors, said Strauss, a member of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The suspects are many and varied: A general distrust in authority that became prominent in the 1970s; well-meaning reforms by the church that deemphasized sin also may have discouraged penance; and even the move toward a less formal society.

“If you’re not having a meal in your home together, is it going to be even realistic to think you’re going to follow other rituals of your religious denomination?” Strauss said.  [Great point!]

Father James Boric is among the priests in the Baltimore Archdiocese championing the sacrament of reconciliation. He is rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore.

Boric, who decided to become a priest after a particularly powerful confession, has vastly expanded the hours that the basilica offers the sacrament.

He offers confession before midday Masses daily from 11:30 a.m. to noon and also on Sunday. He stays after Masses and offers confessions on major – and well attended – celebrations such as Christmas and Easter. He also offers the sacrament Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.  [Again, not novel.  Common sense.  I applaud him!]

But Boric said more convenient times are only part of the solution. He regularly preaches about sin and confession, even though some parishioners may not like what could be seen as a negative message.

“We have to preach sin,” Boric said. “If there’s no sin in the world, then nothing’s wrong. Then why go to confession?

“We’ve experienced a tremendous increase in confessions. [There it is!] Now, I’ve made a concerted effort over three years to preach about it often,” he added. “So on like big days, like Divine Mercy Sunday, when there are such great promises attached to the sacrament, I will hear confessions for three, four hours straight.”

In Linthicum Heights, DeAscanis is not only encouraging confession in general but also preaching the benefits of regular confession.

Once a year good. Twice a month better,” is his mantra.

Regular confession can help you better interact with the people you love in your life, DeAscanis said.

He recommends that to get the most out of confession, parishioners should do an examination of their conscience beforehand to focus their thoughts. [Before!] He has a guide for doing that printed in his weekly church bulletin. Quality guides also can be found on line.

“We just need to repent. And I think that in some ways we’re afraid of doing that,” Boric said. “And it is hard. I mean, when you’re calling out the sins of the culture, you know, whether it’s promiscuity, whether it’s living together before marriage, whether it’s pornography and all the things that affect people.

And yet there’s a solution … salvation.”

I applaud the priests who are trying to rebuild practice of regular confession.   In doing so, they are also helping themselves.  Priests and bishop will have to give an account to God for what they did about the Sacrament of Penance, which they solemnly promised at the time of their ordinations to administer.

I will add two things.

First, check out Fr. Z’s 20 Tips For Making A Good Confession.  It is always available at this blog, down towards the bottom in a menu.

Also, FATHERS!  BISHOPS!  Priests can hear confessions DURING MASS!

Of course they can’t hear confession why they themselves are saying Mass.  But another priest can.  If there is another priest available, that priest can hear confessions during Mass and then help with Holy Communion, thus eliminating the need in most cases for a lay person.

“But Father!  But Father!,” some of you addlepated libs are mooing, “This is intolerable!   How could you say that reconciliation is so needed that ordained ministers should do it during Eucharistic sharing?  And then… then… to take away the rights of non-ordained ministers to fulfill their community authorized ministry of sharing the bread and cup?  You … youuuuuuuu…. you HATE VATICAN II!”

CONFESSIONS DURING MASS!

While this is not really a novel idea, because it was a wide-spread custom back in the day, it is novel-er than the pretty much un-novel novel ideas underscored by the writer of the article, above.  Also, it is authorized and even promoted by the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship.

in Redemptionis Sacramentum 76 we read:

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 DubiumNotitiae 37 (2001) pp. 259-260.

Also, here is something translated from the Latin found in Notitiae 37 (2001 – no. 419-420) pp. 259-260 with my emphases and comments:

Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (October 2001)

What are the dispositions governing the time for the celebration of the sacrament of Penance? For example, can the faithful have recourse to the sacrament of Penance during Mass?

The principal norms governing the time for the celebration of the sacrament of Penance are to be found in the Instruction Eucharisticum mysterium (25 May 1967), which states: The faithful are to be constantly encouraged to accustom themselves to going to confession outside the celebration of Mass, and especially at the prescribed times. [This is close to one of my 20 Tips! #3] In this way, the sacrament of Penance will be administered calmly and with genuine profit, and will not interfere with active participation in the Mass (no. 35). The same is reiterated in the Praenotanda of the Ordo Paenitentiae (no. 13), which states that: the reconciliation of penitents can be celebrated at any time and day. [Remember those people who claimed confessions couldn’t be heard during the Sacred Triduum? FAIL.]

Nevertheless this ought to be understood as a counsel [Not an imperative.] directed to the pastoral care of the faithful, who ought to be encouraged and helped to seek health of soul in the sacrament of Penance, and have recourse to it, as far as possible outside the place and time of the celebration of Mass. On the other hand, [Here we go…] this does not in any way prohibit priests, except the one who is celebrating Mass, from hearing confessions of the faithful who so desire, including during the celebration of Mass. [There it is, ladies and gentlemen.] Above all nowadays, when the ecclesial significance of sin and the sacrament of Penance is obscured in many people, and the desire to receive the sacrament of Penance has diminished markedly, pastors ought to do all in their power to foster frequent participation by the faithful in this sacrament. [In other words, this sacrament is really in crisis.  We have to do all we can to revive it.] Hence canon 986.1 of the Code of Canon law states: All to whom by virtue of office the care of souls is committed,are bound to provide for the hearing of the confessions of the faithful entrusted to them, who reasonably request confession, and they are to provide these faithful with an opportunity to make individual confession on days and at times arranged to suit them.

The celebration of the sacrament of Penance is indeed one of the ministries proper to priests. The Christian faithful, on the one hand, are not only obliged to confess their sins (cf. can. 989), but on the other hand are fully entitled to be assisted by their Pastors from the spiritual riches of the Church, especially by the word of God and the sacraments (can. 213).

[Wait for it….] Consequently, it is clearly lawful, even during the celebration of Mass, to hear confessions when one foresees that the faithful are going to ask for this ministry. In the case of concelebrations, it is earnestly to be desired that some priests would abstain from concelebrating [DID YOU GET THAT, FATHERS and BISHOPS? Don’t always concelebrate.  HEAR CONFESSIONS during the Mass! Advice from the CDW!] so as to be available to attend to the faithful who wish to receive the sacrament of Penance. It should be borne in mind, nevertheless, that it is not permitted to unite the sacrament of Penance with the Mass, making of them both a single liturgical celebration [This is done in the Novus Ordo sometimes with baptisms, for example, or even celebrations of liturgical hours such as vespers.].

Now, THERE is a novelty!

Less concelebration and more confessions DURING MASS.

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25 Responses to PRIESTS! BISHOPS! ACTION ITEM! Ideas, some novel, some not so novel, for increasing CONFESSIONS

  1. The Egyptian says:

    May moons ago you posted several times about a priest that moved the front altar from the church to the rectory and installed a confessional on the other side of his office wall, allowing him to hear confessions anytime he was available. He just rolled his chair over to the door and slid open the panel, still think that is a great idea, if the light is on I’m available. How novel and simple
    Also if the church would get over the idea or “reconciliation” iow consoling sessions, and get back to the box, I do believe that confessions will increase, it’s hard to face Fr Friendly that you see at mass and is looking at you in the “room”. also a good reason to reinstate ad orentium mass. Fr Friendly is too friendly at times

  2. rhhenry says:

    Thank you, Father, for including that last part from Notitiae. Without it, I understood Redemptionis Sacramentum simply to be talking about the case of enormously large churches, such as St. Peter’s in the Vatican, where it would indeed be weird to prohibit confessions in one part of the basilica simply because there was a Mass being offered in a side chapel many yards away. I did not understand that the rules explicitly allowed for a Mass-goer to take a “time out” during the Mass he himself was attending in order to go to confession.

  3. Charles E Flynn says:

    From the Amazon.com description of Confession: Catholics, Repentance, and Forgiveness in America, by Patrick W. Carey:

    Confession is a history of penance as a virtue and a sacrament in the United States from about 1634, when Catholicism arrived in Maryland, to 2015, fifty years after the major theological and disciplinary changes initiated by the Second Vatican Council. Patrick W. Carey argues that the Catholic theology and practice of penance, so much opposed by the inheritors of the Protestant Reformation, kept alive the biblical penitential language in the United States at least until the mid-1960s when Catholic penitential discipline changed.

  4. The Egyptian says: May moons ago you posted several times about a priest that moved the front altar from the church to the rectory and installed a confessional on the other side of his office wall, allowing him to hear confessions anytime he was available. He just rolled his chair over to the door and slid open the panel, still think that is a great idea, if the light is on I’m available. How novel and simple

    I think that’s Fr. Richard Heilman, co-host of the U.S. Grace Force podcast and author of the Church Militant Field Manual, which has helped me personally. He says he will hear confessions 24/7, and even travel to those who cannot come to him, because he is literally in a panic over souls in danger of damnation. I believe he really means it, and fears hell for souls more than the souls fear it for themselves. I wish we could borrow Fr. Heilman. We wouldn’t keep him long: just a few decades.

    Another thing we could do if we’re serious about restoring the Sacrament of Penance is get rid of “reconciliation rooms” and bring back legitimate confessionals. It would be good for priests, too, who would no longer be in the same room with penitents and thus would be protected from accusations of improper conduct.

  5. veritas vincit says:

    If confessions are heard during Mass, does any layperson who goes to Mass during confessions, entitled to use that Mass to satisfy his Sunday and holy day obligation? And is that person, otherwise well-disposed, entitled to receive the Eucharist at that Mass?

    Personally, I would think not, as the confession, however good and even necessary it might be, is a distraction from the Mass itself.

    In any case, hearing confessions during Mass is only feasible if more than one priest is present. That is not normally the case in many parishes today.

    The ideal time to have confession is not during Mass, but before Mass. My parish priest (before he was transferred last year), had a regular habit of hearing confessions before every weekend Mass. I thought that worked great, at least for my family. (Had he preached in sin and penitence from the pulpit, he would have had a better response from others).

  6. visigrad22 says:

    My parish is one of 1300 families. Confession is offered for one hour prior to the vigil Mass…there are always long lines. Good thing …right ? However all the penitents are not heard…so the pastor comes out and gives ‘general absolution’ to those poor souls left standing…..SAD SO VERY SAD

  7. LeeGilbert says:

    Used to be in my family as I was growing up that my dad or mom would ask us, “So when was the last time you went to Confession?” Not that they necessarily want to know , but they did want to give us a push in that direction. And it was a good thing. And I think it was part of Catholic culture back then and not just in our family. Now? I doubt it.

    This could be something priests push from the pulpit, ratifying it as a way Catholics interact with each other. We are concerned about one another. We want the best for one another. So we “exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of [us] may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3;13

    Even now it is something I should do with my grown siblings, in a gentle, kindly way, with the lightest possible touch. What is the point, after all, in igniting a fierce blowback?

    From the pulpit one time a priest told us that he knew of a family-and I think it was his family growing up- that when the mom saw churlishness, contentiousness and petty bickering breaking out among the children she would say “You kids need to get to confession!” She wasn’t proposing a remedy, but a diagnosis. In other words, it was the lack of the sacramental grace that led to the out-break of sin in the first place.

    That, too, is a bit of parental wisdom that could be talked up The follow-up, of course, could be/should be to pack them up in the car and drive them over to Confession, no?

  8. Philmont237 says:

    Almost every Mass I’ve been to in Latin America had a priest hearing confessions during Mass. It makes it really easy to go.

  9. Markus says:

    veritas vincit,
    “Personally, I would think not, as the confession, however good and even necessary it might be, is a distraction from the Mass itself.”
    Having experienced this in the early sixties, it was no distraction. No lines. No one noticed. Parishioners simply rose and went in the confessional. They appeared to be moved to do so during Mass. The priest left the confessional to help with Communion.
    Of course in those days, the Mass emphasis was vertical and not a horizontal relationship with God, as emphasized in the Early Church and today.
    Today I find it difficult to go to Confession in a parish of 5,000 registered families during one hour on Saturday afternoons with a line forming 1 hour before. Three priests and only one or two hearing confessions. 1.25 hours before the Saturday vigil Mass. Another parish just shortened the time to 1 hour. Getting more difficult.

  10. The Masked Chicken says:

    The famous psychiatrist, Dr. Karl Menninger, wrote a book in the 1970s (!) entitled, Whatever Became of Sin? Here are a few possible reasons for the decline in Confession attendence:
    1. The rise of psychiatry and the explaining away of vice as a psychological maladjustment.
    2. The sexual revolution and the resistance of (especially young) people to be called to account.
    3. The ecumenical movement with Protestant ideas about sin and salvation being absorbed by Catholics.
    4. The development, particularly among Jesuits in the 1970’s, that conscience was the determining factor of sin instead of objective standards – so, the subjectification of sin ( many people seem to think it almost impossible to commit a mortal sin).
    5. Priests being poorly formed about sin and its consequences, replacing it with pastoral psychology, that considers sin as an environmental problem to be worked through instead of overcome (see number 1, above).

    Menninger talked about point 1. I added the rest.

    The Chicken

    P. S. Don’t forget the time change in the U. S., tomorrow.

  11. NancyP says:

    Thank you, Father Z, for highlighting this article about my archdiocese. Father James Boric, Rector of the Baltimore Basilica (I know that’s not his official title) was associate pastor at my emergency backup parish (home of a Sunday evening Mass we often attend) before taking up his current duties and he is an amazing, holy priest. Anyone who wants to listen to his excellent homilies can do so, as they are available via podcast from the Baltimore Basilica’s website.

    We are a military family, and when we were stationed in Italy in the early part of the 21st century, we noticed that confessions were often offered during Mass, particularly at famous shrines (the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, for example). It did not appear to be a substitute for going to Mass or a “time out” from Mass…it was an either/or situation.

    I look forward to learning more.

  12. Rob83 says:

    That was always the head-scratcher when it came to Christmas and Easter. Those are the two prime opportunities to reach the Catholics who never show up the rest of the year, and yet if anything, trying to get confession on those two holy days is next to impossible in a lot of parishes.

    Rather than a concelebrant or two, it would be more sensible to put the additional fathers in the box before and during those Masses and hand out examination of conscience guides in addition to the spiffy programs. Even if it’s mostly regulars getting in line, I’m pretty certain priests would also get a number of “it’s been x years since the last confession” types too.

  13. jcapt says:

    I believe the length of the confession line is a proxy for the health of a parish.

    Several years ago one of our priests preached about confession, and soon thereafter the parish needed to add almost 2 hours of confession time each week! Offer it and they will come!

  14. SanSan says:

    Every Sunday before each Mass there are two priests in the confessionals. Before, during and after Mass. Star of the Sea, San Francisco. God bless the Pastor, Father Illo for instituting this practice! TLM Masses too! We drive an extra 45 mins on Sunday morning to this parish for this wonderful treasure.

  15. veritas vincit says:

    Having experienced [confessions during Mass] in the early sixties, it was no distraction. No lines. No one noticed. Parishioners simply rose and went in the confessional. They appeared to be moved to do so during Mass. The priest left the confessional to help with Communion.
    Of course in those days, the Mass emphasis was vertical and not a horizontal relationship with God, as emphasized in the Early Church and today.”

    Markus: That sounds like the stories I have heard consistently, that prior to Vatican II and the NO Mass, it was common for the congregation to pray the Rosary during Mass. In other words, the laity while present at the Mass were largely “disconnected” from it.

    The Vatican II’s emphasis on “active participation” was probably intended to correct that, even if (in the chaos of the Sixties) the correct went too far, as Markus states.

    And absolutely, Confessions should be made more available. Long confessional lines are an indication that confession should be offered at more times.

  16. Markus says:

    veritas vincit,
    ” The Vatican II’s emphasis on “active participation” was probably intended to correct that, even if (in the chaos of the Sixties) the correct went too far, as Markus states.”

    I did not say or imply that. “Active participation” appears to be created by a few “theologians” and “liturgists.” Change for change’s sake.

    Your “stories” are incorrect, false rumors. Most at the Latin Mass had translations (ST. Joseph Missal, readings and all!) and maybe a few (like 3) prayed the rosary as I witnessed. Most Catholics of the time knew enough Latin to understand the prayers. Contrary to today’s popular belief, Catholics were not stupid and were quite informed (formed) in their Faith.

    By the way, I spent 3 years in a program at CTU gaining a certification in Liturgical Design and Art Consultation in the late’90’s. So I have an informed clue and we studied the Mass extensively. The problems today, as I conjecture, appear to be a dual emphasis in worship, the vertical and horizontal. Also throw in devotions (and devotionals) being de-emphasized and what do you have?
    Believe it or not, pre-1962 Catholics did practice the social, horizontal (yes, even social justice without the name) and quite successfully. Mass, vertical, prayers up, graces flowed down. Horizontal, social was carried out by extra curricular activities such as charitable organizations and volunteerism. The Early Church, horizontal, was an underground church, literally and physically.

  17. The Masked Chicken says: The famous psychiatrist, Dr. Karl Menninger, wrote a book in the 1970s (!) entitled, Whatever Became of Sin? Here are a few possible reasons for the decline in Confession attendence: 1. The rise of psychiatry and the explaining away of vice as a psychological maladjustment.

    I’ll see that, and raise it. We have now gone beyond explaining away vice, to raising vice to the level of virtue. Now it is considered a psychological maladjustment to call vice by its right name!

  18. Gregg the Obscure says:

    there’s a good priest nearby who has instituted more frequent confessions at both parishes where he has been pastor. his prior parish retained the extended opportunities after he was moved to a bigger parish. at both places he had confession on at least four weekday mornings during commuting hours (with adoration during and benediction after), plus other expanded opportunities outside the typical Saturday at 3.

    when i went to confession most recently, i got there 15 minutes before starting time. there were already nearly 20 people in line ahead of me, but with 3 priests the line moved along well.

  19. Mornac2 says:

    At St. John Cantius parish in Chicago, confessions are heard starting about a half hour before the 7:30 Low Mass on Sunday and they don’t stop until the last confession is heard during or after the 12:30 sung High Mass. That’s a steady flow during four consecutive Masses with a brief break around 10:00 when our priests and brothers take their morning meal in community. There are always two to four confessionals open and when priests are needed to help with Communion, they are signaled by one of the brothers during the Our Father. Of course we also have Confession scheduled on Saturday evenings (or by appointment) but our church is located in a recently-gentrified area just west of downtown where few of our parishioners actually live. For most of our people who have to drive at least a half hour into the heart of the city – often with a load of kids in tow – the most practical way for most folks to avail themselves of the Sacrament is on Sunday morning either before, during, or after Mass.

  20. LeeGilbert says:

    Markus, you write
    “Your ‘stories’ are incorrect, false rumors. Most at the Latin Mass had translations (ST. Joseph Missal, readings and all!) and maybe a few (like 3) prayed the rosary as I witnessed. Most Catholics of the time knew enough Latin to understand the prayers. Contrary to today’s popular belief, Catholics were not stupid and were quite informed (formed) in their Faith.”

    I couldn’t agree more. Parochial school was affordable, and I believe most parishioners had a good Catholic formation at the hands wonderful nuns. Several times I have heard resentment expressed by old timers against the Baltimore Catechism and I understand. It was knot-in-the-stomach- making, but we emerged from that program knowing our faith.

    Approaching the church on Sunday you would see that almost all the parishioners had a missal in hand, and followed it throughout the Mass. Looking over your shoulder as you left after Mass you would see a good number of people still making their thanksgiving. It was a glorious time.

  21. Kate says:

    My daughter, who has always often gone to Confession, began a new job in Florida. She had one day off per week – Mondays. She quickly learned that the local churches only offer Confession for 30 minutes on Saturday afternoons, typically at the same time at every local parish, during her work hours.

    I suggested she call for an appointment. She tried calling some parishes, but she was told by more than one office that the priest is available at the scheduled time on Saturdays, not for appointments. Finally, she found a priest who could see her for Confession on Mondays, but it certainly took persistence and too many phone calls.

    How to get people to come to Confession? Offer it more often, at various hours (early, late, during lunch, on weekdays…) so that people can attend.

    Even if someone has Saturday and Sunday off, offering Confession for thirty minutes at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoons (or around that time and only at that time) is inconvenient for many people. Should we be inconvenienced? Should we make Confession a priority? Okay, sure.

    But you gotta start somewhere…

  22. Imrahil says:

    Dear veritas vincit,

    If confessions are heard during Mass, does any layperson who goes to Mass during confessions, entitled to use that Mass to satisfy his Sunday and holy day obligation? And is that person, otherwise well-disposed, entitled to receive the Eucharist at that Mass?

    Yes, and yes. For (i), see K. Hörmann, Lexikon der christlichen Moral [i. e. Lexicon of Christian Morality], article on “Sunday”, 2 II b: Who during Divine Service and in the interest of Divine Service has to fulfill a certain task (organ player, singer, collector) fulfils the precept if during the things he has to do he pays attention at least to the main parts of Mass; as does who makes his Confession during Mass, translation and emphasis mine. I guess the ought to be something in Jone, but I have no access there right now. Or St. Alphonsus. (I guess, and I think I have read somewhere, that also the priest who hears the Confession fulfills his Sunday duty; but for him there’s always the option of at least a private Mass anyway.) As for ii), it follows obviously that he who is well-disposed can and should receive Communion, all the more so when he has just left the Confessional as a holy man.

    The ideal time to have confession is not during Mass, but before Mass.

    This seems to me to be one of those fausses idées claires (which I do not mean as harsh as it sounds, as I am going to explain). Of course “before Mass” is the liturgically appropriate time for Mass, and highly beneficial; noone is going to doubt that! Also it is the time where most parishes that still offer scheduled Confession hours actually do schedule them (in my perspective). That is a good thing, nay, a great thing (please don’t misunderstand me).

    But it would be wrong to imply, which even good liturgists sometimes seem to imply, that this and only this is the time for Confession.

    “Yeh ‘ave to take people as they are, yeh won’ gedd any ozzers”, as Chancellor Adenauer said (if you pardon the translation of Colognish to my idea of an English dialect). If Confession is before Mass, people will only make their Confession if the purposely arrive early in order to do so, which is a big step. In addition, Mass on Sunday still tends to be in the morning, making it an even bigger step – depending on the habits of the penitent in question a very big step. I personally can make the 9:30 which is our usual Mass time (often enough being late, but that is only due to [venially] sinful dawdling and not a principal problem), but arriving far earlier than that is hard. And I mean really hard.

    It is, I should think, a great blessing if those who are there anyway have the chance to Confess.

    One other such great idea is having Confessions after Mass, especially if the Mass is a weekday evening Mass.

    And, as an aside, one idea that is really used to great effect is to have Confession during Eucharistic Adoration.

    – Of course, Confession during Mass requires two priests, though, and is not possible if they aren’t there, and also not possible if both of them are needed for Mass (as in Holy Week or if on high feast days there’s the chance to have a Levitated Mass).

  23. Discipula says:

    Yesterday (Sunday) I needed to go to Confession, but due to family responsibilities was unable to go before Mass (the line wrapped around the church and Father had to leave the box to get ready for Mass before it was half way done). Much to my delight a visiting priest, instead of sitting in choir, slipped into the box and heard Confessions during Mass. Father usually hears Confessions after Mass as well, but I wouldn’t have been able to stay as the toddler had already used up all his patience. Time change is very hard on young ones.

    Restricting Confessions to only a half hour a week during the busiest afternoon of the weekend makes as much sense as drilling holes in buckets so children won’t drown in them. What makes it so terrible is unlike Mass schedules which are staggered throughout the diocese, Confession schedules tend to be exactly the same (usually 3:30 Saturday afternoon) in every parish. Sometimes the Cathedral will have better hours, but the average parish almost never does. Then to make a terrible thing even worse, if you don’t show up in the first 10 to 15 minutes, Father might have left already (“because no one was there and he had better things to do”). Previous pastors frequently would preempt scheduled Confession times for other things, especially for weddings. No “make up” times were offered. On more than one occasion I would be there on time and the church would remain locked. Thankfully the last several pastors we’ve had stopped all that nonsense by expanding scheduled Confession times, increasing both the duration of Confession and frequency.

    The old trend of diminishing Confession seems to be reversing. I even know of a Catholic bookstore that offers Confession every other Friday (Newman’s Bookshoppe in Kalamazoo). They even post details on the events section of their webpage.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  24. teomatteo says:

    Maybe an ‘ad’ in the next bulletin: “Beat that ‘ol coronavirus and go to confession behind a SCREEN!!!!!

  25. veritas vincit says:

    Imrahil,

    You make excellent points in your post about those who perform service during Mass. I have to concede the point about confession during Mass. (I’m not sure my conscience would allow me to go to confession during a Mass I need to satisfy my Mass obligation, but that’s me).
    Of course, I never intended to imply that the only time for Confession was before Mass. I have gone to confession during Eucharistic adoration, which is an excellent time to do so, and after Mass, which works, but you need to abstain from Communion if you need to confess a mortal sin. The advantage of confession before Mass is that it disposes you properly, and (as opposed to the traditional Saturday afternoon times), it is a minor modification for most, to get to Mass a few minutes earlier.
    But the more times for Confession, the better.

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