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Monday, December 08, 2008

More on Penance Services

Parish the Thought: Advent Penance Services

Fr. Pelletier also wrote on this topic today and has yet another heartbreaking story of sacramental and spiritual malpractice. But he also writes with compassion for those who have been away from the Sacrament for so long, knowing that they deserve better than a sense of being rushed.

As I was once one of those people, I only went to that service because I couldn't make myself make an appointment, and I suspect that's often the case. But I do wish I had, for then my confession would have been even better, even more personal, and perhaps the priest could have helped me get out of the situation I was in. And perhaps I wouldn't have stayed away from the sacrament for another three years. (The priest didn't do anything wrong in my case, I'm just suggesting that had I made an appointment, he would have been free to help me even more.)

So please go read what Father has to say, and if you're one of those people who have been away from the Sacrament, even if you can't bring yourself to make an appointment (please try! I speak from experience!), then at least GO this Advent. There will be plenty of opportunities!


Unknown said...

I was away from the Church for 21 years or so. Not out of dissent, out of laziness.

Not really having done a thorough examination of conscience, I just decided one day to attend a day-long retreat at my parish. When it came time for me to go to confession, face to face with a nice visiting priest, I followed the proper formula, but just blurted out a few of my major sins and burst into tears out of genuine sorrow. I received a penance of reading the Prodigal Son Gospel tale.

Over the years afterward I would occasionally remember another grievous offense that I had committed and neglected mentioned in my Confession, I wondered if I had been forgiven.

But I'm enough of an armchair theologian that I was aware that if we truly forget to mention a sin, it will be forgiven by God in the absolution.

But I still felt guilty about some of those offenses.

So a couple of years ago I made an appointment with a priest I slightly knew for a General Confession. (This is way different from "General Absolution.")

I spent a few weeks doing my Examination of Conscience and actually wrote down everything that I had ever done that I wished that I had confessed, before or since that "Reversion Confession."

The priest gave me my choice, but I decided to go face to face in his office rather than "in the box." For one thing, it would be easier to read my quite long list.

This was a priest in his 40s and he noted that it was the first General Confession that he had ever heard.

I suppose I was there for upwards of an hour and went through the entire list. It was a wonderful experience, and I removed those lingering pangs of guilt that would occasionally enter my consciousness.

Try it, there's a great deal of value in it.

Anonymous said...

Ray ~ You must realize by now that what you did is exactly what you are required to do; even if we forget to mention a mortal sin, yes, it's forgiven, but we still have to confess it. So they just say that if you go to Confession, and realize later you forgot to mention a grave matter, then go on with your life but the next time you go to Confession, you have to bring it up. (Just mention that you forgot to state that sin last time)

Unknown said...

Frankly, Adoro, I don't believe that I ever heard about the requirement to confess a forgotten sin until after my General Confession.

Like with a lot of catechesis these days, things often simplified to point out the easiest way.

Hidden One said...

And, sadly, the easiest way is the one that goes to Hell.

Happy thought, the consequence of abominable non-catechesis.