Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Light is On For You and Other Programs to Encourage People to Go to Confession

Catholics at one time, or so I'm told, because I'm not old enough to remember, took the Sacrament of Reconciliation seriously. Saturday afternoon was reserved for confession. Entire families would go to church, and, typically, waited in line. Back in those days, there were long lines because people took advantage of the chance to have their sins forgiven.

This all stopped sometime after the close of Vatican II, although the council never changed to need for us to confess our sins to a priest. Church leaders in the United States have long realized they've had a crisis of immense proportions, in that the laity have abandoned the practice of going to confession.

In most parishes, nowadays, confession times are a half hour on Saturday, right before the Sunday vigil Mass. A handful of people still use the Sacrament, but it's also not rare to be the only one waiting outside a confessional on a given afternoon.

Several years ago, in response to this sad situation, the Archdiocese of Washington instituted a program called "The Light is On For You," which ran during the six weeks of Lent. Every parish was open at the same time on Wednesday evenings for confession. The response was overwhelming.

The Archdiocese is to be commended for taking such an initiative. Since then, other bishops have followed suit and developed their similar programs involving weeknight confessions.

I just wish these programs could run the entire year. Saturday afternoons are a difficult time for many people, as we're all so over scheduled.

Flickr photo by Steve W Lee

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