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Its Confession Time (Dioceses Nationwide Promoted the Sacrament of Penance This Lent )
NCR ^ | March 31, 2009 | JEFF ZIEGLER

Posted on 03/31/2009 10:23:57 AM PDT by NYer

NEW YORK — Holy Week is the culmination of Lent, a time to repent, confess and come to Easter renewed. U.S. dioceses have been offering increased opportunities for the “confess” part.

The Cathedral of Saint Patrick Young Adults in New York is one of them. With the Archdiocese of New York, it sponsored 24 Hours of Confession at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and 20 Manhattan parishes on the first Friday and Saturday of March.

“Thousands upon thousands of Catholics line up to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday each year,” said Mario Bruschi, the co-director of the young adults group. “Imagine if these same thousands of Catholics line up for confession? It could be a tremendous day for Our Lord.”

The following weekend, none other than Pope Benedict XVI spoke in support of such efforts. The Pope called the administration of the sacrament of penance an “indispensable ministry” that aids the faithful along the “demanding road of sanctity.”

He made the remarks in a March 14 message he sent to Cardinal James Stafford, major penitentiary, and to participants in the 20th Internal Forum, an annual course on matters of conscience.

During his Sunday Angelus address on Feb. 15, the Holy Father prayed: “Let us invoke the Virgin Mary, whom God preserved from every stain of sin, so that she may help us to avoid sin and to have frequent recourse to the sacrament of confession.”

According to recent surveys, millions of Catholics in the United States need to rediscover the sacrament’s value and importance.

A February 2008 survey conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University found that only 61% of Catholics who attend Mass weekly go to confession once a year or more. For Catholics who attend Mass less than once a week but at least monthly, the figure is even lower (37%). Only 8% of Catholics who go to Mass infrequently have been to confession in the past year.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in No. 1468, teaches that “for those who receive the sacrament of penance with contrite heart and religious disposition, reconciliation is usually followed by peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation. Indeed the sacrament of reconciliation with God brings about a true ‘spiritual resurrection,’ restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God.”

And the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in No. 305, reminds us that “each of the faithful who has reached the age of discretion is bound to confess his or her mortal sins at least once a year and always before receiving holy Communion.”

Bruschi said the idea for 24 Hours of Confession came from a Wall Street Journal article that mentioned 24 Hours of Grace, a similar 2007 initiative in seven Chicago parishes.

Another 2007 initiative — “The Light Is on for You,” sponsored by the Archdiocese of Washington — is also bearing fruit nationwide. In 2007 and 2008, all 140 Washington parishes held confessions from 7 to 8:30 on Wednesday evenings.

“We found if you invite, people will come, especially if you make it easy and make them feel welcome,” said archdiocesan director of communications Susan Gibbs. “We ran ads on over 300 bus and subway cars, put up a giant billboard, ran radio ads, and printed 100,000 guides to confession in English and Spanish,” she recalls. This Lent, the archdiocese is embarking on a major campaign to invite inactive Catholics back to the Church.

Welcome Home

Using television, radio, bus, billboard and print advertising, Archbishop Edwin O’Brien launched “The Light Is on for You” initiative in Baltimore to encourage Catholics to return to the sacrament, with all parishes holding confessions on Wednesday evenings.

“Archbishop O’Brien has observed the declining numbers of Catholics participating in the sacrament of reconciliation and wanted a vehicle that would promote the benefits of the sacrament and the restoration of what Pope John Paul II called ‘Eucharistic awe,’” said archdiocesan communication director Sean Caine. “The archbishop observed the success of this particular campaign in the Archdiocese of Washington and thought it would be a good model to replicate in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.”

Other dioceses also launched Lenten confession campaigns similar to Washington’s.

In Philadelphia, for the second consecutive year, Cardinal Justin Rigali asked priests of all 269 parishes to hear confessions every Wednesday evening during Lent.

The Diocese of Paterson, N.J., held confessions in all of its parishes on Monday evenings in March as part of its “Welcome Home to Healing” initiative. Likewise, in the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., the sacrament of reconciliation was available in all parishes every Tuesday evening in Lent as part of the Lenten Confession Campaign 2009.

Saturdays — when confessions are typically scheduled — “are often the times that families are busy with errands, shopping and sports,” said Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson. After some of his priests successfully introduced weekday confession schedules, “I thought it might be worthwhile trying new ideas. With a priest available in every parish on the same day at the same hour and a half during Lent, not only is the sacrament more available, but there is a strong witness given by the priests themselves that this sacrament is important.”

“This gift given to the Church by Jesus cannot be repeated anywhere else,” added Bishop Serratelli, who chairs the Committee on Divine Worship of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Those who bypass or avoid this sacrament miss out on the graces and healing that God offers us in the sacrament instituted by Christ.”

Prayer Support

Like the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Dioceses of Paterson and Bridgeport have promoted confession through extensive advertising campaigns. In Bridgeport, 40,000 prayer cards were distributed a month before Lent so that parishioners could pray for the Lenten initiative’s success.

“Without prayer, no plan bears fruit,” said Bridgeport Bishop William Lori. “The diocese has also distributed 100,000 pamphlets which provide an examination of conscience and step-by-step instructions on how to go to confession.”

Other dioceses have placed special emphasis on confession this Lent. On April 3 and 4, 21 Orlando parishes hosted a Reconciliation Weekend; confessions were heard for eight hours. Since 2000, all of the parishes of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y., have held Reconciliation Monday for six hours on the Monday of Holy Week. The Diocese of Arlington launched “Come Back to Me With All Your Heart,” a campaign to encourage Catholics to go to confession.

In addition, “especially during the season of Lent, parishes have started to give more attention to this,” said Msgr. Anthony Sherman, executive director of the bishops’ conference Secretariat of Divine Worship. “In some instances, despite the smaller number of priests, an extended period of time has been offered to people to come to celebrate the sacrament.”

Bishop Lori said that he hopes his campaign will lead to “the rediscovery of the mercy of God in the lives of thousands of people. For some, this rediscovery will lead back to the Church and her sacramental life. For others, it will be a reinvigoration of their Christian life of faith, worship, morality and prayer.”

As he promotes confession in Manhattan, Mario Bruschi recalled that his own Christian life has been reinvigorated time and time again by the sacrament: “Whenever I felt lost, I would always seek confession from the Jesuit priests at my high school in New York City, Regis High School. And they were always available for us, even if they were rushing to a class or a meeting.”

“A couple of years ago,” he added, “I went on a retreat hosted by the Legionaries of Christ, and I made a general confession there that really had an effect on me. I felt renewed after that confession, but I also felt dedicated to avoid these sins in the future. I know Christ is there in that confessional box.”

Jeff Ziegler writes from

Ellenboro, North Carolina.

Confession Quiz

1. Penance is the only sacrament Christ instituted …

A. In Jerusalem.

B. After the Resurrection.

C. In the Upper Room.

2.Catholics are required to confess their serious sins … Catechism, No. 1457

A. Once a year.

B. Before getting married.

C. Only before first Communion.

3.For the sacrament of reconciliation, you must:

A. Confess all mortal sins to a priest.

B. Be truly sorry and do penance.

C. All of the above.

4.The rule that you must confess serious sins before receiving Communion ...

A. ... ended during Vatican II.

B. ... was strongly reaffirmed by John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

C. ... doesn’t matter if you’re really sorry.

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Ministry/Outreach; Moral Issues
KEYWORDS: confession; penance; reconciliation
Answers: 1, B; 2, A; 3, C; 4, B
1 posted on 03/31/2009 10:23:58 AM PDT by NYer
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To: Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...
For those who seek the source of Confession

John 20:21 - before He grants them the authority to forgive sins, Jesus says to the apostles, "as the Father sent me, so I send you." As Christ was sent by the Father to forgive sins, so Christ sends the apostles and their successors forgive sins.

John 20:22 - the Lord "breathes" on the apostles, and then gives them the power to forgive and retain sins. The only other moment in Scripture where God breathes on man is in Gen. 2:7, when the Lord "breathes" divine life into man. When this happens, a significant transformation takes place.

John 20:23 - Jesus says, "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. If you retain the sins of any, they are retained." In order for the apostles to exercise this gift of forgiving sins, the penitents must orally confess their sins to them because the apostles are not mind readers. The text makes this very clear.

Scriptural Resources

2 posted on 03/31/2009 10:26:59 AM PDT by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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To: All
  1. Examine your conscience - what sins have you committed since your last good confession.
  2. Be sincerely sorry for your sins.
  3. Confess your sins to the priest.
  4. Make certain that you confess all your mortal sins and the number of them.
  5. After your confession, do the penance the priest gives to you.
  6. Pray daily for the strength to avoid the occasion of sin, especially for those sins you were just absolved from.



O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You, and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell, but most of all because they offend You, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.

Examination of Conscience

3 posted on 03/31/2009 10:29:08 AM PDT by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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To: NYer

Father Corapi on EWTN told the story one time that it always amazed him the few number of people in the Confession lines on Saturdays vs. the massive number of people who received Holy Communion on Sundays....He said something to the effect...they must think they were “immaculately conceived!” LOL

4 posted on 03/31/2009 10:33:48 AM PDT by kellynla (Freedom of speech makes it easier to spot the idiots! Semper Fi!)
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To: NYer

...they must think they were “immaculately conceived!” LOL

5 posted on 03/31/2009 10:39:31 AM PDT by kellynla (Freedom of speech makes it easier to spot the idiots! Semper Fi!)
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To: NYer
I'm not a very emotional person. It's difficult, however, to overstate how emotional confession can be. Some of the times that I have felt closest to knowing God have been during or right after making a confession.

I love this picture, I think it shows how overwhelming the sacrament can be.

6 posted on 03/31/2009 10:47:35 AM PDT by Straight Vermonter (Posting from deep behind the Maple Curtain)
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To: kellynla
Or what our very Irish rector told me when I was heading for my First Confession (at the age of 48!) and asked if I should schedule a time ("this is going to be the Mother of All Confessions") --

"Och, no, just come at the regular time, do. There aren't very many sinners in this parish!"

7 posted on 03/31/2009 10:47:45 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: NYer

this church is a great web site for resources

8 posted on 03/31/2009 10:48:09 AM PDT by Citizen Soldier (Made in USA and proud of it.)
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To: Straight Vermonter
I bawled like a baby at my First Confession. I still tear up, and I'm a tough old bird.

But it seems to me like an invasion of privacy to photograph that poor lady while she's all verklempt. Another good reason to have a BOOTH.

9 posted on 03/31/2009 10:49:08 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: kellynla
Yes ... my pastor delivered a similar sermon last Sunday adding that those who don't avail themselves of the Sacrament of Penance should avoid the other sacraments as well. Not even that deterred them from coming forward to receive communion ((( shaking head )))

Last week, one of the families 'forgot' to bring their daughter for First Penance. Tonight, they get a 2nd chance to show up. I'm praying with all my heart that they will do what is right for their child.

10 posted on 03/31/2009 12:13:10 PM PDT by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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To: Straight Vermonter; kellynla

Thank you for posting that picture! Last Tuesday, we celebrated Penance, preceded by chanting hymns and prayers, reading from the Old and New Testaments, followed by the Gospel and a homily. After all had availed themselves of private confession, we shared a sign of Peace and sang a final hymn. At the conclusion, Father asked if we had felt the change. He had felt it and for the first time it occured to me just how emotionally draining it must be for a priest to act as Christ’s representative, listen to these sins, offer counsel and administer penance. St. John Vianney and Padre Pio listened to confessions for 12 + hours each day. I have met priests whose hearts were not in it but recognized that Christ acted through them as well. “Jesus, I trust in you!”

11 posted on 03/31/2009 12:20:06 PM PDT by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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To: NYer

I did take part last night in a penence service at my parish. Had about 6 priests show up and a good number of people, both from in the parish and outside as well. The healing and peace from the sacrement is what I had experenced. My prayers for the family with the child who needs to do the 1st penence tonight. Also yes, I felt tears coming down last night also.

Yes, Christ is found in this special sacrement. The good news is that my parish will have confession availible next week, Holy week. :)

12 posted on 03/31/2009 3:27:41 PM PDT by Biggirl (GO UCONN!=^..^==^..^==^..^==^..^==^..^=)
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To: NYer

**With the Archdiocese of New York, it sponsored 24 Hours of Confession at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and 20 Manhattan parishes on the first Friday and Saturday of March.**


13 posted on 03/31/2009 4:54:45 PM PDT by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Straight Vermonter

Great picture!

14 posted on 03/31/2009 4:55:50 PM PDT by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Straight Vermonter
Sweet picture!

"but most of all because my sins offend You, my God"

How can a tear not cry out from the very depths of one's soul as they state that very sentence?

And then, the thunder rolls across the heavens..."I absolve you"

Who can fathom my Lord's mercy?

Awe and silence! Beyond, beyond...but a breathe and heatbeat away!

15 posted on 04/01/2009 5:19:34 AM PDT by HeavensGate27
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To: All

We had around 120 or more penitents at our Reconciliation Service. Seven priests, but still some people left because the lines were so long. (Their loss!)

16 posted on 04/02/2009 5:13:52 PM PDT by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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