Wednesday, February 6, 2008
The Light is On
As Lent begins, I am intrigued by reports on the Web that finally, people are starting to return to the practice of Confession. Apparently the Archdiocese of Washington had a highly successful campaign last year entitled "The Light is On," which encouraged every priest in the Archdiocese to be in his confessional from 6.30pm till 8.00pm every Wednesday in Lent. The campaign was so successful, and so many people came back to confession that they are running the same campaign again this Lent. My experience has been that availability and preaching are the key - and availability when the people CAN come - not on a Saturday afternoon any more. Evenings DO work - it has been my practice in the last two parishes to offer people, apart from the Saturday afternoon, the opportunity for Mass, Adoration and Confession on a Tuesday evening. Following the wise advice of another priest, I also go into the confessional after all the weekend Masses during Advent and Lent - slowly but surely, people are coming back. Of course there are some who will never return - they have convinced themselves that they are without sin and will get to Heaven without God's help - the return of Pelagianism - but sitting in the confessional giving people the opportunity if Grace strikes - is much more important for a priest than endless meetings - and good penance for the priest!