The three downstate New York dioceses are promoting all-day confession today. They seem to have scaled back from the 24-hour effort last year. But I don’t think individual clergy were each committed to a full round-the-clock stint themselves.
The youth video contest is featured on the New York archdiocesan web site. It’s a novel idea that will attract a lot of interest. Father Kieran Harrington of Brooklyn on last year’s priest video:
That was very well received but we decided this time it would be much better to have young people tell the story. As a priest, people expect me to talk about confession, but it’s a different thing when it’s your neighbor’s kid who is talking about how it affects their life.
Interesting that in checking the main pages of the three dioceses, both the All-Day Confession and iConfess are promoted on Rockville Centre’s site. Brooklyn has just the video contest. And New York has neither. I’m sure the full details are there somewhere at the archdiocese–just not on the main page nor on their list of press releases.
The Church is going to need a game plan beyond gimmicks if it hopes to revive a sacrament it believes has wrongly been discarded. I wouldn’t discount an emphasis on liturgical or communal solutions. People in many places would turn out in droves for form III, and I’m not entirely sure it was viewed or experienced as an event of cheap grace. Is the institution itself looking for a cheap, all-or-nothing solution? Promotion is undoubtedly a good first step–I hope there’s some substance to back it up.
I’ve blogged on this before, but I don’t think the institution is prepared if any significant portion of penitents returned for form I. Our parish had its usual two celebrations of form II this Lent. My task is to recruit confessors. We had five at one and six at the other, but we’re fortunate for a small city of two parishes: we have two retired priests in town, a willing pastor at another parish in the county, plus a university graduate student who is a priest from Africa.
Still, the first liturgy with parish faith formation kids went nearly two hours, and the one with six confessors lasted almost as long.
Do the numbers for your parish. Even granting a quickie confession at three minutes, it would take a pastor an hour to absolve twenty sinners. Lots of guys are going solo in parishes of a thousand families, so if everybody was utilizing the sacrament, that’s about a hundred hours right there. How often is confession recommended? Twice a year? That’s a solid four hours a week. Once a month? That’s sixty to seventy encounters a day. We provide two hours, scheduled, in our reconciliation chapel. I know others make appointments with our clergy, too. It’s not uncommon for me to walk through the church and see the chapel open, or a priest talking with a student in a back pew or near the tabernacle.
I suspect the institution would be happy with a slow trickle of an increase. It makes them feel good about the Faithful Remnant, and there remain plenty of slackers to excoriate.
One pastor I worked for once said that a person needs sacramental penance as often as she or he needs a dentist appointment. That’s still a good one-tenth of a working week. If I were a priest, I’d consider that well worth my time. But I know not all confessors think so. What about yours?