Part b of the 98th section of the instrumentum laboris for the New Evangelization synod struck me:
Many responses gave particular attention to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which has almost disappeared from the lives of many Christians, and focused on the very positive experiences when the Sacrament is celebrated at special moments, e.g., World Youth Day and pilgrimages to shrines. However, even these moments of celebration have been unable to positively affect the overall practice of sacramental reconciliation.
This strikes me as a very accurate assessment. The real questions are: Can we change this? Should we?
The special moments might include Lent and Advent liturgies, as well as retreats (a favorite time of mine). Perhaps the faithful have something to tell in these practices. It might be that the window to a deeper (not necessarily more frequent) celebration of Reconciliation is to emphasize its celebration on these particular moments when people are sufficiently inspired to engage it.
And as for the monthly or weekly observance of Reconciliation, leaving aside its devotional nature for the moment, it would seem that small steps are more likely to be fruitful than urging people to leap from no confessions to frequent. And perhaps a word needs to be said for form III as a gateway to a more profound experience of form II or I. We tried it for what, eleven years? That doesn’t seem to be enough time.
One Chicago-area priest I spoke with years ago was a bit bitter about John Paul II’s deep-sixing form III. Just when I was getting more people to form I, he related, this edict comes along. I’m not expecting this synod to produce anything along these lines. Unless, that is, some attending bishop decides he wants early retirement.