Reconciliation Liturgy Without the Sacrament

I had an intriguing conversation with the pastor a few months ago. I’m still mulling over the implications. I have to wonder if some other parish hasn’t done this already. It’s in the Roman Missal, the page before the Ash Wednesday prayers, in the discussion about promoting “Roman stations,” an old tradition of procession.

At these gatherings, instead of Mass, some celebration of the Word of God may also take place, especially in the form of the penitential celebrations given in the Roman Ritual for Lent.

Tissot Good ShepherdWe were discussing the stranglehold the institution has placed on form III of the Rite of Penance. Leaving aside the topics of cheap grace and the understanding the need to particularly confess serious sin, a few thoughts.

The Church does give us liturgies, specifically Word services in the Rite of Penance, that gather people to reflect on reconciliation as a spiritual virtue, but that does not provide the sacrament.

The pastor is concerned about confusion. Would people expect the sacrament? Would they stay away if it wasn’t offered? Would they think it was general absolution? All good questions.

My sense is that most Catholics wouldn’t bother. But it would be an interesting phenomenon if penitential liturgies were found to be fruitful and people began attending them. Led by deacons or lay people.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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