Holy Saturday Confessions

Pope Francis hears confession during a penitential liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican March 28. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters) (March 31, 2014)

Some parishes offer a confessor’s time. Others do not. Sometimes the reasons for either are good. Or well-intentioned.

For the record, a celebration of the Sacrament of Penance is not forbidden on Holy Saturday. I can’t honestly recall a parish where I’ve served that didn’t offer it–except for the one without a resident priest. You can check the 1988 reference here; we discussed it almost four years ago.

I will say that people leaving their observance of the sacrament to the very last day before Easter might create an opportunity for fatigue in a one-priest parish. Holy Saturday isn’t primarily about your confession. It’s about someone else’s baptism. If a priest were to choose to focus on the Easter Vigil, a critic would be hard-pressed to suggest laziness is present. If a priest were to choose to hear confessions during Triduum, I would think a hearty “thank you, Father” is in order before ending the celebration of the sacrament.

Another myth about Penance: there is nothing in the rite about confessing how long it has been since your last confession. There is a moment for the confessor to welcome the penitent. Immediately after this, a reading from Scripture follows. Then a confession of sins. No one week, one month, one year, or whenever.

I’ve noticed Pope Francis (for a Jesuit) has a more liturgical approach to the sacrament–tales of him suggesting that penitents be welcomed, not grilled. Welcome on this Saturday, and other days. And not be embarrassed about confessing how long it’s been.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Holy Week, Rite of Penance. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Holy Saturday Confessions

  1. Liam says:

    And Todd, as you no doubt must be aware, countless websites present the typical form of the sacrament as relatively untouched since the early 1970s. And one may well find these cribbed from and put into or outside confessionals. It’s been decades since I’ve encountered the actual post-conciliar form of the rite (perhaps last in college – at a university parish run by … Dominicans, who, like Benedictines, tend to be among the most earnest in allowing their liturgical-sacramental praxis to be ruddered by the ritual books unlike some other orders….).

    Sometimes, the issues are even more basic. Hey, in the past year, I had to gently question a veteran priest about his form of absolution that he’d been using for a couple of years before I felt I had the energy to devote to probing it *after* my confession was completed. (The form he used was, according to all the sources I’ve read, invalid and not even close.) [I am not a write-a-letter-to-the-bishop kind of guy unless a priest is acting recklessly and bad faith or malice – in that situation, appeals to the priest himself have already dead-ended.] At the end of my next confession, I was surprised to have him thank me for my trouble (I suspect he had consulted and confirmed the matter). The point being: Had he actually been following the ritual book, none of that would have needed to have happened.

    This does raise a larger question: it would appear that Form I has failed to be received so far. What can we learn from that failure? If it were re-launched, are there lessons to apply in a revised promulgation of it?

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