28 March 2009


God, the Father of mercies
through the death and resurrection of his Son
has reconciled the world to himself
and sent the Holy Spirit among us
for the forgiveness of sins;
through the ministry of the Church
may God give you pardon and peace,
and I absolve you from your sins
in the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

This week, I am preaching about the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We have children making their first confession on Sunday and we have a service of penance on Thursday. It is, therefore, all the rage, this week, here in Wolverhampton. I am sure this is not confined to the wonderful city of Wolverhampton alone, as, around the world, parishes are making the sacrament available for all.

I am not going to bore you with my planned homily, save to say that I am encouraging people to think about going for this sacramental encounter with God, the Father of mercies. I wonder, though, why is confession such a little-used sacrament these days? Why is it that priests are not being inundated with penitents? The singular thing which seems to impact on most new young priests, or at least those who I have talked to, is the humbling experience of hearing people's confession. Why is that? Is it, perhaps, because even priests are not enthused about the sacrament? Of course it is not - or at least I hope it is not. I'm sure that it is simply because it is the grace reflected on the priest which is, in turn, pouring out onto the penitent. If you have an opinion, do, please, chip in.

One thing is for sure, it's one of the sacraments that I am most looking forward to celebrating with people. What wonder, that another person will trust you enough to share the most intimate concerns of their life! I just cannot wait.

I do think, however, that since people have grown out of going to confession (I still tend to use the old titles) they tend to be fearful of what to say. I would love to see churches having the necessary words available, easily accessible for all, and then I'm sure more people would attend. Perhaps, if I may be cheeky, priests might make themselves more available, too. Why don't we start a campaign encouraging everyone to ask the priest to hear their confession at a time which suits? Oh, hang on. This may not be a good thing. I don't want to be busy! Seriously, I hope, and I pray, that I may always be attentive to the people I serve, and that I may make myself available to hear people's confessions at all times.

St John Marie Vianney, Pray for Me.


  1. I do think people have a deep need for confession,but as you note they are not sure what to say.On youtube (and also saved on my blog somewhere )there is a video called 'Father Larry Richard's Confession Speech, April 12, 2008'.I would thoroughly recommend it to people who are not sure how to confess certain sins that hold them in severe bondage and shame,such as sexual sins.Popular psychology tries to free us from the guilt of sin,by saying it doesn't exist,certainly not as a spiritual defect.Their words may bring temporary comfort or numb our conscience but this is not freedom or new life,but subdued existence(at least that's my experience).I can and do regret my sins but only Jesus has the Power to forgive my sin,once confessed.

    "I'm sorry", must become "forgive me" in my case. That involves absolution,not reassuring drivel by the thinkers of the day in magazines and self(serve)help books.I can't speak for the Priest's hearts or enthusiasm on this matter.I expect they are under terrible attack from the devil too,in this area which is the main reason Christ came and died of course,to break the bonds of sin and set us free.Old nick would seek to keep the treasure of forgiveness hidden.God bless you in your Ministry of freeing souls.

  2. Well, I'm pleased to report, many people stopped me after Mass saying they now planned to 'get confession' before Easter. Let's pray that they do.

  3. It's astonishing that so many parishes devote a mere thirty minutes a week for confessions. Here, on the Isle of Wight, we are fortunate to have Quarr, where confessions are heard on call. However, if that weren't the case, with my work schedule, it would be impossible to get to church on a Saturday morning, which seems to be when most parishes advertise the sacrament.

    Another thing I’ve noticed is how “everyone” goes to Communion these days. It’s not so long ago that a sizeable number would stay in the pews because they hadn’t been to confession first. I wonder if this isn’t a telling sign of the way in which the Church’s discipline has been deliberately ignored.



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