A personal story written by a collaborator of CP&S
During the forty days of Lent many parishes add extra periods to their schedule to allow their congregations to find time to go to Confession. Other parishes like mine, where there is no official timetable for Confession – those who want to go are expected to knock at the presbytery door to request the attention of a priest – a Penitential service is offered on an evening usually two or three weeks before Easter. We celebrated ours yesterday, with priests coming from nearby towns to help hear the penitents’ personal confessions. Eight priests in total came out onto the altar that night.
Our parish priest gave an initial introduction about God’s love for men and His great mercy – all very true of course – but failed to make any mention of the necessity of sorrow for our sins for having offended our Loving Father, nor did he give a mention of the need for true repentance and then a firm purpose of amendment. In fact I don’t think the word sin was mentioned at all. It was just our failings or our negativity that needed repairing here today. As you have probably guessed, ours is a very progressive parish where traditional Catholic teaching barely gets a look in.
Next came the reading out of an examination of conscience that I suspect came from a page out of a book by the discredited Jesuit, Karl Rahner. Besides, Father read it out pretty fast, leaving no time for introspection for anyone coming unprepared to Confession. At least we then recited the Confiteor all together afterwards before he lifted his arms and gave us ”the first part” of the Absolution.
The eight priests then descended the altar and distributed themselves, four along each side of the church, ready for the penitents queueing up to sit beside them – yes, sit – to confess their sins. The one and only confessional box available in our church, near where I and a few others had been waiting, was totally ignored.
Whilst loud electric guitar music – fortunately without lyrics – then started coming out of the church’s loudspeakers, instead of soft Gregorian chant or something far more appropriate, I considered leaving. I could perhaps find the time next week to make the long drive to the SSPX chapel for Confession in a neighbouring town. But I am a busy housewife with a family to care for and with the holidays approaching that would leave me little or no free time to get there, so I decided to stay. It would be too sad to enter the holy Easter Triduum without having been to Confession even once during Lent.
So I moved up a few benches from the empty confessional to the back of a queue of the nearest priest -who was sitting on a chair in one of the side altars – to await my turn. I was trying to calm down from so much that upset me in the Church today, and praying fervently that under these difficult modernist circumstances I would still be able to make a good confession.
When my turn eventually came up there were not many people left in the church. I knelt beside the elderly priest instead of sitting on the proffered chair, nervously wondering if he would scold me for it, but he said nothing. He had a gentle serious face, and to my surprise appeared to irradiate holiness. Then started one of the most uplifting confessions I have ever experienced. Although I wasn’t going to Confession with loads of mortal sins weighing on my soul, all sin is still very burdensome as it wounds Our Lord’s Sacred Heart, and my conscience had been troubling me. The holy priest, who was probably tired after a long day, nevertheless gave me his full attention and later some sound advice. I felt God’s mercy and compassion through this alter Christus in a beautiful and amazing way that evening, Deus laudetur.