I am sure that not a few Catholics have had the experience of calling their parish in the latter days of Holy Week to ask a simple question: “When are Confessions?”
“Confessions are over. You’ll have to come after Easter.” Is the curt response.
There are some priests who are convinced that Confessions are forbidden during the Triduum – from Holy Thursday until Good Friday – just like most of the other sacraments. This misunderstanding was clarified a number of times . The rubric in our new missal makes it clear that the sacraments of Penance and Anointing of the sick MAY be celebrated during the Triduum .
This being said, there are certainly practical reasons why many priests do not schedule Confessions during this time. First, the Triduum is a very busy time for priests – each of the celebrations have a unique character and require extra preparation. Second, people often procrastinate. If you schedule 10 hours of confession in the 5th week of Lent and Two Hours before the Good Friday Liturgy, you are likely to have about 30 penitents throughout the ten hours and 200 penitents line up on Good Friday. Third, there are no extra priests to help hear confessions on Good Friday – they are busy at their own parishes. It is simply not possible for one or two priests to hear everyone’s confession at the last minute!
Hence, most larger parishes try to schedule a “Penance Celebration” sometime in the latter weeks of Lent. The Pastor can invite other priests to assist and a large number of penitents can have their confessions heard in a reasonable period of time.
Now, certainly if you NEED to go to confession during the Triduum, you have a right to do so. Priests should be generous in this regard and make an effort to accommodate your request. However, don’t be surprised if you find it difficult to contact a priest or set up an appointment – this is a busy time. Don’t expect a priest will be able to see you 15 minutes before the Easter Vigil.
It would be far wiser to plan ahead. Find out when confessions are being heard at your parish. Go the earliest opportunity possible. If these times aren’t convenient, check the times at nearby parishes. If none of these options are feasible, call the parish office to make an appointment. Don’t wait until next week. Don’t even wait until tomorrow. Do it right now!
Confessing our sins promptly and during the schedule time not only shows respect for the priest’s schedule, it is a sign of our genuine contrition and good spirit.
1) Letter of Congregation for Divine Worship, April 9th, 2003
2) Roman Missal, Third Typical Edition, Approved for use in the Dioceses of Canada, (Concacan, 2011). Page 295.
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