Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Last weekend, our second graders in the parish got to experience for the first time the Sacrament of Penance. Whether we call it Penance or Reconciliation or Confession, as a Sacrament, it is a powerful experience of God’s mercy and grace in the life of the individual. I’m grateful that our young people were able to go through it for the first time and have learned the mechanics of it to be comfortable approaching Penance again in the future.

There is a bit of a chicken or the egg situation that occurs with Confession. If you visit different parishes or look at various bulletins or websites for Catholic churches, you may notice that the Sacrament of Penance is often listed as occurring in a certain time period on a particular day of the week. Occasionally, it will be prior to daily Mass during the week, for fifteen to thirty minutes, depending on the parish. Rarely, you may see it being offered on a dedicated evening during the week for upwards to an hour at a time. But the most frequent offering of Confession tends to be Saturday afternoon/evening for thirty minutes. This is the case at St. Charles as it’s held every week from 4:00-4:30PM on Saturdays.

Now I said there was a chicken or the egg situation with Penance. What do I mean by that? Well, in a typical parish, most people aren’t beating down the door to have their confession heard. Many people go once, maybe twice a year and usually wait until Advent or Lent to do so. As such, the demand on an average Saturday afternoon is not high for Reconciliation. But is the demand low and as such we only offer a half-hour window? Or is our window too small and therefore many people don’t make regular use of the Sacrament? Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

In my observation, over the last several months, there’s been an increased interest in Penance. More people are coming in general and the depth of the individual confessions has gotten more serious. The window for Confession has proven too small as of late, and it’s not just me being slow.

With Lent arriving on February 14 th , I think it’s a perfect time to extend Confession time in the parish, at least on a trial basis. Rather than running almost into the 5PM Mass on Saturday as has happened on several occasions, it makes sense to me to start a bit earlier. Therefore, starting the first weekend of Lent and continuing through the Easter season, confessions will be offered from 3:30-4:30 on Saturdays. The hope is that doing so will both meet the needs of parishioners better as well as encourage more individuals to make use of this great Sacrament. Depending on the results and the response to this change, it may become permanent in the future. May this be a positive aid for our parish community!

Peace and Goodness,
Fr. Dan