Penance services are an option - Catholic Courier

Penance services are an option

In the days before Christmas and Easter, some parishes throughout the diocese host penance services followed by individual confessions, in addition to making individual confessions available on a weekly or as-needed basis.

Father Frank Lioi, pastor of St. Mary Church in Auburn said penance services can be helpful to meet high pre-Christmas and Easter demand and also may draw people who hesitate to approach confession on their own, he said.

"They see other people there, so it’s not just themselves," he said.

The services typically incorporate Scripture readings and a communal examination of conscience, which Father Lioi said can help jog people’s memories and consciences.

"It brings out certain aspects that people may never have thought about," he said.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes that communal penance services featuring general absolution without individual confessions should only be conducted in instances of grave necessity, such as imminent danger of death without sufficient time for individual confessions, or when not enough confessors are available to hear individual confessions in a reasonable amount of time.

"The diocesan bishop is the judge of whether or not the conditions required for general absolution exist," states the catechism states, which then adds that "A large gathering of the faithful on the occasion of major feasts or pilgrimages does not constitute a case of grave necessity."

Penitents receiving general absolution should confess their grave sins during individual confessions as soon as possible, according to the catechism.

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