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6 April 2014
posted by Canon Dakin on 09-04-2014

5th Sunday of Lent

The end of Lent is in sight. A week today will be Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. On the afternoon of Palm Sunday, next Sunday, we will have our common celebration of the Sacrament of Penance. You may come and stand before the community to say: ‘I am a sinner. I ask for the healing grace of God’ and you will receive individual absolution. Later, on Wednesday of that week, at the request of the Bishop, I, and all parish priests, will be available from 6 till 8 in the evening, for those who wish to use the confessional. This doesn’t mean that our Palm Sunday celebration is a cheap, quickie version of the real thing. Far from it - it is a more generous and relaxed celebration of God’s love. It simply happens that if people are worried or wish to ask advice the confessional enables them to find peace by putting their problem into words.


Historically, for the first thousand years of the Church’s life, you would never have gone to Confession - unless it was public knowledge that you had committed a whopper like murder or adultery - and then you had to apply to the Bishop for penance. So how did you find forgiveness for all your  peccadillos, little sins? Through the Eucharist. Holy Communion is not our private line to heaven.  We approach the Eucharist with all our relationships - to Jesus and to all the others in our lives whom he loves, for whom he died.  By showing that we want Him as a presence in our lives, implicitly we are asking pardon for failing to share his love with others and if we are sincere we obtain forgiveness. Then how did Confession become so large a part of Church life as many of us remember? Very briefly, because people stopped coming to Holy Communion. The Church brought in Easter Duties to get them to receive at least once a year. It would be a mistake these days to take the spiritual temperature of the Church by numbers presenting for Confession. The truth is, though, that we are all sinners and the Sacrament of Reconciliation provides the space in which we may express our thanks to God for his compassion and love.   

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