Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Hidden Joy of Advent

Advent, and Lent, too, for that matter, are the two primary penitential seasons in the Church, which means extra work for her priests, as there are confessions to be heard. Most parishes schedule at least one communal penance service during these two seasons, with the result that extra priests are called in to assist in freeing parishioners from the traps of sin. While it is a joy to help out in parishes, it does eat up evenings as we travel the circuit from parish to parish.

The 'Hidden Joy' of the season is often connected with these penance services. It is a common expectation (but not universal) that the host pastor provide dinner for the priests who can make it, either before or after the penance service. As happened for me last night, there were mainly priests there whom I do not necessarily see too often. There was a flock of retired guys there, and the conversation over drinks and dinner about their history as priests, assignments they had as young priests, dealing with former Bishops and Archbishops, their rememberances of their time in the seminary and of their first pastors and old priests who were around as they began their service; it all made for a good connection with the past, as we also look to the glory of the future.

Please pray for your priests, as we get stretched thinner, it is not always easy to balance out our schedules. Please pray especially for an increase of vocations to the priesthood as well. It is a wonderful and joy-filled life, one which i wouldn't pass up for all the treasures in this world.


Adoro said...

Just last week my dept. provided dinner for the priests who came to the penance services for the religious ed kids. Our office was transformed into a little Italian cafe'. And we were grateful to be able to provide this for them.

While we didn't hang out with the priests, we were in the same room so some of the conversations flew back and forth. They were a riot!

Thanks for this post. I had actually been wondering how they all do it, as many parishes have these services right now. My parish and a neighboring one are Thurs./Fri this week, and the parish where I work has one on Sunday evening.

God bless you all for this labor of love. For some, this is the only time they actually GO to Confession during the year, and for others, it might be the first time in literally YEARS. I was one of them; I made my 12 year Confession the week prior to Holy Week (several years ago now) at a Communal service.

And somehow, I suspect I was not the only one.

Father Schnippel said...


You were not the only one. In the last few days at differing Penance Services, I've heard: "It's been years since my last confession."

At these, especially, it is common to hear: "It's been a year" or "It's been 9 months (Since last Easter)" since my last confession.

I was talking to someone last night about how do we both develop the idea that sin has communal effects, yet also nurture personal responsibility for working with the grace of God to overcome these sins. How do we encourage a frequent reception of the Sacrament, but yet only have 'communal penance services' only twice a year?

Things to think about during a seven hour drive on Thursday.