ARCHBISHOP CRISTIAN CARO CORDERO OF PUERTO MONTT, CHILE. "My proposal is that, given the close theological, spiritual and pastoral relationship between the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance, and taking into account the shadows in the latter, a year be dedicated to the Sacrament of Penance, taking as fundamental points the following: the meaning of the true and living God, and His eclipse in modern culture; the need of salvation and the announcement of Jesus Christ; … the sense of sin, which is diminished or annulled, due to the loss of God and moral relativism; conversion and the virtue of penance; spiritual guidance or accompaniment; the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance as an encounter between the sinner, who converts from his misery, and God who, in His mercy in Christ, welcomes and forgives him; the conditions for receiving Holy Communion; new life in Christ, as His disciples and members of the Church. With respect to the relationship between the Eucharist and the pastoral care of vocations, I propose that in the ‘Year of Penance’ priests be formed and motivated to give spiritual direction to young people and to give time to the Sacrament of Reconciliation which, together with the Eucharist, are fundamental in spiritual guidance. [Via Annunciations]
This is a wonderful idea and is exactly the corrective we all need. As I have said before I am convinced that a new springtime for the Church will not blossom until such time as Catholics generally return to confession. In a culture that has reduced the effects of sin to a guilt that should be excised the emphasis really needs to be placed not only our personal sinfulness, but to the remedy of both God’s forgiveness and the grace to overcome our sins. It has been remarked that if we were truly aware of the sacramental realities that occur during Mass we would instantly fall on our knees in awe. I think the same thing applies to sacramental confession. The Archbishop talked about the "spiritual and pastoral relationship between the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance" and there is also a connection to how these sacraments got deemphasized. Tabernacles were removed to locations not fitting the dignity of the Blessed Sacrament. The presence of Christ in his believers was put on the same level as the Real Presence. Sacramental confession was relegated to Saturdays to a block of time normally less than an hour and Penance services were offered without sacramental confession. In both cases the sacraments were moved aside in some sense and the community was made the emphasis. As a result unless you go to the Vigil Mass people are unlikely to see people in line for confession. I firmly believe in the "If they have it they will come" model of confession. My own parish has confession before every Mass and there are always people in line. The example of seeing people in line can be a reminder to others who do no regularly frequent confession. With the limited numbers of people going to confession compared to Communion lines you would think that Pope John Paul II had also canonized the majority of American Catholics. We have solved the problem of going forth and sinning no more by getting rid of the concept of personal sin. We can too easily admit that we are sinners, but at the same time think that we have nothing really to repent of. So I pray the the synod might act on this suggestion and that it bears fruit in our souls.