As I sat and waited in the confessional last Saturday evening, not a soul showed up. I tried to convince myself that faith has gone for a vacation just as school does. However, having been out in the trenches for sometime now, guess, it’s a universal phenomenon. And if I sense it right, people are giving the impression that they no longer believe in confession which might flow from the popular assumption that Priesthood is not essential for the forgiveness of sins and that the church lacks the credibility to represent God in the world. Times have changed. In my observation, only a tiny fraction of traditional Catholics make Saturday afternoon trip to the church with a handful of request on the weekdays. But over all, that once dominant Catholic practice is gone. The long lines have shifted to the grocery stores, mall, movie theatre, fitness center, sports complex and restaurants.
What went on? The notion of relativity is on the rise. There’s a loss of the sense of sin and repentance. People have no time. But it ultimately boils into an extreme lack of faith.
I thought confession was similar to a carwash whereby a penitent dumps the sin, listens to a few words, receives absolution and penance of one Our Father, three Hail Marys and Glory be and exits. It might be beneficial in the interest of time but this style lacks a critical component in confession namely, the causes from which the sins (missing Sunday Mass, stealing, cheating, etc) must be taken into serious consideration and help the penitent diagnose the problem and not rush it because it is meant as an overhaul and not band aid. There are cases in which I personally run into quick confessions but in extreme situations where things have become chronic and toxic, it’s altogether a different ball game. Otherwise, no confessor like me should expect long queues on Saturdays and phone call or walk-ins on weekdays. Amen.