All priests should dedicate themselves with generosity, commitment and competency to administering the sacrament of Reconciliation. In this regard, it is important that the confessionals in our churches should be clearly visible expressions of the importance of this sacrament. Sacramentum Caritatis §21
Dear Fathers in the Faith,
Please take heed of what the Holy Father says here. In the power to absolve sinners and to reconcile them to God and the Church, you have a great treasure. Perhaps you don’t fully appreciate what a treasure this is. Perhaps you have come to appreciate it less seeing the way in which the [sometimes] “faithful” have shown it such little esteem over recent decades.
Some of you wait for us to come to you (“Confessions by appointment”); some might sit for half an hour in the confessional on Saturday mornings (“Confessions: 10am to 10:30am every Saturday”). Some schedule confessions often and regularly (thank you to all those who do this), but then fail to provide a fill in if something else comes up at a time when you scheduled hearing confessions.
Sometimes we come to the Church for confession and can’t see the confessional, or don’t know what the local custom is for queuing in the pew, or what the system of lights mean. Sometimes we get there and find there is no confessional at all, and we have to actually face our confessor (scary)! Sometimes, we get into the confessional, only to find that our confessor shows no respect for the rite–failing to give a penance, or even botching the absolution formula itself.
Dear Fathers, I want you to know that some times some of us find it really difficult to work up the courage to go to confession. It is made harder when after all that psychological preparation, we are confounded by the confessor’s lack of generosity or commitment or competency.
If our experience is negative, we might not come back. If our experience if positive, wild horses–or at least the wild horses of our shame and guilt–will not keep us away.
Yours most sincerely,
A sinner needing forgiveness.