Advent is prime time for reconciliation

December 10, 2019

Advent Penance Services (more pending) 

Dec. 10   6:30pm    St. Thomas - Huntsville
Dec. 10   6:30pm    St. Ignatius of Loyola - Spring
Dec. 17   6:30pm    Sacred Heart - Conroe
Dec. 18    6:30pm   St Matthias

Dec. 19   6:30pm    St. Joseph - New Waverly

HOUSTON — From Huntsville to Nassau Bay, parishes are opening their doors for special hours for the Catholic faithful to encounter Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of Penance, also known as reconciliation or confession. 

During these special Advent Penance services, several priests are available to hear confessions, offering Catholics a powerful way to embrace the new Liturgical year in the Advent Season ahead of Christmas.

During special liturgical times like Advent and Lent, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo encourages the faithful to come to God “with all our heart.”

Cardinal DiNardo said, “In the beautiful Sacrament of Reconciliation, this reality is realized most fully as we take our particular sins and shortcomings before the Lord, longing for freedom from slavery to sin and death.”
Pope Francis also encouraged the faithful to look at the Sacrament of Reconciliation without fear.

God “does not want to beat us and condemn us,” but rather “he always looks for a way to enter the hearts” of those who are repentant, the pope said in a homily Feb. 27.

“When we priests — in the Lord’s place — hear confessions, we also must have this attitude of goodness like the Lord, who says, ‘Come, let us talk, there is no problem, there is forgiveness,’ and not with a threat from the beginning,” he said.

Through the sacrament of reconciliation, he added, Jesus “does not threaten but rather calls us with kindness, having confidence in us,” which allows people seeking forgiveness to take “a step forward on the path of conversion.”

Recalling the example of a cardinal who, in the confessional, would not say much when someone confessed a great sin, Pope Francis said God also does not dwell on sins and instead gives “a receipt of forgiveness.”

The pope said he finds it helpful to see the Lord’s attitude as that of “a father with a son who thinks he’s big, who believes he’s grown up, but instead is really just halfway there. The Lord knows that we are all halfway there and many times we need this, to hear this word: ‘Come, don’t be frightened, come. There is forgiveness.’ And this encourages us to go to the Lord with an open heart. It is the Father who awaits us.”

Cardinal DiNardo echoed this perspective: “The Lord, the Father of Mercies, speaks the words through the Church and the ministry of the priest that we all long to hear as he pronounces mercy, not condemnation, and restores us to the fullness of life with Him.”

Call your local parish for Advent Penance service times, or regularly scheduled confession times. To find your nearest parish, visit www.archgh.org. †

– Catholic News Service contributed to this story.