Can you celebrate Holy Week without going to the Sacrament of Penance? Not when I was a kid. Until the second Vatican Council, most adult Catholics would make every effort to receive the sacrament of penance, usually on one of the last three days of this week. They would come by the thousands, and they would leave with a great sense of relief, feeling they were properly prepared to receive Communion on that day of days, Easter Sunday morning.
To me, it was a beautiful scene, as by the tens of thousands, we knelt before another weak human being, and confessed our own failings. We rose up, however, with calm confidence that whatever it was that we brought to the Sacrament of Reconciliation was now behind us, and a new beginning had been found.
Today the Sacrament of Penance, “Confession”, continues to be very important in the life of the Church, but it is used less frequently. This is not all bad. In the Church of my childhood, Confession was frequently superficial, repetitious, and lacking a determined effort at reform. Today, I find adult penitents far more thoughtful, more serious, and committed than was true prior to the Council.
It would be good if you could celebrate Reconciliation this week, but even if you do not, let the glorious thought of God’s infinite, personal love for you overwhelm you as you celebrate the Resurrection.