Monday, 7 July 2008

International Eucharistic Congress: confession, confession, confession ...

An aspect of the Eucharistic Congress that I have been meaning to comment on for a few days now is the availability of the Sacrament of Penance. For each of the main days of the Congress, priests were available at a number of locations around the stadium being used for the catecheses and celebration of Mass to hear confessions. This meant, roughly speaking, access to the Sacrament from 9 am to 11 am, every morning. It was quite encouraging at times to see short queues waiting to receive the Sacrament. Each morning, a reminder announcement of the availablity of these priests was made.

On Thursday morning, there was a penitential celebration/para-liturgy. This was followed by the Congress site becoming a "city of reconciliation", with priests in three or four different areas available for confessions.

More than once during the week, and not least in the homily of Pope Benedict XVI at the closing Mass, mention was made of the need for more care in preparing to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. The availability of the Sacrament of Penance during the week of the Congress provided a good witness as to how we can respond to this need.

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