All Sins Must Go!

I hope these final days of Advent are giving you a chance to slow down and make your final preparation—physically and spiritually—for Christmas. While receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation is not technically required during Advent (ref. Canon 988), it is a very laudable practice and a tangible way to prepare spiritually for the Christmas season. If you’re one of us who waits to the last minute for anything Christmas-related, there are still a few options for reconciliation.

There are Advent Reconciliation Services tonight & tomorrow! All are in English and Spanish, unless otherwise noted:

  • Dolores Church, Austin, 5 p.m.
  • St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, College Station, 7 p.m.
  • St. Margaret, Giddings, 7 p.m.
  • St. Elizabeth, Pflugerville, 5 p.m.
  • St. Mary, Our Lady of the Lake, Lago Vista, 7 p.m., English only
  • Holy Trinity Parish, Llano, 6 p.m., English only
  • St. Williams, Round Rock, 7 p.m.
  • St. John the Baptist Parish in Waco, 7 p.m., English only
  • December 22, Holy Family Parish, Copperas Cove, 6:30 p.m.
  • December 22, St. Joseph Parish, Mason, 6 p.m.

I love the Catholic faith and the Church. Sometimes, we’re unpopular because of our beliefs—which is perfectly fine in my book. Sometimes though, we’re unpopular because we don’t practice good PR. I remember viewing another diocese’s website and looking at their “news” page. There were 10-15 entries spanning about an year. Every news article was a press release relating to a few different sexual abuse cases. Of course, those were important items that needed to be published, but why were they the only news items from a diocese over the course of a year?

The Mormon church recently launched an ingenious ad campaign. You’ve seen them—the ads that have people from all different walks of life describe themselves with a closer of “and I’m a Mormon.” More than once, I’ve been intrigued enough by the ad to pay attention to it, realized how inviting the ad was and think “holy cow, this is smart.”

We’re getting better. Both the Archdioceses of New York and Boston (at least) has done a very smart thing related to inviting people to the sacrament of Reconciliation. “Reconciliation Monday” was held in NYC with all 360 parishes celebrating the sacrament from 2-8 p.m. As Rocco said, all sins must go.

I love this idea. Easy to promote and it’s incredibly helpful for the local Catholic community. Just remember the time and date and any church you pass is open for you. Driving home and the Spirit randomly moves you after hearing the announcements at Mass, perhaps a radio ad or seeing the ad in the newspaper? Never been to that parish before? No problem. It’s great.

Of course, I understand why both dioceses that I’ve heard of doing this are two of the densest in the country. The Diocese of Fort Worth, for example, had, at one time, five parishes in the rural area of the diocese that shared one deacon. Hard to have reconciliation at those parishes at once.

The Diocese of Austin, to their credit, did the next best thing. They compiled a listing of all Advent reconciliation services on their website and Tweeted each day the services that night or the next. Easy to print out a list for your section of the diocese and keep it in eye’s sight.

While we have a long way to go to get the Church up to speed in the PR sector, we’re making good progress.

  • Lindsay

    Clearly, I’m very late in commenting on this post, but I’d like to point out The Light Is On for You from my home diocese (the Archdiocese of Washington). Cardinal Wuerl started that when he first became bishop (before he was a cardinal). If memory serves, that was the original “reconciliation at any parish at a specific day and time” campaign, and it has been replicated around the country since then. I’m not knocking New York and Boston, but I think DC had it first.