The Sacrament of reconciliation (aka penance or confession) is one of the most available, but underutilized Sacraments in the United States. As many regular confessors know, the lines during confession times aren’t exactly out the door. In fact, in many parishes there aren’t any lines at all.
There are, I believe, many reasons why confession isn’t very common in the USA anymore. However, these three strike me as primary.
First, a sense of sin and weakness is becoming rarer. The “everyone’s A-OK” attitude is pervasive. While I’m not in favor of being overly focused on our sins to the exclusion of joyfulness, we still have lost a real sense of our flawed human nature, especially in the United States and Europe, even though the evidence is all around us.
Second, schedules are becoming busier. Most families, between sports, work, and other commitments, are lucky to make it to mass once a week, let alone throw in an extra few minutes for confession. And, since it’s not a priority (see number one), it’s often forgotten.
Third, confession can be strange and scary since most Catholics have gotten out of the habit. I know Catholics, even regular mass attendees, who haven’t confessed regularly since they were in elementary school! Going back into a small room and admitting all of your shortcomings to another person can be difficult, especially if you’re out of practice.
While I can’t personally change the first and second reasons, I do have a good resource to help those Catholics who are scared of reconciliation or fail to see its purpose.
Visit Reconciliation: The Sacrament of Conversion to learn more about this practice, including its history, contents, some personal experiences, its place in Protestant traditions, and even a FAQ.