For centuries confession was a central focus of Lent. Many people received communion one time during the year to fulfill their Easter duty. There was also a presumption never the law that one should go to confession before each reception of communion. There was of course then a rush to confession in the week before Easter- almost to the exclusion of the wonderful Holy Week Liturgies. Even today, in Lent we have a parish penance service, the Archdiocese promotes the Light is On program of Wednesday confessions, because it is natural to consider righting our relationship to God as we recall his sacrifice for us. We should not forget those who are no longer able to make it to church on their own.
Over 50 years ago the second Vatican Council stated
“Extreme unction,” which may also and more fittingly be called “anointing of the sick,” is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as any one of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived.
The sacrament of confession or more properly “reconciliation” is or can be part the anointing rite, if the person is conscious and wishes to receive it. It is not just the young and active who might be in need of reconciliation with God and the Church. If you have elderly or sick relatives who feel separated from God and the church, Lent is the perfect time to offer them the opportunity for that spiritual healing. If someone who has long felt themselves to be angry, unworthy or simply distant, experiences that reconnection while they are able to do so consciously, it may well lift a burden and add joy to one’s later days, weeks or years. If you know a home bound person or one simply out of the habit of sharing with the church community, if they would welcome a priestly visit and then call the office to arrange a visit. If this does not seem like the right time perhaps a birthday, anniversary or other special time of year might help someone you love to face the rest of their days with more peace and expectation.