Originally Posted by kangamitroo
i was raised Catholic, and before i made my First Communion we made our First Confession. At that time (early 1980s), at least in my parish, the teaching was that you had to make confession before receiving communion. we'd go every saturday afternoon. but during my elementary school years, it seemed this practice died out. it became unnecessary, to the extent that only extremely pious people seemed even to go to confession at all.
my questions: Why did this practice change? (of having one's conscience made formally clean before receiving communion)
or, did it not change, and just my parish was starting to get lax in its observation?
Note: I was raised Catholic (pretty much lapsed after I graduated from Catholic high school in 1987) and I've now been an Orthodox Christian for more than six years. I was born in 1969.
I grew up in the Archdiocese of Detroit. I received First Communion in second grade (1977) and First Confession was in fourth or fifth grade - so about 1980-81.
I have an older friend (now Orthodox) who was an Ursuline nun from when she was 18 to about 30 or so. She taught the lower grammar school grades - usually first and second grade. We talked about the very subject of your post several times. She told me that since she taught the lower grades, she taught about Confession and First Communion - since this was pre-Vatican II, the kids had Confession before their First Communion. She said she took great pains to not scare the kids, but taught them that God loved them, and wanted to make sure everything was "right" with them, which meant confessing what they had done wrong (at that age, it was often being mean to siblings, lying, cheating at school work, being mean to parents, etc.).
I only remember doing First Confession the one time and not afterward until I went to Catholic school from eighth grade through high school graduation. With the school (my family belonged to a different parish), you went to Confession during Advent and Lent.
The parish my family belonged to had a practice of doing a Communal Penance service during Lent. It was supposed to be a preparation for Confession, and priests were available after to hear Confession, but no one in my family went and I don't remember very many people going over to the confessionals after the service was over. I remember the Archdiocese really frowning upon the parish doing this service, since it was really only supposed to be used when men were going off to war (or something similar) and there wasn't time for private Confessions to be heard.
I just checked the website of this parish - where my parents still are members - and Communal Penance services are listed for various parishes in the area.
From my many Catholic friends and family members, private Confession seems to have been almost totally abandoned. My parents admitted a while back that they've not done private Confession in something like 25 years, yet they're still at Mass each Sunday and receive Communion weekly. My best friend from high school is married to a fellow whose uncle (and great uncle) are/were priests. She proudly told me that she's not been to Confession since she graduated from high school, which was 1988. She told me that the Church isn't so much into Confession anymore. She's in the Archdiocese of Detroit, too, as are my parents. Her children did First Communion in second grade, and First Confession will be in fifth grade or so.
Given the almost virtual neglect of Confession among Catholic friends and family, I was astonished when a Catholic coworker in a previous workplace said he and his family did Confession once a month.
I listened to Catholic radio locally a few years back - especially Catholic Answers - and there always seemed to be a lot of talk about how the Catholic Church needed to re-emphasize Confession, and that the almost total neglect of this sacrament I refer to seems to be pretty common.
By comparision, the Orthodox parish I was chrismated in required Confession once a month. I'm in another parish now, and my current priest prefers Confession four times a year, during the four fasting seasons, but I still go once a month, as that's good spiritual practice for me. Mandated minimum is once a year, during Great Lent. My Catholic friends and family are, to put it bluntly, appalled I go to Confession so frequently. Whether they think I'm stupid for going so often (what do you have to confess to go so often? yes, I've gotten that), or have memories of Confession that make them squirm, or realize they *should* go, but haven't and are uncomfortable at the realization, I don't know. But *something* about it makes them uneasy. They're almost squirming when we talk.
I don't know why some people dislike Confession so much. I find it very spiritually fruitful, even if the process of self-examination makes me squirm, but the actual confessing of my sins and the spiritual counsel of my priest after is always very helpful, and is a huge relief and lightening of my soul.
I found this link you might find interesting:http://www.ewtn.org/library/Liturgy/FIRSTCC.HTM
Holy cow, I just had a huge shock! I was poking around more on my parent's parish website and found the "sacramental schedule" for this school year. The second graders had First Confession in the fall and First Communion will be in May! You could have knocked me over with a feather! Guess it's pretty much a parish by parish thing - or the bishop decided to put his foot down.