Catholic Culture: What’s the deal with Lenten penance services

Mar 23, 2023

Every year, the Church gives us the season of Lent, a time when we are invited to intentionally journey with Jesus through the experience of being tempted in the desert and on His way to the Cross. It is a period of 40 days of fasting, penance, and prayer in our preparation for the glorious celebration of Easter that is to come.

During this season, we are called not only to abstain from certain luxuries that we have grown accustomed to, but, more importantly, to seek a true inner conversion of heart, attempting to follow the will of God more faithfully. One way to help us achieve that inner conversion is to take the opportunity to go to confession.

Typically, parishes across our diocese offer special times for the Sacrament of Reconciliation during the season of Lent so we can prepare our souls for the celebration of the Resurrection. These Lenten penance services are a time when the parish community can come together to recognize our own sinfulness, turn back to God in the manner that we live our lives, and seek His forgiveness and mercy.

Lenten penance services generally include short readings from Scripture on conversion and repentance. One of the parish priests will offer a brief reflection on sin and the importance of confessing those sins to the Lord. At the conclusion of that reflection, the priest will also lead the parish in an Examination of Conscience to help those in attendance call to mind those areas of sin in their lives. That is followed by an invitation for individual confessions with a priest.

The season of Lent is the perfect opportunity to allow the Lord to enter into our hearts and lead us to a moment of conversion. In the remaining days before Easter, consider attending a penance service at one of our local parishes. Utilize this opportunity to enter more deeply into relationship with Jesus. He will be waiting for you.

To find penance services near you, please visit:

By Father Tom Pringle, Parochial Vicar at Holy Family Parish, March 24, 2023