What is an Advent Penance service?

What is an Advent Penance service?

Can anyone tells me what goes on there? Is confession heard? Is Mass celebrated? I’m supposed to go to one tonight but I’m nervous.

My parish just had theirs. There is some common prayer, a reading with a short reflection, an examination of conscious and then there are 4-5 priests available to hear individual confessions.

Nothing at all to be nervous about.

From St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, Philadelphia, PA:

“What are the different types of penance services?”

…4.The fourth type of penance service is usually called a Communal Penance Service. Many parishes, including St. John the Evangelist, hold communal penance services during Advent and Lent. This is a form of sacramental confession and mixes public prayer and individual confession of sins to a priest, followed by absolution. There are some legitimate variations in the way in which this is celebrated, but a communal penance service must always include: 1) the penitents’ sorrow for sin (usually expressed in an Act of Contrition); 2) confession of sins to a priest with absolution given; and 3) an act of satisfaction or penance.

Usually, a communal penance service includes a Scripture reading and brief exhortation by the priest. This is followed by an examination of conscience, and then the entire community prays the Act of Contrition together. Sometimes, a single, general penance is assigned to everyone participating; at other times the assignment of a penance is done during the individual confession.

After the communal part of the ceremony, those present individually confess their sins to the priest and receive absolution (and a penance if it has not been assigned in the communal setting). The Act of Contrition is not repeated privately, because it has been part of the communal section of the service. Note that the words of absolution are said by the priest individually over the penitent. A person who participates in only the communal parts of the service has not been to confession!

Thank you for the information. I hope everything goes well this evening.

My Parish has one scheduled for this coming Monday from 3P till 9P. It’s the same as a Lenten Penance Service, consisting of scripture readings, a homily on the graces of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Confessions being heard.

It is a time when often the parish will bring in extra priest for personal Confessions; when it is expected that a larger than usual number will be seeking Confession.

It MIGHT include a prayer service, or even a Benedictions Service [Exposition of the Blessed sacrament]; and it might include a brief homoly and some songs. There are many options available.

Nothing to get uptight about:)

Pray much


The liturgical book, Rite of Penance, includes a section with the heading Penitential Services.

The instructions include “37. Care must be taken to ensure that the faithful do not confuse these celebrations with the celebration of the sacrament of penance.”

Penitential Services have no absolution. They are Celebrations of the Word of God with a gathering of people. “36. It is appropriate after the introductory rites (song, greeting, and opening prayer) one or more biblical readings be chosen with songs, psalms, or periods of silence inserted between them. In the homily … After the homily and reflection on God’s word, it is desirable that the congregation, united in voice and spirit, pray together in a litany or in some other way suited to general participation. At the end the Lord’s Prayer is said … The priest or the minister who presides concludes with a prayer and the dismissal of the people.”

The term “Penance Service” is confusing. “Penance” suggests the sacrament of Penance/Confession/Reconciliation. “Service” suggests a penitential service.

Otherwise known as the Rite of Reconciliation for Several Penitents with Individual Confession. It takes on a form of the Liturgy of the Word as at Mass, then confession happens at some point. It is mostly carried out during Lent and/or Advent

I suspect most parishes use Penance and Penitential Service interchangeably to refer to Form 2 of the Sacrament of Penance.