Besides decorating Christmas trees and making cribs for infant Jesus, this festive season is witnessing a rise in Catholics from the city taking time out for confessions.
While there are few takers for weekly confessions held in churches throughout the year, Christmas is the time when the rush to repent and seek divine forgiveness is at its peak. Most churches have organised special penitential services every day this week to accommodate the growing numbers.
“I usually have eight or ten parishioners coming for confession every week, but in the past three days at least 200 people have lined up to confess,” said Father Joseph D’Souza of Mahalaxmi’s St. Ignatius Church. “This is also the only time I see children confess.”
To encourage penitents, who may not be comfortable confessing to their parish priest, D’Souza has invited two guest priests to assist him this year.
For most youth, confessions are about owning up to everything from jealousy to lying. “We commit small sins such as overeating all the time, but during Christmas, just before starting a new year, it weighs on the conscience,” said Tina Alex, 24, a cancer researcher, who confesses at St. Peter’s Jacobite Church in Malad only on Christmas and Good Friday.
The church, which attracts five penitents on Sunday’s throughout the year, is preparing for more than 50 people for each of its penitential services on December 24 and 31.
Erita D’Souza, a Sunday school teacher at Malad’s Our Lady of Lourdes Church, says her students don’t need to be pushed to confess during Christmas. “They understand the importance of being pure before the midnight mass, and the spirit of Christmas makes the experience of confession all the more spiritual,” she said.