During Advent and Lent it is the custom in many communities to offer penance services. Penance services are especially appropriate during Advent and Lent due to the penitential nature of both seasons.
I serve on the liturgy committee for the community I attend here in Leuven, and a few weeks ago we debated the pros and cons of a penance service. Unfortunately, the committee decided to not organize one this Lent. Penance services can be a powerful source of healing and forgiveness. If your community has the resources, I would encourage you to offer a penance service.
There are several different types of penance services. Some of them are non-sacramental services and others are communal penance services with individual confession. Even less common are communal penance services with general absolution. Communal penance services with general absolution have been discouraged in recent years.
There are a variety of ways to organize a penance service, especially a non-sacramental penance service. Some communities encourage their members to write their sins on a piece of paper that is later burned. Others follow the sacramental services outlined in the official Rite of Reconciliation.
I am curious to know if your community has penance services during Lent. If so, how is your penance service structured? How popular is the service?
Please comment below.