Father Zuhlsdorf has an interesting entry about the issue of lacking, or strange, confession times. One learns there interesting things (thankfully never happened to me, not even in liberal churches) like the existence of churches where confession time is scheduled for 30 minutes before beginning of the mass, with the same priest having to do both and managing to show up late. One truly wonders whether for some priests sacraments are just a bothersome task they have to pretend to do in order to stay in employment.
This issue is in my eyes a very apposite one to say two words about the priest’s duties. If a parishioner would ask the priest why he doesn’t have longer/better organised/ more convenient confession times, many priests would probably answer that this is not possible, because they have many other things to do.
Exactly this is the issue: that nowadays many priests’ priorities are upside down. It is not confession having to adapt to the social activities of the priest, but his social work having to bow to his more important duties. Not only saying Mass, but caring for proper administration of the sacraments and for scrupulous adherence to one’s duty of reciting the divine office come before every “social” activity, because they are what the priest is there for in the first place.
I wonder how many priests nowadays neglect their obligation to recite the divine office and how many of them try to justify themselves saying that they fulfil their priestly duties by caring for their parishioners. But when a priest starts to downplay his obligation to recite the holy office it is no surprise that he will, in time, start to downplay his obligation to hear confession; if he starts downplaying confession it is no surprise that he will, in time, start to think that he can “experiment” with the Mass; if he starts detaching himself from the sacraments it is no suprise that he will slowly but surely drift toward a secular outlook on this world, in which his service towards those who suffer comes before his duties to God. He will probably say to himself that to help those who suffer is to serve God, but this is exactly the wrong perspective that has led so many people out of the churches. God always comes first, all the rest comes as a result of one’s (and particularly: a priest’s) service to God. Charity is first of all love of God, and love of neighbour because he is God’s creature.
The Church of the past was not neglecting the poor and those who suffered, but she had Her priorities right.