QUAERITUR: no confessionals and no confession times

From a reader:

I am requesting help re: the application of Canon 964.2 and 986.1 [which concerns the Seal].

The parish has been the host of a monthly homeschool Mass for a group from all over ____ for a few years.  They have just moved from a temporary building to a new church building, which the pastor has tried very hard to imbue with beauty and reverence.  There are no confessionals of any sort, however, and there are no scheduled confession times

He told a member of our group that the codes for handicapped access made the inclusion of a confessional too difficult; he has always only offered confessions by appointment.

May the two Canons above be dispensed with in this way?

Also, if the group were to contribute a portable confessional screen that he could sit behind, would that satisfy the requirements of 964.2?

First, I am not a canonist.  I consulted a canonist and I will adapt his response to me for my response.

You have the right to pursue recourse, especially if this is your territorial parish.

Regarding the confessional, the USCCB has not issued any norms, as per c. 964, to define the matter.  C. 964.2 is clear (confessionals must have a fixed screen between the penitent and the confessor so that the faithful can use them freely).   I have no idea what the fire code or building code says there.  On the other hand, mentioning the building code has been used as dodge before.
 
Perhaps you could approach the pastor with the proposal that he and others could help build a portable screen.  That would not violate any building code.   And what building code would prohibit the erection of a decent confessional so long as it is accessible and not a fiery death trap of flaming fiery entrapped death?

As far as the times available for confession are concerned, perhaps a gentle reminder to the pastor – not citing Canon Law – that he and a group would like to know a stable time each week when a confessor will be available for confession, since they’d like to go regularly at a predictable time, and they don’t want to "pester" him for appointments. If enough people start going weekly (say, 6-10?) at a stable time, the pastor might see concrete evidence of why regular confession time in the schedule would be valuable.   There is a vicious circle: if people are going, they pastor will maybe not be motivated to sit in the box.  If the pastor does not sit in the box, people won’t come.
 
That said, I think we have to have a little sympathy for pastors of parishes when they may not have assistants or visiting priests to help.  You can see why sometimes they schedule brief periods.   On the other hand, my experience is that some of these pastors do not value the sacrament of penance.  They are the guys who tend to schedule confessions "From 9:00 a.m. to 9:03 a.m. on the second Thursday of months ending in R". 

I would only bring up Canon Law and consider going over Father’s head to the local Bishop or to Rome if Father is stubborn and refuses to cooperate with the possibility of building some sort of a screen and/or offering some accommodation to a group that wants to confess on a regular basis at a regular time at their regular parish where they are parishioners.

Also, it sounds as if the priest is interested in the beauty proper to a church building.  This is a good sign.  Is it likely that he will get around to confessionals soon?

You have to weigh the factors with prudence and due regard for the circumstance and exigencies the priest faces and then try to work it out as peacefully as possible.

Bottom line: help find solutions by your own efforts with others rather than simply make demands on the priest without providing concrete help.

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45 Responses to QUAERITUR: no confessionals and no confession times

  1. roamincatholic says:

    I don’t know if this would help, but at St. John Cantius in Chicago, they have built two confessionals that are “handicap accessible,” and they are still very aesthetically very nice (surprised?), and very simple– perhaps a design such as the one they used could be helpful in overcoming whatever code there is.

  2. PomeroyJohn says:

    OK, so our semi-old-fashioned confessional has been torn out (semi-old-fashioned in that there was a kneeler and original screen but a doorway was cut into the area behind the penitent’s section and the priest’s section was enlarged so that you could confess either way) and a new room is being constructed with no space for a screen — either fixed or movable. No room for a kneeler and screen, but there are 5 etched glass windows going to be in the outer wall between the room and the pews in the church. The windows are because our Bishop (he of soon to be happy memory with his successor having been appointed) doesn’t want any temptations for our priests or parishioners.

    I’ve never had an answer to my question, “where’s the screen going?” How much do I “push” for an answer? When do I go to our outgoing or incoming (in September Bishop) for an answer? And if no answer there, where do I go?

    Thanks,
    John

  3. AnAmericanMother says:

    Father,

    Re: fire codes —

    Has there ever been a case where a priest or a penitent was trapped in a confessional and doomed to a fiery death trap of flaming fiery entrapped death?

    I used to be an arson investigator, and that is exactly the sort of story that would receive instant, wide, and permanent circulation. I didn’t hear it during my time in the trenches.

    Our parish has two very normal-looking confessional boxes, acc. to the parish website they were based on the confessional in the Coronation Church in Budapest. I don’t know why – there’s no Hungarian connection here that I know of. But they are very beautiful.

  4. Iconophilios says:

    At my parish, we have confession-but it’s at 8-8:30 ante meridien on Saturdays. We don’t use the confessionals, but we have a “Rec(onciliation) Room” that includes a lattice. But I don’t if my parish priest’s near-blindness cancels that out…
    I try to avoid Rec Rooms and go to confession at places that have genuine confessionals.

  5. Maltese says:

    When I was in the sorry state of sacramentizing at a novus ordo parish, I actually had a priest hit on me during confession, but I’ve always thought this Sacrament is among the most important and profound. In baptism, we are brought into the Christian community, and, of course in the Eucharist we receive our Lord in a real and profound way, but next to the Eucharist, penance is the Sacrament we receive most frequently, and it alone can reconcile a soul (Baptism being an exception if the person is an unbaptized adult) to God, and away from the fires of Hell.

    So this priest is an imbecile for not having a set time for it; it’s, really, a dereliction of his duty to his flock, and he should be flogged for it! What a liberal boob! [I am afraid that is over the top. So long for now. Fr. Z]

    In fact, people reading this who see a mind-doctor might want to consider, instead, an old-fashioned remedy: confession!

  6. “… a fiery death trap of flaming fiery entrapped death…”

    Father, I gotta tip my hat to you on this one. A truly excellent line! :-D

  7. Maltese says:

    RomeontheRange: agreed: great alliteration! Alliteration is mostly an old-english and middle-english poetic device, but I try to use it, too, as often as I can, just because I like it!

  8. Thanks… I worked on that one for hours.

  9. Pardon me if I sound harsh.
    But, for Pete’s sake, what’s the problem here?
    People want to know when they can approach the confessional anonymously (thus, set confession times) without having to make an appointment; which, in my mind, is seriously stupid for all kinds of reasons as the normal m.o. The norm should be set times for confession. I know that for myself, being able to approach the confessional without making direct contact face to face with a priest has been a great freedom. I don’t know why we priest deny the faithful of this; many come to confession for that very reason.
    As for “fire” codes and such; sounds like hoo-ha to me (but I probably am wrong here).
    When we have confessions before Christmas or Easter, confession stations are set up that allow for either face to face or behind the screen. What is so hard about that?
    Anyway.
    I’m done.

  10. webpoppy8 says:

    As far as I am concerned, phoning a rectory to schedule a confession, coming in, telling the receptionist you’re here for confession with Father so-and-so really strains the seal of the Confessional.

    Can I ask who came up with the brilliant thought that a parish only needed 30 minutes of one priest hearing confessions a week?

    A priest who only hears confessions 30 minutes weekly is telling his congregation that HE does not believe in the efficacy of the sacrament.

    Priest readers, here’s a challenge: calculate how many penitents you can see in your publicly announced confession hours each week, at 2 penitents every five minutes. (OK I would hate to be rushed through, but it actually makes you look better.) Say you have 90 minutes each week. That is 18 people a week to whom you are making Confession available. Now – count the number of parishioners you are responsible for, say 1800. Divide the parishioners by the penitents-per-week figure to find out how many weeks to cover your whole group of people. In this case, each parishioner must wait over two years to get you for a 2-1/2 minute confession.

    I’m tempted to be flip, so forgive me if I ask: why in the world aren’t your rectory hours publicly announced drop-in confession hours as well? Why do you guys take your stoles off anyway?

    Blessings from a cranky guy

    - Andrew

  11. Maltese says:

    How about this: how about you (we) pray to Our Lady? Nothing is more simple or more pofound….

  12. nemo says:

    Our pastor once remarked that long confession lines are the sign of a healthy parish. We are blessed to have confessions scheduled daily in both the FSSP chapel and also in our sister N.O. parish. FSSP priests hear confessions before Mass and also after Mass if there are more penitents unprocessed, so to speak.

  13. Jerry says:

    @webpoppy8

    2 confessions/5 min x 90 min = 36 confessions. However, I don’t think an average of 2.5 minutes per confession is reasonable if each penitent goes once per month, much less once every year.

  14. Pater OSB says:

    I understand the various ‘maths’ approaches, but say the priest sits in the box for one hour a week [or more] for weeks on end and in all that time only one person comes to confess and they were indeed able to do so because the priest was there – then it was worth it for the sake of that one soul.

    Also, in Italy and other parts of Europe confessionals aren’t fully encased cabinets [which I do like and favor], only the priest is in a box and there is simply a kneeler on the right and left. I’ve sat in these four hours and people keep coming. Perhaps these types of confessionals could be introduces in the U.S.

  15. sawdustmick says:

    “… a fiery death trap of flaming fiery entrapped death…”

    Actually I thought the confessional was the Fire Escape !

  16. Anne M. says:

    Making a portable screen for confession is not difficult. You just need a wooden frame with a stable base. We have two such frames in our parish and they are covered with inexpensive purple fabric. We only have one priest in our parish but he usually invites at least one more priest, sometimes two, to help with confessions on Weds. nights. The two screens are set up, along with kneelers in private areas of the church. Both of those areas are easily accessible to a handicapped person in a wheelchair, whereas the regular confessional is not handicapped accessible. He also hears confessions on Saturday afternoons. There are options for everyone in our parish. It’s not difficult to do this.

  17. worm says:

    @ sawdustmick

    Well done!

  18. Father S. says:

    What strikes me particularly about this, as a priest, is that this priest in question has cut himself off from opportunities for wondrous experiences of the priesthood. Even if the lines are short–which they won’t be if he prays, fasts, and preaches attractively about Confession–he will have all the more scheduled time to pray. In my mind, a priest who scorns Confession is like a husband who tells his wife that he has no use for her. What joy he casts aside!

  19. Father S. says:

    RE: Andrew

    This makes priests, flip, too! It is hard for us to find priests who can hear our confessions, especially if we live in the country and have to drive a long distance.

    In my mind, I do not know why priests do not hear confessions before every Mass. I have about 1000 parishioners and I am the sole priest here. I am in the confessional for at least 30 minutes before every Mass (weekday and Sunday), as well as Sundays after Mass if I have no meetings (I announce this from the pulpit and usually get about 90 minutes of confessions. It is never scheduled and is always impromptu.) Also, we have Saturday afternoon times, as well as First Saturdays in the morning during Exposition. Other priests say, “If I did that, no one would come.” I say, “Sit there, and they will come.” Right now, we are doing a survey to find additional times because what we have is not enough!

    This leads to another point for priests. If you fast and pray for confessions, they will come. Of course, you also cannot be a jerk or make people think that they are an inconvenience.

    As for appointments, I do not use the “…and by appointment” line. What I have found is that people know that I am always willing to hear their confession, if I am not otherwise occupied. (I also have no parish staff in my rectory which is next door to the church.) During the week, I get a handful of folks who stop in.

  20. Sleepyhead says:

    Imagine if you can… in the Rec Room, there is a short curtain above the kneeler. The curtain hangs from a rod perpendicular to the wall and the priest’s stole hangs over the curtain. When I had been there for several minutes, I noticed I could see the priest’s face in profile – he had moved forward to see who he was listening to!

    When things are ‘busy’, another priest helps out. He puts two chairs near the sanctuary so he is face-to-face with the penitent; he shakes hands with the person before they sit down.

    You couldn’t make it up if you tried.

  21. Gail F says:

    The last time I went to confession at my parish, I got there toward the end of the allotted 1/2 hour a week (it’s on Saturday afternoon, so just being available at that time is often difficult). It was a vigil day and so when I arrived the pastor was not in the “reconciliation room,” he was doing some last-minute arranging in the church itself. I asked him if it was too late and he was obviously very annoyed. I get that, I have often done last minute work myself. But it wasn’t a very good way for either of us to begin. I have never gone back (to him, not to confession!). Dear priests reading, it is obvious to your parish when you think of confession as an annoyance you have to offer but would much rather not.

    To the person who wrote that the confessional problem was due to being a N.O. parish: It isn’t. Please remember that what may be true of your geographical area is not true everywhere. In my Archdiocese, they are all N.O. parishes. There is a wide variety in confessional arrangements, times, etc. My parish actually has a rather nice setup — a small room that was once a reconciliation room and had been used for other purposes was set back to the reconciliation room. At first it was just a little room with two chairs, and then it was redone so that when you walk in there is a confession screen with a kneeler in front of it for “anonymous” confessions. If you walk to the side of the screen, there is a chair to sit on for face-to-face confession. I would think that this arrangement can be done almost anywhere with a small room. For me, it is not the setup that is the problem. When I go (I know it is my right and my responsibility, etc., etc., etc.) I feel as if I am wasting the pastor’s time. It is simpler to go to a different church and I have gone to several. I know that this actually gives the pastor the impression that fewer people want confession, but you can only try so many times.

  22. Gail F, all you all.
    I want to apologize for all priests who make it difficult, or maybe, impossible for you to go to confession without all kinds of “hurdles”.
    This problem, hopefully, will be less common in future. Most young priests not only are willing to hear confessions at all kinds of times, but make it available for the faithful to approach the Sacrament of Penance without these kinds of problems because they LOVE the Sacrament and know, from their own experience, how important it is.
    The faulty understanding/practice/teaching of the Sacrament of Penance is part of these confusing times; priests trained in the ’70s, ’80s and even ’90s have been “duped” into thinking that confession (esp. devotional confessions) may not be so important.
    My thinking on this: God has entrusted me with a particular obligation, giving me the “authority” of priestly Orders to hear confessions and absolve penitents…something that is a wondrous gift and responsibility. I must be available, when it is possible, to do what I was ordained to do. It’s really that simple.

  23. Jack Hughes says:

    My worry is that if priests are only seeing 2-5 penitents a week and yet the entire congregation comes up for Holy Communion then how many people are making sacraligious communions?

    Admitidly if there are 3 or four parishes within walking distance (as in my home city) then one could reasonably assume that for whatever reason people might have gone to confession at another parish but in a rural area with only 1 parish per x00 miles then I would begin to wonder if I either had a whole bunch of Super Saints on my hands or if half the congregation were eating and drinking their own Dammnation.

  24. Jack: this is a real pastoral concern/challenge/nightmare.
    Only by preaching consistently the need for auricular confession for those guilty of mortal sin before approaching Holy Communion, consistent times for confession (ample, by the way), the commitment of pastors/parochial vicars/other priests to being present for the faithful to make their confessions, and proper catechetioal teaching in all venues, will this problem be dealt with.
    I share your concern about the faithful coming for Holy Communion without “discerning the Body and Blood” and their own proper disposition. This “situation” could account for the apathy, disregard and downright dissent of many Catholics who do not prepare themselves and then present themselves improperly for Holy Communion; we have a lot of work to do, I’m afraid.

  25. Henry Edwards says:

    It may have been, I don’t explicitly recall the need for confession having mentioned during the last 5 years in a sermon at our Sunday TLM. Yet there are long lines for confession not only before but also after almost every Mass. This in a parish with plenty of scheduled weekly confession time otherwise, in two actual confessionals that were built as a part of some refurbishing a few years ago

    Perhaps it’s the way the liturgy is celebrated in a parish that makes clear the need for confession in order to be worthy of it in a general way, as well as specifically for Holy Communion. Or makes that need unclear, as the case may be.

  26. paxchristi says:

    Despite the fact our former parish has two confessionals each with an “open” side, the pastor decided to hear confessions by placing two chairs face-to-face in the open not far from the altar. Since there are confessions before an evening Mass, often one can be concerned about their confession being overheard by those who arrive early for Mass. No amount of direct request (or for that matter, letters to the local bishop) can dislodge the pastor from his preferred spot for confessions. But this obstinancy is nothing new: until he was stopped after a lengthy letter-writing campaign, he had been changing the absolution formula for years. Kyrie eleison.

  27. jbas says:

    “Complementary Norm: The National Conference of Catholic Bishops, in accord with the prescriptions of canon 964§2, hereby decrees the following norms governing the place for sacramental confessions:

    Provision must be made in each church or oratory for a sufficient number of places for sacramental confessions which are clearly visible, truly accessible, and which provide a fixed grille between the penitent and the confessor. Provision should also be made for penitents who wish to confess face-to-face, with due regard for the Authentic Interpretation of canon 964§2 by the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, 7 July 1998 (AAS 90 [1998] 711).”

  28. Catherine Elliott-Dunne says:

    At my current N.O. parish, the former pastor used to preach from the pulpit that there was no need for anyone to go to confession anymore as we are all going to be saved anyway. We had no regularly scheduled confession time for 5-6 years. (I am not making this up!). The same former pastor was great about visiting the elderly and/or hospitalized parishioners, but, again, refused to administer the last rites because we are all going to be saved anyway. After 12+ years of this kind of thing, and with a group of parishioners regularly going down to the Chancery office in our Archdiocese to demand that something be done about this and other heresies (the Cardinal refused to ever see them), the pastor finally went on sabbatical and then was re-assigned to another parish. Our new pastor is great, talks up the value of confession regularly, and many weeks hears only 3 confessions. He had to have our wreckovated parish church slightly remodeled so as to add 2 new confessionals, as we had none when he came on board.

    I think it would help the laity if both the priests and the powers-that-be emphasize that Catholic doctrines and dogmas not only did not change after 1960, but they never change. If it was mortal sin in 1950 or 1850 or 1750, it is a mortal sin today. Also, the value of a devotional confession.

    Our new pastor has also mentioned that he has been read the “riot act” by hospitalized parishioners because he occasionally gets mnultiple requests for sick calls at the same time, and obviously cannot handle same. These people are demanding that he hear their confessions. I suspect that most of the laity knows quite well of the obligation to confess one’s sins, and think that it’s somehow O.K. to “game the system.” If it were anything other than one’s eternal salvation it wouldn’t be quite so horrifying.

    By the way, this situation appears to be quite widespread here on the South Side of Chicago.

  29. catholicmidwest says:

    AHEM, Pater OSB,

    Then they’re not preaching the Gospel correctly. If priests were to stop entertaining and start preaching AND people knew there was a reliable time for confession, the priest wouldn’t have to sit there like that.

    AND even if a priest has to sit still and pray in solitude for a few minutes to wait for a penitent, IS that going to kill him? NO. It’d do most of them a world of good, in my view.

  30. catholicmidwest says:

    “My worry is that if priests are only seeing 2-5 penitents a week and yet the entire congregation comes up for Holy Communion then how many people are making sacrilegious communions?

    Admittedly if there are 3 or four parishes within walking distance (as in my home city) then one could reasonably assume that for whatever reason people might have gone to confession at another parish but in a rural area with only 1 parish per x00 miles then I would begin to wonder if I either had a whole bunch of Super Saints on my hands or if half the congregation were eating and drinking their own Damnation.”

    Jack, I’m a layperson too. It’s best not to think about this–it’ll only give you ulcers. Somebody will pay for this and I have a feeling it won’t only be the laity.

  31. catholicmidwest: Amen on both comments.
    Bishops and priests will be accountable to almighty God at their particular judgments for the omissions and commissions in this regard…and no one will be there to say, “Well, it was just because…(yadayadayada)…” A frightening thought, indeed.
    I have never, praise God, denied anyone confession, unless it was due to circumstances beyond my control…not any merit on my part; only the very deep realization of what I have gone through as a penitent, before ordination, for many years (I was only ordained at age 43…a religious brother for 15 years). So I know the situation on “the other side of the grille”, so to speak.
    The Sacrament of Penance is NOT a counseling session; it is not an “encounter” for feel-good kinda thingies; it is not just for people who have been away from the Church for 50 years.
    It is, by the constant magisterial teaching of the Church, the Tribunal of mercy for all sinners, venial as well as mortal (which are required to confess number and kind), devout as well as “public sinners”.
    When bishops and priests finally return to this understanding, sanity and good practice will return.
    Encourage your priests who are devoted to the confessional; give accolades to your young priests who are willing to spend time and energy hearing confessions.
    This will help immensely. Really.

  32. Introibo2009 says:

    As a priest ordained just over a year ago, I have this to say: there is no excuse whatsoever for not providing reasonable opportunities for people to go to Confession. None. Any priest who makes up any excuse to the contrary is nothing more than sinfully derelict in his sacred duties. I suppose that if a priest is literally deaf then he couldn’t “hear” a Confession, but that’s a paper tiger.

    I am the associate in one of those parishes that has Confession scheduled for one tiny little half hour on Saturday. Not sufficient say I. I preach regularly on Confession, the need for it, the value of sacramental reconciliation, and the need for real examination of conscience. I try to work in a plug for Confession in every homily. And I strongly encourage Devotional Confession. I’ve even mentioned from the Ambo that a half hour isn’t enough, and that God is waiting for the day when the number of penitents can’t be heard in a half hour (and why should we keep Him waiting?). After a year of preaching this way, the number of penitents is finally increasing. Deo gratias!

    @ catholicmidwest: I agree with you 100% In our seminary the homiletics professor required that the homily begin with some cute story. Hogwash, say I. I preach the Gospel Truth with no apology and no regrets. And I do not read the anonymous letters that result; I shred them. I figure the unsigned diatribes are from someone who actually listened to the homily (instead of whatever else it is that people do during those few minutes) and was actually convicted of mortal sin.

    On the point of architecture, the parish to which I referred above wreckovated a few years ago, and what they did to the church is liturgically criminal at best and positively sinful at worst. The traditional confessionals were gutted and turned in to cold air returns for the new AC system. The wreckovators did, however, at least get two portable Confession units (screen, kneeler, etc.) and put one in each stairwell to the choir loft. Yes, you read that correctly. No “rec room.” The confessionals are literally the stairwells of the choir loft. Of course the choir isn’t up there (imagine that), but the ridiculousness of it is still self-evident. Even with this bizarre physical state of the confessional, people come, and have only recently been filling up the half hour. But frankly, it’s worth it if only one person comes in seeking mercy, and if no one does I pray for all those who should be there but aren’t. And I will ALWAYS hear a Confession before Mass, because that indicates to me that at least one person in the world has actually come to the realization that mortal sin is real, and wants to get rid of it before making (another) sacrilegious Communion. And I’m convinced there are a lot of unworthy Communions occurring weekly. I think this way because I’m also the associate for the next two nearest parishes (both rural), and I know what the Confession statistics are for those parishes. Either I’m ministering to two counties filled to the brim with Saints, or people have lost a sense for the real horror of sin. I’m working on that too.

  33. Introibo2009: It is you and your fellow young priests that will make a difference in these coming years. Praise God!
    You are doing Christ’s will in your zeal for souls; I, as a seminary instructor, tried to make these points with my students…I pray that they, also, are zealous for souls.
    God bless and keep you. You are in our monastic community’s prayers.

  34. Tim H. says:

    Maltese said, “So this priest is an imbecile for not having a set time for it; it’s, really, a dereliction of his duty to his flock, and he should be flogged for it! What a liberal boob!”

    Oh, man, what happened to Christian Charity? Is dtraction not a sin anymore? Wow, and about a priest too…

    -Tim-

  35. Tim H: Yeah. I agree.
    These “imbecile” and “liberal boob” priests were probably poor trained, given bad example and have been entrenched in this mindset for who knows how long.
    It’s easy to be frustrated and enraged by this; these guys are really clueless, in many cases.
    But if they are, in fact, vincibly ignorant; in other words, they know they are doing wrong but do it willingly, then they should be corrected and even, punished.
    But it takes a good Bishop to sort this out. Let us pray.

  36. Garth says:

    I’m fortunate in that my parish has had a regular time for Reconciliation from 3-5 every Saturday. There’s nearly always a line. Though we don’t hear a lot of preaching on the subject, I attribute it to the fact we’ve had Perpetual Adoration for years.

    We had a recently-ordained parochial vicar a few years back that I asked for Reconciliation when he was plainly busy. He accepted, and when I thanked him mentioning the fact he was occupied, he looked startled. “No, not at all,” he said, “there’s nothing I could be doing that’s more important than this.”

    He’s currently the pastor in a parish quite a ways off. I haven’t visited, but I imagine they must be doing quite well over there!

  37. robtbrown says:

    When I was in the sorry state of sacramentizing at a novus ordo parish, I actually had a priest hit on me during confession, but I’ve always thought this Sacrament is among the most important and profound. In baptism, we are brought into the Christian community,
    Comment by Maltese

    That’s an inadequate concept of Baptism:

    We are brought into the Christian community IF by that is meant the Mystical Body. This entrance happens because the gift of grace both heals the wounds of Original and Actual Sin (relieving man of guilt) and elevates the soul by Adoptive Filiation.

    I insist on that not only because it is the correct understanding of the Baptism but also because, IMHO, Confession is often not available because it doesn’t fit very well into the Gather Us Together approach that seems to dominate celebration of the Eucharist. Despite the attempts to relabel Confession as the Sacrament of Reconciliation (to the Christian community), it is between one priest and one penitent.

  38. my kidz mom says:

    Kudos and God bless the young faithful priests at St. Thomas the Apostle, Phoenix, for giving us even more support in living out our faith! From this week’s bulletin: “Wednesday Night Mass and Devotions – September 1st will see the return of Wednesday night Confessions, Mass and Eucharistic Adoration with Benediction. Confessions will start at 5pm, Mass at 5:30pm and Adoration from 6pm – 7pm.” This coincides nicely with Wednesday night CCD class from 6:30-7:45. I will have the joy of teaching 2nd grade which will include prep for the sacrament of Confession. Dear Lord may Your humble servant be worthy of the privilege.

  39. Mgoog says:

    I found this posting very helpful. I must admit that I often leave the confessional not feeling forgiven or at least taken lightly. I confess grave sins, X,Y and Z and walk out of the confessional with one or two Hail Mary’s as my penance. When I was younger I used to think that well, I got off easy. Now I wonder if anyone was really listening.

  40. catholicmidwest says:

    Fr. Z,

    It doesn’t matter whether I make “demands” or not. I’m not the one who controls the situation. This is just like the liturgical abuse situation. Laypeople take what they can get, or find another parish. And that’s pretty much the extent of our choice in the matter.

  41. catholicmidwest says:

    Introibo2009,
    Thank you for your thoughtful post on this. It sounds like you’re doing a great job.

  42. catholicmidwest: No. Lay people do have a say in what goes on in a parish, especially if they are able to be diplomatic and then actually step up. Most lay people think everything in parishes happens a) for free or b) without their personal investment.

    Talk to pastors of parishes and verify if what I am saying isn’t so.

  43. catholicmidwest says:

    Fr. Z,

    About a) I know that nothing on this earth happens “for free.” I think most laypeople do, if only because managing resources is part of the lay vocation, particularly for those of us with families. Perhaps what is meant is that we don’t tithe enough?

    About b) Honestly, I’m not really sure I have anything to add to any of the local parishes. I don’t want to be a “lay minister” of any sort, and especially I don’t want to join the vast army of “Eucharistic Ministers” out there. Catholic parishes don’t really have choirs anymore. I tried joining a “committee” and didn’t even have to say a single thing to get told the first night that the usual church groupies had everything under control and didn’t need me or anybody else. Okay then.

    And I can’t remember the last time the local parish went looking for a pretty decent chemist. [PS, before it gets suggested: I actually did teach chemistry in a Catholic school for 5 years. The kids were fun but the school grossly underpaid me and so I finally left. Not doing that again.]

    I’m a convert, and being Catholic has some great moments. But it’s not what I had hoped it would be in a lot of ways. I’m managing, but I’ve learned to keep my frustration level down. It works out better that way.

  44. Catherine says:

    Please delete my previous comment in its entirety–thank you.

  45. PatrickV says:

    Here in the Piedmont I have heard of a few parishes that have a deficiency in the availability of the Sacrament of Confession, but there are more than less opportunities.
    We are gifted with a growing number of good priests who take their vows seriously and look to the wsell being of their flocks. In my parish Father speaks often of the necessity of making a good confessiona dn the importance of frequent confession as a defense against temptation and sin. There are many like him. I don’t know where anyone would get the idea that confession is passe, or not in favor with the people. A trip to aour yearly Eucharistic Congress would demonstrate that confession is important, and sought affter. THe lines at the confessionals are long, and stay long. We even have dear old Msgr. K, at 90+ who will hear confessions for six hours at a time. When asked why, he simply says, “Because the people need it.” St.John Vianney would be proud.