From a reader:
Last week I was in line for a long time, and finally entered the confessional around 3:25. As I was leaving, the sacristan came in behind me to tell Father it was time to prepare for Mass. There were still a lot of people in line, and I immediately felt a bit guilty. I’m definitely not perfect by any means, but I’d just confessed a lot of venial sins, none mortal. What if someone in line behind me had a mortal sin to confess, and my scrupulosity had taken up space in line they needed more than me? I’m not sure what to feel about this. My spiritual director encourages frequent confession; at her direction I began going every two weeks, but now I wonder if I should back off a bit unless I have mortal sins, lest I take up valuable time from others who may need it more? Or is that silly?
Contrary to popular belief, priests cannot both be in the confessional hearing confessions and in the sanctuary saying Mass at the same time. At a certain point he really does have to stop hearing confessions so that Mass can start on time. People depend on Mass – confessions too – starting on time.
When lines are long and you know for sure that you do not have any MORTAL sins to confess, perhaps it would be best to step aside. Venial sins are forgiven through a good reception of the Eucharist. Mortal sins need absolution from the priest.
Frequent confession of venial sins is a good practice.
When there isn’t a line, and there is plenty of time before Mass or the end of scheduled confessions, there is time to make also a confession of less grave matter.
If you see a long line and the clock is ticking, and you know that you don’t have MORTAL sins to confess, perhaps you would do better to say a Rosary for the priest hearing confessions. And pray for more vocations to the priesthood! We need more good confessors!
Also, this is a good reason why priests – if possible – might consider beefing up the regular confession schedule.
Also see my tips on making a good confession with special attention to #3 and #5 and #6.