NYT: priest revives confession in his parish, liberal loser runs it down

This is in from the New York Times.

Securly in the "Brick by Brick" department, but there is an interesting dimension to this which you should not miss. There will always be a liberal loser in the mix.

February 21, 2009
On Religion
In One Church, Confession Makes a Comeback

STAMFORD, Conn. — The day after Msgr. Stephen DiGiovanni was installed in June 1998 as the pastor of St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church here, he walked through the quiet sanctuary, appreciating the English Gothic grandeur and tallying all the repairs it required.

One particular sight seized him. The confessional at the rear of the pews had been nailed shut. The confessional in the front, nearer the altar, was filled with air-conditioning equipment. And these conditions, Monsignor DiGiovanni realized, reflected theology as much as finance[Theology, yes! This gets it exactly right!  The writer has hit this … ehem… nail on the head.]

In the wake of the Second Vatican Council in the mid-1960s, the Catholic Church began offering confession in “reconciliation rooms,”  [I know these awful rooms are prevalent, but NOTHING in the documents of the Church required that.  As a matter of fact I believe there are still some conditions for the construction of confessionals including a fixed grate, no?  Am I wrong?] rather than the traditional booths. Even before the setting changed, habits had. The norm for American Catholics was to make confession once a year, generally in the penitential period of Lent leading up to Easter.  [I think a lot of Catholics went to confession pretty regularly and not just once a year.  Didn’t they?]

Monsignor DiGiovanni, though, soon noticed that there were lines for the St. John’s reconciliation room the only time it was open each week, for two hours on Saturday afternoon. So within his first month as pastor, he pried open the door to the rear confessional, wiped off the dust of decades and arranged for replacing the lights, drapes and tiles[Well done!]

Then, in the fall of 1998, Monsignor DiGiovanni rolled back the clock of Catholic practice, having St. John’s priests hear confession in the booths before virtually every Mass. [This is NOT rolling back the clock.  What sort of view is behind this?  Again, I think it is a interpretive principle of rupture.] By now, as another Lent commences next week with Ash Wednesday, upwards of 450 people engage in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, as confession is formally known, during 15 time slots spread over all seven days of the week. Confessions are heard in English, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese.

“As humans, we’re always deciding that we are God and breaking his commandments,” said Monsignor DiGiovanni, 58, during an interview this week in his rectory. “But God is savvy enough to know that. And God wants us to come back to Him if there’s a contrite heart. Salvation is not just a one-time deal.” [Did you get that, you Born-Agains?]

His message has stirred scores of consciences at St. John’s. And while the frequency of confession, and the return to booths from the reconciliation room, puts the pastor and the parish on the conservative end of the Catholic spectrum, [having a sense of sin and going to confession, hearing confessions, makes you "conservative".] St. John’s is a standard diocesan church with a varied congregation — corporate executives, Haitian and Hispanic immigrants, Stamford’s longtime Irish and Italian middle class.  [Right… it’s just a Catholic parish.]

Rosa Marchetti, an events planner for a family-owned chain of restaurants, had grown up dreading the rite of confession. The reconciliation room, while intended to allow priest and penitent to meet in a reassuring face-to-face manner something like analyst and analysand, filled her with anxiety and shame. Six years ago, Ms. Marchetti began attending St. John’s, and these days she makes a confession at least twice a month. Speaking to an unseen priest through a screen seems to her a comfort[As it is for the vast majority of people.]

“I’d always feared that the priests would know it was me, and I never wanted to think I’d done something wrong,” she recalled of her earlier experiences. “But at St. John’s, it was explained to me that I go to the doctor for my physical well being and I have to go to confession for my spiritual well being.”

Even so, she recognizes how the practice sets her apart from a national popular culture of celebrity magazines, talk shows, Facebook pages and Twitters that is relentlessly confessional and rarely contrite[nice phrase: "relentlessly confessional and rarely contrite".]

“You turn on Oprah and you have women crying to her, confessing what they’ve gone through,” Ms. Marchetti said. “Everyone is so quick to tell the world their problems, but they won’t tell a priest.”  [And they risk their souls as a result.]

In the hope of reversing those engines, the Catholic diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., has mounted what it calls a “Lenten Confession Campaign.” The diocese’s 87 churches, which include St. John’s, will be offering confession for two hours every Tuesday night in addition to the usual Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning periods[EXCELLENT]

To promote the campaign, the Knights of Columbus is paying for highway billboards, bus placards and radio and TV commercials — all using a slogan drawn from Corinthians, “Be Reconciled to God” — as well as the printing and distribution of 100,000 pamphlets about confession.

It remains to be seen, of course, whether the multimedia effort can change behavior on a grand scale. Monsignor DiGiovanni has changed it within his parish through a theological version of retail politics: reaching individuals and families through a decade of homilies, conversations and columns in the church bulletin.

The movement to revive confession, using the traditional booth, no less, has plenty of skeptics within American Catholicism.

[Now which progressivist aging-hippe will the writer drag in for counterpoint?]

“Confession as we once knew it is pretty much a dead letter in Catholicism today,” the Rev. Richard P. McBrien, a professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame, wrote in an e-mail message.  [Yah… you knew it had to be one of these defeatists.]

Father McBrien, whose support of female ordination and married priest puts him on the theological left wing of the Catholic Church, added in a subsequent e-mail message that “the practice at the Stamford parish is an anomaly, not a sign of anything else” and at best “part of a small minority” of churches.  [What would you bet he is happy that it is an anomaly?]

Majority or minority, the congregants at St. John’s firmly believe they are onto something. John F. X. Leydon, Jr., a lawyer in Stamford, has increased his pace of confession from once a year to once a month. The eldest of his four children, Mary, will be making her first confession this spring.

“The explanation we’ve given as parents is that none of us is perfect,” said Mr. Leydon, speaking also for his wife, Stacey. “However, we have to aspire to be perfect. And that should be a lifelong pursuit.”

E-mail: gfreedman@nytimes.com

An interesting article.

In the balance, McBrien looks just as foolish as he always does.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Matthew says:

    I love the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Confession is good for the soul, and not the Oprah kind.

    I am glad I decided not to venture out to South Bend for my undergraduate degree, it seems the inmates want to run the asylum.

  2. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    Fr McBrien: “the practice at the Stamford parish is an anomaly, [don’t worry, it’s] not a sign of anything else”

    Another terrified liberal in reactionary denial.

  3. Athelstane says:

    Fr. Richard McBrien’s theology is pretty much a dead letter in Catholicism today.

  4. Chironomo says:

    I’m a bit surprised that supporting female ordination and married priests would put you in the church at all, let alone the left-wing. Are we still stuck on this idea that there is this “radical Catholic Church” that is as legitimate as the actual Catholic Church in spite of it’s specifically non-Catholic beliefs? Fr. Kennedy in Brisbane is a great example of a “normal Catholic” from the radical wing of the church? Right….

  5. It’s wonderful that Confession is experiencing a revival in places! Where I live it is extremely rare not to see long Confession lines–Deo gratias! I don’t think I could live without going to Confession at least once a month; I usually go every 2 weeks. I used to be terribly afraid, and resentful, of it, but the more I went, the more I wanted and needed to go. It is such a gift and such a great source of grace. These days, I am something of a Confession “evangelist”!

  6. frv says:

    That’s a great line, Athelstane! Interesting article indeed. Every parish in my diocese with a good pastor has experienced this same renewal of confession (and thanks be to God, there are a great many!). Offering the chance for confession only once a week for 45 minutes- if at all- will never portray it’s importance. Any time the times are increased (we hear confessions here in this parish every day of the week!), they come! And yes, Fr. Z, every priest has a right to have a screen.

  7. Genna says:

    Excuse me, Father, a correction: You knew it had to be one of those deadbeats . . .

  8. ‘Tis just another great thing happening in St. John’s. Music is also great there (hint: Scott Turkington’s the music director).

  9. Jillian says:

    “Everyone is so quick to tell the world their problems, but they won’t tell a priest.”
    All too true… (and how sad!)

  10. Fr. Charles says:

    I was so happy to see this article in this morning’s paper. What a success. I worked with Fr. DiGiovanni by phone on a wedding and he seemed like a real sensible priest and a gentleman. Now I know it’s true.

  11. Dennis says:

    St.John’s has a most beautiful reform of the reform OF mass at 12 noon offered at the high altar

  12. Well done Msgr. DiGiovanni!

    I love hearing Confessions during Lent and Advent. The extra time spent in the confessional is well worth!

    Please pray for us priests during this harvest time of Lent.

  13. Thomas says:

    My local parish Has a reconciliation room, but has a portable screen set up and another chair for either face to face or screen confessions. We only have confessions before and after 5 pm saturday mass. The only other time is before Holy Days when we have big penance services with multiple priests to hear confessions.

  14. joy says:

    My pastor has increased the confession availability at my parish also. Besides the one hour on Saturdays, he has also included it on First Fridays (we have 24 hour adoration then) for an hour on Friday afternoon and another hour Friday evening. There is always a line, and 2 priests scheduled for each hour. Since the church building was constructed at the end of the 70s, the confessionals have the option of screens or chairs in each ‘room.’

  15. Joan Ellen says:

    The confessional is where I go for peace. At the moment of absolution, the peace is incredible. Of course, I step out of the confessional and am back to the reality of my sinful self.

  16. TomB says:

    I once asked a friend how long since he had been to confession, and he answered, “I find the practice moribund.” Maybe his faith is moribund.

  17. Anthony English says:

    There’s nothing conservative about confession. It’s the most radical reform, a turning away from sin, rather than conserving the unhappy state of disorder with regards to God, one’s neighbour, the Church and oneself which is the very heart of sin.

  18. Peter Morrell says:

    Need a quote from a dissident priest?
    Contact your nearest mainstream Catholic University. As an alumni of Notre Dame – McBrien makes me furious. What would it take to enforce Ex Corde Ecclesiae in Inquisitorial style?
    I wonder sometimes.

  19. Paul Haley says:

    How can a catholic priest get away with saying a sacrament, Penance, is “pretty much a dead letter in Catholicism today?” Why hasn’t this guy been defrocked?

  20. Jayna says:

    “Father McBrien, whose support of female ordination and married priest puts him on the theological left wing of the Catholic Church…”

    Does that kind of ideology put him in any wing of the Catholic Church? Cause I’m pretty sure that’s right out.

    And yes, Father, there are norms regarding having a fixed grate or screen between the confessor and penitent. I’m pretty sure I read it in the architecture norms for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, but now I can’t find it.

  21. http://germanegyptian.blogspot.com/2009/01/real-confessional.html

    Here is an old confessional from the parish of my youth, solid brick and cold as hell in winter, you learned to whisper, amazing how well those red velvet curtains muffled the sound, also had a little stained glass window of the Crucifixion on the penitents side, never did look at the priests side, the light was on if Father was in, the kneeler had a nice cushie layer of linoleum on it too boot, really made you get to the point ;>) sadly even this old parish fell victim, turned the baptistery into a crier-reconciliation room and put the baptismal font in the sanctuary, bass ackwards from the original.

  22. Aelric says:

    Editorial blunder: I’ll fix it:

    Father McBrien, whose support of female ordination puts him on the theological left wing outside of the Catholic Church …

  23. AAJD says:

    St. John’s is my wife’s parish when we are in CT, and it is simply splendid. I’ve long said that if every West-Roman parish were even half as good, the Roman Catholic Church in the US would be unstoppable and in immeasurably better shape. I’ve gone to Confession there once or twice, including Sunday mornings, and the priests are invariably serious but cheerful, pastoral but unrelenting in their advice–just the right combination one would want, I should think, in a confessor–one who shows the love of Christ, but shows, precisely because of the love of Christ, the seriousness of sin. Msgr. DG in this parish celebrates the liturgy very well, and his homilies always evidence solid and accessible catechetical reflection on the appointed Scriptures.

  24. Susan says:

    Folks in western Massachusetts have the privilege of confessing every day of the week. Our beloved pastor hears confessions (in the old-style box with a screen) one half hour before every Mass. Every Mass! He hears about 7,000 confessions a year.

  25. Speaking of confession, has anyone seen the movie Gran Torino? It is amazingly good! A priest pesters Clint throughout the movie about going to confession.
    The movie has rough language, profanity, is politically incorrect, while being pretty durn humorous… I thoroughly enjoyed it. Priests might get a kick out of the portrayal of the persistence of the young priest.
    No surprise that Hollywood ignored this movie.

    Maybe it’ll inspire a lot of people to go to confession!!

  26. Fr. Stephen, csc says:

    With all Christian charity toward Fr. McBrien, he only has to look across campus to see that his assessment of the Sacrament isn’t particularly accurate. As an Notre Dame alumnus, and a Holy Cross priest, I am proud to say that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is alive and well at the University. Confessions are heard daily at the Basilica at 11 am, 4:45 pm and 7:00 pm (and in any number of residence halls, and on retreats, etc. etc.) and there is very often a long line of faculty, staff and especially students.
    I’m also happy to say that in my parish in Portland, OR we preach about the Sacrament regularly, and added a Thursday evening period of Reconciliation (to the traditional Saturday afternoon period) which has met great success.
    People hunger for good catechesis on Reconciliation (and for good confessors!) because they hunger for God’s mercy. We can only hope that more and more priests and parishes offer the faithful that for which they long!

  27. Susan says:

    McBrien is amazing. An anomaly? I suppose he doesn’t even realize that confessions are offered every day at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame. They are traditional confessionals too, but still with the option to go face to face.

  28. Jason Keener says:

    Regarding the option to confess behind a fixed screen or face-to-face, the Code of Canon Law states: “The conference of bishops is to issue norms concerning the confessional, seeing to it that confessionals with a fixed grille between penitent and confessor are always located in an open area so that the faithful who wish to make use of them may do so freely” (Canon 964 § 2).

    The Pontifical Council for the
    Interpretation of Legislative Texts provided more clarity to the norm in its decree of June 16, 1998. In this decree, the Holy See preserves the right of the priest to require confession behind a screen.[8]

    The discipline of the Church can be summarized as follows: All confessionals MUST be constructed with a fixed screen or grille, allowing anonymity of both penitent and confessor. The option of face-to-face confession CAN be offered, but the priest is NOT obligated to offer this option.

  29. Steve K. says:

    I always expect bad from Fr. McBrien, but this is really too much. “Dead letter?” Can he really be unaware of the danger to his own salvation by opposing confession like he does?

  30. Central Valley says:

    We need more priests like this in the diocese of Fresno. Some of our newly named Monsignors are big on general absolution. Come to think of it, we need a bishop in the Fresno diocese who thinks like this……..

  31. peregrinus says:

    I’ve come to expect nothing but silliness from Richard McBrien. I’d be embarrassed if he were from my university.

    When will he come to realise that he is the anomaly?

  32. Ken says:

    I love the fact that “Samuel Freedman” of the New York Times did a thoughtful piece on confession while fellow columnist Catholic Peter Steinfels is probably putting together his 10th hit piece on the SSPX, the traditional Latin Mass and the current pope’s rightward steering of the Church.

    This column shows that clergy can help reverse liberalism — and, thus, pastors should not just simply complain there’s nothing they can do to make improvements. At Saint Mary’s in Washington, D.C., a terrible pastor there ripped out the confessionals over 20 years ago and installed a cheap-looking reconciliation room with a lamp, chair, etc. inside. A later pastor, with the help of laity, was able to acquire an old, Gothic confessional from a nearby parish that gutted its sanctuary and nave and have it reconstructed in the church.

    Let’s hope many more priests will wipe off the dust of decades and use the old, wooden boxes.

  33. Hrothgar says:

    My ten year old son attends parochial school in Omaha. He has been complaining lately that our pastor requires the students to engage in face to face confession. No anonymity- the kids are lined up and must tell father their sins right out in the open.

    Both my sons hate the Mass as celebrated in our parish. They find it silly.

    They especially dislike being required to perform Macarena-style hand gestures to the music.(I am not making this up.)

    The kids sing a number called “Our God is an Awesome God” during Mass and must perform hand gestures reminiscent of the kindergarten song “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

    One day during a student Q&A session at school, my older son asked the pastor why the Mass never included Gregorian Chant. (I swear I did not put my son up to this.)

    Pastor replied that chant was hard to learn and boring, people wouldn’t like it, and besides, we are supposed to be creative in Mass.

    Well, my sons now refuse to attend his “creative” Sunday Mass. They insist that we drive to Omaha’s cathedral with its pipe organ and wonderful schola. Mass there is “more appropriate” according to my 13 year old.

  34. Fred says:

    In my first parish assignment, some Saturday afternoons no one came to Confession. The pastor never preached about it. I did, though, and people began to come. My second assignment was almost the same. Pastor was bitter that he couldn’t do general absolution any more, so he never had any Lenten or Advent Penance services with individual confessions. When I became a pastor, I preached regularly and wrote about the sacrament of confession, and urged people to go. Lo and behold, they have begun to return to the sacrament. Most Saturdays I have a long line for confession. As I am alone at the parish, it is a challenge to find more times for confession, but I am working on it. The first Lent here I had a well-publicized Penance service, and several hundred people came. It takes time, but the sacrament can be revived, and people find it to be spiritually reviving. The sacrament is a jewel, waiting to be discovered, but priests must eeducate and encourage their people, and be available. Fr. McBrien is amazingly (or obstinately) out of touch.

  35. RJM says:

    McBrien should come to St. Francis de Sales Oratory in Saint Louis. Confession is available a half hour before every Mass and right up to the Agnus Dei on Sundays. The line for the confessional on Sunday Mornings is almost always 20 or 30 people long. I believe that the faithful long for the graces made available through the sacrament of penance. If clerics fulfill their priestly mandate in this area, and make confession a central element in parish life, they will notice a response.

  36. RJM says:

    Hrothgar: You may want to consider attending the Extraordinary Form at Immaculate Conception on 2708 South 24th Street. The church is staffed by the FSSP and has a wonderful high Mass at 9 on Sundays.


  37. AJP says:

    I was stunned by the irony and ignorance displayed by McBrien. As Fr. Stephen
    and Susan pointed out, confessions are heard several times a day, 7 days a week
    at Notre Dame. When I was an undergrad there (class of 2003), it was rare for
    me to go to confession at the Basilica and *not* have to wait in line. The
    4:45 weekday and Saturday afternoon confession times seemed to be the most
    popular, and most of the penitents were students. The fact that McBrien
    is so ignorant of something that happens literally two quads away from his
    office makes me wonder how much time he’s actually spent in South Bend over
    the last 10 years (as opposed to various TV studios).

  38. Erin says:

    I am a Notre Dame alumna. As others have pointed out, McBrien might be surprised to learn, if he happened to visit the Basilica, that confessions are heard three times a day on weekdays for half an hour as well as on Saturday afternoons, usually with at least two priests available to hear confessions and sometimes as many as four priests, and there are always lines. In fact, the lines are so long that often the priests continue hearing confessions during Mass until the end of the Liturgy of the Word. Dead letter, indeed.

  39. I’m almost ashamed to be at the same school as this McBrien fellow. Is is any coincidence that the parishes with confession offered in the traditional sense, screen and all, are the ones with a special turnout at confession? A completely related matter is the number of penitents seen in places where confessions are offered “by appointment only” and in places with regularly scheduled times with a priest in the confessional.

    I can also speak to the line at the confessionals in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame every day. Indeed, the days that I am at the Basilica there’s almost never “no waiting” for confession before Mass. Hardly a “dead letter” in this small segment of the Church. My personal thought is that these like minded people are scared that the Church is settling back in to the state which it has continuously developed into throughout history, and is not continuing in their particular vision of “Church” which they seem to be so attracted to.

  40. Trevor says:

    “Father McBrien, whose support of female ordination and married priest puts him on the theological left wing of the Catholic Church, added in a subsequent e-mail message that “the practice at the Stamford parish is an anomaly, not a sign of anything else” and at best “part of a small minority” of churches.”

    I’d say supporting woman’s ordination places you outside the Church…to be in a “wing” you actually have to be in it…

  41. Dino says:

    Are there any more Msgr. DiGiovannis out there?
    My new parish on the Left Coast has announced a “Lenten Confession Schedule”. It consists of the same two hours a week listed for the rest of the year, except when the priests have social obligations. Oh. Yeah. There will be a Communal Penance Service midway through Lent, too.
    This, I guess, is better that a former parish where the pastor stated that Penance is a “minor sacrament”, or another where the pastor cancelled all confessions after the Third Sunday in Lent.

  42. Susan Peterson says:

    The priest at the Latin Mass (the EF, but no other masses around here include ANY Latin so ..) preached about confession the last time I was there. He was saying he wanted everyone to come on Wednesday night since he couldn’t get to everyone before mass on Sunday. Then he said, “And if you tell me it has been two months since your last confession, I’ll ask you if you want to sit in mass next to someone who hasn’t bathed for two months. No? Then why do you want to treat your soul that way?” It had been considerably longer than two months since I had gone to confession. I decided I would take care of this….but maybe not with him, as I didn’t want to be asked that question! I couldn’t find anywhere in my Byzantine church bulletin when confessions were, so I called the priest. He said before the Saturday evening liturgy, but usually no one comes. (Confessions before Christmas and Easter are well attended there.) So I went then. But I wonder if there is a way of suggesting that if he put it in the bulletin and preached on it, maybe people would come.

  43. This is bishop Lori, the bishop of the diocese in which I grew up and received the sacraments of Penance, Holy Communion and Confirmation (when Cardinal Egan was there).

    Msgr. Di Giovanni is only one of the many laudable priests in the diocese.

    I remember confessing as a boy in St. John’s, in a confessional from behind a grille, and being told, “Number and kind son, number and kind! The Council of Trent teaches us that we need to confess our sins in number and kind.”

    I wonder who nailed the “box” shut?

  44. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    Don’t Fr McBrien et al. realise that face to face confessions are one of those relics of the terrible Middle Ages that the Spirit of Vatican II was supposed to sweep away? Mind you, I guess their selective reading of history missed out the medieval confessors manuals that said …et sacerdos cum oculis ad terram…

  45. RichR says:

    Fr. Richard McBrien’s theology is pretty much a dead letter in Catholicism today.

    deserves re-quoting

  46. Glen says:

    When did Notre Dame University become the haven of anti-Church thought? Indeed, women’s ordination, married priests, etc, isn’t the “left wing” of the Church, it is outside the Church.

  47. Father Michael says:

    Sigh. Once again, friends (including Glen), Fr. McBrien does not represent the University of Notre Dame. He is one person among hundreds of faculty members, thousands of students, and thousands of alumni.

  48. Thomas says:

    A surprisingly good piece on Catholicism by the New York Times. Unfortunately, they leave you with a bad taste in your mouth by quoting McBrien.

    The taste? Sulfur.

  49. Between this parish and Fr. Markey’s parish in Norwalk (whom Fr. Z has mentioned before), the Bridgeport diocese seems to be on the right track.

  50. Luke says:

    Excellent article! Amidst a movement that is reason for celebration in Catholicism, McBrien looks like the pessimistic, left-behind grumbler that the Church will be better without.

  51. Corleone says:

    Yes, Father Z, here in Italy the confessional door is wide open…literally. So, not really any chance for anonymity. And it’s definitely something I didn’t grow up with either. In the Eastern Rite Catholic churches, confession is also face-to-face, and the rite of reconciliation involves gestures and rubrics between the priest and penitent not present in the Western Rites.

    I am of course pro-confession and think whatever brings people in should be available (I know of several churches that do the confessional booth AND face to face in the US. I will say this; those who do the face-to-face tend to take a LOT longer. I think because it takes them awhile to “warm up” and “get to the point” as opposed to just saying “I did X,Y and Z with A and B” through a screen.

  52. My parish has confession before every Mass (2 daily and 4 on Sundays) and this is such a great practice. Number one it helps others to see people going to confession. Placing it on just Saturdays makes it more hidden. Confession needs to be encouraged and seeing others go is encouragement indeed. The new springtime of Evangelization needs to be built upon this wonderful sacrament.

  53. Patrick says:

    “Father McBrien, whose support of female ordination and married priest puts him on the theological left wing of the Catholic Church, added in a subsequent e-mail message that “the practice at the Stamford parish is an anomaly, not a sign of anything else” and at best “part of a small minority” of churches. ”

    Shame, Father McBrien, shame. You need to get out more. Here in my part of North Carolina the Holy Sacrament of Confession is alive, well and thriving. The lines are long, and no one complains.

    I wish the media types could distinguish between “experts” who express their person wishes or worldview as actuality, and people who actually see things as they are.

  54. Margo says:

    “As humans, we’re always deciding that we are God and breaking his commandments,” said Monsignor DiGiovanni, 58, during an interview this week in his rectory. “But God is savvy enough to know that. And God wants us to come back to Him if there’s a contrite heart. Salvation is not just a one-time deal.” [Did you get that, you Born-Agains?]

    Fr. Z, who are these ‘Born-Agains’ of whom you speak? (Aren’t all the baptized born again — [like Jesus says in John 3] ? Must be a piece of lingo…umm…help!)

  55. ckdexterhaven says:

    I hope someone is still reading this thread….. What is number and kind? I have never heard of that, consequently, I have never made a confession that way. If it is required, can you let me know?

  56. Luke says:

    I think it means how many times (number) you did what particular sin (kind).

  57. ckdexterhaven, number means the number of times of an particular sin since your last confession. Don’t get scrupulous about counting however. Kind refers to the type of sin, e.g. lying, being uncharitable after getting angry, etc. The idea is to examine your conscience thoroughly so that you root out the particular sins that you are committing. One good way is to compare your behavior against the 10 Commandments, and another is against the 7 main (three theological and four cardinal) virtues. To keep your soul in shape it is recommended to examine your conscience at least once a day before retiring at night. That makes confession easier.

  58. TJM says:

    Father McBrien is viewed by the up and comers at Notre Dame as the “Crazy old aunt in the attic.” I think they keep him around for laughs. Tom

  59. Julie Michelle says:

    Kind = what you did (type of sin)
    Number = how many times you did it (or approximate frequency)

    This means you go into the confessional and *confess your sins* instead of having a nice chat with Father. You are obliged to tell all mortal sins according to number and kind – I murdered three people, I ate meat twice on Friday… etc. For venial sins the requirement is less strict (you aren’t actually *obliged* to confess them anyway) but it’s a convenient method.

  60. supertradmom says:

    Two points: first, in my last and in my present parish, one has to make an appointment for confession if one cannot make the once-a-week at an early morning time on Saturday. The priests of both of these parishes prefer the large, communal penance services which happen twice a year and are blessed by the Bishop.

    Who is going to phone a priest and ask for a special time to go to Confession? I have done it our of desperation, as I refuse to go the the communal Penance thing and cannot always make the really early one because of family duties.

    Second point: As a Notre Dame grad, I am ashamed that Fr.McBrien has not been silenced. He is a scandal, not only to the University, but to the Catholic Church in America. His column should be banned from every diocesan newspaper.

  61. supertradmom says:

    I would be interested in knowing how many other parishes have a note in the bulletin=”Sacrament of Reconciliation by appointment”. One priest told me that hearing confessions was “not his thing”. I kid you not.

  62. Matt says:

    I always fail to understand why people insist on calling confession reconciliation? Christ reconciled us all once. We go to CONFESSION to CONFESS our sins and be pardoned eternal damnation. We are not re-reconciled.

    To me the term reconciliation waters down what the sacrament really is about. Just like extremeunction has been watered down to “last rites”. The original term conveys the meaning and seriousness of the sacrament. The “new” term is ambigious and does not have the same meaning.

  63. Houghton G. says:


    Pick your battles wisely. Reconciliation is a perfectly fine word to use for this sacrament. I don’t use it, out of habit. But mortal sin alienates from God; if not absolves, it condemns to eternal alienation. Absolution reconciles to God.

    I understand the antipathy of many toward some of the new terms introduced after Vatican II. Many of them were unnecessary monkeying around with traditional language. This was foolish. Destruction of symbol systems and familiar language is alienating.

    But just because one finds the new term jarring, doesn’t mean one can or ought to manufacture a theological objection to it. In some cases the new terms may be theologically objectionable. But this is not one of those cases.

  64. Ohio Annie says:

    I am so fortunate to go to a parish that has reconciliation before every Sunday Mass and after every weekday Mass. And still there are such lines that not everybody gets in when they want to.

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