There are many types of scandal

I once saw a cartoon of two souls up to their necks in a hellish lake of fire, demons leering over them.  One soul says to the other, "At least yours were sins of commission!"

We can sin by commission or by omission.

We can also commit scandal by what we don’t do.

A friend of mine in KC, MO, sent this comment about a local parish.  He was working from a notice in the bulletin about the confession schedule:

Notice the times available for confession.  1 hour a month (on the second Saturday each month.)  This is a parish of around 1,000 families.  I guess they are so "holy," they don’t need it.

Here is a snippet from the bulletin he sent me.

I find it interesting that they speak so clearly about tithing but opportunities for confession are so …. thin.

Think about this…. one… hour… per month.

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  1. sekman says:

    Wow, this is ridiculous, tithing as 6%, I have always heard it at 10%. But more ridiculous than the tithing situation is the availability of confession. In my parish of 1200 families there is two and half hours of confession heard each week, for half and hour on three weekdays and an hour every Saturday, that is ten times more than what is heard monthly in this given parish.

  2. Jonathan says:

    At least you’re really giving 7% to the Church.

  3. Genevieve says:

    My parish has confession weekly, but we don’t have confessionals. And I *love* my parish priest, but he has given me heretical counsel in the “Confession Room” before regarding, well, regarding Theology of the Body and the state of grace one must be in to receive the Eucharist worthily. I was so disappointed after that! If I lapse into sin in those areas again, should I confess them to him, knowing he doesn’t believe I have sinned? Should I find someone else to hear my confession?

  4. kmart says:

    Even though I attend a NO parish they still offer confession with 2 priests for 2 hours and fifteen minutes every week plus 1 hour a month before first fridays. The priest of the sister parish a couple blocks away offers confession every day. Sadly the parish closest to where I live offers the same as the church above for a second I thought it was that church(and wouldn’t you know there are lots of liturgical problems there too) the bulletin looks almost the same.

  5. Maggie says:

    Unfortunately this is probably a “typical” confession schedule. The parish where I go to confession (not my home parish, since we have the same problem with lack of available confession times) has it before every Mass (weekdays included!) and there are always lines. Lines! It’s beautiful.

    However, we’ve lost an understanding of what serious sin is- heck, even what sin is.

    And Genevieve, if I were you, I would find a new confessor. Heretical counsel wouldn’t help me avoid the sin again, though the sacramental grace does…

  6. Wow, the pastor must be really, really busy. (Sarcasm off).

  7. irish3509 says:

    My parish offers Confession once a week, for an hour before the vigil Mass on Saturday evening, and you can make an appointment with one of the priests. I dislike the idea of making an appointment for Confession, but I am fully aware of how busy my priests are. Tithing is about 5% at my parish or as they say, what you can afford to give.

  8. Craig says:

    yeah well, this is the least of the problems in this unfortunate community. Just pray that a real solution can be found that preserves souls.

    All ye martyrs, pray for us

  9. Jon says:

    I’m blessed to attend an FSSP parish. Needless to say, we have confessions before every Mass, and sometimes even after. There’s always a line.

    My experience in NO parishes is that lines form whenever there’s a priest in a confessional at an unscheduled time; Saturday afternoons being a terrible time for families.

    My conclusion?

    “If you hear them, they will come.”

  10. Agnes says:

    Golf, anyone?

    Type III (Communal Penance) doesn’t fly unless there are a bunch in danger of death and there happens to be a priest around who does not have time to hear individual confessions (ie, the Titanic – I was disappointed in the priest scene – he was praying a Rosary with a bunch of people clinging to him as the boat was going under, a perfect opportunity for Type III). I wonder if the Communal Penance the bulletin refers to is Type II where there’s a prayer service and then individual confessions are offered after the fact.

    My parish only does Type I (individual confession) and we like keeping our priests in the box!

    (A ladies’ place is in the kitchen? Well come on then, dear clergy…)

  11. r.j.sciurus says:

    As a former tithing member of this parish, I can attest that the only lines I ever saw were for Communion and donuts.

  12. jbalza007 says:

    Alas! The Cure of Ars will surely weep…

  13. Torpedo1 says:

    Oh that’s so sad. I live in St. Paul and so have tons of options when it comes to confession., but for an hour a month? So sad. They need our prayers all the more.

  14. Genevieve says:

    You’re right, Maggie, I should. Only there are two Catholic churches in this town and the one I attend is actually the more conservative of the two.

  15. gloriainexcelsis says:

    Our FSSP parish also has confession before every Mass (and after), every day of the week, Saturdays 8:30-10am, and before every Mass on Sunday, with the confessions going well into Mass time. Sundays are particulary long because people come from so many miles and some can only make it on Sunday. It’s always two priests and sometimes three on Sunday until it’s necessary to prepare for Mass. Whichever priest is left in the confessional and has to leave, will always tell the remaining people that confession will continue after Mass. No one who wishes to go to confession is ever turned away for lack of time. As a regular at St. Stephen’s I can tell you that frequent confession is the norm rather than the exception.

  16. stgemma_0411 says:

    The parish I go to has 45 min per week. But what is harder to deal with is that there is no scheduled weekly mass. You have to get the bulletin for that week to know when the times are for that week. And if there is a funeral service/mass performed on the same day as a weekday mass, the weekday mass is canceled.

    I currently live in the Archdiocese of Halifax, Nova Scotia. But I was raised in the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia where I had so many masses and confession times to choose from. Makes it very hard to strengthen/deepen the spirituality of myself and my wife in a place that feels so barren.

  17. Jack Hughes says:

    Holy Family Parish should feel ashamed, at one of my former N.O Parishes Confession was avaliable for half an hour each day Monday to Saturday, the penances they gave were really light and they never focused on ‘true conversion’ but at least absolution was avaliable.

  18. kchusker says:

    I live within 10 minutes of this parish, but choose to travel 25 minutes instead to attend another. The people are very friendly and involved, but it is not very “Catholic.” They don’t kneel in part because they chose to buy chairs without kneelers. The liturgy is very contemporary which in and of itself does not have to be bad, but don’t be surprised to hear Martin Luther King added to the Litany of the Saints. They are very social and involved with each other in mostly secular type activities but do not have a lot of activities that help build Catholic identity. This would be one of the last parishes in the diocese where one would expect to see a class on the writings of Cardinal Ratzinger. One WOULD expect to see one on Fr. Richard McBrien. Were it not for the tabernacle, they might be confused for the Methodist church up the street. There are many souls in peril there, in need of many prayers.

  19. Dr. Eric says:

    I’m trying to make lemonade out of this lemon: at least the parish has “Daily Mass” (which doesn’t count Monday or the days that the bulletin reads that there is no Mass.)

  20. Jeannie says:

    Let’s see, 1000 families means perhaps 1400 working members of the parish. Tithing at 10%, assuming a 40 hour work week, results in 5,600 hours of work per week to pay the tithe. On a monthly basis, this totals over 24,000 hours. That’s one hour of confession time for every twenty-four thousand hours of work dedicated to the tithe. Put another way, for every hour spent working for the tithe, the parish offers significantly less than one-tenth of a second for confession (indeed, it’s closer to one-hundredth of a second).


  21. biberin says:

    Bummer. I could use up that whole hour all by myself. My parish only schedules an hour per week, but it’s same day service if I call for an appointment!

  22. Robert_H says:

    One hour per month is also the amount of time they’ll spend talking about the novel “The Shack.” (Page 3.) And they’ll spend three times that discussing Vatican II. (Page 3.) Plus they have a ton of space for health care reform on page 7.

    But Saturday, August 15 is just listed as “5pm Mass 6pm Bingo Night.”

  23. AlexE says:

    While the tithing breakdown is nice the lack of availability is horrendous. To have to make an appt to confess once a month? Lets pray for greater “supply and demand” of COnession

  24. Rachel says:

    Hey gloriainexcelsis, I’ve been to St. Stephen’s. It’s as awesome as you say. :)

    My parish is staffed by Oblates of the Virgin Mary, whose founder, Fr. Lanteri, told his priests that they should make it a goal to die either in the pulpit or the confessional. And indeed, the OMVs give good homilies even on weekdays and hear confessions at every Mass.

    About committing scandal by what we don’t do, another example is never preaching certain doctrines, which is tantamount to denying them. I was just reading Msgr. Ronald Knox: “A doctrine which has ceased to be affirmed is doomed, like a disused organ, to atrophy.”

  25. gloriainexcelsis says:

    Rachel, if you’ve been to St. Stephen’s recently you will know that we have an OMV with us as an associate, now. Fr. Lyons just celebrated his 25th anniversary of ordination. He is a wonderful preacher and teacher, has recently gone through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius with one of us, is a fine (and sought after) confessor and is so happy to be able to celebrate the TLM daily. I know my pride in our parish is overboard sometimes, but we are so blessed in the priests we have been sent, in the talented organist, director, schola and choir and in a growing, vibrant community of the Faithful. We must remember to give thanks to God for this largesse – every day!

  26. Hamburglar says:

    The parish near me has an hour before the Saturday vigil Mass. Sadly, the priest in the confessional will use that time to do a bit of spiritual reading, since no one ever goes. I’ve actually seen the priest surprised when I come in, since he isn’t expecting anyone.

  27. AlexE says:


    your comments on our beloved St Stephen are needed. Hopefully they inspire people to pray for a revival of the Sacramental life of the Church in thier parish, and inspire priests to try and work for said revial.I pray if God graces me with ordination, I can be half as good as the dear, good, holy priests of St Stephens. However, I also think, if people aren’t pleaesd with the availabilty of the Sacraments of the parish, they should ask and ask and ask and ask for them until father relaizes the problem. But, it is a two way street and people need reminders and encouragement to go to confession. So, I guess it goes back to prayer, prayer for good holy priets, prayer for the parish, prayer for the Church, prayer for the world

  28. Father Totton says:

    Being in said diocese, I am somewhat familiar with the parish (which, I thought Fr. would have been more vigilant about anonymizing.) I am shocked and disappointed to read this, but it is a logical conclusion that if one hour a week is sufficient for 1,000 families, wouldn’t an hour each month suffice just as well?

  29. Lori Ehrman says:

    Did y’all read that whole bulletin. OH MY!!! He, the priest, in his gospel reflection says….that if we let go of our anger…we will be saved. Then further into the bulletin towards page 7 he wants his parish to support the new government sponsored Healthcare Plan. And…while he only has confession once a month for an hour, needlework is provided for each and every Sunday.

  30. Papabile says:

    What I find particularly offensive is that they suggest tithing as if it is required. The biblical tithe was eliminated when the old law passed. On has to contribute to the parish (per the Precepts), but percentage tithing was done away with.

    With that said, my wife and I Tithe about $600 a month to our parish. The general rule I follow is $1 a week goes to the general collection. That way, when the Arlington diocese taxes it, it gets .15 cents….. their whole 15%. The other $149 goes to debt retirement, which the parish gets to keep entirely.

  31. gambletrainman says:

    You all think this is bad, scheduling Confession only once a month–in a Novus Ordo church? I’ve been to Traditional churches where Confession is also scheduled for once a month–“no ifs ands or buts”. Luckily the regular church I attend has confessions every time Mass is said. Only one priest available, and hears Confessions a half hour before Mass. If there’s anyone left when he leaves the confessional, he will be more than happy to hear the rest afterwards. But back to the others, what happens if you commit a mortal sin before the next monthly confession?

  32. JohnE says:

    The confession schedule is pitiful, but I’m not sure if I understand the pointing out of the tithing. They define tithing as 10% (they’re not redefining a tithe to be 6% as I originally thought in reading the underlined part).
    They break it out as:
    6% – parish
    1% – diocese
    3% – other charitable causes

    Is it the breakout of the 10% that’s the issue, or am I missing something? Perhaps it’s the low 1% to the diocese? I think I’ve heard our archbishop recommend 5/3/2 before.

  33. TNCath says:

    Sounds like the great Bishop Finn needs to check out what’s going on (or not going on) in this parish. Bishop Finn has made huge strides in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph the past few years. I am sure he’ll be getting around to Holy Family soon.

  34. JohnE says:

    Actually, the once-a-month-for-one-hour confession schedule is for personal confession. This parish is one that has the automated version installed:

  35. MikeM says:

    I think some priests don’t get it that we support our Church BECAUSE we support its mission. When you can no longer go to Confession, they cut daily mass, and you show up on Sunday only to find that the supposed-homily has nothing to do with the reading or anything spiritual, but is just a weekly appeal for more money, you become less inclined to bother supporting the parish in question.

  36. Rachel says:

    gloriainexcelsis, I do know about Fr. Lyons because he used to be at my parish! I was one of many former parishioners who made the trip from the LA area to be at his 25th anniversary party. There was talk of stuffing him in a trunk and taking him back with us, but I’m very glad to see from your post that at least he’s properly appreciated up there. :)

    Speaking of tithing: I used to be Protestant– was confirmed Catholic two years ago, hooray!– and at my Evangelical church it was taken for granted that we should try to tithe at least 10%. I’ve been surprised to find that there are Catholics who are happy to hear sermons on Confession or contraception but seem instantly suspicious if any mention is made of money. Of course it’s not required to give 10%, and some people need to be on the receiving rather than the giving end, but in general I think my old pastors were right: God owns our money and if we rich Americans can’t bring ourselves to set aside one tenth, we’re probably not trusting Him in that area and it’s going to hold up our spiritual growth. My old church believed it was an important subject that a preacher shouldn’t neglect, not so he could get money, but for the spiritual good of his flock. Yet the whole subject seems absent from Catholic preaching. Is that true, and if so, does anyone know why? Maybe priests have enough battles as it is?

    (I quite agree that offering Confession only once a month while offering lots of advice on giving money is “interesting”.)

  37. MikeM says:

    They had a (tasteful) talk on tithing in my home parish and the way they explained it was the 5% should go into the collection basket, and then at least 5% should go to charity.

  38. MargaretMN says:

    To be fair, the bulletin doesn’t endorse the Obama proposals. They endorse some group’s proposal that we have free healthcare coverage for everybody that covers everything, paid for by the rich. That only sounds like the administation’s proposals. But the blurb is correct in saying that no bill has been introduced yet.

    This bulletin is almost like a spoof of a bulletin, with the obscure confession, prominent bingo and tithing.

  39. Ellen says:

    We have confession an hour before each Mass at my home parish. I also go to the Chapel of Divine Mercy with the Fathers of Mercy and they hear confession before and after Sunday Mass, and on appointment. The lines are always long and the confessors are wonderful.

  40. NLucas says:

    While I’m a TLM devotee, I’m certainly blessed to have an abundance of opportunities to receive the Sacrament of Penance in strictly OF parishes. My home parish (with a Friday night TLM, no Sunday) has Confession every day, usually multiple times–this past week, there were 13 half-hour and 1 hour periods scheduled (and you still have to wait in line). The parish where I go to Sunday TLM, there are 3 hours (two periods) per week. Even better, two parishes within walking distance of my work (no TLM at all) hear Confessions every weekday during lunch (the lines are short).

    In all these parishes, I have yet to come across any abuses or minimization of sin that I heard in the confessional in other times and places.

    Having this sacrament so readily available is a tremendous gift from God. And, as He knows, I need it. Why can’t this be normal in most cities in the US?

    In Christ,

  41. robtbrown says:

    NB: Communal Penance services don’t necessarily mean General Absolution is give. Often CP consists of the priest leading a variety of prayers and reading from Scripture, then moving into the Confessional (or other place) for auricular confession.

  42. Chris says:

    I would love to find how what percentage of those couples there are contracepting — probably in the 90% range — and yet don’t need the confessional.

    And since when is biblical tithing a Catholic tradition?

  43. Dr. Eric says:

    I heard Fr. Larry Richards on Catholic Radio, when I was co-incidentally, in Kansas City. He said that 100% of your stuff belongs to God. God in His mercy allows you to use 90% of it, so do your duty and give Him His 10% so it can be used on His poor. Fr. explained: what are you going to say at your Judgment when God says 34,586 people starved to death because you didn’t properly tithe in your lifetime?

    I have no problem with the tithe part of the bulletin. My problem is what is this priest going to say to God when He tells the priest, “34,586 people went to Hell, because you didn’t sit in the Confessional and didn’t preach on sin.”

    *Not judging the priest’s soul or his intentions just looking at the fruits of the tree.*

  44. Dr. Eric says:

    Hmmmmm adding asterisks around a sentence makes it bold. I didn’t know that.

  45. irishgirl says:

    Oh, good Lord-confession only ONCE A MONTH? I never heard of that…

    Yes…the Cure of Ars would certainly weep…

  46. Agnes says:

    Maybe it should be delegated to an EM of Reconciliation. :-/

    (sarcasm off)

    Time to quit *itching and pray for vocations.

    “Let us ask God to give worthy Priests, deacons,
    brothers and sisters to His holy Church. O God we
    earnestly beseech Thee to bless this Archdiocese with
    many priests, deacons, brothers and sisters who will
    love Thee with their whole strength and gladly spend
    their entire lives to serve Thy Church and to make Thee
    known and loved. Bless our families, bless our
    children. Choose from our homes those who are
    needed for Thy work. Mary, Queen of the clergy, pray
    for us! Pray for our priests and religious. Obtain for us
    many more.”

  47. LarryPGH says:

    We’re asking ourselves why there’s no demand for confession at that parish? Catechesis. Look at the catechesis schedule for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders — the years leading up to confirmation, as it were! Are they getting real, solid catechesis? You tell me: they’ve got 90 minutes of “youth group/faith formation” each week. 6th through 8th, together? I promise you, you won’t hear a peep out of the 6th graders (and many of the 7th graders) all year long. And, of course, how much of that 90 minutes/week is “youth group”, and how much time is left for “faith formation”?

    Go ahead, ask why no one’s coming to confession… they’ve likely never been taught it’s something they should be doing…!!

  48. laurazim says:

    Gladly, so gladly, we homeschool our children. At the First Thursday day-long observances (for the Year of the Priest) which we have been so blessed to take part in, the lines for confession are so long we begin TWO HOURS before Mass, with two priests–and still end up starting Mass as much as a half-hour late. This is with about 20 families attending. These are almost entirely home schooling families who are catechising their children at home. The kids are rushing to the confessional left and right, encoraging each other to be faithfl to their penances, watching the little ones so Mom and Dad can go to confession, and then faithfully serving our dear priests at the meal which follows the Mass. Mass, by the way, is immediately followed by the Litany of Saints, and the Litany of Jesus Christ, Priest and Victim. The First Thursdays are a summer special–our usual routine also includes First Friday, for the dedication of our families to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The day looks much the same, but with confession following Mass. It usually takes about 2 hours, sometimes a little longer, to get through everyone.

    Our diocesan vocations are positively booming.

    We pray for priests, deacons, seminarians, brothers and sisters every night during our family Rosary. We will add to this: that the Lord would move the hearts of those in need of absolution, and move their feet toward the confessional.

  49. gambletrainman says:

    Do like Bishop Sheen–invite them in on another pretext, then shove them into the confessional. He didn’t ask the lady to go to confession. Of course, in her case it worked–she became a nun. If a priest did that today, he’d be sued.

  50. What is so surprising about 1 hour of confession once a week? Sounds pretty typical to me.

  51. Scarlett says:

    I was recently on looking up times for confession at local churches, because I can’t make the slot at my own, which is several hours a week but all on Saturdays evenings. The vast majority offered Confession for half an hour on Saturdays “or by appointment.” One, I noticed, offered Confession for half an hour on Saturdays and “Confession is available at all other times by request.” The priest is sitting in the Confessional for the same amount of time, but it seems that the availability of Confession is completely different. A few words and an attitude make a difference.

  52. LarryPGH says:

    WhollyRoaminCatholic: take a look at the listing again–it’s not one hour per week, it’s one hour *per month*…!

  53. Eugenia says:

    One hour per month!

    Our priests hear confession every day half an hour before evening Mass, on Sundays – before every Mass (morning, Summa at 12.00, and evening)

    And when I can’t go to confession in my regular confessor’s days (M,W,F, Sunday evening) – I can ask him for extra time…

    We are poor sinners, I see…

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