Do good confessions lead to good vocations?

Once again I direct your attention to the blog of a friend, Fr. Bill Baer in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis who posted an entry with an interested premise.

Here it is, with severe editing and my emphases.  You can read the whole thing here.  (Go spike his stats.)

Good Confessions, Good Vocations

Each Friday this Summer, I am devoting my Homily at our Parish’s daily Mass to some aspect of the Sacrament of Penance.

Today, I wish to offer a simple point: Good confessions lead to good vocations.


Specifically, a good confession is the source of a good vocation in at least three ways:

[… Go read them. …]

If your parish is attempting to promote vocations among your young people, don’t waste your time on slick and silly programs. Get the youth back into God’s good graces. Get them back within earshot of the Holy Spirit.

Get them back into the Confessional.


I am inclined to agree.  When I think about parishes that produce lots of vocations to the priesthood, they generally have good confession schedules.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. AnnaTrad51 says:

    I could not agree with this article more. We have confession before every morning Mass and before, during and after Sunday Masses (we have two Priests). Our Priests have frequently talked about the need for a good confession in their homilies over the years. Our parish have had many men now ordained, we have three seminarians and a number of young men and women contemplating the Priesthood and religious life. Deo Gratias

  2. Amen!
    The Sacrament of Penance can be the real “point of convergence”, if you will, that inspires, consoles, and strengthens one who is called to the priesthood or consecrated life.
    Priestly examples such as St. Padre Pio, St. John Mary Vianney and others, reveal that when a soul is properly disposed to God’s Grace, the ability to respond to the call is given impetus and focus.
    May the Lord raise up many holy confessors to be the means of making consecrated vocations, to the priesthood, consecrated life, and holy married life something that is “normal” rather than “exceptional”…through Our Lady and St. Joseph. Amen!

  3. torch621 says:

    Our Lady of Czestochowa parish in Turners Falls has regular confession before every Mass, and it’s a jewel; a beacon of orthodoxy. I can’t agree more with the correlation between good confession and vibrant faith in general.

  4. Jack Hughes says:

    I can’t agree more, even devotional confessions or those of venial sins (when one has no mortal sin to confess) are a great source of grace and mercy, also you need a good Confessor, I’m fortunate that I have two wonderful FSSP priests living within a hundred miles.

  5. Rachel says:

    It seems to me that the graces I’ve received in three years of being Catholic could not have come if I hadn’t practiced frequent confession. I credit Our Lady with giving me courage to do it.

    My parish has lots of vocations (two young men leaving for seminary and two women leaving to be nuns this summer alone– many others in previous years). And we have confession every day.

  6. stgemma_0411 says:

    I agree with this as well. The vocations director for the diocese that I grew up in, had only two criteria for selecting vocations with the foremost being that the candidate had to be a good confessor. When he was the vocations director, the diocese had record numbers of vocations. After he was moved, vocations died. Luckily, one of the priests who was under his guidance is now the vocations director and things are starting to pick back up.

  7. RichardT says:

    I suspect that also young men are encouraged to become priests when they see priests doing priestly things.

    But yes, all sorts of graces flow from confession.

  8. DT says:

    And of course, regular and frequent prayer nurtured in the family as a whole will dispose us to receive the sacraments in humility and frequently!

    In the Masses that are offered by the canons of the Institute of Christ the King, there are many exhortations for families to pray together, and as frequently as possible.

  9. JonM says:

    I would think this is a safe assumption. It would seem true for both helping call men to Priesthood as well as men and women to marriage.

    My parish is pretty outstanding with Confessions. Tuesday evening, Wednesday morning, twice Saturday.

  10. Rich says:

    I would think that good confessions are more apt to lead to good vocations than bad ones.

  11. My college parish never offered Confession, except at Lent in a big group thing. Which was really really stupid, because there’s a lot of sinning and a lot of need for spiritual help among college kids.

    (Well, maybe they offered Confession at the retreats they held, but I never could go to one because they were expensive and not held on campus, and I didn’t have a car or the cash. Always something half-hearted like that… I’m glad things are getting better for kids today.)

  12. kelleyb says:

    Confessions and Adoration- THE essentials for Fall 2010. I would love to see an ad like that. I would love to see that on every Newman campus center in the US.

  13. CarpeNoctem says:

    I, too, agree.

    My experience is that every seminarian who was focused, serious, and (if I can say this) truly “destined” for the priesthood had a conversion story… not a sappy, me-centric ‘testimony’, but a real story of conversion from what they were to what they have become by the grace and power of God. While this may be a suprise to some, many of the the very best seminarians (and now priests) had been away from the Church at some point in their life and came back, some were is some pretty serious habits of sin, or were converts to the faith. All of these know deep down that God alone strengthens and empowers the pursuit of this high calling to be a priest of God.

    If one has not come to terms with sin and made strides to conquer it by the grace of the sacraments, they cannot be a good confessor, either. Maybe the reason for scandalously-short or non-existent confessional times flows from the fact that many priests are afraid of the sacrament? I, for one, would be fearful to go into the ‘sin bin’ for a sit, if I had not experienced God’s unbelievable power and love in this sacrament, either.

  14. Supertradmum says:

    One must not confuse a call to conversion with a call, the vocation to the priesthood. Some enter the seminary because they have had a conversion experience, but are not actually called to the priesthood. Some are called to the priesthood, and then the conversion comes later. Those men who have had a conversion must carefully discern whether the zeal which follows is a priestly vocation or another, perhaps lay vocation.

    As to confession, the two dioceses with which I am familiar right now bear witness to the truth of the above statement. In the one, it is almost impossible to find regular, scheduled confessions in most of the parishes, and guess what, only five seminarians are at this time going through the process in the entire diocese. In the other, in the deaneries where there are regular confessions, numbers are up and in the other deaneries, where the priests do not encourage confession, there are zero vocation.

  15. Mike says:

    While I don’t want to sound PC, because we need to pray explicitly for priestly vocations, the vocation to marriage is also strengthened by frequent confession as well. Strong marriages often beget numerous vocations…

  16. CarpeNoctem says:

    Supertradmum– agreed, conversion does not mean vocation, but my argument is that an authentic vocation rarely comes without it. Now, I don’t mean that one must have a profligate life, as Augustine did, before becoming a saint… although this can sometimes be possible. But if a seminarian thinks he’s a self-made man without God’s grace and mercy at the forefront of their consciousness, then they don’t last long in this ‘business’.

  17. Supertradmum says:

    Very true, and a good thing, too

  18. I believe that when priests in a parish discuss sins (grave and venial), as well as the virtues in homilies (all of which prompt interior reflection on conduct), then it leads to self-knowledge, and often times to confession.

    Use of confession is instrumental to building holiness. When one is in a state of sin and not making frequent use of confession, it becomes a form of noise, and can indeed make it difficult to hear the call.

    When serious sin has been wiped out, the pentitent can then use the Sacrament as a means of purification of venial sins and imperfections. This is where holiness really begins, and it is also here that one is most likely to experience the graces related to the call (and graces to act on those graces!).

    I’m in agreement with Mike @9:42, that Confession is an important part of the marriage vocation, as well as with dedicated singles.

    At Assumption Grotto in Detroit, where priests give generously of their time in confessionals and encourage using the Sacrament to build holiness even in the absence of mortal sin, I have witnessed and experienced very good things.

    Lines of confession are an avenue of grace to seek the Sacrament. When one sees others in line, it can prompt that examen. I have seen some parents who have many children (one with 17!), go weekly. They heed the call of the priests to use the Sacrament to build holiness.

    It’s truly good for everyone, but I must say dear Fathers, that at my parish, the priests do an awesome job of making us reflect on the seven capital sins and the contrary virtues.

    People sometimes think that a priest discussing sin is “fire and brimstone”. Do not be fooled. I have been hearing homilies which discuss sin and virtue without the fire and brimstone. They reference the CCC, the Church Fathers, Doctors and saints, as well as Church documents. Unless priests “raise the bar” on understanding of the effects of Original Sin we don’t understand why we would gravitate to sin. If we don’t understand what sin looks like (especially in the tech world), we can’t recognize our involvement in it. If we don’t understand virtues, then we don’t know what to practice to counter sin. When people understand these things, yes…. frequent use of confession comes along for the ride, and people can hear their call to the priesthood and consecrated life.

  19. irishgirl says:

    What about holiness for singles? They are always forgotten.

    It’s always marriage, priesthood and religious life-good and holy vocations, of course. And we need them.

    But everyone starts out single in life…and some of us are single longer, and often forever! {Like me!]

    I said as much when I went over to Fr. Baer’s blog and posted a comment.

    I’m tired of being treated like ‘chopped liver’!

  20. AnAmericanMother says:

    You’re not chopped liver!

    I think with smaller families these days the vocation of Jolly Aunt or Uncle has fallen by the wayside a bit.

    But some of my happiest childhood memories involve my father’s sisters and their wise counsel and comfort in time of need. And my husband likewise had a maiden aunt, the old-fashioned Irish Catholic kind, who was an inspiration to all of us – kind, wise, and good clear through.

    Somebody ought to preach on the vocation of Aunt or Uncle (whether by blood, marriage, or purely Honorary).

  21. irishgirl says:

    Thanks, AnAmericanMother!

    Trouble is, I’m not even an Aunt, much less a Godmother! My older sister and her husband, when they married, decided right from the start that they weren’t going to have children. They were wrapped up in their ‘careers’. The only ‘children’ they have had are animals-dogs, mostly.

    I didn’t mind-at least dogs don’t ‘talk back’ like a bratty kid would!

    I had a maiden aunt on my mother’s side of the family. Her father was my mother’s family’s sponsor when they came from Germany in the 1920s. She worked in a small insurance office as a secretary, and told me stories of her travel experiences to places such as Rome and Lourdes. I got my ‘foreign travel bug’ from her.

  22. Allan S. says:

    I heard this from an old priest confessor last week:

    “Remember – your enemy is an Archdemon, and you cannot defeat him alone. You may think you can, but that is pride. Only with the help of grace can you defeat the Archdemon. Prayer, therefore, is absolutely necessary. You stand no chance without it. You simply cannot fight this battle alone.”

    Made quite an impression on me as I moved daily prayer from the “good idea” list to the “absolutely must no exceptions” list.

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