BISHOPS & PRIESTS: a revival of the Sacrament of Penance is critical for a revival of our Catholic identity.

It is critical to our identity as Catholics to revive the use of the Sacrament of Penance. I think there are some moves in that direction on the part of younger priests, but we need also a grassroots effort of committed Catholic lay people to begin asking their priests and their bishops to hear confessions.

Every Sunday millions of Catholics who have not made a good confession for years receive Holy Communion.

It is an old chestnut that the plural of anecdote is “data”.

That said, I hear from priests and lay people that in places where the sacrament has fallen into disuse when priests start hearing confessions regularly people start going to confession. When priests start talking both about the consequences of not using the sacrament and, just as importantly, the importance of and benefits of making a good confession, people start going to confession.

I received this from a reader.  I anonymized it for obvious reasons:

Father Z,

It never ceases to amaze me just how truly awesome Confession really is, and it makes me upset that more priests aren’t encouraging their congregations to start going to Confession regularly again.

After all the stress and despair brought on by letting myself ___ , … I finally broke down in my car on Friday night in complete utter despair, convinced that I suck at life, and felt I was in dire need of going to Confession (I make frequent use of it, but rarely do I ever feel a “dire need” for it”). Fortunately my confessor is awesome when it comes to hearing Confessions, so there’s never more than 24 hours until the next scheduled time for Confessions.

I spend all week being reminded by ___ that I’m a person with power and authority (something I try to keep in check, but sometimes it’s difficult), so being afforded the opportunity to humble myself at my confessor’s knees and humbly confess all my failings to him and have them completely absolved, is probably one of the greatest things about being Catholic. The feeling I feel right now of getting a brand new clean slate to start over again is completely ineffable.

I don’t know how people can stand not making frequent use of such an amazing sacrament, and I can’t believe there are priests out there who don’t seem to see the value in promoting frequent Confession. If I recall the ordinations I attended this summer, I’m pretty sure I heard something about a promise to “especially celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation” (nothing about joining umpteen committees, though).

Keep up the good work promoting such a wonderful gift!!!

When priests present the Sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation in a positive way, people respond. Fathers, people will be very grateful to you. God will be pleased with you. You will be doing what you said you would do at your ordination: say Mass and hear confessions.

Another person wrote with this:

Dear Father Zuhlsdorf,

in large parts inspired by your constant reminders, I went to my first confession in more than twenty years today. I had fallen away from the Church, but gradually found my way back. I have been going to mass regularly on Sundays for a few years now, and have discovered the richness of the extraordinary form.

However, I was extremely apprehensive about going to confession.
Somehow, the thought of telling my darkest secrets to another human being seemed impossible to me. I kept delaying it, always with a bad conscience, all the while thinking about your reminders.

But today, in what was actually a quite spontaneous decision, before mass I went to confession, the first time in more than 20 years (probably as much as 25, I cannot quite remember the last time).

And what surprised me the most was how easy it was! I realized that I am not actually talking with another human being, but to God himself; and he already knows my darkest secrets! So it is just a question of actually admitting your mistakes to somebody who knows them already!
And who still loves you, and hopes for you to admit your mistakes! The priest is there not as a “spiritual counsellor” (a phrase I – unfortunately – have seen used to “advertise” confession in another arish), but as the representative of Christ.

I wanted to share this with you, as you were very instrumental in my finally going to confession. Maybe my experience can help others who are apprehensive?

From my heart, I would like to thank you most sincerely, Father Zuhlsdorf. Many, many thanks. In some ways, you have saved me.

Yours faithfully,

Fathers, I left that last part in, addressed to me, to help priests reading this understand how important this sacrament is and how grateful people will be when you provide it.  The priest is a poor but nevertheless mysterious agent of God’s mercy and power.  Priests can have some credit, but Christ is the one worthy of all praise.

Could you not start hearing confessions for 10 minutes before Mass?  Just to start?

Holy Church received this magnificent sacrament from Jesus Christ, because this is the way that HE desired for us normally to receive forgiveness for our sins.

It is critical to our identity as Catholics to revive the use of the Sacrament of Penance. I think there are some moves in that direction on the part of younger priests, but we need also a grassroots effort of committed Catholic lay people to begin asking their priests and their bishops to hear confessions.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Peter in Canberra says:

    Thanks Father.

    Availability / accessiblity of confession is an important point.

    I trust that priests will be generous, and prudent and a little wordly wise, in their allocation and selection of times for confession. It is easy to say that if the penitents see confession as imporant they will make time. However in the hustle & bustle of the modern world there are real logistical issues and the times have to meet the needs, and the situations, of the faithful.

  2. Jbuntin says:

    I would like to add something to your suggestion Father. You say start with 10 minutes before each mass and go from there; this is great except if the priest doesn’t sit in the confessional until someone shows it will not be as good.
    We as penitents have the right to be anonymous when we go to confess. If we have to grab Father by the sleeve and tell him we want to go to confession it’s not good. So… if you schedule confessions for a certain time, just go and wait, we will come, we will! Don’t make us look for you in the sacristy or the mop closet, just go and wait we will come.
    And we will thank you for being there.

  3. catholicmidwest says:

    While I think that regular and accessible times for the sacrament of confession ought to be published and the priest ought to be in the confessional at those times, I don’t think there’s anything remarkable about someone asking the priest to hear their confession. There shouldn’t be anything remarkable about it. Sinning is something that all people seem to do, and admitting that isn’t a shame. Not doing anything about it is the shame.

    PS When the priest is in the confessional and no ones around, I don’t know that it would be awful if they work in there–reading, using the computer etc. Or pray in there. Prayer and work do everyone good.

  4. caite says:

    Yes, without doubt, priest need preach about the sacrament.
    And yes, without doubt, priest need to make the sacrament readily available.

    But I think even more than that is the fact that many people have lost a sense of sin, of their own sinfulness. Priest need to preach about sin, as unpopular as the idea may be, and try to wake up our consciences. Then to remind us that there is this wonderful sacrament available to offer God’s forgiveness and the grace to help us sin no more. Then make it available.

  5. danphunter1 says:

    The only priests I know of personally that regularly offer confession right before Mass in their churches, are FSSP [Who have faculties.] and FSSPX [Who don’t have faculties.].
    Otherwise, in my experience it is like pulling molars to get some priests to hear confessions before Mass. [when most really need it]

  6. APX says:

    For me personally, I find the best time to allocate a significant block of time for confessions is late in the evening on Saturdays. For me it has been the most accessible time, and for those of us who find ourselves working Saturdays, it’s the easiest time to get off work as it’s the least busy. This every church in the city offering Confession at the same time thing is annoying if it’s a time never available to you.

    I am so thankful I am in a city now with a parish with daily Confession. My permanent geographical parish doesn’t offer weekly Confession. It’s on sporadic Saturdays for a half hour whenever Father decides to schedule it, and he never even mentions it from the pulpit. Although he claims we do have daily Confession because all the person has to do is make an appointment. (I tried that. He told me to come when he schedules it.) Over the summer I ended up waiting until the end of August to be able to get to confession when the bishop brought in a visiting priest from the FSSP for the Feast of the Assumption.

    I really would like to write my geographically permanent bishop about pushing for a real revival of this wonderful sacrament in the diocese. It’s been such a huge benefit for me, and for what it’s worth, going to Confession on Saturday night makes me feel more generous with my money on Sunday morning. I’m just saying…

  7. Supertradmum says:

    I was trained to go to regular Confession by my parents on Saturday afternoons. All parents can do this. I try to go once a week, or once a fortnight at the latest. Moving to a foreign county has put me off my schedule, as I cannot find advertised Confessions in English. I shall have to approach a priest, as I am overdue.

    Habits of virtue, habits of receiving the Sacraments are something we all can do. I wish there was more availability, as I am not afraid to go up and ask a priest to hear my Confession, but this would be very hard for most people. especially our youth. There must be more times posted, on a regular basis, and not this nonsense, by appointment, so common in England and, ironically in my Midwest home diocese. Who is going to phone a rectory to find a priest for Confession? And, here I am, trying to find any Confessions posted in English.

  8. jkm210 says:

    First, I wish that Bishop Trautmann could see a normal person’s use of the word “ineffable” in the first letter!

    My parish has two scheduled times for confession, one on a weekday evening, and one on Saturday afternoon (not immediately preceding vigil Mass). I think these are good choices. Most people are free on either an evening or a weekend afternoon. I also like lunch-break time confessions, and one church I used to visit for confessions had them at 8:00 am Saturday mornings. That seems like a weird time, but if you have a busy Saturday, that can be a convenient time to go to confession before other things will interfere.

    I think the only bad time is the most usual time, and that is immediately preceding the Saturday vigil Mass. Unless you have a second priest to handle confessions while the celebrant prepares for Mass, this usually leads to rushing, the priest running out of time, and people giving up. If people feel like they’re being a hassle, they won’t come.

  9. Hidden One says:

    So far as this layman understands it (he could be wrong), the argument for a pastor providing and promoting Confession frequently is pretty simple.

    P1: People commit many mortal sins.
    P2: The stain of one mortal sin will damn that soul.
    C1: If the people do not to go Confession frequently, many of them will be damned.
    P3: The pastor is responsible for the souls of his flock.
    C2: If the pastor does not do what he ought to do to get his parishioners to go to Confession frequently, then he himself will be damned (on account of his negligence).
    P4: The pastor does not want to be damned.
    C3: The pastor wants to do what he ought to do to get his parishioners to go to Confession frequently.

    Do those of you with a better grasp of theology than I have see any flaws in this argument? I don’t like certain of its apparent implications.

  10. jbas says:

    O.K., I’m trying to sort this out. I’ve been a priest for ten years and have no personal knowledge of a parish anywhere that does not offer scheduled, weekly confessions. In fact, I just assumed every parish in the world did this. But in my diocese we still have only a tiny percentage of penitents each week compared to the number of communicants, except for the Spanish and traditional Masses. So, while I’m learning from your posts that publicly encouraging confession bears fruit (which should have been more obvious to me), I’m still a little puzzled about the accessibility issue. I know there are oddball priests and parishes, but surely almost all of them offer scheduled, weekly confessions.
    You’re probably right about all this, but I’m struggling to see some of the details.
    Finally, I find I need a cut-off time of fifteen minutes before Mass. I think parishioners expecting the Mass celebrant to hear confessions immediately before Mass is asking too much, especially if the confessor just spent an hour or more in the confessional.

  11. jacobi says:

    If I may comment as a layman, one simple way of dealing with this is for priests to stand up in the pulpit, or whatever else is used, and tell the congregation that one must be in a “state of grace” before receiving Communion. If that means going to Confession first, and perhaps missing Communion at that particular Mass, so be it. After all the Church requires us to go to Communion only once a year “and that at Easter or thereabouts”, if I remember correctly.
    I know lots of priests don’t want to offend, but alternatively, to keep parishioners in ignorance, well ……….

  12. Supertradmum says:

    In my old Midwest diocese, my Latino friends do not go to Communion, if they have not been to Confession. Thankfully, the priests in the Latino parish, which stupidly might be closed in a diocesan shuffle, have Confessions before two Masses-the Saturday Vigil and the 11 on Sunday. But, many people criticize them for not going to Communion. I think it is probably better to err on the side of waiting for Confession, rather than not.

    As to the places where there are not regular Confessions, I can honestly say that I know a priest who does not do Confessions, as he told me, because he doesn’t like it. I can shop, cook, read, pray, write, comment on blogs, but I cannot hear Confessions. That is his job. And, he is in the same diocese where many of the priests advertise “by appointment”. Can there be a problem with seminary training in the past with this sort of attitude? My exorcist friend told me that if there were more priests willing to hear Confessions on a more regular basis, his job would be easier, as many people get into deeper problems, such as the occult, without Confession being available for guidance as well as absolution. Thankfully, the Ordinariate priests in England are very willing to hear Confessions, which is great, as I have witnessed; they are very good at it.

  13. gradchica says:

    Our new Cathedral rector just expanded confessions to about 40 minutes every weekday before daily Mass, plus time on a weekday evening and Sat. afternoon. What a wonderful gift to have confession available daily, downtown in a major city. Having weekly scheduled confessions is important, but often these are scheduled at the least inviting time–smack in the middle of Saturday morning or afternoon, which is most people’s one day to spend with their families going out to do things…especially in the south, where public activities are quite limited on Sundays. Also, it can be hard for someone to essentially tell their family that they did something that needs to be confessed in order to duck out of family activities on a Saturday–whereas no one needs to know about a quick stop at church during a lunch hour or after work. Offering at least a weekday evening confession time in addition to the traditional Saturday times can be a huge help in making anonymous confession available to more people.

  14. Susan the Short says:

    My parish is very blessed to have a priest who hears Confessions one half hour before every Mass. Get that? Before EVERY MASS. This includes all the weekday Masses. On a weekend or Holy Day, if the line is still long when he needs to leave the Confessional (NOT a reconciliation room) and prepare for Mass, he will announce from the pulpit that he will be available after that Mass for those who wish to confess. He typically hears 6,000 to 7,000 confessions per year.

    If a priest is in the Confessional, they will come.

  15. Maltese says:

    Penance is not only necessary to inform our Catholic identities but also to keep us out of hell. (Please see Hungry Souls by a renown Dutch psychotherapist–an eye-opener). Why is it that the more we (both Catholics and non-Catholics) believe everyone is saved, the more sin increases? What if the more sin increases, the more we are damned? The sin may “feel” right because evil attracts us with the aspect of “good” inherent in every evil act (e.g. the “love” we may feel towards the person we are committing adultery with), but in the end, the devil is an Angel of Light who deceives through portraying evil as good (or as Shakespeare wrote, making “fair foul, and foul fair…”). Get to confession, you shan’t regret it in this life or the next!

  16. Jbuntin says:

    I agree that we should not hesitate to ask the priest to hear our confession if we need the sacrament. I’m just saying that if they have the time scheduled they need to be there, not somewhere else in the chuch doing busy work. I also agree that there is no reason why a priest couldn’t use that time for other work, while wating for sinners like me to show up.

  17. Shamrock says:

    The confessional lines became much, much shorter to almost non-existent in the years immediately following Vatican II. The actions of the hierarchy rather than the lay people produced this much more than the laity just suddenly stopping confessing. No one actually said confession was/is passe but that was the impression given to the laity as the times changed. In one parish to which I belonged the confessionals (except for one) were used to store extra chairs, collection baskets, etc while the outside of the doors became bulletin boards on which messages and announcements were/are posted. Then the introduction of face to face confessions, the screens done away with, the First Communicants receiving BEFORE First Penance was offered…all these things came from the hierarchy…not the people in the pews. Is it any wonder that in their minds this sacrament was being “demoted”? Even sin as such wasis never talked about from the pulpit. Is it any wonder that the sacrament was being used pretty much only by people who would have been better served by a psychiatrist? Add to this the memory of being “beaten up” spiritually and mentally abused by too many priests during this “sacrament” and I think you are on the track of why so few would rather take their sinful souls directly to Jesus, without the middle man messing with their heads! Very few priests in my life of 70 plus yrs had any idea of what they were doing while hearing confessions of broken poeple needing more than they felt they could give. Going to confession was not much different than being taken to the woodshed and severely punished in many cases leaving bad memories as children and carried over. I have not darkened the doorway of a confessional since being raged at by a priest who could not find in his dried up heart a little tender mercy for a girl who got no absolution for “going a bit too far” on a Saturday night! That happened over 50 years ago! Of course I have sinned continuously since leaving that confessional unabsolved those many years ago but I have found great solace in Adoration before the Tabernacle before the One who truly forgives me. The numbers of people that happened to are legion and THAT is why I think the communion lines are longer by far today than the confessional. How do we change all that? How would I ever be able to get through 50 yrs of confessing to a priest who only has 15 minutes once a week before the Saturday Vigil mass to hear me….and going out of town is not only impractical ( not like it used to be before Vatican II when every church everywhere heard confessions morning and afternoon and evenings on Saturday) and unlikely that I would make an appointment with a priest in his office where one has to go through two “nosey” secretaries. I will throw myself on the mercy of Jesus, my Lord and Redeemer, when the time comes. What else can anyone do? Are you saying here that all those Protestants, Hindus, Jews, Muslims who don’t confess are doomed? I do not think one needs a priest in order to be repentent…Christ would have made it abundantly clear if that were the case. He said we must repent of our sins, truly sorry and obey his commandment to love God and our neighbor…and most importantly, ourselves so that we might be able to do the first two. I do receive grace and nourishment to try to obey these commandments…at Holy Communion each Sunday when God Himself comes to me, a repentent sinner, trying to do as He asks. God bless you Father for all you are doing to try to help sinners do that….I am sorry too if what I have written offends you…that is not my intention here.

  18. catholicmidwest says:

    Agree with what you just said, Jbuntin. IF the priest has indicated a time for confession, then he’d ought to be there and people shouldn’t have to go hunting him down during that time slot. That’s inexcusable, and gives people the message the priest doesn’t care about them or about the sacrament of confession.

  19. Glen M says:

    One idea I have in Fr. Z’s ‘Marshall Plan’ is for urban area parishes to coordinate their Confession times to offer the Sacrament as widely possible throughout the week. In larger cities with six or more parishes within a thirty minute drive, Confession could be available on each day of the week. The same idea could be implemented for Adoration.

  20. scotus says:

    I see from your poll that (at the moment) there are 34 Bishops and 469 priests who read this blog. Well, now suppose that all 469 priests acted on your advice and all 34 Bishops issued a pastoral letter on the subject to be read out in all the parishes in their dioceses. That would surely get the ball rolling.

  21. APX says:

    O.K., I’m trying to sort this out. I’ve been a priest for ten years and have no personal knowledge of a parish anywhere that does not offer scheduled, weekly confessions.
    Believe me. They exist. From a parish that’s soon to be a Cathedral (which makes this even more appalling):

    Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confessions): Please refer
    to the bulletin for Saturday times. Reconciliation is not
    always available each week however you can also make a
    request for a personal time by calling Fr____ at the
    Parish Office.

    I’m not particularly fond of Confessions only being offered a half hour before Mass because I have learned that a) a half hour before Mass is closer to 15-20 minutes before Mass…assuming Father’s on time, and b) it’s not enough time to get through even a few people.

  22. Rachel Pineda says:

    The joy of reading those two letters is almost unbearable. Thank you for posting, it gives me hope.

  23. BISHOPS & PRIESTS: a revival of the Sacrament of Penance is critical for a revival of our Catholic identity.

    And revitalization of our Catholic Identity is the heart of the New Evangelization, and that heart is the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus, who is so very good and so very kind in the Confessional. This sinner knows that well!

  24. Gail F says:

    jbas: My parish has confession once a week, on Saturday afternoon from 4-4:30. HALF AN HOUR and “by appointment.” I am not going to make an appointment for confession unless I have murdered someone. It makes me feel as if, to up take my pastor’s valuable time, I’d better have something really big to confess. Plus, I do not want to confess in my pastor’s messy office, sitting in a desk chair. SO SUE ME. This may not be the most theologically correct opinion, but there are a lot of people who agree but don’t say it in words. They say it by not doing it.

    I am the mother of two busy teens — 4 o’clock Saturday??? Ha ha ha. The sad thing is, when I have gone, I have never seen anyone else there. Give people half an hour at an inconvenient time and, I guess, it seems obvious that “no one wants confession.” Yesterday I was at a Catholic conference and three priests were available for confession for three hours. I stood in a line. Confession is an amazing sacrament and I am so grateful for it.

  25. pm125 says:

    “…but we need also a grassroots effort of committed Catholic lay people to begin asking their priests …”
    Those people would be the essential ones who could coordinate a door presence for the peace of mind of the priest at whatever time was planned. Same thing for Adoration times.
    Catholic identity can survive the 21st century situations with common effort.

    I remember the civilized 50’s and 60’s when churches were open to people for prayer time. Saturdays were for confessions to be ready for Sunday. As a child, I spent weekends at my Italian grandparents’, and time at their neighborhood church with relatives. All was quiet and reverent; it was before the renovation phase, so I saw a lot of the hearts of Jesus and Mary (my focus) and much other inspiring religious art. The pews were populated more than lines being right at the confessionals.
    Now, I think of that neighborhood as dangerous and understand locked doors. We can’t blame. Look at what vandals have done, are doing. It would be good to have parishioners volunteering to be near the door during desired extended times. It would be good to not worry about how 15 people in line for a 30 minute time slot happens. The Vigil time is probably most common because others are around for preparations so providing some security. It would be good to contemplate the presence of God without surrounding bustle. I was blessed to have time to think about what was happening around me, not being rushed.

  26. qwqeqr says:

    in our area, confessions are available at 3 on saturday afternoon. when sp0uses have to work 5 days a week and tend 4 kids, mid-saturday afternoon is a really tough time to pile into the car.

  27. LaudemGloriae says:

    Excellent post, Father, please continue to encourage priests to hear confession, it really does mean so much. I will never ever forget the night I wandered into a lenten penence service after years and years away from the church. I was so terrified I’m amazed that I stayed and saw it through. I was sure my lengthy and scandalous confession would cause fatal shock to the elderly priest I confessed to, but, to my great amazement, he was so incredibly sweet and gentle as I sobbed through a box of tissues and the crumbled notes of my examination of conscience. He was so moved by the mess I had made of my life that he promised to offer Mass for me and my family the next day.

    That night changed my life, and my eternity. I remember he mentioned to me gently that I might consider having my marriage convalidated and my children baptized. I was so ignorant back then I didn’t know what convalidation was, but I found out and did it, and got the children baptized too. Now I have a son who wants to be a priest.

    I never saw that priest again, but I made a point to remember his name and I pray for him regularly.

  28. Michael J. says:

    It is my opinion that if more Catholic Churches offered frequent and convenient times for Confession, more people would take advantage of the ability to receive this most important Sacrament. I believe each Diocese, and, depending on its size, perhaps each Deanery or area of the Diocese, should offer the Sacrament every day, for a good five hours. It could be advertised in all Parish bulletins and the church could be rotated every month if needbe. I am sad when I see that some parishes have no advertised times for the Sacrament of Penance, and if all they have is, by appointment, many people will not go. The Sacrament of Penance is so very important to Catholics and Catholic life.

  29. tcreek says:

    To gain salvation it is only necessary to go to confession if you have a mortal sin on your soul and those kind of sins obviously no longer exist. If mortal sins would deprive us of eternal life don’t you think that we would be warned about them from priests, bishops and especially popes? I haven’t heard anything about them (mortal sins) for 40 years and I never miss Mass and I read encyclicals.

    Just be nice, practice social justice and be against the death penalty and you should be OK. Everyone is destined for heaven no matter what their religion … protestant, Jew, Hindi, Buddhist, Muslim , whatever … and will get there without confession and the Eucharist. Just remember … I’m OK – You’re OK … that’s what we have have been hearing from the parish, the diocese and the Vatican for the last 40 years. If you have heard otherwise, and especially from Catholic clergy or staff, please document the source. Ideally 2 or 3 sources and not from right wing wackos such as you find on EWTN.

  30. Catholic Greta says:

    The issue I have with the Sacrament of Pennance is my understanding that you must have a firm resolve not to do this sin again. It seems to me that this is a stumbling block as I know that I will continue in that sin. To stop this sin would require a profound change in my life and pain for many around me. At times, I feel like the rich young man who walked away from Christ. So many seem to think that we can get forgiveness of our sins without paying the price and taking up the cross. Can we get so far down the road there is not path back? Can we turn the matter over to God to resolve and continue doing what we are doing?

    I saw on “the deacons bench” blog resently a post by the Deacon on voting for abortion candidates the advice to vote as we want or believe, and then trot off to confession afterward. I do not think we can receive forgiveness without a firm reprentence admitting what we have done is sin and in this case probably serious sin, and also a firm resolution not to do this again. Am I missing something here?

    Also, it has been years since I have heard much about mortal sin and venial sin. Did this go away with Vatican II?

  31. Cathy says:

    Last week after a daily Mass a man asked our new associate pastor if he would hear his confession. Father took him to the confessional. When the man’s confession was completed, Father went to leave the confessional and found a line of penitents waiting to receive the sacrament, and he happily obliged.

  32. LouiseA says:

    Dear Shamrock,
    No matter how much the priest hurt you so many years ago, do not send yourself to hell to get revenge on him, to demonstrate how he ruined your life by what he did. If never going to Confession was the solution, what happened 50 years ago would not still hurt so bad after all these years. The only way to begin to heal from a traumatic Confession experience is to have good Confession experiences. But, you will never have those if you don’t go!
    I will be praying for you.

  33. andreat says:

    It doesn’t take much to work out how long you need for confessions for each Parish. Assuming 500 souls, taking 5 minutes each, once a month – you would need 10 hours of confessions each week.

    Most Parishes in the city I live in have 3o minutes – and the majority are Saturday afternoon before the 6pm Mass, or Saturday morning. There are two half hour block scheduled for the whole city (I estimate 8000 practicing Catholics) during the week, after work on Tuesday and Thursday.

    One suggestion I would make is that Priests take a survey of when the most convenient times for their parishoners is – and then schedule times accordingly – maybe some after work one night, or later in the evening, or during the day – but definitely NOT ONLY on Saturday.

    When you know that a parish only has 30 minutes scheduled, and that Fr McGillicuddy averages 15 minutes per penitent on a good day, it is more discouraging than encouraging.

  34. Supertradmum says:

    Catholic Greta,

    Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part Three, Section One, Chapter One, Article 8, 1846-1876–mortal sin is alive and kicking in our teaching. Any priest who says otherwise is a heretic, schismatic, apostate, or just plain confused. Here is a direct link to that section if you do not have a Catechism, which I highly recommend every Catholic from the age of 14 on to have.

  35. Mdepie says:

    To Catholic Greta:

    The teaching of the Church is in fact that there is mortal and venial sin, This will never change. Aside from being dogma it is also common sense, adultery and murder are not the equivalent of say stealing a candy bar when your 12. Beyond that It is a mistake to misunderstand the concept of firm purpose of amendment. This does not mean you are confidant you will not commit the same sin again, it means you are resolving to try not to. It may seem inevitable that you will, but repeat reception of the sacrament gives the grace over time to avoid the sin. That said it is possible to end up in a situation where the “temporal cost” of giving up a sin might seem impossible. ( you mention you are stuck and to stop sinning would hurt those around you. ) This probably means that you need to seek some specific advice regarding your situation from a good confessor. As a general principle though we know a couple of things: 1) If its a sin, in reality your soul is not worth it, remember the what Jesus says about if your eye is you down fall, rip it out, better to enter life blind then Gehenna with 2 eyes, Tough teaching… but it is what it is. 2) People who really care about you do not want you to suffer, either in this life with a bad conscience or in the next , so you should not feel trapped by others in a sinful situation. If they deny that something is really a “sin” they are not the judge. It might be that there spiritual condition is even worse. In fact if one was sinning with someone else, it is better if both of them were to stop. They may not realize it, but you do. 3) Sometimes you may not be as trapped as you think you are, and someone else may be able to see a solution.
    In any case the situation should always just be dealt with. Everyone will die, and whatever temporal problems we have or suffer are basically nothing compared with something, that never, ever, ever ends. No human suffering balances this. Take steps to fix whatever your issue is today. Trust me, been there, done that, its well worth it.

  36. Shamrock says:

    @ Louise A: It is sweet of you to offer to pray that I will not go to hell. In return I will pray for
    you not to have the misfortune of being hit by a falling tree while harboring mortal sin between
    confessions to your priest. It could happen, just like that, given the few opportunities most these days have getting a priest to absolve them..i.e. few priests and shortened hours and opportunties.
    Do you really think this is the way God works…in such a mechanistic manner? Just imagine the irony of me in Heaven, due to your prayers…and you in hell because your life was demanded before you could confess. Do you really think God works this way…many “good” Catholics do
    think along such legal and mechanistic lines. You and I know God is merciful in His justice…If we had to rely strictly on justice alone, no one would be saved. None of us deserve the reward of Heaven, even the greatest of saints among us…only the grace of Christ’s cross can earn salvation. In fact in a book I am curently reading by Frank Sheed ( To Know Jesus Christ ) he even states that our salvation should not be the most important thing on our minds…it is too self centered and narrow. Rather our focus should be on knowing Jesus better and more fully in order to understand and appreciate our relationship with Him and comply to His Will. Given the prolific rules of our Church no doubt we all fall short…and will have to throw ourselves on the merciful grace of God if we are to become truly heirs to His Kingdom. Again, it is kind of you to offer to pray…but know what exactly you are asking. Until you have walked in my shoes, those prayers might be a bit presumptious? I will pray for you also, to come to know your Saviour and mine more fully and the value of mercy in all our lives. Even the greatest saints in the long run, have had to rely on completely the grace of mercy, more than good works and rule-keeping. We all fall short of the mark St Paul tells us….even he who gave his life. Have not wished to sound ungrateful here….but there is much more to ponder than the narrow view of forgiveness that seems to prevail here in many of these comments…including it would seem your own. I would and do think about returning to this sacrament…but given it has been 50 yrs I cannot imagine being able to get through it in the little time offered ( 5 minutes ) and making a personal appointment, as I said, would mean going through 2 nosey secretaries in the outer office. Anyway, I do thank you for your concern… I really only was giving myself as just one aexplanation for the years of long communion lines….and lines that are short to non-existent for Confession. My thought is that many share a similar experiece that simply “soured” them on this being a genuine sacrament given the way it has been handled by less than enthusiastic priests. Just my opinion ..and
    I did not really expect anyone to respond to my personal situation which ultimately is between
    God and me. I would rather take my “chances” with Him, knowing Him a bit as I do, than repeat my experience of 50 years ago.

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