QUAERITUR: Long confession lines, having only venial sins, and blocking someone else’s chance to confess

From a reader:

Last week I was in line for a long time, and finally entered the confessional around 3:25. As I was leaving, the sacristan came in behind me to tell Father it was time to prepare for Mass. There were still a lot of people in line, and I immediately felt a bit guilty. I’m definitely not perfect by any means, but I’d just confessed a lot of venial sins, none mortal. What if someone in line behind me had a mortal sin to confess, and my scrupulosity had taken up space in line they needed more than me? I’m not sure what to feel about this. My spiritual director encourages frequent confession; at her direction I began going every two weeks, but now I wonder if I should back off a bit unless I have mortal sins, lest I take up valuable time from others who may need it more? Or is that silly?

Contrary to popular belief, priests cannot both be in the confessional hearing confessions and in the sanctuary saying Mass at the same time.  At a certain point he really does have to stop hearing confessions so that Mass can start on time.  People depend on Mass – confessions too – starting on time.

When lines are long and you know for sure that you do not have any MORTAL sins to confess, perhaps it would be best to step aside. Venial sins are forgiven through a good reception of the Eucharist. Mortal sins need absolution from the priest.

Frequent confession of venial sins is a good practice.

When there isn’t a line, and there is plenty of time before Mass or the end of scheduled confessions, there is time to make also a confession of less grave matter.

If you see a long line and the clock is ticking, and you know that you don’t have MORTAL sins to confess, perhaps you would do better to say a Rosary for the priest hearing confessions. And pray for more vocations to the priesthood! We need more good confessors!

Also, this is a good reason why priests – if possible – might consider beefing up the regular confession schedule.

Also see my tips on making a good confession with special attention to #3 and #5 and #6.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    This question goes to one my hardest challenges as a priest. In some of the circumstances in which I have ministered so far, there are many people who come to confession for something more like counseling or even just to ‘vent’ about difficult situations or people. Too many times I have failed to try to help such folks use the sacrament in a better way.

  2. While “Frequent confession of mortal sins is a good practice.” is certainly true, did you perhaps mean to say venial?

  3. LisaP. says:

    Since my confessions usually wind up being in list format, no matter how mortal or venial the sins I’m usually not in there for more than a few minutes. Maybe folks could keep in mind to simply repent, confess, make the act of contrition, receive penance and absolution during those times the line is long? I appreciate that not everyone does things the same way, but I do wonder if folks are going in for free counseling instead of confession sometimes. Not that there’s anything wrong with seeking advice from a confessor, and I’ve had some good advice, but maybe when there’s a line out the door a no frills approach is warranted? Rather than just skipping the sacrament altogether?

  4. Kathleen10 says:

    Isn’t it also true that to “intend” confession is similar to actual making confession? For example, one is on their way to confession, and is in an accident, which prevents them. For this commenter, could it be said for all intents and purposes they could receive Holy Communion with a clear conscience because it was their intention to confess, but they were temporarily thwarted.
    Personally, I remember hearing that confession is recommended as often as possible, weekly, etc. There ought to be no impediments to confession that often due to the fact that one perceives one’s sins as “only venial” and not mortal. That distinction is not easy for the penitent to always make, and no sin is “trivial”.
    Also, what if the person who is trying to confess dies on the way home after leaving his opportunity for confession. I guess we’re back to the intention for confession, which Our Lord surely understands.
    Didn’t Mother Teresa or John Paul II receive confession weekly? If that is the case, I need to go daily.
    Merry Christmas Father Z, and all readers!

  5. Kathleen10 says:

    I’m sorry, I didn’t mean my comment to be so grim! =)

  6. helgothjb says:

    It seems that long lines are more caused by limited confession times, 1/2 or 1 hour a week right before Saturday Vigil Mass, than too many who use the sacrament to confess venial sins. Most people, I think, do not make appointments with priests for confession outside of regular confession hours or ask for spiritual direction because they do not want to inconvenience the very busy priest and because the parish office hours are also working hours. In places were confession is offered at times more convenient to the penitent’s schedule rather than the priest’s, many take advantage of it. I also think that priests can get so overwhelmed by their schedule that they get a sort of tunnel vision that keeps them focused on how to fit it all in instead of focusing on what would help the extremely busy families in their parish. Saturday afternoon may not be so great for a family that has many weekend chores and obligations.

  7. APX says:


    Since my confessions usually wind up being in list format, no matter how mortal or venial the sins I’m usually not in there for more than a few minutes.

    I find this to be true with myself as well, especially since I write everything down. While I hope Father isn’t judging my sorrow based on the how I confess them (It’s quick, as I’m typically fighting off an anxiety attack in the process. It’s worse if I don’t go frequently.), as my sorrow comes at an earlier time.

    Anyway, I’ve been pretty good at staying out of any of the mortal sins I know of, so all I have are venial sins. Rather than confessing the whole list, I get the ones that I struggle with the most and keep working on those until they’re gone and move on to the next sins. Divide and conquer is my modus operandi.

    This is also why I try to avoid confession before Mass if I don’t actually need it, especially at my parish because 30 minutes before Mass can mean anywhere between 5 to 20 minutes before Mass. I usually go at the regular scheduled time which is less busy, but if I’m going to be away, I join the line up after Mass. Our priest is pretty good about hearing Confessions daily, and there’s still a big push to get all the procrastinators to Confession before Christmas Eve Mass on Saturday morning.

    FWIW: There is a difference between counseling and seeking advice. Seeking advice is closer to asking a question, whereas counseling is a long drawn out process, and really can’t be done in one confessional sitting…even if they do take up the full hour.

  8. These questions don’t go away. I’m hearing increasingly bizarre stories of, say, priests, more or less orthodox, stepping out of the confessional and saying, “Anybody who doesn’t have mortal sin on their souls, step out line.” Not a made-up story, that, and others like them.

    Frankly, in case after case after case, after many years of hearing such tales (and occasionally experiencing them), my conclusion is that these problems almost always (not always, but almost always) boil down to priests not knowing how to do Confessions.

    Do you have someone who wants to vent? Give them 30 seconds and then say, “This is for confession, tell me your sins, or God bless you and move along.” Do you have someone who wants counseling? Say “This is for confession, if you want counseling call for an appointment.”

    It drives me up a tree to see dozen people in line for confession, waiting there while the first three penitents take up 40 minutes or more. And there’s only an hour slotted to begin with. That can’t be right, not week after week, month after month.

  9. asperges says:

    Whether someone has serious problems, one cannot tell of course, but there are some very thoughtless people who, regardless of people waiting, seem to take an absolute age in the box compared with others. This includes the nutters. Once, after a very odd sort had eventually emerged, the priest apologised for the inordinate time he had taken. But on another occasion, a nun – presumably not the most hardened of sinners – took 20 minutes or more from the 45 minute slot when presumably she could have discussed whatever point was pressing at a more opportune time. The remaining queue got (literally) very “short shrift” thereafter!

  10. irishgirl says:

    I’ve been in confession lines where there’s nearly always one person who ‘hogs’ the priest’s time. Drives me up a tree, too, as Dr. Peters says.
    My ‘confession credo’ is, ‘Be blunt, be brief, and begone!’ I often get anxious that I’m taking up the priest’s time.

  11. APX says:

    @Dr. Edwards Peters
    It drives me up a tree to see dozen people in line for confession, waiting there while the first three penitents take up 40 minutes or more. And there’s only an hour slotted to begin with. That can’t be right, not week after week, month after month.

    This is why it’s a good idea to have a scheduled Confession time that can be extended if need be. I remember in November, for some reason a lot of people decided to go to Confession on Saturday. I got there on time and there was already a line up. Then about 20+ people showed up after I got there, and were still coming after I was leaving the Confessional, which was already after the 90 minute mark. I guess they must have seen the light was on. Father was in the Confessional for over two hours that night! Not that I’m complaining one bit.

  12. Father K says:

    I think you may have meant to say ‘the frequent confession of venial sins is a good idea.’ APX obviously does not live in Australia! If people are taking that long to go to confession, the priest needs to take control of the Sacrament…

  13. Taylor says:


    That might be okay if you die with mortal sin on the way to the confessional; it was your last chance. The same doesn’t allow you to receive communion because you wanted to confess but there wasn’t time. For the sake of Our Lord, wait until you can confess until you receive the Lord (if you are in mortal sin, that is).

  14. sawdustmick says:

    Something my Late Father (RIP) told me once (and this is NOT flippant):-

    Be Sorry
    Be Brief
    Be Gone !

  15. “these problems almost always (not always, but almost always) boil down to priests not knowing how to do Confessions.”

    They need only learn to say “Just number and kind, please, number and kind!”

  16. sawdustmick says:

    Just spotted irishgirls comment !

    My Grandmother was from Co. Mayo !

    The saying must have emanated from Ireland

  17. On the other hand, I recall an occasion years ago in a parish that scheduled open-ended confessions on Saturday afternoon, promising that the priest would stay until everyone had been heard.

    I was the third person in line when the priest entered the confessional. When each of the first two penitents emerged after 40 minutes in the confessional, I could hardly resist the temptation to glance and see what kind of heinous sinners they looked like. But after my first minute or so of confession, the priest started on a discourse that lasted 10 or 15 minutes before I could interject an attempted terminal remark, and then he started on another such discourse. After another iteration or two of this, I finally escaped after my own allotted 40 minutes in the box. But I had no doubt why–after two hours for the first 3 confessions–those unsuspecting sinners still remaining in line seemed to peer (or glare) at me so intently as I left.

  18. APX says:

    @Father K,

    Confessions are relatively short at my parish. There’s the odd one that takes 10 minutes, but for the most time people are in and out. There’s just a lot of talk about going to Confession, and we have daily Confession so people go.

    That’s not to say I haven’t been to places with problematic Confessions. Because I’m a student, I technically have two diocese and two parishes. My permanent parish doesn’t really do Confessions, but in the diocese it is very difficult to actually find a Confessor who does Confessions the way they’re supposed to be. I have gone to Confession only to be told not to confess my sins, but rather to converse with the priest about what I’m struggling with. This puts a person in a bind if they have mortal sins to confess, as they need to be confessed in both kind, number, and circumstances if need be.

    To give you a general idea of what I have been subjected to in the confinements of those face-to-face Reconciliation Rooms:

    “Have a seat dear, and tell me about what’s going on in your life. […] I see. […]” God the Father of Mercies […] and I absolve you […] Give me a hug.” >:-{ (For the record, I abhor the whole hugging thing.)


    “Bless me Father; I have sinned. It’s been one week since my last Confession. I accuse myself of the following sins: […]
    “Miss, just tell me what you’re struggling with. I don’t want the whole list. I can’t help you if you’re just going to give me a list of sins every week.” >:-{

  19. This is another good reason for people taking the time to go to regularly scheduled confession times rather than complaining that “priests need to hear confessions before every Mass because it is just too hard for me to make the regular times.”

    If the parish has the generous practice of hearing before Masses, this option should only be taken by those who have committed a mortal sin since they confessed during the last regularly scheduled confessions hour(s).

  20. mrsmontoya says:

    Father, I took my 3 girls (12, 12, and 15) to the church near where I work last night for confession. The church has confession every evening this week before Mass, btw. I occasionally go there for Mass before work, but am not familiar with their general practices. I thought you’d like to know that my oldest daughter told me the priest was a great confessor, he pushed her gently to making a very good confession, and the two younger ones told me he was impressed that they had the Act of Contrition memorized (that is a thank-you to their Catholic schooling).

    While I waited, a small number of people gathered in the pews and began Evening Prayer. At the same time others set up the alter for Mass, and I noticed they put out a small but very beautiful Alter Crucifix.

    We will be writing to the Archbishop to let him know about the good and holy practices we witnessed at this church. I thought you’d like to know about it as well.

    Merry Christmas!

  21. Really, I strongly disagree with any suggestion that certain confessions lines (e.g., before Mass, or lines with X number of people in them, etc) should only be inhabited by folks with mortal sin on their souls. Talk about de facto disclosure of one’s conscience (a la, “Well, I know Mass starts in 10 minutes, but you see, I mortally sinned, so I HAVE to be in line.”)

    The problem is not usually penitents misusing confession, it’s usually priests not conducting the sacrament with a firm hand. No wonder so many laity have no idea what Confession is really supposed to be. They think of it (and so many priests treat it as) a sort of spiritual health resort; me, I regard it as a spiritual MASH hospital. If that’s an exaggeration, the main point still stands.

  22. Supertradmum says:

    I have lived in four countries in one year and have yet to see “lines” for confession. For myself, as I go weekly or bi-weekly, I make appointments with the priest if I can. As to judging who should take time or not, I would never do that. How can one tell and should one even notice if a person is in the Confessional a long time? I have a compassionate heart and would hope that if a woman ahead of me needs to talk about her husband, or her children, that is fine with me. If there were more scheduled Confessions, the lines would be shorter. The priests in the parish where I am in Ireland have been having Confessions for the last several days. This is good, but it seems that the regular daily Mass goers are the ones who are taking advantage of this as no one comes in just for the Confession. There are no lines. As to letting someone else go before who may be in mortal sin, how do we know? I would make very short Confessions most of the time, but some priests are more “chatty” than others, which is not so good. Do an examination of conscience, make a list, say all, get absolved and be gone. If one needs advice, schedule an appointment. But, I would never be upset with people in a long time. That is their business. And, do not procrastinate…

  23. Supertradmum, do you re-read what you post?

    I see “How can one tell and should one even notice if a person is in the Confessional a long time? I have a compassionate heart and would hope that if a woman ahead of me needs to talk about her husband, or her children, that is fine with me.” versus “Do an examination of conscience, make a list, say all, get absolved and be gone. If one needs advice, schedule an appointment.” Which is your position?

    As for “I would never be upset with people in a long time.” What does that mean?

  24. irishgirl says:

    sawdustmick-I don’t know if my ‘confession credo’ has an Irish origin, but that’s what I try to do when I do go!
    And BTW, I’m ‘half’ Irish-I’m German on my mother’s side. But physically and especially temperament-wise, I’m definitely my father’s daughter (he was 100% Irish-American, born on St. Patrick’s Day)!

  25. Supertradmum says:

    Dr. Edward Peters,
    I am giving advice to people as to how to make short Confessions without getting upset at those who take a long time. I think that is a fair position. We can give others slack which we ourselves wouldn’t take…Those of us who read this blog and have Father Z’s good examens can get in and out, while being tolerant of those who may not know how, or cannot be brief, for whatever reason.

  26. Ok, sdm. Just so we’re clear that the position you seem to be disagreeing with (that one would be right to get upset with people taking a long time in confession) is not MY point. Nor, I think, is it anyone else’s here.

  27. Dr. Edward Peters wrote:

    The problem is not usually penitents misusing confession, it’s usually priests not conducting the sacrament with a firm hand. No wonder so many laity have no idea what Confession is really supposed to be. They think of it (and so many priests treat it as) a sort of spiritual health resort; me, I regard it as a spiritual MASH hospital. If that’s an exaggeration, the main point still stands.

    People generally respond very well to gentle prompting to stick with the sin. I often just have to say something like along the lines of “I’m sure there’s a story, but just tell me the sin” to jog a penitent out of the temptation to share the whole context. Of course, this sometimes means interrupting otherwise epic tales…..

    It doesn’t hurt to briefly remind folks before entering the confessional to have their sins – and just their sins – ready for confession, and to patiently wait for their turn (confessing any impatient or uncharitable thoughts that might come up in the meantime).

  28. Mary Jane says:

    “If the parish has the generous practice of hearing before Masses, this option should only be taken by those who have committed a mortal sin since they confessed during the last regularly scheduled confessions hour(s).”

    I disagree with this. It may not be possible for folks to get to confession at a time other than the block scheduled before Sunday morning Mass. Perhaps folks work odd or long hours, drive a long way, have many children, etc. The EF parish I attend has confessions every day, as well as every Sunday, and the lines are always long…Sunday morning the lines are the longest, probably because many of the families drive from a ways away. As for myself, personally I go on Sunday mornings before Mass (but I get in line about an hour before Mass begins, and usually I’m through the line in 15 minutes or less).

    Making a general confession of devotion 30 minutes before Mass begins is probably not a good idea…but if someone really needs to take some more time with the priest, by all means go for it. That said, if you’re in the line and you see the line is wrapping around the building and you know you don’t actually need confession immediately (perhaps you can go after Mass) you could, of your own inclination, decide to step out of the line and let others go first.

  29. God bless Fr. Mauer! And God bless Fr. AT op, too, with whom no canon lawyer worth his salt would lightly disagree — except — maybe in points of prudence. Forgive me folks, but this has been a bad week for confession horror stories here. I have three incidents in the last couple of days, wherein I am trying to reassure penitents that the gross sacramental negligence of the priest did not impact the validity of their absolutions. But, still . . .

  30. Fr. William says:

    I find it always helpful to follow the teaching of the Church: Can. 988 §1. “A member of the Christian faithful is obliged to confess in kind and number all grave sins committed after baptism and not yet remitted directly through the keys of the Church nor acknowledged in individual confession, of which the person has knowledge after diligent examination of conscience”.

    If we simply follow this simple teaching, confess in kind and number, then Confessions go pretty quickly. If we do a thorough examination of conscience (daily) and before entering the Confessional, then we are able to confess in a much better manner. I say “we” because many priests are not very good at confessing either. This question also brings up the point of “Penance Services” which, though better than going to Confession once a year (a still common practice for many, although I do not know how someone can really remember a year’s worth of sins), still leaves many with the impression that these are the times (Advent and Lent) that it is REALLY important to go to Confession. I am in the Confessional 4 days a week and people come, sometimes more and sometimes less but they come. If people wait until the last minute before a more important liturgical time (e.g. Christmas and Easter) they may find, much as those who simply wait until the last 10 minutes of the regularly scheduled Confession times, that others have waited as well and there just isn’t time of everyone.

    I implore to us all: go to Confession, often, early, and with due preparation so that the dignity of the Sacrament may be upheld.

    Merry Christmas!!!

  31. Supertradmum says:

    Dear Father William,
    All I can say is “Thank you for being such a good priest”. Four days a week! May God give you great energy and peace. Happy Christmas.

  32. Tradster says:

    An important consideration which perhaps is being overlooked is the need for confession within a certain number of days for the sake of indulgences (it used to be within 8 days but I believe the requirement now is 20 days). I try to go to confession every 2 or 3 weeks even without a mortal sin, precisely for that reason.

  33. ‘the frequent confession of venial sins is a good idea.’
    Yep! Jesus died for those too! ;)

  34. Precentrix says:

    A quote from a well-known and respected English priest:

    “I need to know what you did. I need to know whether it was a sin of thought or of action [or omission]. I need to know whether you were on your own or with someone else. I don’t need to know where you bought the magazine.”

  35. Random Friar says:

    Sometimes the Confessions are a bit like one of those soap opera recaps “And then she… with him, then I ….” ad nauseum. However, there are the people who do sometimes get in line because the Spirit so called them, and they needed to get rid of a lot of darkness from their souls. We refer to them as “the big fish.” I never mind reeling in a couple of “big fish” right back into the Barque of Peter. Priest will sometimes tell you that it’s those moments, the “big fish” moments, that makes one feel deeply in persona Christi

    If you are getting annoyed with a long-winded penitent, assume the person is a big fish, and like the Prodigal Father, give thanks.

  36. Precentrix says:

    Actually, one of the best things I’ve encountered is priests hearing confessions during Mass (obviously not while celebrating!). While I know people have different views on nipping across to confess at some random point during the liturgy, it does mean that there is no excuse for sacrilegious communions.

  37. Tom Esteban says:

    Something is being missed here I think, and that is: teaching not priests, but people in general how to confess their sins. Many people are confused about their sin. Sometimes not knowing how to express their sin. Sometimes they feel that the story must be a part of the sin. People are not educated well enough to pin-point the sin and to merely confess it and get out. Furthermore, for those who try go more regularly and not always with mortal sin, often priests feel as if you are wasting their time if you are only going to confess a few venial sins. A shameful attitude, but it does exist, and so sometimes one feels the need to extend the confession with stories so as to not make the priest a bit perturbed at hearing the same person come in with sins he feels are not all that important or sinful. I guess it’s a two way thing – priests need to learn how to diplomatically prod people into confessing properly; and people need to learn how to confess properly.

    Having said all that, I am not too concerned with unusual practices regarding confession (not too unusual of course; strictly orthodox, but needn’t be robotic). The very fact that people are going is cause for joy. If people want to spend an extra 3 minutes getting something off their chest about the sin, certainly won’t bother me if I am waiting in line.

  38. APX says:
    23 December 2011 at 12:31 pm

    @Father K,
    Confessions are relatively short at my parish. There’s the odd one that takes 10 minutes, but for the most time people are in and out.

    Same here – normally I will go every fortnight on a Saturday morning before choir practice (when there usually isn’t any queue at all) and my confession is a simple case of number & kind.

    Once a month I meet with my spiritual director and can discuss the things that are going on in my life in more detail. Occasionally I will also recieve confession from him if I have any mortal sins that I would rather didn’t wait until the weekend.

    It works for me and doesn’t over-burden my Parish Priest.

  39. DeusLuxMea says:

    @irishgirl “I’ve been in confession lines where there’s nearly always one person who ‘hogs’ the priest’s time. Drives me up a tree, too, as Dr. Peters says.”

    I know this probably goes without saying, but I couldn’t help but interject:

    Often times it is not the penitent who is ‘hogging’ the priest during the confession, but priests who are giving tons of advice. For example, I usually go in with a list, like a few of the people commenting here have explained. But once I finish my list, the priest will go into a 10-15 minute long speech addressing my vices. I really do appreciate the advice and wish there were more time so we could all receive that type of attention, but this puts the people behind me a rough spot.

  40. Bender says:

    On mortal vs. venial sins –

    That’s a nice subject for theoretical theological discussions, but not only can we not be a judge in our own case generally, given our intrinsic conflict of interest, we are not The Judge at all, and our determination of the gravity of our sins does not control if He says that they are more serious than we say they are.

    As the Baltimore Catechism wisely pointed out – [to school children]
    Q. 291. Can we always distinguish venial from mortal sin?
    A. We cannot always distinguish venial from mortal sin.

    We are a fallen people, our judgment impaired by the very sin that we seek to confess. Better to err on the side of caution and be contrite for and confess all sins, and not be so presumptuous as to think that we can properly judge that a given sin is “merely” a venial transgression.

  41. Bender says:

    Following up on the above –

    I dare say that the reason that so many Catholics do NOT go to Confession (ever) is because they have judged themselves not to be guilty of any serious sin, certainly nothing so serious and grave as to incur eternal damnation (i.e. a mortal sin). They might be quite sincere in their subjective determination that they are generally fairly good and decent people, but those who never go to Confession because of this belief fool themselves, as do the regular Confession goer who believes that he is infallible in discerning the state of his soul.

    Lesson to be learned – We cannot always distinguish venial from mortal sin in our own personal situations.

  42. mike cliffson says:

    10 commandments, 7 deadly sins, quite probably as per adultery committed in the heart, skip exact number of times , just say slave to , habitually, frquently, once or twice, once, add sins of omission and you’ve confessed in two minutes. Clear up anyything fr is worried about absolving , such as abortion, leave him to check mortal or venial,Fr can go deeper as much as he is so inspired, blessed if I know how this charism thingy and the holy spirit come thru humanly; as a publican and sinner I want , it seems essential to ME , to explain in full detail, that that particular evil sin- Ive 20 more on my conscience- happened the night after the cat had kittens and the pipes burst and the Xmas pud soggified and the lunchtime cabbage-the wife will overboil it, didn’t …./.. this all takes …well an eternity for the bods a person or two along in the q -……

  43. At my church there are regularly scheduled Confessions on Wednesday evening (45 minutes prior to evening Mass), Friday afternoon (1 hour) and Saturday morning 30-60 minutes depending on the need). However, I noticed that there was no noticeable increase in confessions last week at all, not even on Saturday. This past Wednesday there were more than usual and I had to break off to prepare for Mass with some people still in line. I assured them that I would be happy to hear their Confessions when Mass was over. Some stayed. Some didn’t.

    But, today (the last scheduled Confessions before Christmas because there will not be any tomorrow) the line wrapped around the church! Everyone, it seems, waited until the last minute. It’s not like we keep Christmas a secret. They’ve had four weeks of Advent to prepare. Perhaps they’d like to wait a little longer? Say, until 11:45, PM on Christmas Eve?

    I might add that I am not in a parish church but in a shrine chapel. No one who frequents the chapel “belongs” to it (i.e. all of these people have parishes to go to as well). People need to stop waiting until the last minute to go to Confession either by waiting until the last possible day of Confessions prior to a major feast and/or by waiting to arrive at church on other days with only 10 minutes of scheduled Confession time to go. Just like voting: GO EARLY.

    I would also add that for those who might object saying that if they go to Confession too early then they’ll just sin again and be unprepared to make a good Communion on Christmas I can only say this: stop sinning. Strengthened by the grace of the Sacrament and with the use of a little will power underscoring your firm purpose of amendment it should be possible to go to Confession a week before Christmas and manage to avoid committing a mortal sin before Christmas Mass. If it isn’t then perhaps you’re treating Confession like its magic and you need to go have a conversation with your pastor about the nature of sin and the efficacy of the Sacraments.

  44. Father K says:

    Actually APX, I meant, tongue in cheek, that we wouldn’t have those long lines in Australia

  45. Pingback: CHRISTMAS EVE EDITION | ThePulp.it

  46. irishgirl says:

    DeusLuxMea-I agree with what you say.
    I went to confession a couple of weeks ago to a member of the Franciscans of the Immaculate. I had to wait a long time in line before I even got in, and when I did get into the confessional, HE did most of the talking-I couldn’t get a word in edgewise! I ended up being late for Mass!
    It seems that I never get a ‘happy medium’ when it comes to confession-either I have to make it ‘quick’ because of a line behind me, or else the priest never lets me say anything and goes on and on!

  47. Cecilianus says:

    I could not disagree more strongly, Father, for two reasons. For one, one should NEVER avoid the graces of the sacrament out of a misplaced scrupulous fear of being rude to other people or depriving someone who “needs it more” of the graces. We all need it, and worrying that someone else needs it more is both judgmental and spiritually prideful.

    Christians should not be committing mortal sins, period. If – God forbid! – a Christian does fall, he should call a priest and confess it immediately, instead of waiting for the next Sunday when the confession line is going to be three miles long. One should not assume that the Christians behind him are in mortal sin. That is judgmental beyond words. And if you assume that because you are committing them yourself, then stop immediately and never ever do it again. They are not something which Christians do, and you should not assume that it is normal or expected for them to occur. It is one thing for a preacher to warn his congregation against the evil of mortal sin. It is another thing entirely for a Christian in the confession-line to assume that it is normal or common for his brethren, or anyone but himself, to need this admonition.

    If you intend to receive Holy Communion, in order to receive it worthily you should make a confession first. I must admit that I do not confess my sins every week, and I do receive Holy Communion unless I have a really good reason not to. But one does not truly receive as worthily as one ought unless he confesses his sins that morning or the night before. When my mother was growing up before Vatican II they were expected to confess their sins the night before every time before Holy Communion. In the Orthodox Church and in the Eastern Catholic Churches in Europe where things have not been so novus-ordoized one is not even permitted to receive Holy Communion if they have not made a confession to the priest first. Visitors to other parishes often find themselves denied Communion for this reason.

    Secondly, one’s confession should not be brief. It should be thorough. Confession is not a mechanical slot machine where you put in your and get out a magic formula for absolution. Confession is repentance and spiritual fatherhood. You cannot separate your sins from your spiritual life, any more than you can separate your sins from their relation to divine grace in your soul. Your spiritual father overlooks all aspect of your life – because he leads you to repentance and gives you life in Christ just as a biological father gives you natural life, you owe him the obedience of a father, and he not only reproves and forgives your sins but guides your prayer life. This should not necessarily be done ten minutes before Mass, but one should never on any account rush their confession.

  48. That’s a wrap, I think.

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