From a priest about hearing confessions, and reviving the Sacrament of Penance

From a priest:

Blessings and peace to you. I just wanted to add a confessor’s piece to the many penitent’s testimonies that you have been posting. During Advent I have been inviting and pursuing the parish to go to confession. As is the case, always, the invitation is received. During Advent by placing myself in the confessional, (instead of the doorway), before and after all the weekend Masses, I have heard the best confessions of my three and a half years here. Although I make myself available for confessions regularly, this added piece has been a game changer. It makes me question why I have not done it before. My heart is so full as a pastor right now. I am truly humbled at the grace God has been pouring into the confessional. Thank you, my brother, for your great work in the continued evangelization, and may you have the most blessed Christmas tide.

And Happy Christmas to you!

Thanks for that good feedback.

(The combox is moderated.)

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, GO TO CONFESSION, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Mail from priests, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, Priests and Priesthood and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Jacob says:

    I wish the priest in my area would encourage people to go to Confession other than just last week in Lent. I also wish he would take it upon himself to install an actual confessional in lieu of the silly “reconciliation room” which is much more frightening than comforting (like confessionals are).

  2. mike cliffson says:

    If Fr is hearing confessions before and after mass , then follows something I am myself guilty of and we have heard two admonitions about from two dofferents priests over the past year (both Fathers John , funnily enough): In Church both before and after mass there are people praying _ it is NOT the moment for greeting , howseeverbrotherly , nor to catch up on health and family, let alone idle Gossip- ouside the church, even maybe the porch, will do fine, and is only right and proper in a community.In its place.
    At one of these admonitions, regarding scores of prefirstcommunion youngsters, added the hypocrocy of of people who insist that at mass these youngsters should not only be fairly quiet, so they should learn can, and do – but never so much as fidget – they’re colts, some fidgeting is inevitable , he said – yet set a bad example themselves by turning the house of god into a parrot cage before mass and particularly after.
    We oughter relearn this anyway, but if father is in the confession box, well , its sorter easier to remember, humanly speaking.

    Or is this only a problem for voluable latins and don’t happen stateside?

  3. KAS says:

    This brought tears to my eyes it is so beautiful! Oh how marvelous that with such a small change he was able to bring such goodness to souls! The thought of all those people going to confession makes me feel joyful.

    I love confession. For nothing more than a short bit of my time, I can be freed from all guilt producing, heart hurting, grace killing, mind poisoning sin and be restored to full connection with God, walking out of the confessional balanced and healthy in spirit. I find it is a marvelous deal! God is just so amazingly good.

    God bless our priests and bishops!

  4. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    I think people respond to a priest in the Confessional. They also respond to a Confession line.

    I had pretty much stopped going to Confession before I got to Assumption Grotto. There is something about pre-Mass Confessions being heard that tugs at the heart.

    God always makes the first movement and it is for us to respond. Sometimes he uses things and people, like the confessional light or the confession line.

    One first year priest, when he was first assigned there, would always go to his confessional outside of posted hours if there was something going on in church, like Adoration, or an address. Even today at the parish, it is not uncommon for a priest to be in his confessional before the 7:30 AM or 7:00 PM daily Mass. These are un-posted times and people take advantage of these opportunities.

  5. Augustin57 says:

    Now that’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout! Confession before (and even after) every Mass! I would be willing to bet a dollar to a donut hole that the state of the Church would change for the better much quicker if this was the case everywhere! Anybody want to take me up on it? :)

  6. Sandy says:

    Father Z, I wish I could tell this wonderful priest that his message brought tears of joy to my eyes! It is uplifting to hear good and holy news, especially in these times of intense spiritual battle for us all. God bless you, Father Z, for all that you do. I think of you often at Mass, when I’m wishing that there were more reverence. Christmas blessings to you and all the good people who visit here!

  7. Bryan Boyle says:

    God bless him. Seriously.

    I went to Mass this morning (9AM) at St. Vincent’s in Yardville NJ, knowing that my friend, Fr. K., was back in town on a home visit from his duties as a canon lawyer in Rome and would be celebrating . As I walked in, yup, the confessional lamp was lit, and there he was, vested in amice, alb, cincture, and stole…chasuable hung up neatly on the door, hearing confessions before Mass started. It’s his habit; as he says, “my vocation is to get people to heaven…and pour out the graces through the sacraments…nothing else matters”. Prior planning…heard his last confession at 8:55…came out, I helped him finish vesting (the altar boys, in cassocks and surplices were young and small…no females servers at this parish…)…and Mass started.

    It’s not so hard, Fathers. Please, as a lay person…what an example of holiness you set by so making yourself available, rather than a mass penance service for one hour in the school gym a week before Christmas then nada until after. Is chatting about the flowers around the altar, weather, and shaking hands at the entrance or what have you more important? That’s what the sacristan is for…and, yes, I did avail myself…;) Felt good to enter Christmastide with the soul cleaned and pressed.

  8. danivdp says:

    It is so wonderful for you priests to give even more to us on days of obligation. It is difficult sometimes to make an extra trip to the church for confession, and I appreciate it very much when confessions are available before and after mass. Keep up the good work!!!

  9. PomeroyonthePalouse says:

    The Newman Center at WSU in Pullman has confessions available three days a week after the daily noon Mass, according to my freshman daughter. I don’t think that the priest necessarily talkls a lot about going to confession, he’s just there in the confessional and available. It’s “Out in the open” enough that my daughter is now going weekly. (Even here at home during semester break.) Praise God.

  10. Message received. I’m on it. Thanks!

  11. dontex says:

    During this past year we had a construction project in our parish to enlarge the sacristy and build a ‘proper’ confessional. Our pastor reports that the number of confessions increased almost immediately upon completion of the project. [You don’t say!] As someone else stated, a proper confessional gives one a sense of security and welcoming.

  12. AlexE says:

    I want to thank both you Fathers for sharing this, I am a seminarian and have “envisioned” doing this as a pastor, God willing, and this has firmed up that conviction.

  13. joan ellen says:

    Thank you Fr. for writing Fr. Z. Heartwarming. The priests who hear our confessions, and still remain so peaceful and kind, are to be commended.

    Fr. Mitch Pacwa once said something to the effect that the Holy Spirit of God protects priests from all of those confessions. In that the matter of the confessions, sins, leave a priest after he hears the confession. Thanks be to God.

    How do people keep their life going without this great Sacrament of Sanctifying Grace is a mystery to me. I can hardly go a week when my soul just knows it needs the Graces from the Confessional.

    Thank you Fr. Z for bringing this life everlasting saving topic up often.

  14. JonPatrick says:

    Last night my sons and I were watching a DVD. After when I switched the DVD player off, the TV switched over to the cable box and it was set to EWTN and with Cardinal Dolan talking about the need for confession and exhorting people to do an examination of conscience and go to confession. Talk about God sending a message! I have been dilly-dallying about going for the last couple of weeks but decided I am going tonight before the midnight Mass (we have confessions from 11 PM up to the start of the Mass).

  15. Kypapist says:

    Thank you, Dear Fathers! I especially appreciate that Father waits inside the confessional. Our dear parochial vicar hears confession before and after most Masses, and I would love to go weekly. But at the Sunday evening Mass, he is usually waiting in the pew for someone to get in line and I would prefer a bit more autonomy. Maybe I should arrive at Mass wearing some Groucho glasses! Have a Blessed Christmas, everyone.

  16. Jason Keener says:

    Nice post. I often wish that more priests would be in the confessionals immediately before every or most Masses. Too often before Mass priests are greeting or joking with everyone as they come into the church. Much better for the priest to be in the confessional before Mass and then in the sacristy vesting and devoutly preparing to offer the Holy Sacrifice.

  17. Hidden One says:

    It’s always good to hear of extra Confession time being offered, especially before and after Sundays Masses, which are probably the best times for Confession to be available. At the only parishes I’m familiar with that have Sunday morning Confessions, the people themselves would have it no other way, and many are the Confessions heard in those churches.

  18. The Egyptian says:

    a good twist on the the old saw, “we’ll leave the light on for you”
    accessibility, what a no brainer, by appointment drives people off

  19. Benedictite!
    wonderful example!
    in my home Archdiocese in Canada the parish Priests all make themselves available at least 2o minutes, before each daily Mass, door open and light on in the confessional,and folks take advantage,,,i have seen this in the 5 close by Parishes for years….
    St .Jean-Marie Vianney, priez pour nous!

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