Both kind and number

12_10_04_confessionalFrom a reader:

A positive anecdote from the penance service from my parish last night (a different parish than the aforementioned one):
The retreat master (a Jesuit) was prepping the penitents for confession and said “…AND I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ANY NUMBERS! DON’T FOCUS ON THAT SORT OF THING! START WITH SOMETHING YOU ARE GRATEFUL FOR” [face palm] and all of the local priests (good men but none of whom are famous for their orthodoxy or traditional leaning) as one rolled their eyes and shook their heads. It was a great moment.

Another Jesuit.  What a gift they continue to be.

We are obliged to confess all our mortal sins in both kind and number.  That means, what sort of sin and how many times or some indication of frequency if you can’t be precise (which is fairly common).

Everyone, repeat after me…

both kind and number

both kind and number

both kind and number

The Sacrament of Penance, or Reconciliation, is not for a chat about the great things going on in your life, how you’ve been “pretty much a good person”, or making excuses.  Cut through the fog and confession SINS.  Add just the circumstances that might make a real difference (such as, I stole the sandwich because my daughter and I are homeless and starving, or I stole the milk bottle from an elderly woman on a fixed income).  Do not chat, do not hesitate, do not be afraid.

Examine your consciences and GO TO CONFESSION!


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    The Rochester Diocese is going to have a Day of Penance and Mercy” on March 24th from 12:30pm to 7:30pm. Our good shepherd Bishop Matano refers to God’s infinite Love and capacity for Forgiveness and Mercy as well as Pope Francis’s call for us to go to confession and receive God’s mercy. I view this as a positive outcome of the “Francis effect.”

  2. Sonshine135 says:

    There are many opportunities, even in the most liberal parishes in the Charlotte Diocese to go to Confession this time of year. As many as 10 Priests will gather at a single church and hear Confessions after the communal penance service. It offers a wonderful opportunity to perform a deep examination of conscience and lift that burden.

  3. MAJ Tony says:

    “gift” as I recall from German classes 25 years ago, is German for “poison.”

  4. iteadthomam says:

    Fr. Did the Pope really say to scalfari recently the souls of the wicked are anihilated after death? I’m concerned.

  5. These Jesuits continuing to confuse, obfuscate, and befuddle common people in the name of progress is no wonder why Muslims have surpassed Catholics in global population.

  6. Joseph-Mary says:

    Does this mean that I cannot just write down a sin and burn it in the grate?
    Where can I find a ‘general absolution’? This kind and number thing is so pre-conciliar!

  7. +JMJ+ says:

    Gaaaaaaah! Reminds me of one retired priest in our Diocese who I occasionally get if I’m not careful: “OK, now tell me all the things you’re grateful for, and let’s do a little spiritual counselling on the side…” (even though I have a spiritual director). “And for your penance, I don’t like to prescribe a specific penance because I like to focus on God’s mercy, so just pick something.” (Are you sure? I’m likely to pick a more severe penance than you’d assign me…)

  8. seattle_cdn says:

    Talk about what you’re grateful for?? Is this why I’m standing in line for so much longer than I have to?? Why with my grave sins am I taking a quarter of the time the nice old lady is taking? Maybe because she’s spending the whole time confessing her gratefulness. Grrrrrrrr

    [Perhaps the priest is the one who is garrulous. There are old women of both sexes. Actually, in my experience, the problem of being too chatty isn’t usually among the seniors. They more than like had some formation and know why they are there. It’s the younger people who were never taught to go to confession with some method and who have not learned to examine their consciences in a disciplined manner that tend to ramble.]

  9. oldconvert says:

    I was somewhat disconcerted when making my last confession to find that the priest responded by making excuses for me; I hasten to add that I’m not in the habit of making them for myself.

  10. Nicholas says:

    Last week I went to confession (I am 17) at my school’s Penance Service. Having just finished saying my sins (none of them mortal, as I go weekly), and thinking through for 5 seconds to make sure there was nothing I had forgotten, the priest talked for 6 minutes about things I had not confessed. When he finished, he gave me the penance of being nice, and then said, “May God FORGIVE you, and have a nice day.”

    I plan on making a proper confession this weekend, either Saturday or Sunday.

    Indeed, there are many clerical old women. Apparently, some of them illiterate…

  11. de_cupertino says:

    I heard that we needn’t mention kind and number for *venial* sins — because we’re only required to confess mortal sins — and rather, after confessing mortal sins by kind and number, mention a few venial sins, focusing on one or two to “really work on”.

    Perhaps the priest from your reader’s story doesn’t really believe most people have mortal sins, and therefore doesn’t think “kind and number” is required.

  12. Menagerie says:

    A few months ago I had a priest tell me to pick one or two sins that troubled me the most and only confess them. I have struggled with confession since my conversion, and I have been able to make much better confessions partly due to your continued emphasis and teachings Father.

    I took only a few minutes, so it wasn’t that I was overly verbose. I gave my sins in kind and number and he was impatient and somewhat frustrated.

    He was a visiting priest, helping out since the parish priest was away. My own priest said he encourages confession of even venial sins, and his counsel and penances have blessed me with growth and armored me in my battle against sin. He says the Holy Spirit gives that gift.

    What a difference it makes to receive such blessings from a humble priest. Jesus forgave my sins on both occasions, but one left me far better equipped to fight my spiritual battles and do God’s will. Since then I have been much better at remembering to pray for all priests, and for a good confession, and my confessor.

  13. Rachel says:

    When I was converting from Protestantism I went to RCIA classes at the nearest parish, where they hardly taught us a lick of actual doctrine– we just sat in a circle discussing our feelings about the gospel of the day. I was really nervous about my first confession, because I had no idea what the priest might do– tell me I shouldn’t feel so guilty? Tell me my sins weren’t that serious? Act embarrassed that I was even mentioning them? I just didn’t know because I couldn’t find out what people at that parish believed.

    I then switched to RCIA at a parish where actual Catholic doctrine was taught and heard a lot about confession, and I was so relieved to have some guidance on the subject and some priests who followed the teaching of our faith. One of them even gave a really detailed talk on Catholic radio about it, and I felt so grateful to be at his parish!

    My point is that the Jesuit was making confession much tougher for people who actually want to have their sins forgiven. And people who don’t really care about sin aren’t going to go to confession no matter how generous he is about it.

    I’m glad the other priests disagreed, though. :)

  14. andia says:

    my last confession I got a lecture about the evils of roadrage and I learned more about the priest ( who I had never met before) than I ever wanted to know. I should not have expected more…since I heard him telling people to “Just call me Steve”. Sigh.

  15. SanSan says:

    oh dear…..confession……how can one ever have a “good confession” when the first thing the Priest says is “what are you doing here? what do you have to confess that’s so bad?” Or the Priest that cut short our face to face, when another “more worthy” petitant arrived. Gratefully, I finally found a Priest that would let me do a complete “general” confession after my blessed conversion when the “scales” fell from my eyes and I could recall past sins. Praise God. [The vast majority of priests are good men who will willingly hear a confession.]

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