BAD REASON #873 for not going to confession

From the 24 March 2017 print edition of The Catholic Herald, the UK’s best Catholic weekly… for which I, by the way, write a a rather unheralded short weekly column.  The title: Omnium Gatherum


BAD REASON #873 for not going to confession when you know you ought to.

Friends… please…


If it has been a long time, GO ANYWAY.  Make an appointment outside of regular confession time if you think you might need a while.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Thank you, father, for this opportunity to sound off about something I saw at the weekend.

    I read in a parish bulletin that confessions were available every month, on the morning of the first Saturday of the month (at 10 a.m., no end time specified), or by request. Did I say “a parish bulletin”? This bulletin and parish priest serve three neighbouring parishes (no, sorry, only two, since two of the three were merged a few weeks ago, but three communities and three former parish churches). There’s no shortage of faithful, at least judging by the number of first communions and indeed the number of mass intentions. Of course, the priest is overstretched, but this seems … inadequate.

  2. Ellen says:

    Piers, trust me, it doesn’t take that long. I was away from confession for 20+ years and when I finally went it was as if a huge weight was removed from me. Now I go at least once a month. Go Piers , you will thank me.

  3. zrhaskell says:

    Well i’m so happy that Piers has achieved perfect contrition at such a level that the bulk of two centuries of saints couldn’t achieve.

  4. LarryW2LJ says:

    May I make a comment, though? And Fr. Z, forgive me if this sounds uncharitable, I don’t mean it to be – and certainly feel free to delete it if it strikes you as such.

    If you’ve been away from confession for a really long time; and are coming back – welcome, welcome, WELCOME BACK! But please consider making an appointment with your parish priest for your “first time back” confession. When confessions are only offered for an hour and a half, once a week, it’s difficult for the rest of us in line to wait for a person who literally takes 45 minutes. Not begrudging needed Sacramental time to anyone – not in the least! But at the same time, please have consideration for the people behind you in line.

    And did I forget to say, “Welcome back”? Confession is one of the best things you can do for yourself – to borrow from Ben Franklin – “Confession once a month keeps the psychiatrist away.” I sincerely believe that keeping yourself right with God is one of the best things you can do for your own mental health (not to mention your soul).

  5. Pigeon says:

    Time is a fake excuse. Out of love of the Lord, not to mention your own soul, you make time! The real excuse is that he doesn’t want to have to repent of and reject the wicked treasures he and other media elites hold so dear to their hearts.

  6. un-ionized says:

    It helps if I make a list. So what if somebody finds a post-it note on the floor: PRIDE, GLUTTONY, AVARICE.

  7. frsbr says:

    What could take so long? There are only ten commandments. For what it’s worth, our parish will have confessions every day during Holy Week (some days, both morning and evening), including Good Friday from Noon – 10:00 p.m.

  8. zrhaskell says:


  9. majuscule says:

    I find it comforting that there is something to pray to

    I wonder what that thing might be?

    I hope and pray that the people who meant a lot to him went to confession and lived exemplary lives so that they are “up there” looking down and that they might help him as he assumes.

    My parish has been having seasonal evening retreats with spititual talks and a Holy Hour with multiple priests available for confession. (And I must say, the visiting priests have been of an impressive type.)

  10. Sword40 says:

    Our FSSP parish has two priests. One is always in the confessional. Yes, even during the Mass.
    Our confession lines are long so you need to practice patience. It give you time to examine your conscience as should be done. At least one priest is available after each Mass too and still our lines are long. It’s wonderful!!!!!

  11. We might start by thanking the penitent whose long confession elicits our frustration or irritation – a formerly hidden need for grace to be presented to the Lord to forgive & heal.

    For we who struggle with the long confession of the person ahead of us, we might consider the great anxiety of the person who returns to the sacrament after a long time. By God’s grace, this person has summoned the courage to walk through the doors of the confessional – this despite the fears and doubts that Satan is assuredly whispering into the penitent’s heart. The burden of making an appointment for confession and of risking revealing the identity of the penitent might dishearten the reluctant – perhaps to the point of giving up.

    In addition to praying for the return of many lost souls, we consider how we could practically assist. The first method would be to avoid sinning, thus making the confessional line shorter! As we are perhaps more at peace with the sacrament from frequent use, we might also discern making an appointment for ourselves. And an encouraging word to a priest for providing time for confession is never wasted.

    And let us not ourselves be discouraged, even if we should be unable to confess our sins at a particular moment. The Lord assuredly sees our desire and will meet our need if we persevere in pursing Him.

  12. frjim4321 says:

    Yes, I like the by-appointment confessions, and the people here know they are also free to drop in any time, and that if I am here the sacrament of penance is always the first priority.

  13. Michael in NoVA says:


    A quick question regarding by appointment confessions: How do you handle anonymity? Do you book the appointment for confession but omit the name? Do those who schedule appointments usually greet you outside the confessional or inside by introducing themselves? I know that, at times, anonymity is not necessarily desired (such as confession to a spiritual director). However, other times, it is, and appointments make it very difficult to maintain anonymity.

    Thank you for making the sacrament of penance the first priority.

  14. andia says:

    Mr Morgan, I was away for 35 years. Please go back…there is NOTHING to be afraid of and it really does not take that long. Took me all of 10 minutes in a parish penance service. The priest was someone I look upto and trust, and I can guarantee you he did not judge me.

    On another note, Fr Z – are there prayers you recommend for laity to say for our priests before confession

    and are there prayers for the faithful to say for those who don’t go to confession?

  15. VexillaRegis says:

    Mr Morgan seems to have a quite a complicated past – legal and personal conflicts and two marriages. I’m sure everything could be sorted out though. :-)

  16. iamlucky13 says:

    I suppose perhaps he intended the comment as sort of playful take on humility – I’ve got too many sins, it will take too much of the priest’s time – but just considering the total time it takes to go to confession, beyond the time spent in the confessional:

    Some of the most spiritually rewarding confessions I’ve had were those where the time is inconvenient and where I end up waiting almost the entire scheduled time to make it through the line. I suppose it’s a mix of having plenty of time to examine my conscience and pray for grace to amend my ways, and the benefits of the de facto penance of giving up that much of my own time.

    The full quote about prayer, etc. is hardly profound, but perhaps others being curious about Mr. Morgan’s faith will lead him to think more about it as well.

  17. jaykay says:

    Father Maurer: much fruit for thought there, thank you! And frjim4321, thank you also.

    Mr. Morgan is a very public personality over this side of the ditch, so it’s good that he at least didn’t take the line of most “slebs” in professing utter unbelief – or take the opportunity for a cheap shot at the Church.

  18. Ages says:

    frsbr asks: “What could take so long?”

    We humans commit specific sinful acts, not categories of sin. So, if we are confessing our sins and not just general areas of falling-short, it can take awhile.

    I converted in my 20s and my first confession took close to an hour. I was exhausted by the end. Not sure how long Piers has been away, but anyone who has been away for a long time will have a lot of things to say to the Physician—if he is serious about getting well. A high-quality aid for the examination of conscience will also help drag up all those things that have been pushed to the back of the memory.

  19. frjim4321 says:

    Michael, I think there is a difference between confidentiality and anonymity. Almost by definition if someone calls for a confession appointment she/he would leave a name. But they don’t have to. If it’s just “somebody,” that’s fine. Although it’s in the office and there is not a screen.

    So, here’s blast from the past. My father’s home parish when he was growing up was a parish church but it was run be a religious order and there are a seminary there. Also, in the office, there was a confessional. They had 24/7 confessions; you went in and rang a doorbell and a priest would show up on the other side of the screen.

  20. Mojoron says:

    If this were Facebook, I would really unload.

  21. Justalurkingfool says:

    Too much broken trust for me.

    The Church knows what it must do, but it cannot face it.


  22. Mojoron: I’m glad that you have made the distinction.

  23. Kathleen10 says:

    Thank you frjim, for your post.
    Piers Morgan is moving in the right direction, I’m real glad for him. There’s real hope there.
    He sounds like somebody God can do something with.

  24. acardnal says:

    Also, in the office, there was a confessional. They had 24/7 confessions; you went in and rang a doorbell and a priest would show up on the other side of the screen.

    Sounds like Fr. Heilman ‘ s parish, St. Mary’s….spoken of here before.

  25. MissBee says:

    In reading this post, its comments, and Fr. Z’s recent post containing the prayers for Priests before and after hearing confessions, I was reminded of an event. Our church was under construction and we had our masses at the monastery down the street. Lacking a confessional, Father heard confessions in the garden. Nothing felt more humble and beautiful than to kneel in the garden and have my confession heard, even though my identity was revealed in this setting. Thank you Lord for your beautiful sacraments and mercy.

  26. The Cobbler says:

    To paraphrase in insurance slogan, “Confession: Fifteen minutes could save your soul and more for eternity!”

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