ASK FATHER: Confession time frustration

From a reader…


Hoping you can help me approach this situation correctly in future. Confession at parish is daily from 11:30 to 12 and mass starts at 12:10. Many times I arrive early and there is already a line so I do not make it to confession and have to come back. Today I arrived around 12:45 and two people were ahead of me. Father came out at 12:55 and stated that he had no more time for confession “next time come earlier”. I would have gladly waited until after mass. It he kept repeating louder and louder “no come earlier next time I waited 10 minutes and no one came.” This was very frustrating and embarrassing because people waiting for mass were now turning to see why father was speaking so loudly. Two other penitents and I left and drove away and I was saddened for them as well. Unfortunately since I work I can only come for confession during a small window of time so now I will go without Eucharist for another weekend probably until next week when I can go again. How can I approach this better? Should I look for another parish with a different time or ask to make an appointment? Thanks for your advice.

You might consult this:

Arriving on time for confessions is a good idea.  It is one of my tips.

Another tip is that priests sometimes have bad days.

Moreover, bearing wrongs patiently is a work of mercy.

You might share with that priest what you shared with me.  Tell him how you felt about all that.

At the same time, it is good that Father is going to church to hear confessions.  In some places they don’t get off their backsides and go over to sit in the box at all.

You are going to have to work the timing of this out on your own.  If you need to go earlier, go earlier.

And don’t be one of those people who ramble on and on and on, taking up all the time for confessions.


And FATHERS!   Be BRIEF!   You ramble too.  Oh how many times have I pounded my head gently against the grate thinking, “Just give me absolution”, as the priest shared yet another pearl of his wisdom from the sermon that he was going to preach later in the afternoon.

Everyone.  Do your good examination BEFORE.  Fathers, keep it BRIEF and don’t let people just ramble.

Thanks in advance.






About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in GO TO CONFESSION, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. guatadopt says:

    Without knowing where this reader lives I would offer that most Cathedrals I have visited (in my diocese as well) have multiple times for confession. Many religious societies do as well. I know driving downtown or to a farther away location can be a bit of drag. But better to be inconvenienced a little than to spend the afterlife in eternal fire and everlasting pain I always say!

  2. bibi1003 says:

    “Moreover, bearing wrongs patiently is a work of mercy.”

    Thank you Father Z. I needed to be reminded.

  3. JabbaPapa says:

    bearing wrongs patiently is a work of mercy


    JabbaPapa’s Gold Star. (sorry, no .gif)

  4. JabbaPapa says:

    I do like to ramble on, but my Confessor being now mostly retired has no longer the energy, nor sometimes simply even the time given his own Confession regimen up at the be-visited Sanctuary where he often now practices, to provide such space in his time for me.

    I do love Fr. René, regardless that his ideology has its 1960s elements.

  5. Deo Credo says:

    It is indeed frustrating to miss confession. My family goes to a traditional parish but if we can’t make confession there, we go to any local NO parish we can find. Sometimes with our schedules even that doesnt work out but like I tell my kids, we brought this on ourselves by our poor choices. Sometimes that means we have to stand in line for the entire mass, sometimes it inconveniences us by having to go to a place or time that isn’t ideal. Consider it a work of penance.

  6. James says:

    “Another tip is that priests sometimes have bad days.”

    This is a good example of practicing the quote from Flannery O’Connor, that we should “find explanations in charity.” (

  7. James says:

    “Another tip is that priests sometimes have bad days.”

    This is a good example of practicing the quote from Flannery O’Connor, that we should “find explanations in charity.”

  8. APX says:

    If the scheduled posted time doesn’t work, make arrangements with the priest for a time that does work. If Father doesn’t want to do that, then you should probably find a different confessor.

    Also, one could just stop committing mortal sins so they can receive communion. I don’t understand why people repeatedly choose to commit mortal sins.

  9. Chaswjd says:

    Perhaps the writer could schedule a time with the priest for confession on a day other than Sunday or explore times for confession at neighboring parishes. As an aside, I would hope that the writer is appreciative of being at a parish where the problem is too many penitents for the time scheduled. In many parishes, the problem is the lack of interest in taking advantage of the sacrament.

  10. Here’s a crazy idea.

    I wonder what would happen if parishioners started writing letters or emails, or calling, and asking their parish priests for more hours of confession? Politely, of course — and it can’t hurt to give suggested times.

    In the many parishes I’ve been in, I have very rarely gotten any such requests. Indeed, priests more often get complaints — or else, requests that are difficult to fulfill — than they get something like this. Some priests might find it refreshing.

  11. monstrance says:


    I hope you are joking.

    I’m on the road often, looking for the local Church.
    So, I rely on their websites.
    It amazes me how difficult it can be to even find scheduled Mass times on these sites, let alone scheduled confession times.
    One Church showed a paltry 15 minutes a week for scheduled confession.
    It says a lot about priorities.

  12. frjim4321 says:

    This is why I tell my awesome staff, any time anybody calls for confession, that is my number one priority. If I’m on campus, I see them, if I’m off campus I come back. Our staff has my “Official Meetings” on Google. They know that confessions are the top priority. Not only that, we have the largest Lenten Communal Penance in the entire archdiocese. 18 priests. Full church. The whole rite done correctly (so rare). 75 minutes tops; 300 people.

  13. GrumpyYoungMan says:

    “Also, one could just stop committing mortal sins so they can receive communion. I don’t understand why people repeatedly choose to commit mortal sins.”

    Nor do I, yet still manage to do just that. Thank God for such a wonderful gift as Confession!

  14. HvonBlumenthal says:

    I live in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. In this entire (admittedly small) Catholic country, the archdiocese has only one fixed slot for confession: 8:30-9:00 in the cathedral crypt on Saturday morning. Otherwise its down to the SSPX who offer confession every Sunday before and after Mass with no time limit. All who come to the SSPX for confession leave shriven.

    Contrast this with Westminster Cathedral in London where the confession box is manned for 32 hours per week. In a Protestant country!

    Therefore we should all be grateful to priests who man the confession box and I always thank them for doing so.

  15. comedyeye says: is a wonderful resource for those on the go. Brought to you by Faith Catholic in the Diocese of Lansing.
    I always confirm the times by clicking on the parish website and checking the most recent bulletin.

  16. APX says:

    No, I am not joking. I’m serious, and I say this as someone who couldn’t find a priest to hear my confession when I wanted to return to the Church. It took three cities and two dioceses to find a priest who was a) hearing confessions at the posted times, b) willing to hear my confession (I had a priest flat out refuse and walked away from me telling me to come back when he schedules them again). I ended up driving two hours (one way) to find a priest from the FSSP to hear my confession and was determined to never ever commit another mortal sin so that I wouldn’t have to go to confession ever again. And guess what? Thanks to the grace of God, it’s been 7 years and I have maintained my state of grace (though, I moved so that I could attend the FSSP’s Mass and go to confession there). It’s possible. There will come a time when we won’t readily have a priest available to hear our confessions, so we need to stop having the idea that we can just go to confession if we commit a mortal sin.

  17. JabbaPapa says:

    the archdiocese has only one fixed slot for confession: 8:30-9:00 in the cathedral crypt on Saturday morning

    Blimey !!!

    Half an hour once a week for all of the Faithful in an entire archdiocese ???

    Our own archdiocese of Monaco is smaller than the huge majority of parishes, but we are certainly not reduced into such spiritual misery.

    I knew that the state of the Church was bad up there, but that it’s to that extreme degree of badness is shocking.

  18. acardnal says:

    Good to read, frjim4321. Thank you.

  19. acardnal says:

    GrumpyYoungMan, excellent observation.

  20. jflare29 says:

    I understand the difficulty all too well. Though I”m registered at a traditional parish, my work schedule dictates that early morning Confession most often won’t work. …I need to sleep sometime too. I suggest checking the bulletin at other parishes, assuming you’re in a fairly well-populated area. Even if you’re not impressed with the Mass offered at the parish, Confession still offers the Church’s grace.

  21. Absit invidia says:

    First off, I’ve heard the opinion from diocesan priests, more than once, that we only need to go to confession once a year (technically true – but in reality, not true). They don’t think confession is a big deal and don’t understand why we make a big “fuss” over it.

    Next, if the person’s confessional is bogged down and turning people away week after week after week, priests need to understand that a soul in need of confession can turn to despair quickly and become despondent. The priest needs to understand that a despondent soul can just give up – and there leaves one more check from the basket – or more importantly – one more soul for salvation.

    Finally, the person just needs to shop around and go to confession elsewhere – running your head against the same wall again and again expecting a different result is just dumb.

    [Because the topic was about obligation, I commented on obligation. Of course it is far better to go to confession when needed and very helpful to receive Communion often.]

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