Reminder to priests having the care of souls about hearing confessions: do it … or probably go to Hell.

My friend Fr. Martin Fox has a good post – directed at priests – about hearing confessions.  HERE

I like his peroration…

Yes, it’s hard work, especially when you’ve got lots of other things to do, and that’s certainly true the week before Christmas, and Holy Week. But people WILL come to confession at those times. And if you preach about (and also practice in your own life) frequent confession, you can and will make a difference. I’ve seen it work; I’ve heard people say, “I heard you talk about confession at Mass…” “You kept hammering the point, I finally came…”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.


And, Fathers, if you are NOT hearing the confessions of the souls entrusted to your care, you are in serious trouble and in peril of going to Hell.

Again, if souls are entrusted to your pastoral care… if you have the cura animarum… and you are not preaching about and teaching about this sacrament, if you are not preparing children and reminding adults about how to make a good confession, you are in danger.

Hell is real.   Do you want to wind up there?   And, as far as that “surely nobody is in Hell” B as in B – S as in S, … yeah.  Go ahead and try that for a while.  You know it’s BS.  And God cannot be deceived.

Go have a look at Fr. Martin’s post.

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  1. LeeGilbert says:

    Fr. Robert McTeighe, S.J. at Catholic Current ( Station of the Cross radio) recently had a program whose theme was, “What can be done to improve the morale of priests?”

    Looking at this from the outside, I would think that hearing more confessions would help strengthen one’s morale as a priest. For one thing, the more confessions a priest heard the better a confessor he would become, would he not? The better a confessor, the greater his effect, the greater his validation as a priest. Am I wrong? It would almost of necessity set him on a path of greater self-sacrifice, penance, and prayer and make him a better preacher, too, since a) he would know what issues his congregation was dealing with and would b) be moving in higher realms of grace..

    Conversely, I would think it very dispiriting for a young priest to be told by his first pastor, “No, you cannot hear confessions before daily Mass. We only hear confessions between 4:30 and 5 on Saturdays, or when people make an appointment. They rarely do, thank God.”

    One conclusion, I would think, would be for the personnel board to send new priests only where they are allowed to hear many confessions, that is if the diocese wants to strengthen them and retain them in their priestly service.

  2. Philmont237 says:

    St. Peter in Montgomery, Alabama has confession EVERY weekday from 1145 til Mass at 12:10. There is almost always a line. It also helps me go to Confession every week, because Saturday afternoon is a difficult time for a father with several small children.

  3. TonyO says:

    would be for the personnel board to send new priests only where they are allowed to hear many confessions, that is if the diocese wants to strengthen them and retain them in their priestly service.

    Lee, the cynic in me wants to say “yeah, that would make sense, to the 5 or 6 dioceses that also are willing to put their money where their mouths are with respect to getting the right kind of men as seminarians and putting them through the right kind of training, instead of the knuckleheaded nonsense rampant in US dioceses. To the rest of the dioceses, the ones who keep on kicking out seminarians who want to learn doctrine, the ones who make it hard on priests who preach the truth, the ones who cover up sexual predation – not so much, hmmm?” These are, after all, the dioceses who are (probably with full knowledge and consent) causing the rolls of priests to diminish to the point where calls for “women priests” makes sense (sic). Yes, it’s crazy. So? It’s still what they are doing.

  4. Deborah Y says:

    Fr. Z – you’ll be happy to know that it is your frequent all capitalized “GO TO CONFESSION!” nagging that has made me aim to go monthly nowadays (vs. once every few years). I’m even discovering “new” sins… now that the monthly practice is slowly chipping away at my deeply glaringly obvious ingrained character flaw variety sins.

    I would like to urge priests to offer confession before mass. Convenience makes a big difference for many of us. (For example, I don’t own a car and I need to take public transportation to get to the church).

    And please, please make sure face-to-face is totally optional. While you may have heard it all before, we haven’t necessarily confessed it before. That screen can lower the anxiety level tremendously.

    One of my favorite confessors would actually interrogate us penitents and also offer advice. Everything from “did you observe the Lenten fasts” to “do you use artificial birth control” (quite impressed with his bravery!). It was truely a wondeful opportunity for catechesis. He always created very long lines with the time he took but no one seemd to mind! Another priest would conduct mass while the confessions continued until long after mass was over. If you think about it, penitents are serious about advancing our spiritual lives, so no need to hesitate. We want a surgeon, not a grandfather.

  5. Thanks Father!


    Hearing many confessions certainly helps me be a better priest in many ways. It spurs me to examine my own conscience and go to confession myself. It helps me understand the people I serve better and to appreciate the battles people are fighting, so that gives me help in praying for them and in preparing homilies, and in thinking of what other things I might offer to help.

  6. JonPatrick says:

    In my travels I have found a pretty good correlation between the presence of confession times and the seriousness with which the parish takes its Catholic faith. If one walks into a church and the bulletin says “confessions by appointment only” you can bet it will be “church of nice”. In a parish which we frequent it has gone from “appointment only” to “once a month during First Saturday Holy Hour” to “before every Saturday and Sunday Mass”. Deo Gratias!

  7. VP says:

    “Go have a look at Fr. Martin’s post.”

    My heart skipped a beat when I read this. Now I realize you were talking about Fr. Martin Fox and not the other Fr. Martin.

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