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The Sin Box: Why have Catholics stopped lining up at the confessional?
Slate ^ | Nov. 17, 2005 | Andrew Santella

Posted on 11/19/2005 12:52:27 PM PST by Antioch

A Catholic friend of mine recently went to confession at her parish church for the first time in years. She had personal reasons for wanting to seek absolution, but there was this, too: She said she'd long felt a little sorry for the priests sitting alone in their confessional boxes, waiting for sinners to arrive.

A generation ago, you'd see a lot of us lined up inside Catholic churches on Saturday afternoons, waiting to take our turn in one of the confessionals. We'd recite the familiar phrases ("Bless me Father, for I have sinned"), list our transgressions and the number of times we'd committed them, maybe endure a priestly lecture, and emerge to recite a few Hail Marys as an act of penance. In some parishes, the machinery of forgiveness was so well-oiled you could see the line move. Confession was essential to Catholic faith and a badge of Catholic identity. It also carried with it the promise of personal renewal. Yet in most parishes, the lines for the confessionals have pretty much disappeared. Confession—or the sacrament of reconciliation, as it's officially known—has become the one sacrament casual Catholics feel free to skip. We'll get married in church, we'll be buried from church, and we'll take Communion at Mass. But regularly confessing one's sins to God and the parish priest seems to be a part of fewer and fewer Catholic lives. Where have all the sinners gone?

(Excerpt) Read more at slate.com ...


TOPICS: Catholic; Moral Issues; Religion & Culture; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: confession; reconciliation
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Santilla writes some interesting observations here about the phenomena of the empty confesional.
1 posted on 11/19/2005 12:52:29 PM PST by Antioch
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To: Antioch

People don't have to line up for this.

They can confess their sins to Jesus anytime, anywhere and any place. That is what they should have been doing in the first place.


2 posted on 11/19/2005 12:54:23 PM PST by nmh (Intelligent people believe in Intelligent Design (God).)
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To: All

The question wasn't, "How do you believe you should confess your sins," but rather, "How come so many Catholics aren't following the teaching of their church on confession?"

The answer has to do with a combination of bad teaching, bad training, and lack of committment. And not wanting to confess things they know are wrong but they don't want to not do. And it is made worse by the fact that a lot of priests give the impression that confession is not important, and even make it hard for their parishioners to find them at confession time.

Serious catholics know that confession is a channel of grace that helps them grow closer to God and heals their souls, so they tend to go to confession monthly if not more often. And at churches where the pastor encourages confession, the rates people go, go up. And those churches tend to thrive and grow.


3 posted on 11/19/2005 1:00:51 PM PST by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: nmh

Only if you're a protestant, nmh. Caholics still have the confessional, if they choose to use it.


4 posted on 11/19/2005 1:02:32 PM PST by Ken522
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To: Ken522
CATHOLICS, not the other way .. sorry about the spelling ...
5 posted on 11/19/2005 1:04:09 PM PST by Ken522
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To: Antioch

People forget that Confession or as it is now called Reconcilation is a sacrament. We forget that as such it is a true instrument of grace. Confession times should be available more than just on Sat afternoons. I need to go to confession but lack transporation today. I pray I can reach the priest sometime this week for a private session.


6 posted on 11/19/2005 1:10:13 PM PST by lastchance (Hug your babies.)
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To: nmh
"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

It's good to have a small group of Christian friends to confess sins to. Remember, people were confessing their sins before they were being baptized by John the Baptist.
7 posted on 11/19/2005 1:20:04 PM PST by bahblahbah
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To: Ken522

Ever read your Bible? The Bible says you don't need to confess your sins to a priest for absolution.


8 posted on 11/19/2005 1:31:07 PM PST by sabe@q.com (Yes, I'm a SW freak!)
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To: All
Thread hijack in progress!!!! Zot!
9 posted on 11/19/2005 1:37:37 PM PST by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: nmh

It's interesting when you have to tell someone about that masturbation, that adultery, that hateful thought, those thefts of pens and office supplies, watching that movie that aroused you, those nasty remarks you made behind someone's back, the irritation and anger at the spouse,not returning the change you were given because the clerk made a mistake, the rage and anger because someone cut you off or passed you on the road, calling into work sick when you aren't, or any number of spiteful demeaning actions that have nothing to do with Christ...because when you say it out loud and acknowledge your sin, you do not want to do it again...

Confess ye your sins to one another....James 5:16

When you state the sin aloud to another person, it is very different.

Problem today is that people do not realize that there are lots of things that don't rise to the occasion of mortal sin, but are demeaning nasty little venial things we do every day that impede our Christian walk.

It goes back to early teaching and what isn't being taught!

After all, it is all about ME in this society, isn't it?


10 posted on 11/19/2005 1:42:53 PM PST by OpusatFR (What's so threatening about my faith that you have to kill people for believing it? That it's true?)
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To: marajade

btw, this thread is about why Catholics don't avail themselves of the Sacrament of Confession more.

It isn't about your belief, but then again it IS all about ME, isn't it?


11 posted on 11/19/2005 1:44:34 PM PST by OpusatFR (What's so threatening about my faith that you have to kill people for believing it? That it's true?)
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To: Antioch

I suspect it's a growing case of 'Religion Lite' - Great Feeling, Less Effort.


12 posted on 11/19/2005 2:17:55 PM PST by polymuser (I wish the Republicans had a majority in Congress.)
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To: lastchance

There definitely is room for improvement on making Confession more easily available. However this requires extra commitment on the part of many parish priests, and some don't want to do that, sadly. What really drives me up the wall are the parishes that offer Confession "by appointment" only. That's about the worst thing you can do to encourage more people to use the sacrament. Even those who go to Confession regularly rarely get excited and eager to go. It's never fun - nor is it supposed to be. Having a time period, even if it's just an hour every week, where you can go, confess, and continue on makes it a little easier. Many people who barely can drag themselves to "the box" would never get around to calling a priest and setting up an appointment. Not to mention the fact that much of the comforting anonymity of the confessional is lost that way. It's a very intimidating set up.


13 posted on 11/19/2005 2:45:30 PM PST by sassbox (GO IRISH!!!)
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To: marajade
Thanks for playing "I'm ignorant of Scripture, Catholicism and the History of Christendom."

Johnny, tell our loser what parting gifts he/she/it has won.

14 posted on 11/19/2005 2:51:40 PM PST by A.A. Cunningham
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To: NYer

Ping! for your Catholic News list.

Slate isn't always the best, but this commentary isn't bad.


15 posted on 11/19/2005 3:14:02 PM PST by tlRCta (St. Joseph, pray for us!)
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To: nmh
They can confess their sins to Jesus anytime, anywhere and any place. That is what they should have been doing in the first place.

This sort of prideful Protestant thinking is what has infected our Catholicism. When you get to decide, when, where, and how to confess, and just as likely, what exactly is a sin, confession becomes as easy as rappin' with one's personal butler Jeebus.
16 posted on 11/19/2005 3:56:24 PM PST by Conservative til I die
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To: marajade
Ever read your Bible? The Bible says you don't need to confess your sins to a priest for absolution.

I remember Jesus giving the power to forgive sins to His apostles. The idea of confessing one's sins to another does not necessarily include absolution from sin.
17 posted on 11/19/2005 3:58:12 PM PST by Conservative til I die
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To: Conservative til I die

Gal 5:19


18 posted on 11/19/2005 5:06:45 PM PST by sabe@q.com (Yes, I'm a SW freak!)
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To: Antioch
The biggest barrier between Catholics and the confessional, however, may be the real effort it requires. ... But done right, Catholic confession demands a rigorous examination of conscience and real contrition, to say nothing of the prayers you may be assigned for penance and the thinking a priest may ask you to do about the ways you've let yourself and God down.

Yeah, it takes some effort. And some honesty. And a touch of humility. It might seem like an effort beforehand, but I've walked out with a smile on my face more than once.

Most practicing Catholics also do a daily examination of conscience, yes? And we do confess to and request forgiveness directly from Jesus, just like our good Protestant friends. Don't we? We're always praying to Him and our sins are a normal thing to talk to Him about.

And every week we stand up and say "I confess to Almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters...." and with some preparation and sincere contrition that and the Eucharist take care of our minor transgressions. I do believe some Protestants think that we think we are limited only to the sacrament of Confession. We do everything they do, don't we? However, there is ... even more available for our benefit.

I think one thing that hardly ever gets discussed is that there is more to Reconciliation than the absolution of your sins. There's also the benefit of actually being stregnthened to avoid sin in the future. And being reconciled to the Church. If St. Paul is on target, we each share the good done by the members of the Body but the entire Body is also wounded by my sins.

19 posted on 11/19/2005 5:11:56 PM PST by siunevada
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To: marajade
Gal 5:19

Forgive me, but I'm not finding anything in Gal 5:19 that talks about confession.
20 posted on 11/19/2005 5:31:49 PM PST by Conservative til I die
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