Skip to comments.Priests say more Catholics returning to confession
Posted on 03/25/2007 12:52:43 PM PDT by NYer
"Bless me Father, for I have sinned."
The words which usually serve as the opening to confession, a sacrament in the Catholic Church, are being heard more by local priests these days. The reason - confession seems to be making a comeback.
Although fewer people sought absolution in the post-Vatican II era, it appears as though confession, also known as the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation, is on the rise in the Diocese of San Bernardino.
The Sacrament of Penance allows Catholics to confess their sins to a priest through a screen in a small closed confessional, under cover of darkness. They were then granted absolution from the priest.
But some things about confession have changed. The pitch-dark stalls of the confessional are mostly a thing of the past. Today, some confessionals have windows and many seeking confession face their priests.
Not all confessions are private anymore, either. Some of the devout partake in communal penance services.
The Rev. Michael Manning, pastor of St. Anthony's Church in San Bernardino, said he has seen the numbers rising at weekly confession services every Saturday and for seasonal penance services.
"Now what we're offering before Christmas and Easter is a communal confession time," Manning said. "We have several priests there, and we share a reflection on Scripture, then people will share one or two of their sins."
Highland resident Donna Rice, who is a practicing Catholic, said she prefers the penance services to whispering in the confessional.
"Speaking for myself, going to confession helps," said Rice, 56. "It's a good thing, to be reconciled back into the community, to hear from a priest, `Yes, you are forgiven.' Some people need permission to forgive themselves."
It isn't just older Catholics who are coming to confession, either. It's a good mix of young and old alike, Manning said.
"I think what's going on is we're living in a world that has become much more sensitive to our spiritual life and afterlife," he said. "The whole challenge of the afterlife is very strong in movies and television, and I think the media is simply mirroring the concerns of people these days. People are realizing they need more.
"There's an awareness of fragility of our own lives, with the war and the accounts of so many people who are dying. The security we once had we don't have any more with the gangs, violence and the war."
Rice agreed and said events such as Sept. 11, 2001, the war in Iraq and the sexual abuse that occurred within the church, may be driving people back to confession.
"I think people are just looking for answers as to why these things are going on," she said.
Michael Houran, a professor of religious education and pastoral theology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, said a communal service could be socially appealing.
"Nationally, there has been much written about Catholics' interest in a form of reconciliation that allows them to publicly celebrate their desire to be forgiven of their sinfulness," Houran said.
"This seems to me to be a positive trend because it recognizes that our sinfulness has social consequences. Therefore, why wouldn't you want to celebrate forgiveness in fairly large social context rather than only one-on-one with a priest?"
In the Diocese of San Bernardino, the 10th-largest diocese in the country, church officials say confession is on the rise.
In Hesperia, at least one church had been taking two hours for confession, and a penance service in Rancho Cucamonga this week served more than 1,000 people, officials said.
"The Catholic Church has always treasured the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation," said the Rev. Howard Lincoln, spokesman for the San Bernardino Diocese, which encompasses San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
"And confession is increasing in our diocese."
Lincoln attributed the rise partly to the diocese's already large population. Catholics number more than 2.1 million in both counties.
Another reason is that the diocese is growing and there is a major influx of new residents from ethnic backgrounds that tend to be Roman Catholic.
Post-Vatican II, Catholics began to neglect the practice of confession. A 1980 University of Notre Dame study showed that 26 percent of active Catholics never attended confession.
The Rev. David Fitzgerald, pastor of Our Lady of Assumption in San Bernardino, said he too, has noticed confession making a comeback.
"There's no arguing that it was on the decline, but probably in the last five years, it's definitely making a big comeback," Fitzgerald said. "I encourage people to go to confession not just for renewal, but because it plays a role in their overall psychological and spiritual health and helps people live more balanced lives."
Two years ago, Our Lady of Assumption Church remodeled its confessionals, putting in windows to bring in natural light and widening the doors to make it more accessible for the disabled.
After the remodel, the number of confessions increased so much that the time for Fitzgerald to hear confessions jumped from 30 minutes to three hours.
"I am never, ever sitting in the confessional waiting for someone to come in," he said.
Penance is similar to a hangover, and in more than one way - for, like a hangover, it ends in drinking more of the same stuff used the evening before.
???? Maybe I am a little slow, but not sure I understand your comment ????
Well, "starting a new life' usually means continuing in the old vices with a renewed vigor. Ditto for the absolvees.
Ever been to confession?
So you are mocking the Sacrament?
been to hangover. And I'm an atheist.
Hey thanks for the link to todays scripture GSlob....
oh high and mighty GSlob, cast away the first stone!
I just love the communal reconcilation mention, aways makes me groan
Actually, I was quoting, as both the imagery and the expression are not mine[forgot whom I was quoting - must be either Mencken or Bierce]. But that's OK, you could take it as mockery.
It's different. I was an Episcopalian before, and they have general (communal) confession. The first time I went to auricular confession, I knew I was in the presence of God. It is an awe-inspiring experience.
Repeated or besetting sins are handled differently by an astute confessor. And with grace and faith even they can be overcome.
Not saying it's easy -- but it's easier than trying to go it alone.
I know its an open thread, but disagreements and mockery are not really necessary either.
The Communal Penance Service does nothing. It isn't valid because it is only authorized in certain circumstances (imminent death, military deployment). A priest cannot hold a communal penance service for any reason and grant blanket absolution. At least I know the Chicago Archdiocese has prohibited Communal Penance Services that grant general absolution.
The best thing I've found for overcoming is "Noah the Patriarch" Armenian brandy, XXX- 30 years old, at $45 a bottle. One 750ml bottle could suffice for 4-5 overcomings, and with the unsurpassed grace on the palate. It is truly uplifting, ad coelum levavit, as Michelangelo used to say [but he was more into Trebbiano].
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That's my point. And this dippy article is talking about it like it's a great new "reform" thing. Like they know the difference.
They seem to be unaware that going to a "communal penance service" is basically just preparation for going to individual confession. Communal penance is not a magic wand. I think the Bishop needs to do a bit more catechesis in that diocese!
"Two years ago, Our Lady of Assumption Church remodeled its confessionals, putting in windows to bring in natural light and widening the doors to make it more accessible for the disabled.
After the remodel, the number of confessions increased so much that the time for Fitzgerald to hear confessions jumped from 30 minutes to three hours.
"I am never, ever sitting in the confessional waiting for someone to come in," he said."
Can't argue against that though, certainly positive development.
Everything could be done in style - witness H. L. Mencken, or - much earlier - Francois Rabelais, or Giovanni Boccaccio. And a high quality mockery is sufficienly valuable to be preserved and passed down in history, which is only enriched by it. Thus it is a standard to which one could honorably aspire.
That's different. That's not what I was talking about (although for me, the darker the confessional, the better).
And as an Atheist, why do you feel the need to make a "high-quality" mockery on Confession?
I understand, but there is some good in the article. Though it is way to positive about communal penance services, which are worthless unless tied to individual sacramental confessions.
Okey-dokey. I understand what you're saying now.
For the fun of it, of course. As that same Francois Rabelais once wrote [translation of the second order, as I do not read French] - "because to laugh is human"
Well, we have a penance service but around here we have a short service and then we line up for confession with a bunch of priests from other parishes and retired priests. We don't get group absolution nor do we confess our sins publicly. I have NO idea what they do in California!
To laugh at others, though, while something many humans do, is neither defining of humans nor one of out finer activities. Displays of contempt notoriously have an unsettling boomerang-like effect.
Whoever provided the quote you plagiarized probably thought the hour hands of clocks are motionless because he could not see them move. Some persistent habits take a long time to change. That doesn't mean people don't improve. It just means that those who would rather mock than help and who, like infants, prefer their gratification instant and out of a bottle may not exercise the patience to learn the truth of the matter.
Quix: Please note that this time, at the third post a self-described atheist got in before the Protestants with the express intention of mockery. Interesting, no?
We have that here in Advent and in Lent. I keep telling them they need express lanes: "10 Sins or Fewer" but do they listen to me? One of my buddies calls it a "Confessathon".
Agreed our town is having a Communal Penance Service with all the parishes in our town (3) next week in preparation of Easter Week. We have been encouraged to attend Confessions following the service
We're having one on Monday with 10 priests. Apparently the priests here love these services, because they all come in from their rather scattered parishes, do the short service and hear confessions for about an hour or so, and then go out to dinner!
Beside I just love my Confessor. I still remember my first confession with him. I converted 3 years ago, and had over 52 years to talk to him about. He was a very patient man.
I agree. However, the primary purpose of the Sacrament of Penance is to rid us of our mortal sins, and also our venial sins. A person in a state of mortal sin may not receive the Eucharist; wheras a person in a state of venial sin may. The key here is in identifying one's sins. Frequent confession can lead to scrupulosity. While I would NEVER suggest that one in a state of venial sins should shun the Sacrament, it is more important that the penitent confess his mortal sins. If these exceed two, then that individual should make an appointment for a private confession, out of deference to those who come to confess their venial sins.
K, what is the frequency in the Orthodox Church?
It was unexpected that he would leave when he did and so now we only have our Monsignor and the retired priest who does the Hispanic service.
In other words, we NEED extra priests for confession. Hope we get a new associate soon. We will probably have to wait until July, though.
Christ did not leave us orphans. On the contrary, He instructed the Apostles - "Whose sins you shall forgive are forgiven; whose sins you shall retain are retained."
There are no more beautiful words than to hear the priest say: "I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."
Lol! That's actually a good suggestion.
In a manner similar to that experienced by Miss Marple, our small parish offers two Reconciliation Services each year. It is intended to serve two purposes. The service itself is quite beautiful, filled with Maronite chants, readings, the Gospel and an examination of conscience. This is then followed by private Confession.
Since our parish is filled with saints, it is a challenge to get the adults to come. So, this year, Father has invited the children - all the children (regardless of their age) - to experience the 'reconciliation' portion of the service, in an effort to prepare them for the Sacrament when they are of age. IMHO, it's quite clever. The children LOVE coming to Church and this 'communal' Reconciliation Service introduces them to the actual sacrament. Father's goal is to get their parents to take it to the next level by demonstrating to their children how to confess their sins by entering the confessional.
You are perpetually hungover and your particular judgment will be a real bender.
"You are perpetually hungover" - Nope, for I've drunk it down. You wouldn't believe the bliss.
Can. 960 Individual and integral confession and absolution constitute the sole ordinary means by which a member of the faithful who is conscious of grave sin is reconciled with God and with the Church. Physical or moral impossibility alone excuses from such confession, in which case reconciliation may be attained by other means also.
Can. 961 §1 General absolution, without prior individual confession, cannot be given to a number of penitents together, unless:
1° danger of death threatens and there is not time for the priest or priests to hear the confessions of the individual penitents;
2° there exists a grave necessity, that is, given the number of penitents, there are not enough confessors available properly to hear the individual confessions within an appropriate time, so that without fault of their own the penitents are deprived of the sacramental grace or of holy communion for a lengthy period of time. A sufficient necessity is not, however, considered to exist when confessors cannot be available merely because of a great gathering of penitents, such as can occur on some major feastday or pilgrimage.
§2 It is for the diocesan Bishop to judge whether the conditions required in §1, n. 2 are present; mindful of the criteria agreed with the other members of the Episcopal Conference, he can determine the cases of such necessity.
Can. 962 §1 For a member of Christ's faithful to benefit validly from a sacramental absolution given to a number of people simultaneously, it is required not only that he or she be properly disposed, but be also at the same time personally resolved to confess in due time each of the grave sins which cannot for the moment be thus confessed.
§2 Christ's faithful are to be instructed about the requirements set out in §1, as far as possible even on the occasion of general absolution being received. An exhortation that each person should make an act of contrition is to precede a general absolution, even in the case of danger of death if there is time.
Can. 963 Without prejudice to the obligation mentioned in can. 989, a person whose grave sins are forgiven by a general absolution, is as soon as possible, when the opportunity occurs, to make an individual confession before receiving another general absolution, unless a just reason intervenes.
Can. 964 §1 The proper place for hearing sacramental confessions is a church or oratory.
§2 As far as the confessional is concerned, norms are to be issued by the Episcopal Conference, with the proviso however that confessionals, which the faithful who so wish may freely use, are located in an open place, and fitted with a fixed grille between the penitent and the confessor.
§3 Except for a just reason, confessions are not to be heard elsewhere than in a confessional.
Your post is an excellent example of why we need priests. Without priests, we would have no Eucharist and no Confession! To fuly grasp the significance of that statement, read this:
I believe the "bliss" - I see it being hauled to detox centers and laying in the gutter passed out on a daily basis.
As to those who do not know how to hold their liquor, the detox center serves them right and well, for everything takes skill in which they are damnably lacking. The skill includes, inter alia, knowing when to pause. There are even commandments on how to do it:
Thou shalt not mix; what you started with, continue with;
Thou shalt eat - before, during and after; and
Thou shalt observe the clouds and regard the seasons, for no sprinter has finished a marathon. Regulate the timing of your intake, for there is a time for every thing under the sun, and that necessarily includes the next drink.
"THE author"? Both were pretty cool guys.
In your "plagiarism" message # 28 you quoted "because to laugh is human" - which was properly attribited by me to Rabelais, and thus not plagiarized in any way, form or fashion. More, my reply to your # 28 was dealing with that very quote and its author. Thus the charge can not stand. When you are dealing with the previous quote, then, as it was done from memory, I could not have properly used quotation marks on the imprecise text; more, I attributed the text as not mine immediately afterwards and without prodding. Thus it does not qualify as the plagiarism either.
I was commenting on BOTH your statements. You adduced the Rabelais to explain your bringing mocking cynicism to the discussion. I commented on the Rabelais to distinguish between human laughter simpliciter and mockery. Then I commented on the one you made earlier, which you described -- NOT immediately but, rather, after some challenges -- as coming from either Menken or Bierce.
(But I must say, I'm glad you set me straight! I appreciate Rabelais but was wondering how anyone would attribute massive learning to either Menken or Bierce. Great wit, yes, but massive learning? )
I guess I made the mistake of thinking that it was clear that I wasn't criticizing the Rabelais because, well, who can deny the truth your attributed quote? And, as you say it was clearly not plagiarized, so why would I describe it as such?
Further, I can't imagine any relationship between slow progress and the Rabelais quote, while the frustratingly slow process of developing virtuous habits is not unlike the movement of an hour hand -- only slower. I'll grant that I could have been clearer about which quote I was referring to. You came looking to start a fight, clearly. I hope I have given some satisfaction.
"K, what is the frequency in the Orthodox Church?"
It depends on the jurisdiction and even the parish. Some "rules" say four times a year, others once a year. Some jurisdictions require confession before every communion. The frequency rate I would say runs from never (a lot of people, especially older cradle Orthodox types among the Greeks at least) to once a month or so. Converts and younger folks seem more faithful to the sacrament. You should know that Orthodoxy makes no distinction between mortal and venial sins as such.
I figure I can go about 2 weeks before I start messing up even more than usual. This once or twice a year isn't getting it for me.
"This once or twice a year isn't getting it for me."
We probably all ought to do what the Slavs do...confession before every communion, and they enforce it too.
But I'm sure others are less habituated to vice than I.
Heigh Ho, another week approaches.