Skip to comments.In One Church, Confession Makes a Comeback (Catholic Caucus)
Posted on 02/21/2009 3:02:39 PM PST by Pyro7480
STAMFORD, Conn. The day after Msgr. Stephen DiGiovanni was installed in June 1998 as the pastor of St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church here, he walked through the quiet sanctuary, appreciating the English Gothic grandeur and tallying all the repairs it required.
One particular sight seized him. The confessional at the rear of the pews had been nailed shut. The confessional in the front, nearer the altar, was filled with air-conditioning equipment. And these conditions, Monsignor DiGiovanni realized, reflected theology as much as finance.
In the wake of the Second Vatican Council in the mid-1960s, the Catholic Church began offering confession in reconciliation rooms, rather than the traditional booths. Even before the setting changed, habits had. The norm for American Catholics was to make confession once a year, generally in the penitential period of Lent leading up to Easter.
Monsignor DiGiovanni, though, soon noticed that there were lines for the St. Johns reconciliation room the only time it was open each week, for two hours on Saturday afternoon. So within his first month as pastor, he pried open the door to the rear confessional, wiped off the dust of decades and arranged for replacing the lights, drapes and tiles.
Then, in the fall of 1998, Monsignor DiGiovanni rolled back the clock of Catholic practice, having St. Johns priests hear confession in the booths before virtually every Mass. By now, as another Lent commences next week with Ash Wednesday, upwards of 450 people engage in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, as confession is formally known, during 15 time slots spread over all seven days of the week. Confessions are heard in English, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese....
Confession as we once knew it is pretty much a dead letter in Catholicism today, the Rev. Richard P. McBrien...
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Speaking to an unseen priest through a screen seems to her a comfort.
The Catholic Church a couple of miles away (in a university town) doesn't have confessional booths that I have seen: confession takes place between priest and penitent all out in the open, but quietly.
Call me a stickler for tradition, but I think the booth is a good thing.
They were built new, copied from a confessional in a church in Budapest, and carved by a local craftsman.
I have confessed face-to-face and through the screen, and am coming to prefer the screen (although I have a VERY distinctive voice and every priest in the parish knows it!) When we have the big Advent or Lenten Penance Services, though, we have 14-15 priests hearing confessions and they are perched all over the place in corners with folding chairs. You lean close in and whisper (of course, I have an "Irish whisper" too . . . )
I prefer not seeing the priest myself. I have gone to confession both ways, but if I have a choice I prefer the traditional booth.
I prefer the screen, but for another reason. The sacrament is taking place between me and God. The priest is acting in place of Christ (In Persona Christi). I find it distracting seeing someone in front of me when I confess. I feel much more as though it is between God and me when a voice is before me, not a human being. I can close my eyes, bow my head, and allow myself to feel my contrition in a way I find it difficult to when in a conversation.
First off, my pastor called Confession by it's real name from the pulpit on Sunday - PENANCE. People are going to argue with me on this, but I'm right. And yes, words do matter. In fact, Monsignor refuses to use the word "reconciliation" when referring to the sacrament.
We only have the "booths" with curtains. Five of them. One side of each has a screen, the other has a chair and two are wheelchair accessible. On Good Friday, all of them are used, but normally, just two, and there is ALWAYS a line. They starting hearing confessions between Masses on Sunday about two years ago (in addition to Saturday afternoon) and ended up adding another hour, because the lines were so long. Confessions are heard until the canon of the next Mass, and I've seen people not able to be heard as there was such a long line.
It seems to me that McBrien is blinded by his own little world of wishful thinking. Confession is making a serious comeback. People are going and they are taking their time with the priests. Maybe it's just in pockets right now, but it's happening. Even in my parish, it's not everyone going, but the "make it available at convenient times, and people will take advantage" is in effect.
The biggest reason people around here don’t go to Confession is that the priests don’t hear confessions enough. They have one priest for one hour on Saturday afternoon, and that’s it for the entire large parish. When the hour is over, he gets up and leaves, no matter how many people may be waiting.
Our priests are also awful confessors, but that’s another story. The real fact of the matter is that the priests don’t like to hear confessions, avoiding making it available, and that’s why people don’t go.
That sounds like our parish in ol’ Virginny, an hour a week on Saturday before the vigil Mass. But the priest does occasionaly urge folks to go. We have a pretty big parish as its the only one around, and I always think “what if EVERYONE showed up?”. That’s pretty bad that your priest just gets up and leaves, dude. Doesn’t sound very “shepard like” to me.
>>the Catholic Church began offering confession in reconciliation rooms, rather than the traditional booths.<<
This is why The Sacrament of Penance” as lost it’s appeal.
I would not in a million years confess face to face.
I would drive miles and go once a year to find a confessional.
St. Ambrose 6070 Church Rd, Elkton, FL, 3203
Has confessions 1/2 before Holy Mass. If there are two priests, they can continue through Mass and you make your obligation (provided mass is within earshot)
I’m so sorry Confessions are difficult in your parish!
For most it is much easier to make confession to a priest who isn’t looking at you and you have more of a sense that you are confessing your sins to God and the priest is sort of a telephone. When you are looking at him and he at you then it is more like you are confessing to a person rather than to God and for many it is harder to do that easily and completely.
Confession can be very hard on a priest. Especially in hard times, the torrent of suffering and anguish can be devastating.
I knew of one young priest, put into a terrible situation as a military chaplain, who when faced with an endless stream of traumatized soldiers, some confessing years of sin and misery, he suffered a nervous breakdown. Realizing there was a severe problem with morale, the unit commander brought forth a senior colonel priest, of the old school. The situation was restored to order in short time, morale improved strongly, and the need for the confessional as psychiatrist couch was changed back to a proper confessional.
Makes one wonder when the last time that McBrien was in a confessional as a penitent let alone as a Priest.