Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Three Prongs for Confession

Here's the deal.  I'm just a guy in the pews.  Most of what I know about Catholicism is self taught.  I have no degrees in theology so everything I have learned has been from books, CD's or retreats for the most part.   So, I'm no expert by any means.  But, I think I'm right when I say the sacrament of reconciliation is fabulous and is too under used and unappreciated--in my little opinion.  Furthermore, I think one of the reasons that it is under used is because Catholics don't understand it and they don't understand it because it's not taught like it should be in most parishes.  I get frustrated because I know what it means and I know what it can do for a person.  I have a passion for the sacrament of reconciliation.  Yet, I see parishes that get more excited about a parking lot than they are about a reconciliation service.

I firmly believe that reconciliation should be used by everyone and used often.  So, here is a three pronged plan on how to expand the use of confession.
  1. Teach/Preach Sin--I don't think we really understand what sin is and what it does to our soul.  I wouldn't be surprised if many people don't think the sin at all.  I don't think that people know what mortal sin is and what it means to be in a state of mortal sin.  I think if people knew that being in mortal sin means death and separation from God they would do whatever they need to do to get into a state of grace.  But, to teach about sin is scary and we don't want to scare the kids.  Preaching about life and death and the possibility of Hell seems to be frowned upon.   There is a way to preach about sin and Hell and eternal damnation though, without preaching fire and brimstone.  After all, through Jesus, we can break the chains of sin and escape the fires of Hell.  But, if we aren't taught we don't know that.  It is much more loving to teach truth and about sin and Hell than it is to cover it up so we don't know about it.
  2. Teach/Preach Confession--I believe another reason people don't go to reconciliation is because they don't understand it.  They think that they can just go to God in prayer and be forgiven for their sins.  They don't understand that we are only fooling ourselves when we do that.   Jesus gave us the sacrament because He understands that we are human and that we need to humble ourselves, and get our sins off our chests.  It is through reconciliation that we are given the grace to not sin.   People don't understand that we should go to confession at least once a year and definitely when we are in a state of mortal sin.  I heard a story a while back of a youth minister who sent out emails reminding the teens that confirmation was soon and they should go to confession.   She was contacted by a parent who told her that her teen had already gone to their first reconciliation.  (The key word is "first"--which means there should be a second, and a third etc etc)   We need to teach how to go to confession so that people will be more comfortable. Heck, just go to where I posted how to go right here.  It should be preached to us in the homilies how important confession is.
  3. Have reconciliation--I heard someone say once that if you are only offering confessions once a month then you are not really offering confession and I find that very true.  If a parish only has a confessions once a month then I feel they are telling their parishoners that confession isn't that important.  I have seen with my own eyes that parishes that offer confession often have lines to the confessional.   Once a week is good but even more often than that is better.  I think it would be fantastic if parishes would have daily confession like they have daily mass.   I've seen lines to confession with people of all ages, young and old, men and women at parishes that have daily confession.   I think daily confession is a blessing to any parish that has it.
I don't think these things would be very difficult to do.  I think the most difficult thing to do is to change the mindset.  No, every homily should not be fire and brimstone.   Every class should not have confession shoved down their throats.  And I understand that priests aren't able to always have daily confession.  But let's start somewhere.  We are to spread the Good News and part of that is to spread the word of God's mercy.  We receive that mercy through reconciliation.   We are supposed to be saving souls.  We don't do that if we downplay sin and the need for confession.

So, any priest who is reading this---please--start somewhere.  I'll start by offering my prayers.


  1. Our parish is very blessed to have priests who hear Confessions everyday before Mass (except Thursdays and Sundays) and who make time for Confession by appointment as well.

    I pray that every single parish in the world will one day offer daily Confession again (or as much as one priest can handle).

    St. John Vianney, Cure D'Ars and patron of parish priests, pray for us!

  2. There is coming a time when there will be many more desiring to confess.

  3. Our parish offers more than it used to... Always a line. I, too, have passion for the sacrament. I wish I had the time and humility to go daily.

  4. I am newly returned to the catholic Church ( I was baptized Catholic, as the sacrament of communion is most important it would make sense that confession was offered daily - and especially - on Sunday - I would say 1 hour to 30 minutes or so before an early mass. Why? Because once a person..especially a new Christian feels they have unconfessed sin they may stop taking the communion. Once you lose that - you stop coming to mass. Confession, is part of getting strength. No one going to confession? C'mon, no one is perfect. You don't need confession you don't need the church and obviously that is not true. You let one new Christian come to mass and begin the habit of not receiving the Eucharist and you have trouble. It should be plain to all Priests.