Confession Confession

I was astounded to read this comment from a Catholic on my post about confession:

You mean, you still do confessions ? How quaint ! I haven’t been since the priest started to take an inordinate interest in my pubescent mastabatory experiences. I thought it was kind of odd then, and I think it’s kind of odd now. I much prefer the communal penance services. My personal sins are so venal [sic] and small (even though you might think of some of them as mortal) compared to the wickedness and sinfulness of society, including the Church.

Let’s do a little discussion group exercise. What sins do you see displayed in this statement? Are they serious sins? Is this person correct that his sins are ‘venal and small’? Has he fallen into theological error? If so, what error is it? Does he have the correct understanding of the importance of the sacrament of reconciliation? Is his (and his priest’s) practice of confession correct?

Answers in the combox please!

Top 12 Catholic Beards
Tied Up in the Blame Game?
Pagans or Puritans...You Choose
Hilarity and Holiness
  • Niall

    I immediately thought of Luke 18vv9-14:"He also told this parable to som who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector,standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."

  • mbrandon8026

    Here is my Confession confession.I have been to confession in many states and provinces over almost 60 years, which includes a 10 year period of being a lapsed Catholic.As I have grown in my faith the grace of Confession or now better known as the Sacrament of Reconciliation has sustained me, such that I am not afraid of my own sinfulness, but realise that my sinfulness merely shows me who is God and who is not, and who is in need of a Saviour. That would be me.On one particular day I was reconciled in a way like never before as I went into the confessional before a priest in Dallas Texas. As I confessed my sins, it was as though he suddenly ripped my heart out of my chest and showed me the true sins of my life. He said: "What about impatience and irritability?" There they were right in front of my eyes, darkening my heart. "Yes, those too", I stammered.Moments later I was outside the confessional, blown away and shriven. 25 years later, when I start to get impatient or irritable, I am drawn back to that moment, and stop myself, because I do not want my heart to look that ugly again.I love the Sacrament of Reconciliation, because it allows me to be set free, through grace of the sins of my life. That God has granted the grace of administering the sacrament to our Alter Christus priests is a mystery that I embrace.

  • Christine the Soccer Mom

    Well, I won't repeat what's been said before, but Penance Services are to be followed by private Confession for each penitent. Cited priest was wrong (if the story is accurate), doesn't mean that's what it's like. I mean, just because one person does something doesn't mean everyone in that vocation will. I would be appalled if someone lumped me in with the mothers who "homeschool" their children and keep them hidden and abused! Gracious!

  • Mark

    "I haven't been since the priest started to take an inordinate interest in my pubescent mastabatory experiences. I thought it was kind of odd then, and I think it's kind of odd now."Last time I checked this qualified as a mortal sin. Could the priest have been concerned about what was causing said experiences? Wanting to remove that sin (presumably pornography) from your life too? As a recent convert to the Church (I will be confirmed at Easter). I have found much comfort and (as other often say) my faith has grown deeper, realizing their is help, reminding me of the grace God has given me. Confession is not an option, it is not quaint (every single parish I know of gives confession at least once a week) the CCC tells us to go once a year and to not receive communion with a mortal sin on our souls-doing so is itself a mortal sin. The guidance I have received from priests is to go every three to four weeks even for general confession if you have no mortal sins. Reconciliation is also a place of council and guidance on how to rid our lives of sin, a never ending process on this lifetime.

  • Aaron

    Well, there's obviously a lot of pride there–one of the biggies sin-wise–and also not keeping the precepts of the Church, since annual Confession is one of those. Rejecting the teachings of your faith because of the suspicious actions of one man is silly, but I'm not sure what sin(s) it is.The real shame about so many people not going to Confession is that it's so needed today! People have no idea what to do with their guilt, or the hurt that's been done to them by others. Some spend thousands of dollars and hours in counseling to try to justify and/or understand their actions that they aren't happy about, when five minutes in the confessional would take care of it: "I did this, I'm truly sorry, and I won't do it again. Done." Others try to define away the guilt by defining away sin; so instead of dealing with their guilt, they just refuse to admit they should ever feel guilty. But that's a fragile logic that's not likely to hold up well under life's tragedies. Confession is the way out–the way to acknowledge your guilt but not marinate in it.

  • Whimsy

    I was actually quite proud of your readers for not taking the bait.

  • Paul Stilwell

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Maureen

    Well, it's entirely possible that he did have a creepy priest at his parish who was Up to No Good. (In which case I hope he at some time has spoken to the police about it.)But that certainly wouldn't mean that the entire Church, from its founding by Jesus Christ to the last five minutes, has absolutely no room to talk about sin. I mean, that's like condemning all pencils as murder weapons just because some people have managed to murder somebody with them.On the bright side, anybody who shows up voluntarily for communal penance services without private Confession (surely the lamest experience ever, for someone in the pews) is clearly very attached to the Church, the Sacraments, and the aural mortification of sitting around during lame talks.

  • servingblogger

    Boy, sounds like y'all still hung up on masturbation !

  • TH2

    C.S. Lewis' Screwtape came to mind whilst reading that comment: "It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. … Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts."Sleep well.

  • Mike M

    I think a large part of the benefit of Confession is that admission of how broken we are. How could I take any satisfaction in thinking that others have wounded Christ more than I have?Some day, we'll each stand before Christ to account for our lives. While I've never gone on a shooting spree or anything, I'm (rightfully) pretty horrified when I imagine my perfect God looking at the countless ways I've rejected Him. But, of course, that horror doesn't approach the joy of knowing that he has set out a way for me to seek His endless mercy.If you're not yet ready to enter the Confessional (and I'll admit, there have been many times where I've been like that) I'm not sure that you're really sufficiently humbled by your sinfulness.

  • Fr Longenecker

    SB–Masturbation? You're the one who brought it up (so to speak) and now has done so again.Perhaps you're the one who's obsessed.

  • StevieD

    I understand that it is not unusual for non-Catholic clergy to avail themselves of the confessional. This seems to be a high recommendation and fairly logical when you think about it, totally confidential and anonymous soul baring must be very therapeutic if done properly for most people and it's free to anyone! I agree totally that the 'little' uncorrected and unrepented sins are the ones that do the great (and possibly fatal) damage to the soul. It took me many years to understand that.

  • veritas

    Interesting Servingblogger,The only person who mentioned masturbation was you.So guess who's got the hang up?

  • shadowlands

    I thought everyone had a hang up about masturbation? I know do. And with teenage boys, it needs clarifying, both for me and them.As Father Larry Richard's said once, at a male only conference."Gentleman, when did you hear your last good homily on masturbation?Me personally? Never. That's why I like the fact Father D raises these issues and let's us commenter's discuss them under the auspicious(sp?) of the Church's protection/authority.A kinda 'safe sex', if you will…Let's have a lot more of it, I say. (Discussion, I mean!!!)

  • Elizabeth Mahlou

    I don't believe it is ever "quaint" to reconcile oneself with God. Even with no sin to speak of (although it is hard to imagine sinless conditions), reconciliation is a special and wonderful thing.

  • romishgraffiti

    I thought of Chesterton in Chap 2 of Orthodoxy:If it be true (as it certainly is) that a man can feel exquisite happiness in skinning a cat, then the religious philosopher can only draw one of two deductions. He must either deny the existence of God, as all atheists do; or he must deny the present union between God and man, as all Christians do. The new theologians seem to think it a highly rationalistic solution to deny the cat.That is to say, if someone asked me what sin the average Truther was, I'd say we have a cart-before-horse problem.Scott W.

  • laurazim

    Rats. I came into this one a little late. But here's my offering:How about the sin of presumption? Of presuming that no matter what I have done, do today, or will do tomorrow, that God will just forgive me, without my confessing and asking for His mercy? After all, He died on the Cross and has washed away my sins in the Blood of the Lamb, right? And I'm a "good person," and that's enough.But here's the thing: Even the things which seem small, which consume, at times, out days: laziness, irritation, anger, arrogance, pride, indulgence, small cheats, white lies, taking advantage of others' generosity and kindness–these things add up…and some of them merely seem small, though they certainly are not small in the eyes of God.I am not one to encourage scrupulosity, for Pete's sake, but now that our family has come into the habit of frequent confession, I cannot imagine going a month without it. What a blessing of balm and mercy it is to hear the words of Christ, spoken through the good priests who wait patiently for us to come and receive the absolution that we so desperately need!+JMJ+