More Confession, Please…

… Here’s my take away from last week’s discussion on Confession on Demand — we need more access to the sacrament. Period.

When did one hour a week per parish become the norm anyway?

If your parish is tiny than I suppose this would suffice, but I’ve been to huge parishes with thousands of families and still the congregation is offered one hour a week. My own parish offers confession twice weekly; however, that is not typical of the diocese.

Obviously we need more priests. Also obvious, we need our current priests to place performing sacraments in priority over administrative duties.

As my seminarian friend stated, “we are getting ordained to perform the sacraments, not attend meetings.” Most comments seem to agree being busy was not a valid excuse, this coming from other priests.

So perhaps Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry’s advice wasn’t all that bad. In fact, I will contend it was probably very good advice.

Go into a church at random.
Find a priest.
Tell the priest you need a confession now.

As Fr John Corrigan noted,

Maybe if a priest who only schedules the token half hour each week was inundated by good confessions on demand, he might learn to value the sacrament more and minister it with greater generosity and zeal. Think about that next time the Holy Spirit prompts you to “cold-call.” It might be part of a larger plan!

Confession is vital. Something so vital needs to be accessible. How can we do this?

What can the laity do to help priests better manage their time? Can they assume more administrative duties and volunteer more?

Are we as parents instilling in our children the need for frequent confession – through daily examinations of conscience and contrition and taking them to confession even if they don’t need to just so they can witness you going?

Do we pray for an increase in vocations and encourage our seminarians?

Mostly… do we go to confession with regularity?

We can tell priest “more confession, please” but he’s probably not going to be quick at accommodating us if we don’t make frequent use of the sacrament.

Remind the priest why he’s in that box — to save souls.

I want to thank those who participated in the discussion and left insightful comments. I also want to thank Pascal for getting the topic started.

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  • David J. White

    So many lay people seem to want to participate in the functions of their parish priest or take an active part in the liturgy in some way — such as serving as EMHCs or lectors, for example. Well, how about instead offering to serve as a parish administrator, accountant, financial consultant, etc.? Surely there are parishioners who have more qualifications and experience in business matters than the pastor has. Of course, that means that you won’t be up there on the Sanctuary where people can see you and think how wonderful you are — your contribution would be behind the scenes. But helping out the pastor by taking over non-sacramental administrative functions would help free him up for those things that he alone can do.

    • James

      I know enough stories of parish priests mishandling money that leaving the administrative functions to the laity would be an improvement for all involved.

      Priests stay in a parish for a few years before being reassigned. Families (at least those who get involved) may stay in a parish for a lifetime. The laity has far more “skin in the game” in this area than the clergy.

  • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

    As I said, we are blessed to have confessions 5 days a week at our parish. However, besides our cathedral, where confession is available twice a day everyday, not many parishes offer more than the perfunctory weekly hour, even when the line is too long for just an hour. Our previous pastor, when leaving the confessional, would master-of-factly say to those still in line who were not parishioners to write to their pastors and to the bishop begging for more confession times at their parishes.

  • DeaconsBench

    We offer the sacrament six days a week at my parish, immediately following the 12:05 Mass every afternoon. If a priest blocks out 30-40 minutes to say Mass and another 30-45 minutes to hear confessions, is that too much of a sacrifice out of his day? I don’t think so. Our parish almost always has a line for the daily confessions. Why don’t more parishes do this? Why don’t more priests arrange their schedules to make the sacrament more available?

    • RPlavo .

      Today’s priests are part of a culture that says “do as little as possible”; they hide behind “joint” penance services with other parishes twice a year….

  • http://uniconoclast.com/ Uniconoclast

    A Spanish order runs our parish, and they make it a point to offer confession for half an hour before EVERY MASS. That’s twice on weekdays, three times on Saturdays, and four times on Sundays. And there always seems to be a confession line because Catholics from all over the city know to come to our parish. We need more priests from Disciples of The Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

  • kirthigdon

    Is one hour per week per parish actually the norm? I’ve never belonged to nor visited a parish which did not offer more than this – in several cases daily confession before Masses. Admittedly my adult experiences have been in southern California and Texas and perhaps these areas have been less affected by the priest shortage which seems to be worse in the northeast and northern midwest. I grew up in the midwest before the priest shortage so there were plenty of opportunites for confession then.

    Kirt Higdon

    • Dan13

      One hour per week per parish along with by appointment (presumably for people who have to work on Saturday afternoons) is the norm for most parishes in my northeast diocese. Most parishes in my diocese are smallish, however. I think the Cathedral has daily confessions as do the Franciscans. There’s a Jesuit college in my diocese that might offer daily confession as well. Although, I don’t live in the central city of the diocese.

    • Christine Hebert

      The Franciscan run parish in my city has confession each week day and on Saturday. My parish has about 45 minutes a week or by appointment. Our homeschool group is blessed to have a priest of our diocese who offers us First Friday Mass and adoration as well as confession. He evens takes the time to get to know the children and teaches them how to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. It does seem as though most of our diocesan priests are spread very thin here in my northeastern diocese.

  • vox borealis

    We are lucky to attend a large urban parish that is not a “real” parish: by that, I mean it’s a historic downtown church (not a normal parish); lots of smeels and bells, lots of tourists, etc; and as such *always* gets preference for extra priests. In the past, we have had at least the pastor plus a priest in residence, and sometimes three priests if there is a rare newly ordained priest in the diocese (the youngins usually are sent to one of the big churches for a year or two to get their feet wet). Anyway, that means we have “extra” priests for the sacrament. Confession is offered before every mass (daily and on Sunday), but only 15 minutes before. However, the parish still maintains something of the older tradition of having confessions continue through the beginning of mass—usually the priest stays in the confessional until teh readings though never later than the Gospel.

    Frankly, I would have them stay in the box until communion, or have someone in there earlier. Still, as far as it goes these days, the confession is offered at my parish pretty generously…despite my grousing.

  • terentiaj63

    One hour per week, mid afternoon on Saturday-every single parish in my diocese. One parish has 30 minutes of confession before Mass on first Fridays. That’s it. If you can’t make it then, you are out of luck. Of course, you can schedule an appointment, if you are willing to give up your right to anonymity

  • Eliana

    Our parish has confession before each Mass (one on Sat. evening, three on Sunday) – and during Mass up until Offertory.

  • http://pegobry.tumblr.com/ Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

    Thanks a lot. And I particularly want to thank Fr. Corrigan for that great quote.

  • Maryse Usher

    The priests in our city-fringe parish offer 20 sessions of confession a WEEK. More and more people are coming because they get really good spiritual direction as well. Beat that!

  • Liesa Gonzalez

    My son attends a state university. The Catholic student center only offers confession for FIFTEEN MINUTES each week. Seriously??? At a public university, one would think that the residing priest would never leave the confessional. Don’t tell me that the Catholic students there are not in need of confessional even more than the general population. This priest does NOTHING else. NOTHING. There is absolutely zero reason for him not to offer the sacrament frequently. UGH!

  • dan hunter

    Yes.
    We need confession ESPECIALLY right before the Holy Sacrifice.
    Many of us sin on Saturday night and must confess the sin [if mortal] before receiving Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, if we go to Communion.
    I know the FSSP and SSPX priests always here confessions before EVERY SINGLE mass on weekdays and Sundays.
    After all this is why the priest is ordained.

  • Kristen

    I’ve seen tons of parishes with 1 hour (or 1/2 hour) on Saturday afternoons — or schedule an appointment which takes an extra level of guts. Or communal penance services with opportunity for private confession, usually twice a year.

    What can laity do?

    (1) Give more money so that the parish can hire more lay staff. I haven’t seen these stats in a while but the last time I saw, the average Catholic gave just about half what the average Protestant gives. If the church could afford to hire more business managers that would free up a lot of priest time. Balancing budgets is not a sacerdotal function.

    Volunteering is good too, but a lot of this just has to be someone’s full-time job. Occasionally you’ll find a retiree with skills who is willing to do such things without pay — but that’s not common and can’t be relied on.

    (2) Be more comfortable with laypeople in roles of significant power. (I don’t mean power in a bad “power-grabbing” sense, but in a sense of power has to be vested somewhere.) Obviously some people in the church already are. But many are not, and think the priests should do everything because they’re priests. That wasn’t a good idea when the seminaries were bursting and is utterly infeasible now.

  • defiant12314

    Or you could just to and live in Fatmia, always lots of Priests there, although I can’t vouch for the quality of their English (very nice to be able to go to confession every day though).


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