IMPORTANT NOTICE: Due to medical reasons, please expect sporadic delays in all correspondence & services (including processing of posts) over the next few months. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for any prayers.


Please Bookmark This Site, Link To Us & Tell Your Friends!

My Catholic Source.com Christ the King of All Nations My Catholic Source.com My Catholic Source.com

My Catholic Source.com Home

Help

Join E-Mail List

Support This Site

Bookmark Site

Tell a Friend

Link to Us

FAQs

Feedback

By Using This Site, You Agree To All Terms

Search

 

User-Submitted Article

User Submitted Articles | User Posts | Comment On This Article

User-Submitted Article:

Traditional Confession Vs. Modern 'Reconciliation'

Pitfalls, Dangers & Drawbacks of the New Approach

Keyboard

Important Notice: We make no guarantee regarding any item herein. We are not liable for any occurrence which may result from using this site. By using this site you agree to all terms. For terms info., click here.


This is a user-submitted article. We make no guarantees regarding any item herein. Note that views of author do not necessarily reflect our views.


Traditional Confession Vs. Modern 'Reconciliation'

Pitfalls, Dangers & Drawbacks of the New Approach

By Mr. Anthony

Summary: Pitfalls, Dangers & Drawbacks of the New Approach to the Sacrament of Penance

Keywords: Confession, Sacrament of Penance, Reconciliation, Traditional Approach to Penance, Traditional Penances, Problems With 'Modern Style Confession', Confessional, Penitent, Priest, Letter to Confessor

One thing that has been troubling me recently is the institution of a modern 'reconciliation' approach to the sacrament of Penance at our parish. The practice has been recently introduced into the local parish by a newer priest. The priest has a good heart, but I do not believe he realizes the possible negative impact his actions may have on the faithful of the parish. Let me first state that I appreciate the fact that he wants to spend time with the penitent, but I do not believe the confessional is the proper setting for this.

Previous to his arrival in the confessional, the humble priest that proceeded him heard numerous confessions in a succinct manner. This priest gave good advice when it was called for, but he did not 'chit chat' about other matters in the confessional. He also gave penitents traditional penances (e.g. a few prayers). There was ALWAYS a line for his confession and he offered numerous occasions for parishioners to go to confession each week. Many, many people were able to receive the sacrament of Penance from him on a regular basis.

The new priest has a different approach to confession. Despite the physically confining and fairly uncomfortable setting in our rather old parish, the new priest spends a great amount of time with each penitent in the confessional. He asks questions and probes penitents on various matters. I realize he is trying to teach and help the penitent, but I do not believe the confessional is the correct setting for this. As a result of the new approach, lines barely move. In any given time period, few people are now able to have their confessions heard (maybe 6-10 maximum confessions can be heard per hour). A few months ago, I waited in his line (first standing on the hard floor for probably a good half an hour and then waiting in a very uncomfortable kneeling situation for some 10 minutes as the priest heard the other penitent in the other confessional) only to be turned away at the last moment as the priest had to go. This has also happened to other parishioners on a frequent basis. It does not matter if a person has a few slight sins or very large ones to confess - confession now seems to take forever.

Previously, I have mostly been spared this post-Vatican II phenomenon by attendance at the more traditional parishes. Unfortunately, this practice seems to have now infiltrated even the 'most conservative' parish. The only thing that could make the practice worse was if the confessions were face to face! But pardon my digressing. I was only wanting to share my concerns about this approach with others so that Catholics might have an honest discussion about it.

So without further delay, I will get to some of the practical and theological difficulties I have with this approach to the sacrament of Penance.

1. Fewer confessions can be heard in any given time period. This is obviously not good news.

2. The practice discourages frequent confession and thereby results in a loss of graces.

3. Long wait times now discourage parishioners from availing themselves of the sacrament - including those who may have mortal sins to confess. This is a great risk to souls!

4. There is a perceptible change in focus from penitents being sorry for theirs sins to entering self-analysis mode (it can feel as if you are undergoing a pseudo 'therapy session', but with a untrained therapist who is not privy to all details about your life that may be relevant).

5. The new practice seems to downgrade the priest to a 'therapist' or self-help guide rather than God's judge who has an awesome power to retain or forgive your sins.

6. The practice may negatively affect preparation for confession. Since penitents are not expected to 'get right to business' with the new approach, people will probably feel less need to prepare properly as they assume the important points will fall into place as they 'chat with the priest'.

7. Although the matter of confession should be our sins, this can seem lost in all the conversing. Furthermore, one of the most important things in confession for the penitent should be true sorrow for sin, yet this seems to be less of a focus with the new approach.

8. The new approach may change the perception of the sacrament from a supernatural event to a more worldly activity. Rather than focusing exclusively on our sins, we are encouraged to explore many other avenues during the 'discussion'. And, the conversation may get into personal details & feelings that we are uncomfortable discussing, especially if we find the conversion not relevant to sins that we already feel sorrow for.

9. Those who do not arrive early may not bother to go to confession if there is already a line when they arrive. What is the point of waiting so long in line if there is not enough time for their confession to be heard or if they will have to leave before too long in order to meet other commitments they may have?

10. Even if someone arrives early enough to have their confession heard, it may take a good hour for the barely 6 people ahead of them to have their confessions heard. On a practical level (at least at my parish), since the floor is hard and you have to stand for so long, your feet may hurt by the time you make it to the very uncomfortable confessional that you will have to wait in - in a kneeling position - for another 10-15 minutes while the person ahead of you has their confession heard, not to mention that you will have to continue to kneel for 10-15 additional minutes for your own confession. If you are not in very good physical shape and have only venial sins to confess, it is likely you'll take this into account in deciding whether or not you will go to confession on any given day. And, this is compounded by the seemingly inevitable realization that you will need to use the facilities soon (hopefully you can make it until after confession!). For women, less comfortable shoes and heavy purses can present additional burdens to an already physically taxing situation. Children may also find the long wait quite challenging.

11. Confession under the new approach seems to focus a great deal on our efforts, yet it would seem better to instruct us to ask God in prayer for graces to overcome sins rather than simply apply our own efforts for the umpteenth time. We will fail with just our own efforts! The graces from confession are not seen, but they ARE real. There is a real risk here that the grace from the sacrament will not be highlighted. Instead, it can seem like it's all about us & our efforts. And again, if left to our own efforts alone, we will surely fail.

12. It can be hard to be as charitable in line as you might like to be when you know that letting a handicapped or elderly person go ahead of you in line may mean you have to spend an additional 15 minutes waiting for your turn (did I mention you're already standing on the very hard floor for a very long time?), or it may even mean that your allowing them to go first will result in there not being enough time for the priest to hear your confession.

13. This new style of confession gets old after a short while. Most of us probably struggle with the same sins time after time despite our best efforts. We need the grace of God - dispensed by the priest in Confession - to overcome them. While some occasional, quick advice from the priest may be called for and useful, we do not need the priest taking up so much of his valuable time week after week 'chit-chatting' with us about the details of our personal lives and our feelings. Rather, we need the grace of God that the priest alone has been authorized to dispense to us.

14. The practice invites frustration. It is frustrating if you are not able to schedule a long time for confession and are therefore not able to receive the sacrament. It is frustrating to have to wait for a very long time for your confession to be heard (especially when the priest could have heard dozens of confessions in the amount of time you waited but he heard just a few confessions in that time). It is frustrating if you have to wait a long time for confession only to be turned away once you are at the front of the line. It is probably inevitable that people who are not retired will have scheduling issues since so few of these modern style confessions can be heard in any given time period. Therefore it seems that frustration is likewise inevitable under this new approach.

15. The practice may cause people to avoid or delay their confessions, especially when they have only venial sins to confess. In my case, I find that I now try to avoid this parish for confession and look elsewhere.

16. The new approach can change the dynamic between priests & penitents. The priest may no longer be seen as a judge or authoritative representative of Christ, but rather a mere 'coach' or 'therapist'. It can lead to a lack of appreciation for and respect for the priest's God-given authority and incredible power.

17. The practice may ultimately cost souls! Persons who might have otherwise confessed their sins may die without the sacrament of confession because getting their confession heard was made too difficult.

18. Excessively long confessions can lead people not familiar with this new approach to think a penitent must have had very many sins to confess since their confession took so long. This can be rather embarrassing and/or uncomfortable for both parties.

19. It can be extremely difficult for large families to avail themselves of frequent confession under this new approach as the time required for the one family's confessions alone could take up the entire amount of time allotted for confessions for all persons for that day. That is not good for that family and it is certainly not good for the other families at the parish.

20. Someone, having only venial sins to confess, who is cognizant of the fact that confessions under the modern approach may take so long may feel guilty for taking up space in line considering that someone else who needs confession even more than they do may miss out on receiving the sacrament.

21. The mood or atmosphere for confession under the new approach can become inappropriate. Heartfelt sorrow for actual sins committed can easily take backstage to a introspective look at oneself and one's feelings.

22. Hand-in-hand with the modern style confession may come dreaded non-specific penances, for example performing an 'act of kindness', contemplating something over a given period of time, etc., etc. Many Catholics dread these non-specific penances that don't address the offended person (God), may be hard to carry out or remember, are motivated by obligation/self-interest rather than kindness, involve a lot of uncertainty (was that small act a sufficient 'act of kindness'?), are sometimes hard to do at all or at least in a timely manner (e.g. when one has to go home to an empty house with no one to do an 'act of kindness' for after an evening confession), etc.

23. Even for people who like the new approach, there is a danger that they will become used to this type of penance and when they later experience the traditional style of confession, they may feel confused or unprepared, and may even think the priest was short with them or uncaring.

24. The modern approach to penance can leave the penitent with a very different mental outlook after confession. For example, rather than feeling peaceful & thanking God for His forgiveness and generosity after a traditional confession that was so brief, yet so powerful, the penitent who underwent the modern style confession may feel uneasiness (for example, the penitent may feel anxiety about the personal matters discussed, his feelings, or about the plan he should take in the future), and may endure much mental activity (e.g. going over points made by/with the priest), and perhaps experience various concerns (e.g. that took a lot of my day away/I have a lot to do, I still have work to do - e.g. 'act of kindness', I said the wrong thing, I don't like discussing my feelings, etc.).

All in all, I do not believe this modern approach to confession is a very good thing. Confession is a tremendous blessing that is typically given with so little relative effort on our part and so much generosity and grace given on God's part. Proper Catholic formation teaches the penitent to prepare for confession properly and to not be superfluous with words. For those who take proper advantage of the sacrament, the rewards are immense. Confession is so critically important in living a good Catholic life. It should be encouraged and facilitated, not made more uncomfortable, overly time-consuming, or unnecessarily difficult or unpleasant. One should not have to dread the excessive wait times, dread the taxing physical conditions leading up to confession, dread the discussion of personal details & feelings that are not relevant to sins that you are already sorry for, or dread the unspecific, difficult to complete penances. One should also not fear that there will be insufficient time for their confession to be heard.

If we need to speak with a priest about personal matters or our feelings, we should make an appointment to see him privately. Confession is primarily for the priest to use his great power in dispensing the sacrament of forgiveness to as many people as possible. It is not designed for therapy or as a primary form of Catholic instruction. Those things are best done outside the confessional.

So where does this leave us as lay people if a priest continues to employ this approach? If parishioners choose to do nothing about the situation, there may be little chance of improvement. The result may be fewer confessions, fewer graces, more frustration, etc., etc. The priest may have no idea whatsoever that there are legitimate concerns among the laity if he his not told.

On the other hand, if parishioners approach the priest directly, various things could go wrong (e.g. the parishioner may feel nervous, the conversation may get off track, the priest may be offended, there may not be enough time for a useful back & forth discussion, etc.). For these reasons, some may find it advisable to address the matter in writing so the issues may be addressed in a more comfortable, well-thought out manner and so that they can be evaluated by the priest at his convenience. For those who choose the written option, I will present below a sample letter that may be helpful as a starting point. My hope is that it may prove useful for members of the laity who are seeking to end this practice at their parish.

Finally, I realize that there are some liberal-minded priests who will never be willing to change, but I also believe there are other priests who would be willing to make adjustments if they could be made to appreciate the potentially negative consequences of the new method. For this latter group, it seems worth a try.

May God bless & aid you in your efforts to restore a more traditional approach to the sacrament of Penance.

- - - - - - - - - - Sample Letter - - - - - - - - - -

Dear Father [Name],

Thank you for your work on behalf of Christ's flock. Your many efforts and daily sacrifices for the laity and the Church do not go unnoticed. I therefore write today with confidence in your goodness as I attempt to raise a matter of some concern for your consideration. As a dedicated & holy priest, I know you have the best interest of the flock in mind, and I therefore hope that you will give some consideration to the concerns I will outline below. I pray that you will forgive my ineptness with words and only consider whether the points I bring up have any validity or not.

Ultimately, what I am asking for is that you will introduce [or restore] a more traditional style of penance at the parish as I believe the more modern style that is being used here has a number of drawbacks. For example, in comparison with the more traditional style of penance, the more modern style of reconciliation that is being used here at the parish...

1. Takes much longer, so fewer confessions can be heard in any given time period.

2. Discourages frequent confession, which thereby results in a loss of graces.

3. Results in much longer waiting times for confession, which discourages parishioners from availing themselves of the sacrament. Some may even die without the sacrament of confession because getting their confession heard was made too difficult.

4. May change penitents' focus away from being sorry for sins as this aspect tends to become less central to the whole experience.

5. May reduce the priest to a 'therapist' or self-help guide in the minds of the laity rather than our seeing him as God's judge who has an awesome power to retain or forgive our sins.

6. May change the perception of the sacrament from being a supernatural event to a more worldly activity (e.g. self-help or therapy session).

7. May become unnecessarily uncomfortable for the penitent (e.g. when drifting into matters & feelings not directly related to sins that the penitent is already sorry for).

8. Can tend to focus a great deal on our efforts, yet wouldn't it be better to ask God in prayer for graces to overcome sins rather than simply apply our own efforts for the umpteenth time? We will fail with just our own efforts! As Catholics, we know that the graces from confession are not seen, but they ARE real.

9. Often goes hand-in-hand with dreaded non-specific penances. Many Catholics seriously dread these non-specific penances that can cause anxiety and often cannot be completed before we leave the church.

10. Can leave the penitent with a very different mental outlook after confession (e.g. uneasiness & anxiety may take the place of peace & thanksgiving).

In my own experience, I find that the more modern style of reconciliation has had specific negative effects on me personally [detail them here - e.g. delaying confession, stopping frequent confession, anxiety over the non-specific penances, anxiety over whether there will be enough time to hear my confession, leading me to avoid the parish, etc.]

I know that Confession is a tremendous blessing - and that is so critically important in living a good Catholic life. It should be encouraged and facilitated for all Catholics, being as brief and to the point as possible so that more people will be encouraged to attend. Proper Catholic formation teaches penitents to prepare for confession properly and not be superfluous with words. If we need to speak with a priest about personal matters or our feelings, we should be encouraged to make an appointment with him outside the confessional. As Confession is primarily for the priest to use his great power in dispensing the sacrament of forgiveness to as many people as possible, it is regrettable if the sacrament is ever misused as 'therapy' or as a primary form of Catholic instruction. Those things are best done outside the confessional. While some occasional, quick advice from the priest may be called for and useful, we should not take up so much of his valuable time 'chit-chatting' with him in the confessional. Rather, we need the grace of God - that the priest alone has been authorized to dispense to us - given to as many people as possible.

As I particularly respect your great commitment to God's work both inside and outside the confessional, I therefore place this matter in your hands with confidence in your zeal for souls and love of God. Please consider introducing [or restoring] a more traditional style of penance at the parish.

Thank you for your consideration.

May God bless & keep you.

- - - - - - - - - - End of Sample Letter - - - - - - - - - -

Signature ImageSignature: By Mr. Anthony


Also Try...

Click Link Below To View:

Submit a Comment About this Article ('add post')

Read Comments Regarding this Article (if applicable)

Read Other User-Submitted Articles

Submit Your Own Article

More About User-Submitted Articles

Read User-Submitted Posts

Submit Your Own Post

For Information Related To This Topic Try:

Confession / Penance (Topic Page)

Sacraments (Topic Page)

Traditional Catholic (Topic Page)

More Information / Resources:

Click Here For Help => 10,000+ Topics!

Click Here For Thousands of Quotations From Popes, Saints, Scripture, Etc. Categorized By Section

Looking For a Great Catholic Home Page? Try the MCS Daily Digestâ„¢ (click here)

Didn't find what you were looking for? Try Here


We make no guarantees regarding any item herein. By using this site you indicate agreement to all terms. For terms information, see "Important Notice" above and click here.

 Help | Terms of UseOther FAQs

 

Also See...

* Penance / Confession (Topic Page)

* Sacraments (Topic Page)

* Traditional Catholic (Topic Page)

 

MCS Directory

(click here)

"Your Source For All Things Catholic!"

Click for Listings from 'Advertising' to 'Wholesalers'

List Your Catholic Product or Catholic Service FREE! Other listings just $24.95/yr.!+

List Your Business+

Sales & Specials

(click here)

'Click to Save on Catholic & Non-Catholic Products and Services'

Place Your Ad+

Catholic Community Center 

Completely Free!

Announcements

Answered Prayers

Catholic Basics

Catholic Book Review & Exchange

Catholic Events

Catholic Fun & Activities

Catholic Life

Catholic Links

Catholic News Links / Current Issues

Catholic Seniors

Church Talk

Coming Home

Feed Your Faith

Give & Take

Good News

Increase Holiness

Latin Mass & Catholic Tradition

Mary Our Mother

Non-Catholics

Notable Catholic Laity

Our Father's Love

Personal Stories of Inspiration

Prayer Requests

Prayers & Devotions

Priests & Vocations

Rosary

Sacraments

Saints

Scripture/Parables

Scripture Exchange

St. Francis Page for Pets

Vatican View

Volunteers' Corner

Why I Love Being Catholic

Support Your Community Center

'Pin it'

'Tweet This Site'

Notice: Clicking links above

leaves this site

More Information

Problem With Link?

Click to Support Quality Catholic Content - FREE!

Click for Vatican Gifts Starting Under $5.00

Our Pledge To Donors

What Your Donation Might Do

About Us

Classifieds

(click here)

Place Your Ad Today For Just $9.95!+

Announcements

Catholic Buddies

Catholic Organizations / Groups

Catholic Products

Catholic Services

Employment / Occupational

For Sale

Professional Services / Trades

Miscellaneous

Other Products

Other Services

Wanted

More...

 

 

   

 

 

 

Home

MCS Daily Digest

Quick Guide to This Site

What's New

Reception Desk

Notices

Coming Soon

Featured Sections

URL Shortcuts

Calendar

Goals / Purpose

This site is really free?

How can I add a "post" here?

Mission Statement

Privacy Statement

Imprimatur Information

Terms of Use

by using this site, you agree to all terms

MCS Directory

Community Center

Commercial Areas

Non-Catholics

About Us

FAQs

Tell a Friend

Invite a Business

Link to Us

My Catholic Source.com Blog & RSS Feed Info.

Third Party Programs

Awards

Feedback

Contact Us

This site powered by bfsnet.com

 Powered by bfsnet.com

Try Here For Great Catholic Apps!

Catholic Bible References (Click For More Information)

Catholic Bible References - Available on the App Store (click to download)

Catholic Bible References for Android - Available on Google Play (click to download)

Catholic Bible References for Android - Available at Amazon Appstore for Android (click to download)

iStations / Stations of the Cross (Click For More Information)

iStations - Available on the App Store (click to download)

iStations for Android - Available on Google Play (click to download)

iStations for Android - Available at Amazon Appstore for Android (click to download)

Saints4U (Click For More Information)

Saints4U - Available on the App Store (click to download)

Saints4U for Android - Available on Google Play (click to download)

Saints4U for Android - Available at Amazon Appstore for Android (click to download)

And Other Great Apps...

Speedy Dial! (Click For More Information)

Speedy Dial! - Available on the App Store (click to download)

Speedy Dial! for Android - Available on Google Play (click to download)

Speedy Dial! for Android - Available at Amazon Appstore for Android (click to download)

Just Checkin' In (Click For More Information)

Just Checkin' In - Available on the App Store (click to download)

Just Checkin' In for Android - Available on Google Play (click to download)

Just Checkin' In for Android - Available at Amazon Appstore for Android (click to download)

 

  


Click to shop at Amazon.com in support of MyCatholicSource.com

Click to shop at Amazon.com in support of MyCatholicSource.com [Click this image for Amazon Search - 'Catholic statues'] Click to shop at Amazon.com in support of MyCatholicSource.com [Click this image for Amazon Search - 'Catholic jewelry medals'] Click to shop at Amazon.com in support of MyCatholicSource.com [Click this image for Amazon Search - 'Crucifix'] Click to shop at Amazon.com in support of MyCatholicSource.com [Click this image for Amazon Search - 'Rosary beads'] Click to shop at Amazon.com in support of MyCatholicSource.com [Click this image for Amazon Search - 'Catholic artwork'] Click to shop at Amazon.com in support of MyCatholicSource.com

Notice: Clicking image/links above leaves this site. We do not recommend any website/product/service/seller/etc.

Reminder: Available items may differ from those pictured above.

More Information | Problem With Link?


iStations / Stations of the Cross (Click For More Information)       Catholic Bible References (Click For More Information)       Saints4U (Click For More Information)       Speedy Dial! (Click For More Information)       Just Checkin' In (Click For More Information)

Try Here For Great Catholic Apps!

Click For Android Versions


Please bookmark this site and visit often! 

| Home | Help | Quick Guide | Reception Desk | About Us | Terms of Use | Our MissionWhat's New |

| FAQs | Notices | MCS Calendar | MCS Daily Digest | Topic Pages | Featured Sections | Site Update |

| Check System Date/Time | URL Shortcuts | Question? | Code of Conduct | Privacy Statement |

| Section Info. | Your Posts | Timetables | Where to Post | Where to Find Posts | Submission Tips |

| Contribution Maximums | Support This Site | Tell a Friend | Invite a Business | Link to Us |

| Bookmark This Site | Guest BookDid You Know? | Site Benefits | Awards | Commercial Sections |

| MyCatholicSource.com Blog & RSS Feed Info. | Third Party Programs | Acknowledgements |

 | Search Site | Join Mailing List | Technical Assistance | Report Technical Problem |

| Post/User Problems | Contact Us | Feedback | Copyright Notice / Permissions |

| Make MyCatholicSource.com Your Default Home Page |

Thank you for being part of over 4,000,000 visitors to MyCatholicSource.com since 2009!  *

Click Here To Help Keep Us Online


Experiencing technical problems with this site? Please click "Report Technical Problem" link above

* Number of visits is based on raw, unfiltered access logs

+All ads subject to our terms. Price indicated may be base price for non-refundable processing fee, excluding tax, optional ad enhancements, etc. "Place your ad" / "list your business" / "list your Catholic product or service free" / etc. is not a guarantee that any ad will appear on this site. Payment of processing fee does not assure appearance of ad on site. References to target cycles (e.g. "just $##.##/yr.") are not guarantees [ads that appear on the site may appear for a longer or shorter time than the indicated target cycles (e.g. from 0 days to multiples of a target cycle)] and are subject to change at any time without notice (either retroactively or on a go-forward basis, either individually / selectively / grouped / or in total).

 

Reminders: You may not copy / distribute (including via e-mail, website, etc.) / sell / etc. information contained on this site (or any images) or use them for any commercial purpose whatsoever. All applicable content is owned by us and is protected by copyright laws. Any unauthorized reproduction / distribution / use of such content is prohibited by law and may result in severe civil and criminal penalties. Note that we reserve the right to prosecute violators to the maximum extent possible. Also note that views of others do not necessarily reflect our views. We make no guarantees regarding any item herein and we not responsible/liable for any consequences which may occur as a - direct or indirect - result of use of this site. By using this site (or associated materials), you agree to hold us harmless for all damages in connection with use of this site (or other materials), regardless of their nature. Remember that we are not a party to others' transactions / activities (including posting, browsing of posts/ads, transfers, contacts / correspondence, etc.) even if information regarding the transactions / activities appears on this site or other materials of ours, and that we do not mediate disputes. You are solely responsible for all consequences of your transactions / activities. Use of this site is at your own risk, with no liability whatsoever to us. By using this site, you agree to all terms. For more terms information, click here.

 

Copyright © 2001-2016, B.F.S. All rights reserved.

MyCatholicSource.com & BFSApps are divisions of B.F.S. | DR10.28.12 11:23:33 -0600LUP