Communal Reconcilliation for First Confession

My RCIA director told me that our First Confession would be a Communal Reconcilliation service with all of the RCIA members (and anyone they wanted to bring with them). She explained how this would work with each of us speaking privatly to the priest, in front of everyone else. :frowning:

I am 41 years old, and have not lived a saintly life, to say the least. There are many things that I feel a need to confess that I will not say to a priest in front of a bunch of strangers, even if they can’t hear me.

I expressed this concern to my RCIA director and she said that it is not necessary to bring a “grocery list” to the Communal Reconcilliation (or any confession) but should confess two or three things about myself that I need Gods grace to help me change.

This goes against everything that I have learned since I started this journey. Is this a normal way for people to go to their first confession? Is it a valid confession?

I would think something like this borders on breaking the seal of Confession–a Confession is supposed to be between you, the Priest, and God–not in front of a group. If it were an emergency–say, if your RCIA group were about to go into battle or if they were on a sinking ship, an arrangement such as this would be permissible. But Confession is supposed to be private–Priests face excommunication if they divulge anything revealed to them in Confession.

From what I understand, Communal Penance services are supposed to be a way to examine your conscience, with the actual Confession properly taking place in private. I don’t know if that’s what your RCIA director has in mind, but if you’re actually making your confession before the group, I would say that’s wrong.

All in all, I would feel kind of weird about this too…

Pax tecum
-ACEGC

PS–This is subject to my teenage–and therefore highly fallible–mind…someone please correct me if I’m wrong about any of this!!

My RCIA teacher actually suggested this as well (last year). I think its the idea of being in a room with several people who are in the same boat as you (going to confession). Even though, of course, you will be confessing your sins privately to a priest (in the confessional) so no one else will actually hear what you are confessing, I actually opted out of the whole thing because after all, you do have a choice in the matter. I decided that I wanted my first confession to be done strictly in private (not my classmates staring at me when I came out of the confessional). I wasn’t the only one, out of our whole class of 25 maybe 3 people went to the communal deal. Do what you want, like I said, you have a choice in the matter. :wink:

When it comes to actual confession this is what I did, about 2 weeks before going to confession for the first time I really examined my conscience. I wrote down everything I could think of. I tried to remember all the bad things I’ve done, etc. Naturally no one can remember everything and you aren’t expected to. As long as you confess what you can remember that’s what matters. Saying 2 or 3 things doesn’t cut it. That’s too easy.

The whole reason for the sacrament of reconciliation is #1: To be truly sorry for your sins. #2: To confess any and all sins you are aware of. #3 To do the penance that is said by the priest. The act of the sacrament is to be in a repentant state and to be cleansed of all wrong doings. To just say a few things defeats the purpose I think.

Thankfully you have this place to come to and get good advice especially when your religious teacher is giving you the wrong advice (or at least trying to tell you the easy way out). :wink:

[quote=edward_george]From what I understand, Communal Penance services are supposed to be a way to examine your conscience, with the actual Confession properly taking place in private. I don’t know if that’s what your RCIA director has in mind
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Yes, this is exactly what it is.

[quote=LeslieE]I expressed this concern to my RCIA director and she said that it is not necessary to bring a “grocery list” to the Communal Reconcilliation (or any confession) but should confess two or three things about myself that I need Gods grace to help me change.
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This is what I did, about 2 weeks before going to confession for the first time I really examined my conscience. I wrote down everything I could think of. I tried to remember all the bad things I’ve done, etc. Naturally no one can remember everything and you aren’t expected to. As long as you confess what you can remember that’s what matters. Saying 2 or 3 things doesn’t cut it. That’s too easy.

The whole reason for the sacrament of reconciliation is #1: To be truly sorry for your sins. #2: To confess any and all sins you are aware of. #3 To do the penance that is said by the priest. The act of the sacrament is to be in a repentant state and to be cleansed of all wrong doings. To just say a few things defeats the purpose I think.

Thankfully you have this place to come to and get good advice especially when your religious teacher is giving you the wrong advice (or at least trying to tell you the easy way out). :wink:

It has been YEARS since I have seen this done. If I remember, around say Pascha or Christmas, they would have some little service to help you reflect on what you may have done wrong. When you felt ready you went into the private area with the priest and confessed.

[quote=LeslieE]My RCIA director told me that our First Confession would I expressed this concern to my RCIA director and she said that it is not necessary to bring a “grocery list” to the Communal Reconcilliation (or any confession) but should confess two or three things about myself that I need Gods grace to help me change.

This goes against everything that I have learned since I started this journey. Is this a normal way for people to go to their first confession? Is it a valid confession?
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your RCIA director is completely wrong, and from what you say has not taught properly the theology of this sacrament, or Christian morality. What is shameful is the fact your priest goes along with it. He is obliged by the rites to offer the option of either face to face or anonymous confession, and to denigrate the privacy and confidentiality of the setting is appalling and uncharitable. There are many parts of the world and settings where confessionals are not used and people are used to confessing privately where others cannot hear, but can see. A typical American parish is not one of those settings.

Get a good guide for confession, there are some links to on-line guides on other threads on this topic (not at work so don’t have anything at hand for your) and make an appointment with another priest for a general confession of the sins of your past life. Each and every mortal sin must be confessed and absolved before one can approach the sacraments of confirmation, Eucharist and Matrimony (and Holy Orders).

I assume that by RCIA you mean those baptized Christians who are entering into full communion with the Catholic Church through confirmation and first communion.

Those who will be baptized at Easter will have not only original sins but all the actual sins of their past life remitted in baptism, and should be prepared for their first confession in the year of mystagogy following Easter.

This is why I do not like “Reconciliation Services”…Everyone comes together to reflect on their sins, there is some music, etc., then each person “confesses” to a priest…The priests are stationed in several places around the church…Many times the participants are told to confess only one or two things that really bother them…

I don’t like this, because it is not really private (in many cases you are confessing in full view of others “in line”…and there is not enough time for each person to make a good confession…You feel so rushed, and so exposed…

That being said, I do have to admit that one of my best experiences with this sacrament came out of such a service. However, I no longer attend them, but see my confessor in private…

Our RCIA (I’m a Team member), does not do a communal thing with our participants. We have a priest teach about the sacrament, and then encourage each one to go on his/her own. I think it’s better that way. You are under NO obligation to attend a service that makes you feel uncomfortable…

[quote=Catholic Heart]This is why I do not like “Reconciliation Services”…Everyone comes together to reflect on their sins, there is some music, etc., then each person “confesses” to a priest…The priests are stationed in several places around the church…Many times the participants are told to confess only one or two things that really bother them…

I don’t like this, because it is not really private (in many cases you are confessing in full view of others “in line”…and there is not enough time for each person to make a good confession…You feel so rushed, and so exposed…
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This is exactly what we will be doing and we are specifically told that “this is not the time to seek counsling” but to state your two or three sins get your absolution and be on your way.

Though I don’t agree with the way they want to do this, I also don’t wish to condemn my priest or my RCIA. These are wonderful people who work very hard to help those of us, who were not fortunate enough to be born Catholic, to finally come home.

This service is apparently used throughout our Diocese (sp?). There are 6 parishes in our area that have worked together to schedule Communal Reconcilliation services during Advent and all of the priests from these parishes will attend all of the services. This is also done during Easter.

Communal Reconcilliation was also used for the childrens First Reconcilliation, which my 7 year old participated in.

Our priest will be teaching the Sacrament of Confession class in a couple of weeks. I will be sure and bring up my concerns during class and find out how everyone else feels about it.

[quote=puzzleannie] I assume that by RCIA you mean those baptized Christians who are entering into full communion with the Catholic Church through confirmation and first communion.

Those who will be baptized at Easter will have not only original sins but all the actual sins of their past life remitted in baptism, and should be prepared for their first confession in the year of mystagogy following Easter.
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Does this mean that you only need to confess sins committed after baptism? If that’s the case then that reduces the number of sins I need to confess by more than 1/2. :smiley:

Sinces I have already been baptized is it necessary for me to wait for first confession or could I go to confession now?

[quote=LeslieE]My RCIA director told me that our First Confession would be a Communal Reconcilliation service with all of the RCIA members (and anyone they wanted to bring with them). She explained how this would work with each of us speaking privatly to the priest, in front of everyone else. :frowning:

I am 41 years old, and have not lived a saintly life, to say the least. There are many things that I feel a need to confess that I will not say to a priest in front of a bunch of strangers, even if they can’t hear me.

I expressed this concern to my RCIA director and she said that it is not necessary to bring a “grocery list” to the Communal Reconcilliation (or any confession) but should confess two or three things about myself that I need Gods grace to help me change.

This goes against everything that I have learned since I started this journey. Is this a normal way for people to go to their first confession? Is it a valid confession?
[/quote]

Would this be a valid Confession of course it would since it has the private and personal element. However it would violate Canon Law to REQUIRE anyone to participate in a communal service. Confession is a private and personal Sacrament. It does have a community dimension and therefore the community examination of conscience and Liturgy of the word is appropriate. Only God and the individual person should know for certain that an individual went to Confession. Adults in RCIA should be strongly encouraged to go but, no one should know if they do or don’t. It’s NOT a group project!

Two Canons are violated here.

Can. 964#3 Confessions are not to be heard outside the confessional without just cause.

I see no reason why for the small RCIA group that the Reconciliation Room or Confessional cannot be used.

Can. 964 #2 … seeing to it that confessionals with a fixed grill between the penitent and confessor are always located in an open area so that the faithful who wish to use them may do so.

This canon basically says that if a penitent wishes to remain anonymous, to the priest, provision must be made so that they can do so.

[quote=Br. Rich SFO]Would this be a valid Confession of course it would since it has the private and personal element. However it would violate Canon Law to REQUIRE anyone to participate in a communal service. Confession is a private and personal Sacrament. It does have a community dimension and therefore the community examination of conscience and Liturgy of the word is appropriate. Only God and the individual person should know for certain that an individual went to Confession. Adults in RCIA should be strongly encouraged to go but, no one should know if they do or don’t. It’s NOT a group project!

Two Canons are violated here.

Can. 964#3 Confessions are not to be heard outside the confessional without just cause.

I see no reason why for the small RCIA group that the Reconciliation Room or Confessional cannot be used.

Can. 964 #2 … seeing to it that confessionals with a fixed grill between the penitent and confessor are always located in an open area so that the faithful who wish to use them may do so.

This canon basically says that if a penitent wishes to remain anonymous, to the priest, provision must be made so that they can do so.
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These days, I stay away from communal penance services because they tend to have a lot of extras that I think detract from the sacrament itself. But, for clarification, are you saying that each (or even some) of the impromptu stations set up for individual confessions at the end of the service should have privacy grills (separating penitent from priest) to use? Because I’ve only seen this available in the regular confessionals in the chapel area (maybe this fulfills the requirement, but it isn’t in an “open area”); the others are just open, chair to chair…

[quote=Confiteor]These days, I stay away from communal penance services because they tend to have a lot of extras that I think detract from the sacrament itself. But, for clarification, are you saying that each (or even some) of the impromptu stations set up for individual confessions at the end of the service should have privacy grills (separating penitent from priest) to use? Because I’ve only seen this available in the regular confessionals in the chapel area (maybe this fulfills the requirement, but it isn’t in an “open area”); the others are just open, chair to chair…
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The translation of the Latin seems poor. I believe that the “open area” is intended to say that they should be available to all the faithful and not tucked away in a closed area not normally open to the general public.

But yes if not all then at lease some of the “stations” should be set up in a way that someone may approach without being seen, confess anonymously and leave without being seen by the confessor. This is easily done with medium weight cloth material and a few pieces of wood frame in a “T” shape. That way the penitent has a choice.

At my children’s school, they manage to do something that allows a choice even when they’re hearing confessions in the workroom in the library.

When they made their First Confessions - in a group service - there was a one line for the confessional, another “station” set up in the cry room, and another in the sacristy. In the cry room and sacristy stations, they positioned the priest so that he was facing away from the door. There was a kneeler behind him, so that if you wished to go anonymously (in theory) you could kneel behind him.

My point is that it shouldn’t be that difficult to give penitents an option.

[quote=LeslieE]Does this mean that you only need to confess sins committed after baptism? If that’s the case then that reduces the number of sins I need to confess by more than 1/2. :smiley:

Sinces I have already been baptized is it necessary for me to wait for first confession or could I go to confession now?
[/quote]

First, I would speak directly your priest. I agree with the posters who said this sounds very “exposing”, “rushed”, and less than spiritually effective at times. Goodness, I don’t even like private face-to-face confessin - I want the box and screen! Not because I’m a particuliarly bad sinner, but because this is more comforatable for me. I would think your priest would be very understanding and willing to hear a more private confession from you without it being an issue.

The church says Confession must be “integral” that is, we must confess our known mortal sins since our last good Confession. The idea of confessing “one or two things that we would like to change” (yes, I have heard these instructions at a communal penance service) would seem to be contrary to the church’s sacramental discipline.

Tell her no. Call the priest and make an appointment to speak to him. That is horrible. Talk to your fellow RCIA members, too. If they all agree, I think this DRE needs to back down. That’s what happens when the RCIA director is not a priest. :mad:

Dear Leslie,
Why not jump the shark and go to confession a week before at the parish’s normal times. Then, I’m sure you’ll just have 1 or two things to confess at the communal event :slight_smile: . Well, if you’re me, you might still be in trouble :stuck_out_tongue:

Leslie,

You do not need to confess with the entire class looking on! Talk to your priest and express your concern to have a private confession where you have sufficient time to list all your mortal sins done after your baptism. (or for a typical Catholic like me, done since my last good confession).

It would be very wrong to teach a candidate to only confess a few token mortal sins, ie to deliberately omit some mortal sin. It is okay to forget one! But it is not okay to deliberately fail to tell one. Never go, “Well, I confessed adultery, so I don’t have to mention embezzling $800,000 from my boss!”:eek:

Of course, if you did, say, fornication, and you don’t know exactly how many times, that is not what I mean. That sort of thing could happen to anyone over a period of many years. Just give an estimate and say you have forgotten how many times.

Be relaxed and just do your best! Confession is less scary for most people once they get a bunch under their belt.

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