Tonight I wanted to go to Confession. At the Church by my house, Confession is offered during Masses on Saturday evening or Sunday, or by appointment only. They are not offered before Mass.
The priest hearing Confessions tonight was a visiting priest. At the back of the chapel, there is a small room off to the right where confession is heard. When you enter the small room, there is a tiny confessional with a screen and if you proceed a foot or two farther, a table where confession can be heard face to face.
I wanted to have confession behind the screen, but the way the priest was sitting at the table (usually the priest waits in the part behind the screen. It is hard to explain in writing, but I didn`t go to Confession because I wanted to go behind the screen, but there was no way to do that without telling the priest, but by that point, we would already be face to face.
Also, normally, the priest hits turns a red light on to signal when someone is giving confession, but the priest didn`t know that, so the green light was on the whole time. I was worried if I entered for confession, someone else would have come in during the middle of it.
If this happens again, is it appropriate to ask a fellow parishoner to go in and ask the priest to sit in the area behind the screen? I know I could have just gone in and had a face-to-face confession, but the table between the priest and where you sit to confess was very small, and it made me uncomfortable.
There is another Catholic Church in Tokyo, but there the confessionals offer very little privacy. Each confessional consists of three small booths, and the priest sits in the middle booth and people waiting for confession sit on either side. I found out the hard way, but when it is your “turn” the priest turns to your side, and opens the screen, and hears your confession. But the person sitting on his other side can hear what you are saying unless you really whisper.
I will go to Confession tomorrow because I do not want to let pride or fear get in the way of receiving the sacrament. But I wish there was more privacy.
There is a definite shortage of priests here. But I am thinking about writing a letter requesting that Confession be heard before Mass. That way I won`t feel rushed since it is during Mass, and maybe there will be a way to address the privacy issue. I know I could call and make an appointment, but what few priests there are, are so over-stretched as it is. Also, when you make an appointment for Confession, how do you make it, while still maintaining privacy? Does the priest simply wait in the confessional?
Part of me is upset with myself that I did not simply go in and have Confession face-to-face. But the room was very brightly lit and the whole atmosphere made me uncomfortable.
On a separate but related note, I understand continuing Confession into Mass when there are still people waiting to confess, but it seems nice to be able to go before Mass, and then celebrate the whole Mass. Plus, it is disruptive to have to get out of the pew to go to Confession mid-Mass,and then go back to the pew. Plus, everyone sees who goes to the confessional. I know everyone should be concentrating on Mass, and I should not be shy about people seeing whether I go to confession or not. I just miss churches where you could pray in a somewhat empty quiet church, and have confession in a more private environment.
There is one Catholic Church in Tokyo that offers Confession on Saturdays before Mass, but I have never done confession in Japanese language and feel nervous about it. I prefer to do it in English.
If anyone has tips on what I should have done tonight, please let me know. I know ideally, I would have just gone face-to-face, but just felt very uncomfortable. I know I am confessing to Jesus, but still have to look at the priest. If the light had been dimmer, it might have felt better, but I felt like the room looked more like an interegation room, than a place to meet Jesus. Alternatively, does anyone have tips on how I can become more comfortable with face to face Confession. I have done it in the past, but just strongly prefer privacy and feel more comfortable having the option to choose. Plus, I prefer to kneel during Confession.
I won`t let my fear stop me, and will go tomorrow, but please pray for me in the interim!