Confession = counselling?

Maybe it’s just me, but does anyone else get annoyed when you’re in line for confession and some peoples’ confessions take 20 - 30+ minutes? I get in, confess my sins, the priest gives me some advice and absolution and I’m out in 5 - 6 minutes. At the church I go to for confession, it’s not uncommon for the priest to run out of time to hear everyone’s confession in line because 2 or 3 will take the whole time.

It could also be the different personal style of the person confessing. Some people speak very concisely. Others take forever to make their point. If you’ve ever listened to shows such as Dr. Ray Guarendi or Colleen Kelly Mast, you know what I mean. Some of their callers just can’t seem to get to the point. I imagine people like that give their confessions in the same way.

Maybe they are going through some serious trouble in their life and need the extra time, or yeah, they just take a long time to say it and spill every detail. I’m very grateful, or happy for the person, rather, when someone goes to confession.

But I think if their confession takes 20 to 30 minutes they should schedule it with a priest some other time than the normal confession period. Maybe you could ask the priest about it, to maybe set up another time for them, if it’s stopping others from going?

Of course I get annoyed at the 20-30 minute confession, particularly when you’re at a typical parish which only offers Confession for 45 minutes only on Saturday.

I am old school when it comes to Confession: sin and number of times (i.e., “I told a lie on two occasions.” That normally takes less than a minute. Of course, I also want to be conscientious of the line behind me.

However, due to the dreadful state of Catholic catechesis, who’s ever been told that?

I recognize that particular circumstances might call for a longer Confession, but in those circumstances people should be encouraged to make special appointments.

Priests often bemoan the small numbers who go to Confession. They should speak about it more at Mass, and, in turn, make it more available. I realize that time is short for the average priest, but, short of going to Mass, nothing is as important as Confession.

This is one sensitive issue in the proper dispensing of the sacrament especially when the penitent has a lot of questions concerning his/her sins and the confessor feels obliged to answer right then and there. But the priest perhaps can take note of time especially when there are other penitents waiting in line.

it would not occur to me to speculate about why someone ahead of me is taking a long time. It takes as long as it takes. Do see however a new thread here about someone trying to return to the church through confession whose complaint is being cut off when he tries to confess. gate swings both ways.

To me, it is somewhat like being in the doctor’s waiting room and the person who has gone in to see the doctor is there a long time. What do I know about that person’s problems? Nothing. Even is I think they didn’t look too sick when they were in the waiting room, I have no clue about what is wrong with them and how long it will take the doctor to complete his/her examination of the patient.

It is the same with confession - the penitent may have a number of sins to confess, the priest may need to ask questions, whatever. It is none of my business.

Perhaps I should look at how I examine my own conscience - maybe I take a very short time (I usually do), not because I have few sins to confess or because I have it down to a fine art, but because I am ignoring areas of my life that should be examined…

We should not be concerned about how long someone else is in the confessional. As puzzleannie says, it eakes as long as it takes.

From one examination of conscience I read it said that no confession should take more than 10 minutes…even if a person was returning to the church after a number of years…make a list, write down the number of sins…but that doesn’t work for everybody.

I think the priest needs to limit the time spent with people in the confessional…after all he’s got an entire flock to minister to, not just one sheep…and if a person needs more than a few minutes they then need to make an appointment with the priest for another time. Also, I think I’d have to add selfishness to my confession if I always tried to monopolize the priest’s time during confession.

Have been on both sides - have needed extra time to confess and have waited, and waited, for people to finish speaking with the priest…

Confession isn’t a substitute for counseling though much spiritual direction comes with it.

my two cents…

Well, you could sit down. There is absolutely nothing that says you have to stand. Another thing, you could always go to another church for confession or come back the next time your parish offers confession. Offer up time you’re standing for your sins or for the sins of others. Seems to me there is plenty to do while waiting to go to confession then to be complaining about how long it takes someone to confess their sins. :slight_smile:

Or 1-2 minutes, if the confessor is an Irishman.:wink:

It might be a good idea for parishes to put “make an appointment for longer confessions” next to the time of the sacrament. It’s a shame that some parishes offer confession only once per month. Then it gets really jammed up.

I was just telling my son last night how great it is to be able to take any problem to the priest in confession. He was very happy to hear that, but was I incorrect in telling him this?

Is this often a problem? In my lifetime I can’t ever remember a 20-30 minute confession.

But as far as the comment about never taking more than 10 minutes, it can certainly depend on circumstances. Sometimes it really helps to do more then recite the number of sins, especially when you are working to get a better grasp of how to avoid those sins in the future.

My confessions usually take even less than that, unless the priest is chatty. Unfortunately, it’s not for lack of sins! I have plenty to confess, I just do it very simply (kind & number). :slight_smile:

This is a real problem. I once went to confession and was the second person in line. The person ahead of me --no joke-- was in the confessional for the entire scheduled confession hour. No one else got to go in the confessional during the scheduled time. On another occasion, I waited in line behind four people who took almost two hours.

I want every person who needs the sacrament to have it, including the people who take 30 minutes; but that means everyone, and not just the people who take 30 minutes. There must be some way to accomplish this.

When a confession takes a really long time, I sometimes wonder if the priest is practicing his next homily on an unsuspecting victim. :wink:

I think it’s a good idea to note this in bulletins and on confessional signs.

It seems to happen with unfortunate frequency in my experience. I’d guess there’s at least one confession that takes 20-30 minutes every third or fourth time I go to confession, if not more often.

I sympathize with the OP. We technically have thirty minutes, once a week, for the whole parish, that always extends into 45-50, and still there’s a line. Indeed, reconciliation *is *encouraged by appointment, it is posted and highlighted in every bulletin every time, but we still have the issue where 2 people have come and gone, and the time for the Saturday vigil Mass is slated to start.

Whoever made the crack about it taking an irishman 1-2 minutes, you’re spot on :smiley:

Maybe what people need is spiritual direction (in addition to confession).

Confession is a wonderful Sacrament and great grace flows form it, and it a pity that it is not offered for longer periods whether that is down to priests time or perceived demand I don’t know. But please don’t begrudge time to those who need longer to make a complete confession that you do. Focus rather on the gift that is being given, the gift you yourself hope to receive soon after.

Sometimes it is the priest who is causing it to go long. I once went in for only venial sins and it was a foreign priest who started telling me about his difficulties adjusting to life here, and how he is distracted in prayer and on and on. I felt like telling him that I had to leave (I didn’t) but he still did not give me a penance or absolve me. I was in there at the least 20 minutes and when I got out there was a long line. Then I felt that maybe these people were thinking that I was confessing a lot and stayed in too long, so I just said as I walked by…" he likes to talk>"

Confessors are physicians of the soul. Confession is more like visiting an emergency department than it is like getting your oil changed. We all know that somebody in front could be suicidal, suffering abuse that they think its their fault, in the middle of a rapidly-dissolving marriage, or any number of other things. The confessor has the ability to keep things moving if the situation is not serious and the perogative to let the other pentitents in line just bide their time if it is. Like doctors, some make moving non-serious penitents through promptly a high priority, and some don’t.

I think it is best to take the wait as part of the penance and just cool the jets. If a particular confessor’s habits don’t suit you, find another confessor, but realize that there aren’t many that don’t take every minute necessary when the situation warrants.

I respectfully disagree with almost all of that.

I am not bothered by waiting. I will happily wait and say a thousand Hail Marys while waiting. However, I AM bothered if I and others don’t get absolution. If Confession is offered from 4:00-4:45 because the Mass starts at 5:00 (a typical arrangement) and ten people are in line, the math is not difficult.

The confessional is not the psychiatrist’s couch. The primary purpose of the sacrament is to return a soul in peril of Hell to a state of grace. The counselling is of spiritual matters, not earthly ones. “My marriage is in trouble” is not a sin, and the priest could direct the penitent to speak to him later to arrange for a lengthy talk.

If someone is suicidal, 15 extra minutes in the confessional isn’t going to help much.

Obviously, there might be exigent circumstances, but these are rare. And 20-minute confessions are frequent. And honestly, I really can’t think of a situation where 20 minutes in the confessional (immediately) would be much more helpful than 5, with the priest arranging for a longer meeting later, even that day if necessary.

There seems to have been an unfortunate conflation of Confession and spiritual direction in the minds of some priests (ironically this makes it harder to get either).

My thought though, at least when I don’t **know **that it is the priest, is that this may be the first confession for someone coming home to the faith. If the had to make an appointment it may never have happened. (Rejoice with me, for my brother is alive!)

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