Confession took a little longer than expected


#1

Hi, I went to confession today. I always examine my conscience the day before and write all my sins on a piece of paper so I can remember them while I am in the confessional. Anyways, I read all of my sins off of the paper as I anticipated. I did not think my confession was very long. However, when I got out, there was a long line waiting. I went to go sit down in the pew and my brother told me I was inside for 20-30 minutes. I serious felt bad because confessions were only an hour long. He also told me some people were angry. Is there anything I can do about this? Should have I apologized to the people waiting after me? Thank you


#2

First, I shouldn't think so. You had no idea you were there so long. For the future, I don't know how often you go to confession, but you might want to consider about once a month. I find my confessions are shorter if I have less time to get into trouble.

At my parish, there are always lines for the confessional. Fortunately we have more than one priest hearing confession, sometimes as many as five, sometimes as few as two. We also have confession available twice a week.

If you think your next confession might take a while, you might want to call and make an appointment. At Christmas and Easter, this might require making the appointment at least a month in advance. By that I mean that pick a date in December and schedule it in October, as the priest's availability may be very limited during Advent. The same will be true during Lent.

I am also sure you weren't the only one talking during your confession. Besides, if the others needed that amount of time, I would hope they would take it. In and out in five minutes is a nice idea, but sometimes it just doesn't happen. The Sacrament takes as long as it takes for each individual. Somehow, I think God makes that work, and no one is left standing in line.
Kris


#3

If they got angry they would have to confess that, leading to even longer lines! Just do what you have to do, and don't worry.


#4

Seriously, it happens. Last Good Friday I was living in Germany and went at the beginning of confession time in the hour before the Good Friday service. There was only one man in front of me. Confessions were an hour long, and only one confessional was occupied by a priest. The man took 45 minutes! The other people in the line were getting pretty impatient, but I have had 45 minutes-1 hour confessions before (there was a time in my life when most of my sins were motivated by a serious bout of depression I was having, and the priest would spend a lot of that time urging me to go see a doctor). Sometimes people simply need that extra confession time. Don't beat yourself up over it.


#5

[quote="pgnat1, post:1, topic:309337"]
Hi, I went to confession today. I always examine my conscience the day before and write all my sins on a piece of paper so I can remember them while I am in the confessional. Anyways, I read all of my sins off of the paper as I anticipated. I did not think my confession was very long. However, when I got out, there was a long line waiting. I went to go sit down in the pew and my brother told me I was inside for 20-30 minutes. I serious felt bad because confessions were only an hour long. He also told me some people were angry. Is there anything I can do about this? Should have I apologized to the people waiting after me? Thank you

[/quote]

On a day like this, before Christmas, many people might be waiting to confess, so if you think you have a lot of serious sins to confess, it would be good if you make an appointment in advance. Do you have a spiritual director? 20-30 minutes is quite a long time in the confessional - No, you don't need to apologize to anyone, but I can understand people being impatient. Has the priest ever told you that you might be scrupulous?


#6

I make an appointment for confession and always let my priest know that I have some issues to talk about. I don't think I've spent less than 30 minutes ever, and several times it's been well over an hour.
I really think of these times as confession and some spiritual direction as well, even though we don't call it that.
The one time that I made confession at a retreat, I made it as short and simple as possible so that all the folks in line after me would have time to make their confession as well.
But hey, sometimes it just takes the time that it takes and I hope that I would be understanding and know that the person in front of me needed that extra time. :)
So don't worry about it, it is what it is and it's all good. :)


#7

I even knew a priest who would not let you out under 10 minutes... he really wanted to make sure that everyone got the advice they needed (even the people with minor sins). Of course, that meant that the confessional was open for 30 minutes to an hour longer than posted on the church bulletin. Luckily, that never interfered with Mass time, but some people were on their lunch breaks in the middle of a urban center and were under serious time constraints.


#8

[quote="klm120861, post:2, topic:309337"]

The Sacrament takes as long as it takes for each individual. Somehow, I think God makes that work, and no one is left standing in line.
Kris

[/quote]

Or everyone is. Confession is before Mass most places. Once, we had about ten people waiting. It took so long for the first person, that the priest came out, gave us all "general absolution" and that was it, Mass was about to start. I happened to know my friend, a newish convert whom I had brought to church just for confession, had committed a mortal sin. Not a "general absolution" kind of sin, a serious one. But no way was she going to come back another day and confess or forgo the Eucharist.

She didn't want to hear it, she was forgiven, he said so! I tried to remind her he said "venial" sins only - but - and of course if anyone else had mortal sin before that Mass it would be another week before they could receive.


#9

[quote="pgnat1, post:1, topic:309337"]
Is there anything I can do about this?

[/quote]

Yes there is: Don't worry about it. if you know it's going to be a long confession next time, you could make an appointment. But I certainly wouldn't fret about it.

[quote="pgnat1, post:1, topic:309337"]
Should have I apologized to the people waiting after me? Thank you

[/quote]

What for? You just got done apologizing to God for half an hour. Mere mortals (sinners all) are not entitled to or deserving of an apology from you. If they have a problem with that they can take it up with the priest.


#10

When going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation some basic principles of courtesy are needed.

First, if you know you need to have over 5 minutes then schedule an appointment. Since the Church calls us to go to Confession often there really should not be a long list of sins and spiritual counsel needed, unless for some reason one is not confessing all their sins and is concealing them out of pride.

Second, the use of lists is not necessary, confess the sins that come to mind as one has reflected on the Ten Commandments and the Commandments of the Church and in true humility confess them quickly, receive your absolution and do your penance. Also, be mindful each priest has developed his own method of doing the sacrament. Some want you out quick, some desire as stated earlier for you to do a form of light spiritual direction with them, and some want you to to take your time. But regardless of the methodology a priest uses be mindful of other penitents who are also seeking the cleansing laver of the Sacrament of Penance and make it a truly heartfelt and yet brief confession.

Third, know the difference between spiritual direction and the advice a priest gives in a confessional. Spiritual direction is not to be done by a confessor generally during the rite of Penance. Spiritual direction entails seeking a spiritual father or mother to assist you to come closer to God and grow in holiness which leads you to frequent and good confessions and a deeper more full relationship with the Trinity. The confessor is to offer the penitent short and yet valuable advice on how to avoid the sin committed and the occasions of sin, give the absolution, and the penance. Some priests may even listen and not give any advice, then give the absolution and offer the penance.

Fourth, do not be overly scrupulous in finding fault with yourself or looking for sins under every bush–a practice which also leads to many unnecessary confessions which take up the time of the priest when your soul is in a state of grace and you are not either in mortal sin or have very few venial sins which can be forgiven through the use of sacramentals such as holy water and receiving the minor absolution at Mass.

Fifth, go with God; and I hope my advice can help someone, for it took me many years to learn the manners of attending the Sacrament of Confession.


#11

[quote="fordhamstudent, post:10, topic:309337"]

Second, the use of lists is not necessary,

[/quote]

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

My priest, during homilies, encourages the use of lists to help quell any nervousness. I think it is perfectly acceptable and appropriate.

For those who are so critical and even angry when someone spends a long time in Confession, it is important to realize that it is not always the penitent who is taking so much time.

Once year, about 2 weeks before our wedding, my husband and I went to confession together, just before Easter. We went to a church that offered Confessions before every Sunday Mass. This church is a small, old building with Mass every hour on the hour, from 6 am to 1 pm, plus 7pm. The confessionals are inside the nave of the church. so confessions are being heard while the Mass is going on. I went first, and my Confession lasted 45 minutes, almost the entire Mass. The priest was just very, very chatty. We were both social workers, and our profession came up and we talked about that for a while. I was quite uncomfortable, but he kept asking me questions totally unrelated to my confession. Finally, I received absolution and left, wondering what on earth my poor fiance thought I had on my soul. Much to my relief, his confession took almost as long. They were half-way through the second Mass by the time we were done. Yes, there were others waiting.

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!


#12

I am surprised in an Eastern Church they advocate for such a mechanistic use of the sacrament. From my exposure to Byzantine Catholic and Orthodox Churches the penitent stands before the Ikon of Christ in doing his or her confession with the priest’s epitrachelion on their head, with them kneeling or standing. I have never seen during these confessions someone pull out a list and start reading it off. The sacramental mystery of repentance should be authentic and the use of lists precludes one from letting the telling of sins come from the heart, thus showing real contrition. It may be easier in a confessional booth to get away with using a list, but the purpose of the sacrament is reconciliation with God, not a mechanistic or impersonal way of getting our sins forgiven–it is to be both a judgment and a healing of the soul.

The reading of lists is not good in my estimation and the more one goes to the mystery of repentance the more they will comfortably and with more ease tell the priest their sins from the heart, for ‘who can count all of their sins’? What is truly important is the brokenness of heart which happens before you approach the sacrament of penance which pours forth on our soul the blood of Christ and the light of His resurrection. The sacrament should never become familiar and mechanistic, it should always be seen as if one were sitting in the lap of Jesus in all his mercy and love and telling him with holy tears the things that have separated us from him. The priest witnesses the confession of the penitent and Our Lord is present to forgive and heal if the penitent will allow themselves to be vulnerable and exposed before him–and sin lists hide the soul from its true condition and do not give comfort to the penitent for he or she will always be scrupulously reviewing the “list” to see if all the sins are there–this is not the point of the sacrament. In a relationship we do not approach the other person with a list, we have an intimate deep and loving conversation in honesty and humility if we have harmed the other person.

Since a relationship with Jesus is above all human relationships, we are to experience the sacrament of penance in this light and thus remove all barriers between us and him. Our Lord does not want us to bring him a list of sins, he knows our sins; what he wants is a broken heart and a contrite spirit and the telling of sins is a symbolic action which tells the Lord not what he already knows, since God is all knowing, but is to be an action of deep sacrifice–for how many desire to sin today and the giving up of those sins is a sacrifice for them, but for God it is a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord–a sweet smelling sacrifice in the nostrils of God. The reason I emphasize this is: confession is not to be a nervous matter or one that requires lists or any such mechanical methodology, but rather it should be an experience with God as befits an outward and visible sign instituted by Jesus Christ to give grace.


#13

[quote="fordhamstudent, post:12, topic:309337"]
I am surprised in an Eastern Church they advocate for such a mechanistic use of the sacrament.

[/quote]

Christ is Born!

You have given a beautiful explanation of the Mystery of Repentance.

I think I have the advantage of context. :) Father wasn't really advocating a mechanistic use of the mystery, but for someone who is returning to the practice of confession or who does not yet avail himself frequently, a list can be a valuable tool. It is more of a security blanket for someone who is nervous, not meant to be an exhaustive list.


#14

Glorify him!

I was baptized, chrismated and had my first communion in the Ruthenian Church, but I transferred ritual Churches to the Latin Church when I was an adult since most of my life I was raised in a Latin context, in Latin schools, parishes, et al. Before I transferred I was asked to wait a year and explore the Ruthenian tradition and although it was a beautiful tradition I didn't want to throw all the years spent in the Roman Rite away; so I went ahead with the transfer, which by the way the Latin bishop did not want to do at first. So I guess my context is somewhat rooted in experience;)

Have a blessed Christmas!


#15

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:5, topic:309337"]
On a day like this, before Christmas, many people might be waiting to confess, so if you think you have a lot of serious sins to confess, it would be good if you make an appointment in advance. Do you have a spiritual director? 20-30 minutes is quite a long time in the confessional - No, you don't need to apologize to anyone, but I can understand people being impatient. Has the priest ever told you that you might be scrupulous?

[/quote]

The priest I went to is my spiritual director and confessor.


#16

Merry Christmas everyone! Thank you for the responses


#17

[quote="pgnat1, post:15, topic:309337"]
The priest I went to is my spiritual director and confessor.

[/quote]

Ah. Well....I'd still make an appointment to talk with him at a different time, especially if it's Christmas or Easter.


#18

[quote="fordhamstudent, post:12, topic:309337"]
confession is not to be a nervous matter or one that requires lists or any such mechanical methodology, but rather it should be an experience with God as befits an outward and visible sign instituted by Jesus Christ to give grace.

[/quote]

I find that I am better able to explore my failings if I write them down. It doesn't make me any less sorry for those sins or that I'm treating confession with less reverence. In fact, I find that confession is more significant if I put the time and thought into writing down where I have failed.

Plus, if I had to solely rely on my memory, even week to week, I would never go to confession because I would never have anything to confess. I also have to have a copy of the Act of Contrition with me as well. I've had that memorized for over 30 years...still forget the words sometimes.


#19

[quote="pgnat1, post:1, topic:309337"]
Hi, I went to confession today. I always examine my conscience the day before and write all my sins on a piece of paper so I can remember them while I am in the confessional. Anyways, I read all of my sins off of the paper as I anticipated. I did not think my confession was very long. However, when I got out, there was a long line waiting. I went to go sit down in the pew and my brother told me I was inside for 20-30 minutes. I serious felt bad because confessions were only an hour long. He also told me some people were angry. Is there anything I can do about this? Should have I apologized to the people waiting after me? Thank you

[/quote]

sounds as though perhaps there was no line when you entered? there's nothing to about it now.

but next time, line or no line, if it's the time scheduled for Confession for the whole parish, out of consideration for others, your confession should be 4-7 minutes. 7 is actually pretty long when there are people lined up behind you.

sins are to be confessed by name and number, rather than by explanation. (perhaps that was what you had on your list.) the priest can then question or advise you as he deems appropriate.

as far as a list, my confessions are better when I've jotted down my sins each night. Having grown up with the "just explain to Father what you did wrong" technique, confessing by name & number has been a learning curve. Making a list has helped tremendously, and my confessions are actually deeper.


#20

[quote="ilySHJ, post:19, topic:309337"]

if it's the time scheduled for Confession for the whole parish, out of consideration for others, your confession should be 4-7 minutes. 7 is actually pretty long when there are people lined up behind you.

[/quote]

I'm a convert, and in some ways trying to figure out the "rules" for confession. I never knew there was a time limit. Obviously if you have a lot to confess, you will take longer, and should consider an appointment. I find frequent confession (once a month) helps with that. At my parish, however, except for the kids, I don't think I have ever seen anyone in any of the confessionals less than 5 to 10 minutes. But then we also have more than one priest hearing confession, and it's scheduled to end either when there is no Mass to follow, or Mass is still an hour away, so there's time if things should run long. The priests spend the time necessary for each penitent, but we all try to be mindful of the others in the line as well. Plus for us, even during non-busy times like summer, it can take up to two or more weeks for a priest to have an appointment available. I'd rather wait in line, than wait two weeks.:D
Kris


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