Confession

Have you ever thought about how weird it would be to hear confessions?

When I was a kid I thought priests would find confessions interesting in the way people find gossip interesting.

As an adult I’ve decided I would NOT enjoy hearing confessions. I mean, giving absolution would be awesome, but hearing everything bad people have done - I figure it would weigh on me, hearing all of those sins.

Hearing confessions is definately an act of charity. Jesus is the one hearing the confessions and giving absolution. The priest guides us through it.

I think some priests get a lot of joy hearing confessions because they know it pleases God when we repent and God so wants to forgive the sinner.

It’s like the story of the Protical Son played over and over again for each of us. I think the priest would get a lot of gratification from administering this sacrement.

There is an old novel entitled the Cardinal, by Henry Morton Robinson. It’s a good read, and I believe was made into a movie. Also, the author was faithful to the Church, and in no way trashed priests- quite the contrary.

There is a description of the young priest, Stephen Fermoyle, hearing his first set of parish confessions. It shows you how old the novel is, because Father Fermoyle spends a good portion of Saturday hearing confessions. Saturday afternoon is devoted to the children, ex ore infantium as the practiced curate put it. But then comes the evening session after supper, and young Father Fermoyle gets more than an earful of sin. He is exposed to variations on a theme from women, where excuses are made; men who just tell it and get it finished; a young woman he misjudges and loses due to her fornicatious relationship with a Baptist; and a confirmed alcoholic who says he can’t walk past a saloon without being tempted to drink. In short, he is exposed, repeatedly, to his parishioners’ sins, over and over and over again. By the time 10:30 PM rolls around, he is dizzy and reeling from all the sin that has paraded through his confessional, and acting in persona christi, doing his best to represent Christ’s mercy and at the same time, judge his parishioners. Father Fermoyle is worn to exhaustion on confessions! He says to his mentor, “Nobody ever told me!” When he can finally speak, Father Fermoyle says, “In all the books, sin was an abstraction, a remote depersonalized theory about man’s failure to realize God’s Will. But here it’s an ulcer burrowing in the flesh, a rage in the blood, a mortal itch in man’s brain, a rank wind in his belly.”

No, this is something I was never designed to do as a lay woman called to marriage. It’s one of the reasons I pray so hard for priests.

I agree, ‘Act of Charity’ certainly describes what I imagine hearing confessions to be.

I would love to hear a priest tell us his thoughts about it.
Do they remember the sins they are told or do they try to forget everything once the person leaves?

One thing a priest learns hearing confessions is how nauseatingly *ordinary, *how drearily common and unexceptional most sin is.

When a priest is ordained he is not allowed to hear confessions for an entire year (unless he has authorization from the bishop). This is to ensure he has a solid grounding in faith as a priest before taking up such a difficult responsibility as being a confessor.
Personally, I think a priest must have serious temptations towards despair and despondency when he hears so many sins being commited be the faithful. He has to have a solid faith in the victory of Our Lord Jesus Christ over sin in order to persevere.

After returning to confession after 13 years of not going, I nervously said to my priest,“I hope you are not scandalized by my sins.” He replied,“I worked in a high security prison before. Nothing scandalizes me.” This broke the ice, and I felt relaxed.

No, I can’t imagine hearing confessions. Sometimes, I look at the world and feel depressed about all the sins of people(including my own.) Priests are strong people.

I have been praying for our priests. I pray for more vocations in the priesthood and strength to be given to all of our blessed priests.

(Ella)As an adult I’ve decided I would NOT enjoy hearing confessions. I mean, giving absolution would be awesome, but hearing everything bad people have done - I figure it would weigh on me, hearing all of those sins.

[quote=furlan1985]Personally, I think a priest must have serious temptations towards despair and despondency when he hears so many sins being commited be the faithful. He has to have a solid faith in the victory of Our Lord Jesus Christ over sin in order to persevere.
[/quote]

Does a doctor feel despair and despondency, does it weigh on him, when the same patients he has been treating for years keep coming back with relapses of the same diseases? No. He says “I’m glad you came to me so I can make you well again”, even though he knows they will get almost certainly sick again. The people to feel despair and despondency about are the sinners who DON’T come to Reconciliation. The priest should rejoice like the father of the prodigal son, for those who DO come to confess their sins and commit themselves to amending their sinful lives.

Not wierd, how hard it would be and how emotionally draining it would be, how depressing it can be.

I have seen priests cry after hearing confessions.

Ken

[quote=Petergee]Does a doctor feel despair and despondency, does it weigh on him, when the same patients he has been treating for years keep coming back with relapses of the same diseases? No. He says “I’m glad you came to me so I can make you well again”, even though he knows they will get almost certainly sick again. The people to feel despair and despondency about are the sinners who DON’T come to Reconciliation. The priest should rejoice like the father of the prodigal son, for those who DO come to confess their sins and commit themselves to amending their sinful lives.
[/quote]

I meant that a priest might fall into despair by seeing the amount of sin that exists in the world. In the same way a doctor surely wouldn’t rejoice in the fact that many incurable diseases exist that he is absolutly powerless to remedy.

As you said, a priest would obviously rejoice at the repentance of a sinner. However he would be tempted against faith seeing that in spite of everything God apparently did for people, they still rejected His grace and revolted against Him

[quote=furlan1985]I meant that a priest might fall into despair by seeing the amount of sin that exists in the world. In the same way a doctor surely wouldn’t rejoice in the fact that many incurable diseases exist that he is absolutly powerless to remedy.
[/quote]

But there is no “incurable” sin, except for the sin against the Holy Spirit (i.e. final despair of salvation) and those who commit this sin would not be seen in Confession.

As you said, a priest would obviously rejoice at the repentance of a sinner. However he would be tempted against faith seeing that in spite of everything God apparently did for people, they still rejected His grace and revolted against Him

Or conversely, he could be impressed with the fact that DESPITE all the vile evil which all men do, God STILL loves them and gives them forgiveness through His Death and Resurrection if they only repent and confess their sins.

[quote=Ella]Have you ever thought about how weird it would be to hear confessions?

When I was a kid I thought priests would find confessions interesting in the way people find gossip interesting.

As an adult I’ve decided I would NOT enjoy hearing confessions. I mean, giving absolution would be awesome, but hearing everything bad people have done - I figure it would weigh on me, hearing all of those sins.
[/quote]

I think you allude to a critical point for all Catholics to consider. The next time we want to criticize our Pastor for anything remember that this man gives us the Sacraments of Eucharist and Penance. This is an awesome and heavy burden. Recently, I was with a Priest in a private situation and he was talking about some of his struggles on discerning the right approach with certain challenges. Is he supposed to take a hard line with regard to Church teaching that might drive them away from the Church or approach the issue with a tender heart to keep them in the faith and allow the Church and Holy Spirit to work in a more “conducive” environment? He said that the “right” answer is different for each situation and it requires constant and continual discernment. He talked about when he makes a mistake (being too hard or too soft) these will be the things that he has to answer to Christ for at his judgment.

We need to pray for our Priests always!

What amazes me is not only that the priest can stand to sit there and hear all of that (although that is miraculous in itself) but that so many of them are able to dispense such mercy and help in return. I swear, every time I have gone to face-to-face confession at my home parish, I have left feeling not only healed by God but like I had just gotten a LOT of therapy for free, even if I was only in the confessional for a few minutes. Our priests are just so compassionate. What a blessing for our parish.

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