Confessional box

This is probably a very simple question for most of you, but are all confessions predominately done in a face to face setting nowadays? Does anyone still use the traditional “confessional box” (I don’t know the proper name.) ?

If so, is there a particular reason for the change? A result from Vatican II per chance?

Our parish does not have the face to face option. All confessions are done in a traditional screeded confessional except those that are “by appointment”.

I don’t know why but it seems to have happened quite a bit after VII. The first time I encountered face to face was in 1977. And that was on retreat - confessions at the time in the parish were still in the confessional, behind the screen.

Our parish has options for both. Most people choose the screen, according to the priest. I have never been face to face and don’t intend to.

Interesting. The face to face option seems to be the predominant preference in my city. I’m about to move to NY and that’s what made me curious. I wasn’t sure if it was just my region, or a worldwide preference considering I haven’t experienced too many Catholic parishes since joining the RCC only last night. :wink:

Growing up in Houston and surrounds in the 80s and 90s, I never once belonged to a parish that had “old” style confessional boxes. I’m sure there are some, just not churches I went to. For my first confession we did face-to-face. There was a screen in the room but it was beside the point…Father saw you walk into the huge cavernous room and you felt like an idiot going behind the little screen after that…in fact it was strongly discouraged by our instructors.

The historical church where my brother was married (south of Houston) has boxes and that was the first time I saw them.

The cathedral I attended near Chicago had and used ONLY boxes. So nice…and you should have seen the LINES!!

The parish I’m at now has small rooms with both options…you can walk in and go behind the screen without ever being seen, or you can sit in “the comfy chair”. :wink: I like this arrangement best.

We have a “confessional room”, where there is a screen, with a kneeler on one side. On the other side of the screen (which is only 3 feet wide, and very awkward-looking in the room) are two chairs, one for the priest, and one for the penetant. It’s obvious that face-to-face is the norm, and, other than my first confession, the only kind I’ve ever done there. If confession is humbling in itself, it is even more so when you have to actually look the priest in the face (or thereabouts) while admitting your sins. :o

Even more disturbing is the fact that one whole wall of the confessional room is a window that overlooks the sanctuary. Since confessions are held from 4:15-4:45 on Saturday, before the Vigil service, that means there are always members of the choir practicing just a few feet away from where you’re confessing. It’s a bit unnerving to be making a heartfelt confession while people are able to clearly see into the room.

Do you all think that confession would be more popular today if the traditional “box” were used where there was some semblance of anonymity? I’ve read the statistics showing that there are much fewer Catholics who regularly go to confession these days and I’m wondering if the change to a “face to face” setting has anything to do with it?

I do agree that face to face is more humbling, but then again I’m curious as to why the traditional approach which has/had lasted for so long was considered improper in modern times. Of course, I couldn’t necessarily argue that the anonymous method was “more traditional” considering that the community of the early Church did public confessions which I don’t think I’d be too excited about. :stuck_out_tongue:

In our parish where almost everyone goes behind a screen, the lines are quite long. I can’t imagine going face to face.

I’ve only been behind the screen a few times. When I was really upset about somethings I had done, and I was afraid that if I had to look someone in the eye and tell them these things, I would loose control and start weeping. I usually go face to face, though.


My old parish has four confessionals, only one of which has been converted to face-to-face, but the priests rarely use it. Usually, all three priests will be hearing behind-the-screen confessions in your choice of English, Spanish, or Vietnamese, with an average of 15 people in each line.

The Confessional or at least a screen is required by Canon Law, Face to face is an option the a priest can allow if he wants. But a screen must always be available.

Ours is probably an old “box” that has been modified. There are 3 doors. The middle one is for the priest. The one on the right is for those wishing a screen and a kneeler. The door on the left is face to face. There is a chair, and you are separated from the priest by a wall that is about 3 feet high. By no means a “big comfy chair”. I don’t remember the last time I went behind a screen. Probably when I was about 10 or 11? Choice is always good.

We have both options. I use the screen, myself. My children insist on the screen too, but I’m pretty sure if they saw me go face to face they might too. I can’t imagine they have sins that they should feel embarrassed to say to his face. I don’t ever see anyone in front of me in line use the screen though.

At our parish one has the option to go behind the screen or face-to-face. I have only done the latter since it makes me feel more humble.

Our parish doesn’t have the face-to-face option unless you make an appointment.

Last Weds when I went there was a visiting priest helping out with confessions and there was a very long line. As there is only one confessional Msgr. let the visiting priest use it.

Msgr. heard confessions at the back of the church. He sat in a chair and had a kneeler set up for us beside his chair. It felt a little strange to confess out in the open like that even though I knew no one could hear what I was saying.

I wish some parishes would stop using the old confessionals and build rooms, either that or have someone play the organ while confessions are going on. Too many people are too loud while in confession. The seal of confession applies to those who may overhear them as well- that is an unfair burden to put on those who don’t agree to do that willingly.

Our boxes can be used either way. You walk in and there is a partition built-in which is about 4 feet wide with the screen, or you can go all the way in and around the partition where there is a chair set up for face-to-face confessions. I have only gone face-to-face a few times, but it wasn’t bad. In fact, one priest, after asking my permission, laid his hands on my head during the absolution, and that was a healing experience for me which I wouldn’t have had if I had stayed behind the screen. (In fact, the only reason I went face-to-face with him that time was that I arrived before he did and nobody else was in line, so he already knew who was confessing!).

We don’t have a box, but the room has a large screen where the priest is behind and if you want, you can walk around and do it face to face. But the priest won’t be able to see you when you walk in if you choose the screen. Personally I like face to face but I may one day try behind the screen.

In our parish, we use the remaining “non-converted” confessionals for storage closets.

I find this most inappropriate. It is also hard to find things that have been stuffed in there.

I thought they might at least clean them out and open them for First Reconciliation, but not to be. Father set himself up in the reconciliation room, which has the option of face-to-face or a screen, and is a converted confessional. The other numerous priests who came as confessors to First Reconciliation were given “stations” of chairs around the church, with the penitent having the option of confessing behind the priest or face-to-face. :mad: Everybody saw everybody else going to confession. One mother had to be stopped from taping her child’s first confession with an elderly priest via camcorder.

There is a church in the Loop called St. Peter on Madison. It has MANY confesionals located throughout the church. They are real confessionals, the “boxes”. There is an option for a friar confessor to hear confessions face-to-face in the mezzanine.

our parish gives the option i choose the traditional behind the screen way.

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