Confessions taking too long

I totally understand this. When i was incarcerated, long time ago, we only got to see a Priest about once a month. We normally had a Deacon. There were enough of us Catholics that he couldn’t possibly hear all our confessions and do a Mass in the amount of time we had, let alone if they called yard early. So there could be times you could not get to confession for a 2 to 3 months. We would have Mass first and then whatever time was left was for confession in the corner of the chapel.

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Ding! Ding! Ding!

We have a winner…most people seem to wait till the end of the posted confession times, they come streaming in and get in a line, I profess to having been guilty of this in the past.

There I would stand, often in a line, just outside the confessional and hearing those who seem to be oblivious to their own conversational loudness conversing with the priest…(no I cannot hear what they are saying) but I will hear the occasional laughter, or nervous laughter, whatever it is the penitent is discussing and thinking to myself “this is no place for conversation, get on with it!” :rage: Mass is due to start in minutes, the bells are ringing! Why are you taking so long? Why are you impeding on my precious time!"

Then I have to remember to confess my impertinence :pleading_face:

One day I started to realize, if I wait till the last minutes of the time allotted in the bulletin for the priest to hear confessions, does that leave me enough time to go back in the pew and do my prayer penance properly, with the seriousness and reflection and understanding of forgiveness it deserves?

It struck me, how about going early?
Is it too much to ask for me to leave a little earlier?
To set the alarm for maybe a half hour earlier?

If I get there and am in and out and avoid the last minute confessors, would it hurt me to be in my pew in the Church alone with my thoughts and prayers?

Couldn’t I use that time to perhaps after doing my penance sin recital to maybe to open my Give Us This Day monthly devotional and read the morning reading?
To use that little extra time to examine the Saint of the day?

So I changed my ways…if it so happens I get there and have a heavy sin on my heart, and cannot get my time in the confessional, then I need to restrain myself from partaking in the body and blood of Christ.

Which then gives me impetus to make sure I go and confess quickly, less I die with unconfessed sin.

If I pass from this life out of communion with Christ all for the sake of my unpreparedness how awful! :woozy_face:

I should keep my own lamp full of oil and my own wick trimmed, not blame someone else for taking to long to bring the oil and a new wick on time.

Which also makes me think even harder before repeating a sin as I agonize over my own fault and the temporal penalty I incurred.

Long story short, get up and go earlier, if it is that pressing after church go seek out the priest…call the office and set up an appointment…go to another Parrish ASAP that may have a different time of mass and confession that day.

Just my two cents.



Make an appointment.

Surely if everyone went early, that wouldn’t make any difference to how long the line took? There would just be more people waiting for longer.

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I guess you’re the “glass half empty” kind of person. What are the chances of a large group of people showing up early? If they did, many confession would be scheduled more frequently or for longer sessions.
For what it’s worth, I wish people lined up for confession like they do when a new iPhone comes out at an Apple store. Wouldn’t that be great?

From a purely pragmatic approach, when there are more than one or two priests available to hear Confession, would it be possible to temporarily label (with a specific color or symbol or other identifier) at least one booth to indicate a fast lane for anticipated quick and to-the-point confessions?

Sort of like an “express lane” at the grocery store.

Perhaps that might keep the flow going better.

Of course, this approach wouldn’t work if people with long confessions routinely entered the proverbial “express lane” or if there is only one priest hearing confessions.

Probably a silly idea on my part but since this is an internet forum, just thought I’d toss it out there as an option for discussion.


I’ve seen that happen naturally at a parish near me. They usually had three priests hearing confessions. The pastor was the speedy one. He was hard of hearing and usually cut you off after about two and a half sins, with a cheerful, “Is that all, then?” The slow one was a priest in Residence who worked full-time as a Chaplain for the Youth Authority. He had a degree in Psychology and a credential in counseling. If you needed it, he would give you the time. The middle line was a rotating position, held by a variety of visiting priests. There were always lines at that parish, and after a couple of visits, it was easy to figure out which was the best line for one’s own circumstances.

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That’s only as workable as people willing to honor it. I’ve seen so-called express lanes at supermarkets. The sign specifically states, “Ten or fewer items”, and people get in that line with full cartloads of way more than just ten. And daring anyone to say anything about it.

I would assume the standard… bank heists, right?

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I think it would be hilarious to see a similar sign on the confessional.
But I don’t think everyone would share my sense of humor.

Perhaps two signs.
And express lane and a full service lane.

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Of course, the whole problem could be lessened if people were just more considerate of others.


Perhaps they had an appointment with the priest and he said to meet at church. If it was over when confession was supposed to begin, then it doesn’t really matter. :slightly_smiling_face:


Gossip? Shoplifting? Fighting with their kids?

Little old ladies confess the same sins over and over and over again,just like everyone else. Also as people get closer to the end they see more clearly how even small things offend God. A priest who heard the confessions of retired nuns said it was like shooing away gnats.


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Why not send an email to the priest bringing up your concern with how long it takes for a handful of penitents to have their confessions heard?

If the problem is with penitents, then your letter may give the priest an excuse to preach about proper confession etiquette. You might also offer the priest a link to a good examination of conscience that gives proper instruction on making a good, but efficient, confession and have this available for people in the confession line. Maybe suggest the priest put a link on the parish website to this examination of conscience.

If the problem is with the priest, he may not realize how long he is taking and how his choices of counsel in the confessional are impacting his parishioners still waiting in line.

Communication is not as complicated as people make it out to be.

Consider that many gray-haired grannies these days are products of the 60s - Woodstock, free love, recreational pharmaceuticals, hippie communes, etc. - and just let your mind take it from there. That’s why I said probably better not to know.

Nope. If you did that, you would literally be requiring those who have grave sin or a greater number of sins to “out” themselves by standing in the “big sinner” line. Not cool.

“Being pelted with marshmallows” is another way I’ve heard it described…

“Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector.’” (Luke 18:10-11) :thinking:

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People sometimes confuse or try to combine confession and counseling into a confession.

Spiritual counseling should be done by appt, so as to allow for sufficient time for the priest or monk to assess, ask questions and give you the best advise to alter your situation .

Confession is just basically, identifying what you did and how many times without attempts to basically justify your actions, as was identified earlier.

I’ll take your word for it, although I don’t understand why a grave sin has to take a long time to confess. Can’t those also be quick if the penitent sticks to the essentials and the priest does likewise?

Of course, if the priest is led by the Holy Spirit to counsel or extend the session for some reason, the penitent shouldn’t be kicked out by a time clock violation. :basketball:

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