Confused: Catholicism VS. What actually happens in parishes


#1

I'm having a really hard time coping with the discouragement and disappointment that keeps being hurled at me from every angle since my conversion. The latest hurtle is confession.

  1. I know how these threads usually go. I have never, EVER voiced my discouragements and let ANYONE in our parish know what I'm struggling with. As far as they all know I'm perfectly happy. So no, this isn't a reaction of people who are getting frustrated with dealing with my complaints.

  2. I am only in my third year in this faith.

Confession via Catholicism.

When I read these forums, browse Catholic websites or just read the Catechism I'm told that Confession is good. It's important. I'm told we can and if so disposed SHOULD attend regularly. I read that it's good to go, even for venial sins. I'm encouraged to go, go, go.

Confession in Reality

Since my conversion I have had to struggle to get confession. There is no set time for confessions. You have to book an appointment. I would book appointments, the priest wouldn't show up or he'd forget I was coming. I would write emails and confirm appointments and they would still not show up.

I finally found a confessor who seemed good. He would hear confession before Mass, after Mass, anytime. Again he would forget if I actually made a proper appointment but I just started going to him prior to Mass to alleviate that.

Recently he was moved to a neighboring parish.

I joked to some fellow parishioners about traveling to confess to him and I was scolded. I was told I should only hear confession in my own parish.

Fine. I made the decision to do that. I made the appointment for myself and my cousin (who travels here for confession because we have confessional booths. Her parish doesn't and she doesn't like face to face confession).

Today was our appointment. As per the usual the priest didn't show up. I called my old confessor and asked him if we could come to him. My cousin believed she had committed a mortal sin so I wanted to help her get confession as soon as possible. If not for her I would have let it go.

My old confessor agreed to have us come. He seemed fine with it.

When we arrived Mass was in session so we sat and took part of Mass. After I introduced her to him and because I had another appointment I left her with him.

I just found out his response and it's very, very discouraging.

What do I do?

A little History

To help you understand the depth of my disappointment I have a story.

The year I converted we had a special dinner with the Bishop. During dinner, as an excited convert, I shared with him my utmost joy and excitement for confession. I was a happy, newly forgiven sinner and a lover of confession.

His response was a roll of the eyes and to get up and leave my table. He did not speak to me again. My sponsor's response was to tell me confession isn't all that important. The others at the table just laughed at me.

Tonight

My cousin was told tonight that;

A: She shouldn't be traveling just to receive confession in a booth. He didn't understand what the big deal was and why she couldn't just go to her own priest.

B: Tradition is NOT important (his response when she told him how much she loved the traditions of the Church - as a convert she is excited to learn Catholic traditions).

C: That she should not steal (she had NOT confessed to stealing - he just randomly started scolding her for theft)

She was treated like an inconvenience and an annoyance (despite the fact we asked if we could come - we did NOT impose. We made the trip only after he said; come on down!).

She was made to feel like she had done something wrong by coming to him.

What Now

So what do we do? I make appointments with my new priest... he doesn't show up. I go to my old confessor and he gets irritated because I should only seek confession within my current parish... I'm not comfortable traveling to my cousin's parish because I too prefer the confessional booths. I cannot go to my Bishop (to ask his advice on how to proceed) because he is dismissive of confession.

We're out of options.

What do we do? How do we get confession? Do we just take it once a year during Easter when it's offered? Do we only go when we have mortal sin on our hearts? Do we give up on trying to seek regular confession?

I'm so horribly discouraged right now and very, very sad for my cousin who had an absolutely terrible night thanks to my old confessors dismissive and annoyed treatment of her.


#2

Do you live in a small town with only one option, or a bigger city? If the latter, I'm sure there are several other parishes for you where you can go to Confession. I live in a medium-sized city, and there are dozens of options here including some churches with daily Confession.

I would first suggest to not get discouraged. You have had some bad experiences, no doubt, but a couple priests do not make the Church. I would search out another church, if possible, and see if they have better Confession schedules. Most parishes in the places I have travelled at minimum have Saturday afternoon Confession times. Most parishes also have websites nowadays, and the Confession times are generally listed there as well.

Again, don't be discouraged, pray for these priests, and definitely do not stay away from the Confessional as the Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of Christ's greatest gifts to us.


#3

Can you drive?

I would just go and confess at a different parish that have scheduled confession times. My local parish ripped away the confessional, and only allow face-to-face confessions by appointment. NO THANKS.


#4

I'm very sorry for your experience. my advice to you is never give up no matter what the priest do, the priest are like any of us flesh and blood they sin just like everyone else never in a million years give up confessing because of a priest behavior or actions. Do all you can to get the attention of a priest if it takes to go from church to church really it don't matter if you want to confess in a booth or face to face or in any kind of way the most important part of all of this is search for God forgiveness is not the priest fault and is not yours either just because we Catholics doesn't mean we perfect you still are going to face many obstacle the devil want for you to see the Catholic church in a way as if you made a mistake becoming one you made the best choice in your life I'm not telling you this because I'm a catholic is because Jesus is the founder of the Catholic Church and is the only true church. I been a Catholic all my life and I'm always scare to confess many times is because I'm not comfortable with the priest other times is because I can't find a priest but if I have to search all over just to made that confession I will do so because the important of the confession is forgiveness is a sacrament sometimes I confess every week and yet uncomfortable because of the priest and times I've seen things I don't like about priest is not their fault they tested just like we are tested they weak and they need prayer to maintain faithful and do the will of God remember this words I once heard in a mass do what I preach to you don't do what you see me do and is because of the weakness of the flesh. This things you bring to our Lord who will never fail you he knows you trying and that's very important that he knows. Please tell your relative is not the matter of a booth is the matter of forgiveness God said repent there was no booth to hide the face in those times. Still don't hesitate to ask if is another way just ask the priest to go behind curtains or behind the door is many ways to cover the face. I pray this help you in some way. God bless. And tell the priest how you feel about everything you post here you confess to them how you feel about not always been able to confess and why be open you be surprise.


#5

Wow this is such a sad story... I did not realize how lucky I was to have such a good parish priest who has so many confession times on the schedule (and still insists that any time I need a confession to come see him)

I would just go to a different parish, It is not a sin to go somewhere else to be absolved. I have heard it is good to have one confessor but I have many times swung by a different parish for Confession if I was out of town or if they had a nice adoration chapel.

Do you mind if I ask what part of the country you are from? I have never heard of a parish not having at least one set confession time for the Parish, usually Saturday.

How do you like your parish priest overall? Does he treat all the sacraments with such low regard?


#6

First off,find a new parish if you can. Don't let a couple of priests (who are also men,flesh), discourage you.

I hadn't gone for confession in 2 years and i was terrified to go,but when i eventually did the priest acted like ''who cares'',i was let down and it took me another year to gather courage to go. I eventually did this year,april, in another parish, when i expressed my doubts and displeasure during the last confession as reasons for not confessing, the priest told me that ''immediately you knelt down here and opened your mouth to say the first line,all your sins have been forgiven,wether i the priest likes it or not,because the only thing that brought you here after so long,is true contrition''.
He also told me not to let others decide for me,but to allow the spirit to help me make decisions.

So,please don't let a few people prevent you from seeking the sacraments. There are priests who would listen and actually counsel you.
Don't forget its not the priest that forgives you,but Almighty God who is the Christ and Holy Spirit, abiding in the church.

God bless!!


#7

Regardless of any other issues locally, one thing I don't have a problem with is Confession. First off, don't listen to anyone who tells you that you have to go to Confession at your own parish. I prefer seeing my regular priest, but if I have to go, I have to go. There are four parishes I go to for Confession (my own and three others). While I prefer my priest, he only offers it once a month and by appointment. He's not always the one who hears Confession during our monthly sessions, so I have no choice in those cases but to see a different priest. If I need to go some other time, I go to one of the other three. I have my favorite out of the three, but no matter which one I go to, they're all good and I've never had any of them get upset that I was going outside my parish. If you have other options, try them out until you find a priest you feel comfortable with and don't worry about others criticizing you for not seeing your parish priest.

Like you, one of the things I love most about being Catholic is Confession. Unlike some people, I'm always thrilled to go, no matter what I'm confessing. I may not always walk out with that feeling that a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, but at the very least I leave happier and more content. And, honestly, the biggest criticism I receive for going to Confession is the fact that I actually go. I get funny looks if I just mention it, made fun of if I say I go more than once a decade, and chastised if I say I take my wife and kids. I don't let it discourage me from talking about it, and I certainly don't let it discourage me from going. If I ever had a priest treat me the way you've been treated, I would simply find another priest. I'm not going to let another person, even a priest, shame or berate me into not receiving the sacraments. They're one of the greatest gifts God has given us and we should never let someone else's wrong-headed opinions keep us from partaking in them.

Try not to let this get you down, and definitely don't quit going to Confession. Talk to your old confessor and let him know how you feel. If that doesn't help, do what you can to work with your parish priest or find someone else to go to. Whatever you do, though, keep going. As Pope Francis said recently, it's "an encounter with Jesus who waits for us to forgive us and offer salvation." It's an essential part of who we are as Catholics and we shouldn't let anyone deter us from it.


#8

What a sad story. I assume that you have a liberal bishop who has lost his way. However, you know what the Church teaches. We worship Christ, not fallible men. Don't ever apologize for seeking Confession. It is a priest's job and most of them do understand the importance of it. Pray for your bishop and priests that they may rediscover the orthodox Catholic faith.


#9

I always go to a different parish for confession as our local priest is the most unapproachable priest I have ever met in my life!! :(


#10

I think we need to remember here that you are confessing to God, not the Priest. I like the traditions of the Catholic Church too, but why should a person feel shy about confessing face to face. We should be embarrassed and humiliated by our sins, and having to confess them to a person is a big part of humbling ourselves before God, by humbling ourselves to His Church. I'm not gonna lie I did the same thing basically, I didn't want to confess to my parish Priest that I had had premarital sex again. While I was confessing, it occurred to me that I was actually SINNING DURING MY CONFESSION. The sin of ugly, deadly Pride. I realized that it was my ego, my worry of what my priest would think of me, that caused me to go to a different Church where I sort of had a blank slate, the Priest didn't know my whole story, I didn't have to be as embarrassed, or worried that he'd think differently of me. So I confessed to the Priest in this Church my additional sin of pride, travelling to confession so as not to be embarrassed. That's when he told me of course, God's the one who's forgiving me. We must confess via our Priest as well as directly to God. It really doesn't matter what the Priest's demeanor is, that's between Him and God, your sins are between you and God. Like someone else said pray for Him.

As far as the Priest bringing up stealing with your friend; you know Padre Pio was aware of sins that people had on their soul whether they had confessed them or not, and it'd be like hold on, haven't you forgotten... He was also accused of things and and even helped his accusers out. Jesus received the highest of all mistreatings by everyone, and even those who were supposed to Love Him, and He asked for forgiveness for them. We need to look at their examples.

I don't really mean to sound abrupt, I just appreciate when people speak directly to me like, "Hello Girl, look at this a different way."

I would just try to remember the Priests and Bishops are humans, they aren't without sin either. No one likes dealing with rolling of the eyes, or missed appts. I'm sorry you've had difficulty. Remember Satan, would love to have you confused and frusterated, upset with your Priest. Then non-Christians and Evangelicals can read this and say, -See those Catholics and their confession...-Don't worry or stress about it, in all things pray. I mean you've confessed to God in prayer I'm sure. Realize this is about your relationship with God, not your Priest. If you are unable to have your confession heard regularly at your Church, THEN simply go to another, whether it's face to face or anonymous. It's not about what we like better, it's about our walk with Christ.


#11

[quote="linamarie17, post:10, topic:325138"]

Realize this is about your relationship with God, not your Priest. .

[/quote]

I like that. :thumbsup:


#12

Geez, there I go sinning again. The comment about non-Christians, and Evangelics maybe judging us. We've all judged. I'm sorry.

Lina


#13

travelling to confession so as not to be embarrassed.

I agree with you here, but I think the most important thing to do is to find a priest that is willing to make time to hear your confession and understands how important the sacrament of Penance is. You can certainly have a confessor from another parish.

By the way welcome to CAF!


#14

I would also say as a side note, the fact that you are a newly converted, fired up disciple of Christ, is most likely a big part of why things are coming at you from every angle as you said, to discourage you. You are a big threat to the Devil now. You are out there spreading Christ's light to the world. The enemy doesn't want that, he wants you confused and doubting God and miserable.

Keep the faith, God is super close to you. It's possible every time you're about to learn a big spiritual lesson, you'll feel the same thing happening. Feel Peace, God has called you and the Devil's not gonna shake you.

Remember it's always hardest right before the finish line.

Lina


#15

There is NOTHING WRONG with traveling to confess to a priest in another parish, ESPECIALLY when you have already established him as your regular confessor. Don't listen to anyone who says that you "have to" confess in your own parish, or even that you "should" or it's "better". If you have a confessor, stick with him.


#16

sigh In my distress I forgot to add several key points that would have expediated this process.

  1. I live in a VERY rural area. There are a grand total of three Latin Rite parishes and one Byzantine Rite parish in driving distance. The next nearest parish is three hours away.

  2. I have been trying. So, so hard. I make appointments. They don't show. The only reason I could go to my old confessor is because he would allow me to give confession prior to Mass. So what? Do I have to move parishes just so I can receive confession before Mass? I am currently committed to music ministry in my current parish as well as other things. I would hate to have to move just to receive confession...

  3. My cousin is no thief. She was very confused and hurt by his accusations. If she was truly a thief I HIGHLY doubt she'd come to share her hurt over a false accusation. In fact, I wager she would have kept that little incident to herself.

I hope that helps you all understand the situation a bit clearer.

So I just keep trying, huh? I just keep making appointments they don't come to. Just keep up with the one confession every nine months despite my best efforts? I guess this is just what I'm stuck with.

And I'm so very disappointed. I can't help it. I'm human. I desire a deeper holiness. I desire a closer relationship with God. I truly feel confession will help me achieve this and FREQUENT confession will help this but it's just not going to be.

Agh. Now I just feel like I'm having a pity party so I'm going to pick up and stop. I'm going to just be happy with two confessions a year and that's that. I WILL keep trying to book appointments, they will keep not showing up and that's how things are here. (and no, this isn't about the booths or face to face confession. At this point I'd even take face to face confession. This is about priests who aren't interested in confession. Priests who don't have scheduled confession times. Priests who don't show up when we make appointments. Priests who say; come. And then when you come they treat you like an inconvenience and dismiss the importance of confession).

You know, the first time I made an appointment for Confession and the priest didn't show up I cried for an hour. I had spent hours preparing myself for the sacrament and then to be denied... I don't know. It was just ...

The second time I made an appointment and the priest didn't show up I was disappointed but no tears.

The third time I wasn't even disappointed. I wasn't surprised. I was expecting it.

Yesterday, when the first priest didn't show for our appointment... I laughed (Yup! Not a surprise, not a disappointment, it's an expected slight that happens every time).

:shrug:


#17

I am just so sorry to read your account of what you've been going through. I have to say, it isn't all rural areas that are like yours, but certainly you have a lot fewer options than you would if you lived in a metropolitan area. I don't think you should accept the status quo, but I understand that you are really limited as to your options. I'd probably start looking to move, frankly. If I were under the threat of dying with a mortal sin on my soul, I'd find a way to have a confessor who cared, within at least driving distance.

I'll add you to my prayers. I'm glad you're here on CAF. And welcome home!!!


#18

I suggest that you write a letter to the bishop, informing him of your difficulties in receiving the Sacraments. Include documentation of dates and times where your appointments were broken, and the fact that there are no regularly scheduled times in the parish. I wouldn't get into anything the priest said as it could be considered hearsay. The fact that you are not able to receive a Sacrament that you have repeatedly requested and for which you are properly disposed is enough for the bishop to know, since it is a violation of canon 843, §1: "Sacred ministers cannot deny the sacraments to those who seek them at appropriate times, are properly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them."

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf gives tips for writing to bishops here: wdtprs.com/blog/tips-for-writing-to-bishops-and-to-the-pc-ecclesia-dei/


#19

:( I am truly saddened to hear of your experiences.

I don't know if this makes you feel better or worse, but it's not like that everywhere. All the parishes in my area have set confession times every week and the lines are always long. It is disheartening to not have that type of regular access.

All Catholics have a right to receive the sacraments when they reasonably ask for them. I would call out the priest for not honoring appointments. Grant it, they could have emergencies pop up (e.g. someone dying in a hospital), so you should be charitable and assume the best. But it is extremely disrespectful to do so on a regular basis without apology or excuse.

There is nothing anywhere stating one can only go to Confession in their own parish. In fact, quite the opposite. Canon Law says: "Every member of the Christian faithful is free to confess sins to a legitimately approved confessor of his or her choice, even to one of another rite." Honestly, I have never been to Confession in my home parish. :o I always go to one of the neighboring parishes.

It's hard to deal with things like this when you are not at all asking for anything unreasonable. Any priest should be happy to hear someone's Confession. There was a priest in my area who got transferred, but one of my good friends still calls him up and he'll drop whatever he's doing and go meet my friend and hear his Confession at any time of day or night. My friend does try not to take advantage of his amazing generosity in that regard. But that has always impressed me as a wonderful attitude for a priest to have. They are pastors of souls.

Hang in there. Keep making those appointments. And if the priest doesn't show, let them know you feel disrespected. At the very least, they owe you a phone call to let you know they cannot make it.


#20

I always go to another parish. Or go to Confession when there is a visiting priest.

In nine years I have been to Confession with our Pastor, twice.

There is nothing wrong with traveling for Confession. Nothing.

So, if you can, find a priest that is willing to see Confession for what it is, a very important sacrament. Make appointments, or use the scheduled Confession time. And travel to see him.

(I think the most interesting place I have traveled to, and gone to Confession, was when our family went to Disney and I went to Confession at the shrine in Florida. :thumbsup: )


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.