Grumpy Confessors


So I’m curious, have you ever had to deal with a grumpy confessor? If so, what words of wisdom would you have for those who might suddenly find themselves in that position? :slight_smile:

One of the things that I’ve been trying to do recently, is to write out my confessions as succinctly as possible beforehand. Not only does it lead to shorter and more precise confessions, but I would think writing out your sins would make it harder to be taken off your guard should your confessor be a bit impatient.

What say you?


You’ve given another reason to have a regular confessor. If you always go to the same priest you know what to expect. (And if you’re as blessed as I am, he’s gentle, wise, and holy.)


If you need longer than the norm during posted confession times it’s good to make an appointment. I’ve noticed grumpy priests only when I was taking more time and there were long lines of people waiting.

Just my opinion,


This is an important point, because sometimes people are rude when it comes to this.

A little common sense goes a long way. :thumbsup:


Agreed. Sometimes a priest can become impatient if he feels like you’re not making progress in avoiding the same sins. Or, he may think you’re being scrupulous.
Get a regular confessor and maybe you can focus on things that really need attending to…
(not that every sin doesn’t of course) but maybe the repetition is getting to him???
I’m just speculating, not trying to sound nosy. God bless you for your efforts to make a good confession.
Or, maybe he’s just got a lot on his plate. :shrug:
Advent is a busy time for the priests, God bless them.


One complaint that many priests have is that penitents arrive without adequate preparation. The penitent will say that it has been three years since his last confession, and then confess that he told three lies and missed Mass twice. That is a signal to the priest that the penitent has either not taken enough time to prepare for confession or has lost his sense of sin.


This sounds like a good opportunity for a priest to patiently and lovingly guide this person in making a good confession. How horrible it would be to return to confession after 3 years away and be scared away by a grumpy priest.


I try to be as quick as possible, and focus only on the “bigger” stuff, since I tend to go at posted times when there’s a chance there will be a line. If I wanted to list every venial sin I’d probably never leave the confessional. :blush:

I also make sure to thank the priest as I leave, “Thanks so much, Father. God bless you.” I don’t know how many penitents do this, but I am really appreciative that priests spend their time giving us the grace of this sacrament.

Saying a prayer afterwards for the priest along with your penance could also be a good idea. Sometimes, a person’s attitude really has nothing at all to do with us - there could be something else going on in their lives, they might have some health ailment that makes sitting in the box painful, etc. etc. I have even heard tell of a few priests who were just, well, grumpy people all of the time. :o It happens. Do your best to be respectful of the Sacrament and courteous to the priest and any other penitents waiting, and then the rest is up to them.


This is why it’s important for priests to approach these situations carefully. I have a relative who hasn’t been to confession in 30 years because of that. It’s not an excuse not to go, but it happens.



Our priests need to realize that being grumpy can and does equal that.


Yes. Yes. Yes. Thank you.


I haven’t actually encountered a grumpy confessor for a very long while now. I think some priests were grumpier in the old days. Even so, I always approach the confessional ready to “take my lumps,” so to speak, in case one of our priests is having a bad day or sees the need to more assertively make me aware of the damage sin does. It seems like when I prepare myself for the worst, it rarely comes to pass.


Have you every seen your Mother, Father, Brother, SIster, Grandparent, teacher, spouse, best friend grumpy?

How do you deal with them?

Most often, I give them a little room, understanding they are probably dealing with personal issues themselves, and I am not the center of the universe.

Priests are no different.

How come when our priest is on the cranky side its downright inexcusable, but when Padre Pio’s demeanor at confession is recalled, it a different story?

One priest told me as much as he loves the sacrament, hearing confessions take a huge emotional toll on him, often leaving him emotionally and physically drained.

My regular confessor is sometimes (others will say, often) grumpy, but I don’t let it bother me…In fact we have a “secret password” when we see each other seemingly in a dark place… One calls out “Rejoice in the Lord, Always.” and the other replies, “And again I say, Rejoice!”…it always ends up with the two of us smiling, and getting over ourselves!


If you write it out, please do so in script that makes sense only to you. One of my confessors told me it wasn’t a good idea to write things out since the list could fall into someone else’s hands. I usually just put down a word or two that serve as a reminder, so if anybody else read my list, it would be nonsensical. :slight_smile:


I like that! :thumbsup:


Could be worse.

My wife when converting had a holdover from the Spanish Inquisition as her first confessor.

Hasnt gone back since.


I find this interesting. Typically on the forums people lament that the priests are too “lenient”.


I can sympathize with the whole “just be a man and get over it” mindset. I’ll comment more on this at the end.

But not everyone is a man and not everyone is good at getting over things.

I’m not sure, from a pastoral perspective, that priests are saying to themselves, “You know, this time of year, above all, should be a time when penitents feel welcomed by Our Lord through the priest. Unless we’re in a bad mood. Or tired. Or just bored. In that case, the penitents can get over it, and they can just learn to deal with it. Bunch-a-sisses…” :slight_smile:

Judging from the fact that I’ve felt annoyance – and have heard others complain to their spouses – whenever confession is taking a long time, I’m sure this attitude is highly appreciated by priest and penitent alike.

As someone else pointed out, and this is really none of my business, but I wonder how many folks are just not adequately prepared to have their confession heard.

Grumpy confessors are a small problem (in my experience) in comparison to marathon-lengthed confessions.

I’m of the school of thought that confession time =/= advanced spiritual direction time.

Yes, I’ve broken this rule myself, and charity demands that I assume that others, if they break it, are doing so because they really need to. Thank God they are going to confession at all!

But a ten minute long confession session? Hm!


I have a little notebook, and burn the page as soon as I get back from confession.

It’s kind of a symbolic mini-ritual for me.


And pianistclare, that’s been my experience as well, with lenient confessors, I mean.

A friend of mine knows of a priest who really hits people hard if they confess harshly yelling at their kids. Like him, I suppose the best way to “deal with this” is to consider this sort of thing part of one’s penance. As Neofight pointed out, we are not the center of the universe. We’re even – perish the thought – sinners confessing sins!

I appreciate kindly confessors, but I do enough fawning over myself without needing to expect it from others, too.

Thanks for your really interesting responses, folks.


Pray for the priest before you go in.
Don’t think you’re there to be consoled or cajoled.

Whatever you do, don’t tell stories around your sins to the priest. Tell your sins in the most direct fashion.

Some priests may get grumpy because they are way over worked…or they are tired of people telling long drawn out stories around their sins, which more often than not are just ways of dressing up their sins with excuses to lower the humiliation they should be willing to shoulder given that they are talking directly to God, their Father.

People are way too sensitive for adults. We need a sturdier approach to God, not one contingent on “feeling good about ourselves”. We are nothing but clay and fallen nature…but we are children of God. We are wretched sinners…all of us…in need of God’s mercy and guidance. And that guidance comes off a bit gruff at times…smile, say nothing at all - ever about it, pray, work and smile.

It’s in the “saying nothing at all” (not even as interior complaint) where we truly grow.


The Seal of Confession means you do not reveal what happens in confession. You should not discuss this.

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