I feel a little clueless here


#1

My question is about the reconciliation room. When I first returned, I was at a penitential service, and my confession was done face to face. It was incredibly hard. Since then I’ve gone during appointed times in the reconciliation room, and it’s been with a screen.

I don’t think I like being on the kneeler, behind a screen. I felt better face to face (it was hard in some ways, but I found i preferred it). The room is set up that when you walk in, the priest is right in front of you, behind a curtain, and on your left is a kneeler. There are chairs in the room as well.

Do you simply request to sit face to face? I know… silly question, but I really hate to embarrass myself in an already high anxiety situation. I have a regular confessor, not sure how, but it’s how it works out, and he knows it’s me(I’ve an easily identifiable voice), and I would prefer face to face.


#2

If it’s not a traditional confessional, you should be able to walk around the screen and sit in front of the priest. Though, some priests don’t do face-to-face confession except in extenuating circumstances, which is perfectly within their right.


#3

…but presumably a priest who doesn’t wish to do face-to-face confessions is not going to have available chairs on his side of the screen that are visible to someone who enters the reconciliation room.

He’d either use a traditional confessional or, if one was not available, figure out some way of arranging the furnishings to prevent the penitent from showing himself.


#4

the door is right in front of the curtain. There are no chairs on ‘his side’ of the screen, as there is no room, 2 walls, curtain and a door. But there are chairs on the ‘other side’. You see the curtain when you walk in.


#5

My priest gave me a choice, chair or kneel. I chose kneeling behind the screen for the first one…as i knew I would probably start blubbering in the middle of confession and did not want him to see me. But, now that he knows my innermost secrets…I will probably sit in front of him next time.

I guess if you have a choice, just do what you are most comfortable with. If you are not sure if you have a choice, then you probably have to ask him if you can confess face to face if that is what you prefer. He will probably let you pull the chair in on his side.


#6

I prefer face to face. I feel more ashamed of my sins when I confess them directly (face to face) to my confessor. The worse I feel about my sins as I confess them, the more freeing the feeling of receiving absolution. And prayerfully, the more resistant I’ll be in the future for confronting my weaknesses/sins again.


#7

I went chiefly to small churches when I was young; so even behind the screen the priest often knew who I was. Confession was often before mass. It wasn’t unusual for the priest to add, after absolution, “and Joe, please light the altar candles on your way out.”

Now my hearing is poor. It is much easier to hear the priest when we are face to face.


#8

Just ask when you enter: “Father, may I confess face-to-face?”


#9

If it’s a curtain rather than a screen, it is probably ok to just pull the curtain aside for face-to-face confession. We had this set-up at a nearby parish. The priest put the curtain back in place after each Confession so that those who wanted to have an anonymous Confession could do so. If you don’t feel comfortable asking the priest at the beginning of Confession, you can probably ask in the parish office or the Religious Ed department.


#10

Why don 't you ask the priest outside of confession, maybe after mass or if you see him at a parish event, if he does face to face confessions. This way you know going in and don't have to feel unsure.


#11

The screen is to block us from view when we come in, there is an actual wall with like shutters that don’t open in front of the kneeler. Which is why I’m not sure what to make of the room.

I’ll ask around. And figure it out. I know my first on at this parish was face to face with him, but it was at a penitential service.


#12

The Reconciliation Room in my parish was set up this way


#13

The door and the priest and curtain are in the same space, but the kneeler is to the left, with a screen and chairs to the left of the kneeler.


#14

Ok, I guess it’s a “be careful what you wish” for situation!

This morning I booked time off so I could to to reconciliation, our fall schedule is insane, and it is the only way it will work.

I walk into the room, and Fr. J is right there! No curtain. He greets me by name. I have never had him in reconciliation either, he is a little intimidating too. I went to go to the kneeler, he says “My friend, have a seat.”

I look at him, “Reallly???” Yikes! I was SO not prepared for face to face. He shook my hand and and assured me “You’ll be fine.” I, of course, can’t protest, it’s just not in me.

I found it quite difficult as I wasn’t prepared for it at all. I think I prefer anonymous! I know it’s only an illusion as both our priests know me. I don’t even need to identify myself to them on the phone, a curtain will not truly give me anonymity, but it does give me the illusion of such!

I left laughing as Fr. J is just that type of guy, even if I find him a little bit(or lots at times) scary, he really is a great priest. So glad I made the time to go!


#15

The last time I went behind the screen it was in an old fashioned confessional at a monastery and it was so hot and stuffy and the priest was so long-winded I thought I was going to pass out. I couldn't even concentrate on what he was saying.:(

I much prefer the larger rooms with the face-to-face option.


#16

Our reconciliation room is large and airy, but my experience has been the priest has a curtain up, and you go to the left to the kneeler and there is a screen separating, this time the curtain was not there!


#17

In our parish, there used to be a half-wall between the priest and penitent, so a choice could be made whether to go a bit further in the room and be face to face, or remain just inside and kneel at the grille.

Unfortunately, since the abuse cases, the confessionals have all been altered so that there is a full wall. There’s the choice of pulling the curtain back to make it less anonymous, but it’s a sad reflection of the times all the same.


#18

When we renovated our parish a few years back, Fr. J insisted each door had a window. And all outter wall rooms had windows to the outside.

In the reconciliation room, there is a window in the door. If you were to look in you would see Fr sitting there. If the curtain is pulled, you would still see his legs, just not his face. If reconciliation were private, you’d not see the penitent except for the feet, if face to face, you would see the back of them.


#19

[quote="cominghomeCC, post:18, topic:291798"]
When we renovated our parish a few years back, Fr. J insisted each door had a window. And all outter wall rooms had windows to the outside.

In the reconciliation room, there is a window in the door. If you were to look in you would see Fr sitting there. If the curtain is pulled, you would still see his legs, just not his face. If reconciliation were private, you'd not see the penitent except for the feet, if face to face, you would see the back of them.

[/quote]

Sadly, that would not satisfy any anti-abuse worries. In other words, someone could claim a priest did something to them, as the whole room isn't visible.

With a full wall, there is no possibility of contact so no possibility of accusations.

I'm as shocked and bothered as anyone that such things have to be thought of and planned against, but it's how a lot of clergy feel - vulnerable to accusations - and it makes sense to make the physical environment fit for current conditions.


#20

I think that was the reason for the separation in this old confessionals. Men could confess outside the confessional, but there had to be complete separation between the confessor and a woman.

I have been told that in the Eastern churches one stands with the confessor in front of the icon screen in the view of all.


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