It seems like the catholic faithful neglect the sacrament of Penance


Everytime I go to confession it seems that only a trickle of penitents take part in this great sacrament. Why do you think this sacrament has grown out of favor? Is it because we’ve lost the concept of sin?


I would not make broad generalizations, certainly not merely based upon what I observed in a single parish. I am a very visible figure in my own parish, someone who serves Mass almost daily—sometimes more than once a day—and attends Mass and receives Communion daily* regardless of the service schedule, yet no one ever sees me confess there because I do so, every two weeks, outside the parish. I certainly hope my fellow parishioners are not making assumptions about me based upon what they see.

Some parishes in this archdiocese have well-frequented confession, others do not. I simply suppose that the parishioners whom I don’t see during our regularly scheduled confession times are confessing by appointment and/or in other parishes.

God bless :slight_smile:

*when properly disposed and no more than twice in one day


Many priests don’t preach the value of Confession and don’t provide convenient times for it.

If they did that, more people would go


I believe that you are correct…I don’t believe that you are making a broad generalazation. it’s simply not stressed from the pulpit. prior to V-2 (and I’m certain to take some heat for this and will be dinged) it generally understood that one went to confession prior to receiving Holy Communion…ofcourse, I am aware that the requrement is to receive the Sacrament at least once a year…I remember hearing older individuals referring to 'making their Easter Duty"…I happen to be one of those people who believe that there 'AREN/T) that many people making appointments to see the Priest for private confession.


Yesterday, our confession schedule was from 9:30-10:30; I was the last penitent who went into the box at almost noon. Unscheduled, our young priest will hear you anytime after his masses; our pastor - well, I guess he would if you made an appointment but I never have done so. He does not offer the sacrament after his masses. I assume he is so busy administering a large parish, there just isn’t time.

However, I live within five miles of four different parishes and of the four, all of them offer Saturday scheduled confession at the same time. One also has a Saturday afternoon just before the 4 pm mass. This parish also has confessions scheduled on Wednesday evening.

All that said, the lines for probably close to six thousand Catholics in a small area near Pittsburgh usually have about 15 to 20 people in them, which is up from the three or four which used to be there when I first converted (so, let’s call it 20 years). And, there are more young people, too. Though, sorry to say, young or old, it’s all the same people.

I can’t speak to other parishes but I strongly suspect that most people just don’t feel any real requirement to go most of the year. At Easter, the lines are LONG -

I go about every 12-14 days and since I began that habit, my life is transformed! First off, most of the time, I am confessing venial sins (to the same confessor, too, which is a blessing). :o If more people would follow a smiliar schedule, they could obtain so much grace. I never, ever, want to go back to that “twice a year is fine” plan I had way back when.


It is difficult to know whether this is really the case. I tend to go to this sacrament away from the parish, simply because I prefer a private confession behind a petition and because the times are more convenient.

On the other hand, I do know people who simply do not understand the need, irrespective of their knowledge of faith or the efforts of the diocese and parish priest. Generally, I suspect it is a combination of not understanding what sin is or recognising it in their words and deeds, relativism (e.g. something is only wrong when other people do it) and fear of putting the sin into words. There may be other reasons but I can’t think of them right now.


I’m not generally a parish hopper, but I am for Confession. Usually, a church downtown will have Mass and Confessions at lunch.


It could be the same sort of reason as to why many of us avoid seeing our doctor for a physical exam. We know that we should, but we make excuses and put it off. And a lot of us, I suspect, then become comfortable in a pattern of “little” sins, just as we do with unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Around here, all the parishes offer twice yearly penitential services during Advent and Lent, and these always seem to be well attended (and they culminate with private confession - there are often 5-7 priests each with lines of 20 or more penitents). I wonder if this trend of the formal penitential service has led some to decide that twice a year confession is sufficient. Twice a year is better than nothing. I can only speak for myself when I say that I am in need of the sacrament much more often!


Exactly! :thumbsup:

It depends on the parish.

The parish 12 miles from me, not many ever, longest I had to wait was 5 minutes.

My own parish, Father will hear confessions after Saturday Vigil Mass (he’s invited all the people left in line to come back after Mass), and Monday evenings, he stays until every confession is heard. However, participation varies, sometimes it’s crowded, sometimes it’s not.

A downtown Denver parish has confession 7days/week. Always crowded, usually, people travelling from other parishes.


Agree. Don’t know how long it has been since I heard anything from the pulpit about the importance of Confession. Living in the country, it’s a fairly long drive to any of the local parishes. The times are also inconvenient.

Some priests don’t seem to value Confession for it’s spiritual healing. I’ve had priests tell me “that’s not a sin” and I feel like I’m wasting their time. One time I ended up the last in line and the priest took so long with everyone in front of me that he left the confessional right before my turn. I thought he had to vest for Mass, but it turned out he wasn’t saying Mass that evening. :frowning:

Confession is hard for me anyway, and the experiences I’ve had don’t make it any easier.


It is interesting to note how converts adhere more to catholic teachings than many cradle Catholics. My family are all cradle Catholics and none except for myself and one or two others go to confession. I know this because most tell me it is not necessary to go; they have a protestant or born again attitude that you can go directly to God. While I do confess privately to God, I do feel the need to confess to a priest and receive absolution; especially when the weight of my sin is too much for me to bear and confessing it privately does not cut it.

What people tend to forget is to pray to the Holy Spirit for discernment. It will lead us. I know that sometimes we do things because the church tells us so, but if your conscience does not lead you then what is the point of confession.

Psalm 32:3-5
When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.


Personally, I live in the suburbs. I rarely attend confession at my parish. Usually, I attend at the Cathedral, where there is always a line and confession is offered at lunchtime every day.

So like me, I think many Catholics may attend confession where they work, not always in their own parish (if lunchtime confession is an option by their work).

I think the main issues is that many Catholics either don’t know whIch sins are grave, cafeteria Catholics disagree that some sins are grave, and/or some cafeteria Catholics believe that confession is not necessary.


I never go to Reconciliation at my home parish.Sat.from 8:30-10:00 with huge lines extending out the door.Instead,I chose to go to one of two neighboring parishes with times that work better for me. I also,go on occasion at the Cathedral:)


Many good replies already. The neglect of confession was on my mind today as well. I tried to go yesterday (fortunately I was able to go today). I arrived at the scheduled time, 30 minutes before 5:30 pm Mass. The usher tried to find Father for me but he was MIA. Granted, this parish was in a sad shape. Mass was in the old school next to the Church with only a handful in attendance. It made me wonder though…I go every couple of weeks and felt very discouraged…how would someone who was trying to go for the first time in years have felt in this situation?

I don’t think there is one single reason for the decline in confession. Usually when I speak to younger Catholics about it they say, “I really need to go…” Confession is hard. It takes courage to drive up to the Parish durning the scheduled time and climb in the box or open the door to the reconciliation room. That’s why I hope more priests will start scheduling confession before Sunday Mass. When I go to Parishes that have confession before Sunday Mass, I almost always see a line. When people see the light on before Mass, I think there is less fear than showing up on a Saturday just for Confession.

When my wife and I recently went through our marriage prep retreat, Father did a session on confession to the 30 young couples there. He then had two preists hear confessions during breaks in the sessions. He said, “The best thing about going to confession here is priests you don’t know and won’t see again,” lol. 90% of people went. It was wonderful.

I do think many younger priests understand why people don’t go to confession. I hope we see a greater return to traditional confessionals because they make people feel more comfortable and anonymous, in my opinion. I also hope we see more confession availability before Sunday Mass and during the liturgy of the word, if extra priests are available. At St. Mary’s in DC people often are still going to confession through the homily and this is for the OF Mass.



Statistics such as seen above are common. I like to listen to the Fathers of Mercy on my local Catholic radio station. Fr. Wade Menezes, Fr. Ben Cameron, Fr. Bill Casey all report the same thing in their sermons. Namely, that participation among the faithful in the Sacrament of Reconciliation is abysmal. They say that the loss of the sense of sin is largely responsible. As Pope Pius XII once said, “The sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin”. And who on here can ever deny this? Just look at all of the sinful ways that are now being considered as acceptable and normal. Abortion, Euthanasia, promiscuity, divorce, contraceptives, cohabitation, homosexuality, so-called SSM and on and on and on. And the sad part about this is, is that the majority of Catholics now accept these new “norms.”

I’ve been going to confession weekly to the same confessor for the past 15 yrs.(which is a great plus!} Not because I’m scrupulous, or anything like that. No, I go simply because I love this Sacrament that Jesus gave us, and I recognize the great graces that flow from it, and also the benefit of strengthening that it gives me.

Peace, Mark***


Has is ever occurred to anyone that perhaps most Catholics aren’t committing mortal sins, and therefore, aren’t required to go to Confession?

I know that there are Catholics on CAF who question almost everything they do, worried that it is a mortal sin.

And then there are the Catholics (and other non-Catholic Christians) who don’t recognize even the serious sins when they commit them.

Both of these are extremes.

Many Catholics and Christians DO have a well-formed conscience and are truly examining their conscience regularly and truly aren’t aware of any mortal sins, and know that they are not required to seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation for their venial sins, and instead, rely on forgiveness for sins that we receive during the Mass and that we receive in our private prayers when we ask God for forgiveness for venial sins.

This is my explanation for why I’m not at Confession every day or even every week. I go when I am convicted by the Holy Spirit that I have committed a mortal sin. Occasionally I go when my venial sins are wearing me down and causing me to be lackluster in the practice of my faith.

I’m guessing a lot of Catholics would say the same thing as me.

Again, I realize that some Catholics see themselves and others as mired down in sin and constantly in need of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I don’t see myself that way.

I know that Saint Pope John Paul II went to Confession daily–well, I think it’s likely that since he lived a great big life with a lot of responsibilities, he probably needed Confession every day. Most of us don’t live great big lives. We go to work, we take care of ourselves and our families, we relax and pursue various hobbies and pastimes. That’s it. The weight of the world is not on our shoulders, and so it’s easier for us to be good and avoid serious sin much of the time.


I try to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation monthly,however,I have fallen off the wagon,so to speak,my last confession being right before Easter.
The Church encourages regular visits to the confessional,even when one is not in the sate of mortal sin,because the graces received,will,hopefully keep us from going down the wider path.
Speaking for myself,I noticed when I went monthly,I was more aware of my sinful behaviors.As time goes by ,it becomes easier to tell myself that,oh,I don’t really have any sins to be concerned about.Herein lies the danger.:eek:


Bingo! Excellent point Jeanne S!

Peace, Mark


Bingo! Excellent point Jeanne S!

Peace, Mark


The Church encourages regular visits to Reconciliation, but the Church does not REQUIRE regular visits.

Please don’t get the idea that I’m saying that we should all avoid Confession other than the once a year Lenten required Confession. I agree, going regularly and confessing venial sins and seeking help for our malaise and lack of enthusiasm is a wonderful exercise of our faith.

But it’s not required. And for those people who are older, infirm, have small children, have arduous working schedules, live far away from a parish, etc.–it’s a great blessing that Confession is not required for venial sins.

All of us have seasons where we are more readily able to be involved with the disciplines of our Church to the full extent that they are available to us. E.g., older people who are retired are often able to attend Daily mass, while many of the rest of us are only able to attend a weekday Mass on our few days off. Before people have children, they are able to be involved with all kinds of church activities and take advantage of the Sacraments at every opportunity, but once they have little ones, it’s very hard to schedule these activities.

I recommend that the OP think about that. Those people who are in the “season of their lives” to be able to faithfully avail themselves of regular Reconciliation are hopefully doing so. Many of the people who don’t attend Reconciliation are at a season where it is truly a great burden to try to go.

What this all comes down to is that each individual should be mindful of their own soul, and not be overly-concerned about what others do, but pray for them and try our best to help them if we have the opportunity.

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