Nobody at Confession

I was at confession last saturday and sure the church had people in it. Most were preparing for the 5:00pm mass and were practicing in the choir. Some were praying with rosaries in the pews… I sat alone by the confessional.

The priest was not in there. I waited and waited… and then thought this was almost a cruel joke that I made the effort to go to church and seek the sacrament of reconciliation. I needed it badly. I wanted to cry sitting there listening to people chatting and tuning instruments.

Finally Fr. came by and looked at me and said “are you here for confession?” I nodded. He took another 10 minutes before heading into the booth.

I have only been to him once before about 5 months ago… and he remembered me. ! ! Does that mean nobody else goes? I am not saying this in a sense that I am judging people who don’t go to confession. In fact, I know I am a sinner and perhaps the other people in church are just doing a better job at keeping temptations at bay.

I feel like confession is now… so obsolete. The priest also had nothing to say to my sins. He just asked me to say three Hail Mary’s. No clarification on my sins or any advise.

I just feel alone there. I know Jesus is with me, but I still feel alone and … I feel like I am doing something “old school” by going to confession as nobody seems to go anymore.

What do you guys think? I am sure you experience much of the same. Do I need to go to a Latin Mass church to find a good confessional?

I guess it really depends on where you are and when… I have made different experiences.
At the church I have often gone to in San Francisco, confession was very “popular”, for lack of a better word right now. There is usually a line, or more than one if more than one priest is available for confession.

A church I sometimes go to here in Switzerland offers confession on three afternoons, and usually there are a few people there too.

Another church offers scheduled confessions only every three weeks. I don’t know if that means that there is not a big demand, or if most people just call for appointments.


A couple of things come to mind…I’ll bet that no, not many others come to confession at that parish. The priest may have been “out of practice” or caught a little off guard to see someone there.

Perhaps if you were to call ahead before you go next time, just so he’s prepared, you might have a better experience. And clarify what you perhaps you felt was “missing” in your last confession experience.

Priests are people too. He might be very discouraged at nobody else coming regularly and it showed. :shrug:

It is sad to see how few people go to confession. Sadly, I have encountered many who don’t think its necessary. I have also encountered the opposite, where people haven’t gone and are afraid. This situation in and of itself has many components that can be debated, discussed, etc.

I enjoy going to confession about once a month. When I lived in San Diego, I attended one church for mass and found another for confession. The reason behind that was because of the priest and the way the sacrament was handled. Since moving to another city, I was lucky to discover a monastery here where you can go 24/7. A rare and precious gift.

Seek out a good priest and then make it a point to go. Sometimes its not always possible to get the same priest, confessor, etc. and in those cases, trust in JESUS that He has brought you to the sacrament. Remember, ultimately it is Jesus in the confessional not the priest.

Prayer is always the answer. Do you have access to adoration? In adoration, Jesus can really lead your heart to where He wants you to be.

Blessings and peace to you on your journey to a confessor!

It is a new parish for me in the suburbs and does seem a bit different than my old church downtown. I can’t stand to go back to confession downtown though… the confessionals have curtains instead of doors, and while you wait your turn, you have to plug your ears so you don’t hear what the other person is confessing. It is very non private.

So at least I had privacy where I was… I suppose I could make an appointment next time and do a face to face as I get more comfortable with this priest.

Sometimes drop in confessions are needed though…

I just don’t get it… this is a sacrament… and it is needed for salvation!! Why aren’t we receiving it on a regular basis? It’s like we are attending and holding mass for nothing…

So frustrating… Obviously I need to pray about this.

Wow yeah… I haven’t been to adoration in… 9 years or so. Access is tough. I think only one or two churches have it and it is during working hours. I am on maternity leave right now… but I doubt I can bring a baby to adoration. I will have to check out my options. Good point there.

I agree with you that more people should be going to confession, and priests should be encouraging it from the pulpits. I try to go once every 6 weeks to 2 months (unless required sooner).

One thing however. If your sins were clear, there really is no need for the priest to ask any questions or offer advice. Confession is not meant to be spiritual direction. Especially in place where there is a line for confession, the priest can’t spend a lot of time with each penitent, and doesn’t really have enough info to give good advice.

If you want spiritual direction (which can be a great thing), you should seek it outside of regularly scheduled confessions, and with a regular confessor.

God Bless

Of course you can bring a baby to adoration!!

I guess I am blessed with multiple confession times and even then the line last right up until Mass. The one caution I would give is make sure if you go to a Latin Mass Church, it is a diocesan parish with faculties to hear confessions.

Yep - go ahead and bring your baby to Adoration. If the baby is sleeping, the other folks around will not even notice.

My parish has lines weekly for Sat. confession. Course it seems to always be the same devout families in line - but none the less the line forms for the whole hour of confession. 2 priests.

In the holiday seasons, we may have 3 priests with a line up.

It warms the soul knowing there are people that do care about confession and teaching the children the faith.

Well, I agree that acknowledging one’s sins and being absolved is necessary, but I don’t agree that formal confession in the sense you mean it is necessary.

We are obliged to confess our mortal sins, not every one of them. Venial sins are absolved at the start of Mass and by other means, too.

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them.”

It’s not obsolete at my parish. I usually go to confession on a Thursday or Friday at 5pm before the 5:30pm Mass. Sometimes the priest enters the confessional at 4:45 because often there is a line.

Last time I went, I got there at 5pm and there was a line. The line kept growing even as the time was growing short (as the priest had to start Mass at 5:30) Eventually another priest came out and sat by the altar to hear confessions so everybody could be heard.

In those circumstances, you can’t take a lot of time individually or there will be people left waiting.


First…I applaud you getting to the sacrament…and offer this for your consideration re:* “I made the effort to go to church and seek the sacrament of reconciliation”…*

I feel the same way when I get myself to the “penalty box”…I am pleased…but, one of my priest-chaplains always reminded me at the very beginning of my confession when he welcomed me with his blessing…“in persona Christi”…he would thank the Holy Spirit for graces that got me there, and then ask the Holy spirit to guide me to make a complete confession with a perfect sorrow for offending God…and to make a courageous effort in the amendment of my sinful ways.

He preached often about recognizing/acknowledging our sins/sinfulness (God’s grace working in us to do so) and going to confession (God’s grace working with our free will and nature to get there) with humility and confidence in Jesus’ infinite love and Paschal Mystery mercies which endure forever.

He was a real man’s-man type priest-chaplain serving with Marines in peacetime and combat (needless to say we gave him a wealth of confessor experience)…and his confession lines were always long and his confession/spiritual guidance time slots were always booked solid…we wore him out!

Here is the amazing thing…many of our protestant brothers and sisters-in-arms would go to him and confess their sins…he would give them spiritual and practical guidance, uplifting encouragement and a (lay hands on them) Priestly blessing (Num 6: 22-27).

As far as your general comments about no one going to confession or (some) priests/parishes not making it very easy…I read this reflection on Sunday’s (2/15/09) Gospel (Mk 1: 40-45)’ about Jesus healing the leper:“Lepers lived in isolation, filth, and poverty until the disease progressed sufficiently to cause their death. It…still is…a powerful analogy for sin, which is a widespread, contagious disease with similar efffects on the spiritual plane: it isolates poeople from one another, causes deformities in character and understanding, and yields a moral stench unbearable to one’s own conscience and the conscience of others. It also leads to death – spiritual death – and at the time of Christ, it too was incurable.” Father Bartunek L.C.

I am much too worried about the “stench of my own soul” to wonder much about why others don’t go to confession…I do pray at each of my sacramental confessions for a greater use of this incredible gift which cost Our Lord Jesus Christ…everything he had to give…out of love and obedience to the Father and…out of an incredible love and mercy for poor sinners like me!

Pax Christi

I absolutely love it when the priest doesn’t give me advice. Usually I’m embarrased of my sins and just want absolution.

It could be the parish that you attended. At my geographic parish, there is only 30 minutes scheduled for confession before Sunday Mass, and if I have to make a confession there, I literally have to hunt down the priest and ask to make a confession. I can say truthfully that I have seen maybe one or two other people approach Fr. to make a confession. According to my diocese website, there are 75 families that attend… I am very sure that doesn’t take in account vacationers and retirees that are members of their parishes “up North”. I think that I have heard this particular priest mention the need for confession maybe in passing, when mentioning the Advent or Lenten penance services.

At the parish I attend most often (that celebrates the Extraordinary Form), there is always a line for the 45 minutes scheduled for confession before Sunday Mass, and quite regularly, the priest (who is the only one assigned to that parish) has had to finish up confession after Mass. An hour is also scheduled before Saturday Vigil. I have never gone for a Saturday Vigil Mass there, but I would not be surprised if there were a big line there as well. I have heard this priest mention in several homilies the need for regular Confession.

It’s almost an “If you build it, they will come” scenario… The biggest lines for confession have been in those parishes that have a priest who tell the parishoners that they need to confess all known mortal sins, and recommend the confession of venial sins. The ones where I’ve had to track down the priest during scheduled times have almost invariably been the parishes where I have rarely heard confession mentioned.


Is there something in the catechism where we must go once a year? Or I suppose you should be receiving communion at least once a year…

Lancer, I knew I should have been careful in how I was saying that I “made the effort” to get to confession. I knew deep down that it was the Holy Spirit who guided me there. Good points.

haha larousser, I am embarassed of my sins too and in a way I am glad the priest said nothing. I just wasn’t sure if one of them was a mortal sin or not… and he didn’t really say it wasn’t so I suppose it was. I worded it in a way that it almost sounded like a question. I guess if I wanted a bigger response, I should have been more clear myself.

Kage-ar, I will bring baby to adoration soon I hope! Thanks for the suggestion.

Thanks everyone else for their comments too.

You might want to give the Catechism a read, the section on Penance begins at 1422

1457 According to the Church’s command, "after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year."56 Anyone who is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion, even if he experiences deep contrition, without having first received sacramental absolution, unless he has a grave reason for receiving Communion and there is no possibility of going to confession.57 Children must go to the sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion for the first time.58
1458 Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church.59 Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father’s mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful:60
Whoever confesses his sins . . . is already working with God. God indicts your sins; if you also indict them, you are joined with God. Man and sinner are, so to speak, two realities: when you hear “man” - this is what God has made; when you hear “sinner” - this is what man himself has made. Destroy what you have made, so that God may save what he has made. . . . When you begin to abhor what you have made, it is then that your good works are beginning, since you are accusing yourself of your evil works. The beginning of good works is the confession of evil works. You do the truth and come to the light.61

Yup, 1457 (see above) :slight_smile:

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