Views on Private Confession?

Reconciliation of a Penitent is what is often referred to as confession. This probably brings up images of a special booth with a priest on one side of the screen and the penitent on the other as seen in countless movies. As practiced in the Episcopal Church, the place would usually be either the worship space of the church or the clergy person’s office.

The saying in The Episcopal Church is “All may. Some should. None must.” And with private confession to a priest not being compulsory, most Episcopalians never bother unless they attend an Anglo-Catholic Parish.

I think this is worth a second look as the centuries long practice of confessing one’s sins to God in the presence of a priest who can then pronounce absolution is a powerful sacrament. I have found in my own life that it is an important way to make a break with past sins. Saying the confession out loud and having a priest give counsel and pronounce absolution is a powerful act. I not only affirm that The Episcopal Church offers the sacramental rite of Reconciliation, I recommend the practice highly.

There is also General Confession done after the Eucharist.

For those that practice both or one…which do you favor?

Once again, the similarity between Episcopalians and Lutherans is quite apparent. The Augsburg Confession refers to Holy Absolution as a sacrament. The use by the laity isn’t very often. Some parishes set times for Private Confession, usually before Mass or on Saturdays. Counseling that includes Holy Absolution often occurs in the pastor’s office so the practice of confessing sins to the Pastor is probably more common than many Lutherans realize.

I was exposed to Private Confession as a seminarian and highly recommend the use of this sacrament.

Would you concur that some do it without even knowing so? lol

You do the general Confession after the Eucharist?



In the Lutheran liturgy, public confession where the pastor absolves all present occurs at the start of Mass, right after the invocation and before the entrance hymn/ introit so within the service two sacraments are celebrated.

Like many Lutherans, my first confession was before I was confirmed as a teen but sadly that is often the only time some Lutherans ever go to private confession.

Using auto correct should be a SIN lol…or maybe I should read the post before hitting submit.

General Confession is done BEFORE Holy Eucharist. :smiley:

The parish priest before I starting attending was a Methodist convert (very low church Episcopalian). Our parish priest now (very much a high church anglo-catholic priest :thumbsup:) is slowly bringing back private confession. I believe it is good for the soul but not something MUST do in order to be forgiven.

Our priest now, Fr Jamie, described private confession much like a steptic tank. We wish to dump our “waste” in it with the hope of never seeing it again. lol

I am relieved.


lol :stuck_out_tongue:

I understand, even among Catholics, that private Confession, isn’t practiced very much. It is not easy to get parishioners to come to church more than once a week so public confession during the Eucharist is what most people avail themselves of. But I believe all Christians accept that absolution announced by a clergyman is the same as receiving God’s forgiveness per the Gospels.

Private confession is increasingly sought in the Lutheran church - and it’s a good thing.

At our church, we’ve mulled over having a confessional - but decided against it when we discovered that the confessional is a rather modern 16th century invention, and had as one of it’s functions (as we found it historically) to keep the penitent from bribing the minister for a lesser penance!

So we have private confession old school style where the minister and you see each other face to face. Let’s just say that it’s good impetus to “go and sin no more!”

Well, as you know, we Catholics are to confess to a priest at least once a year to be considered good practicing Catholics. Additionally, in the mass, we have where we admit we have sinned, but without saying, specifically, in what way.

I find private confession essential. A lot of people say, “I have sinned and am sorry” but don’t get specific enough to really do much good. I find that confession, saying this, outloud, to a priest, knocks the person one of denial, in many cases.

In AA, it’s very powerful when someone can say, “I’m an alcoholic”, to admit this not only to himself but to another individual. I don’t know if I could begin to explain why it is. It just is.

We are encouraged to review our conscience, preferably monthly. Some, religious especially, do this daily.

An examination of a “review of conscience” is here:

The review of conscience helps me to see where, specifically, I am going wrong so that I can’t easily deceive myself. Without this discipline, I think it’s easy for a lot of us to get off track without even realizing it.

The priest often acts as a counselor, giving advice from a position of faith, rather than a secular counselor. It’s anonymous or not, depending.

Even some non-Catholics have taken advantage of the sacrament of reconciliation to complete their 12-step program, where they are to confess to another individual the exact nature of their wrongs, and some like to do this anonymously.

In the Bible, God gives the apostles special power to forgive sin.

  • And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit
    Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
    John 20:22-23.

If God had intended everyone to confess directly to God, as had been done previously, why did he bother to go to all that trouble, to breathe on them, give them the power to forgive sins if Christ hadn’t intended them to use it? We Catholics believe it had been Christ’s intention to go through the Church for the sacraments, not to try to “go it alone”, without it.

John the Baptist’s converts confess their sins outloud…Matthew 3:6.

Acts 19:18…Penitents confess out loud and divulge their sins.

2 Corinthians 5:18-19 Pauls says he has the ministry of reconciliation or the forgiveness of sins.

James 5:16 James says to confess your sins to one another.

In the Old Testament, it was okay to confess your sins directly to God, but in the New Testament, Jesus set it up that we would go through priests.

I’ve experimented with other churches where confession was not considered necessary. I found that most of the time I forgot, didn’t bother, and I didn’t really give my sins much thought at that time.

I’ve seen photos of confessionals in old Lutheran churches in Europe but even among Catholics, many confessions are conducted with the penitent facing the priest or in the office or even outside under a tree. I prefer the modern practice.

When my Dad was a kid, there was a Confessional Service held on Saturdays for anyone planning to take holy Communion on Sunday. People confessed their sins in the pews but came up individually to be absolved by the Pastor. I think that practice is rarely observed any more.

I hope Holy Absolution is making a comeback among Lutherans.

I left all the other out because we are in agreement and didnt feel like making a huge post. :stuck_out_tongue:

I have noticed this as well. I have a dear friend that is now Evangelical(mega church type with modern band and all) that believes there is no need to confess at all…general or private. That baffles me to no end.

Something about that face-to-face that humbles one. lol

I actually prefer through the screen. My humility comes from looking at Christ’s feet with the nails in them and thinking about how my sins drove them there. With priests, especially the ones with which I am familiar, it is harder for me to think about confessing to Christ.

For the Episcopalians and others out there, CS Lewis prescribed private confession. However, as the church does not require it, he said at the very least, a person should have to sit and write out their sins to themselves. I think it is important to enumerate your sins and express the ways in which you are sinful. No offense, but I don’t see much healing and amendment from saying “I believe in Jesus, who will save me from all my sins” - not that the belief isn’t there, but how does that help one curb the temptation to sin again if one cannot even speak about the sin itself?

Often before the Eucharist Service, I like to site before the crucifix and do a self inventory. Kind of makes one think when you can see what each sin caused. :frowning:

For the Episcopalians and others out there, CS Lewis prescribed private confession.

As do I. :thumbsup:

No offense, but I don’t see much healing and amendment from saying “I believe in Jesus, who will save me from all my sins” - not that the belief isn’t there, but how does that help one curb the temptation to sin again if one cannot even speak about the sin itself?

None taken. :wink:

I guess it comes down to more of a personal choice really. I have no issue with private confession. I have used it many times. As an Episcopalian…we are in the middle Protestantism and Catholicism so it basically depends on which side you are closer to as to how you see private confession. I have attended Episcopal parishes with confessionals so there are some out there that view it as helpful to the soul.

I do not know if I have ever stated it like your “…” lol but this is what we say at General Confession.

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.

That’s one thing you might say, at Confession at Evening Prayer. Or you might say another thing, at the Eucharist. If you are using the 1928 BCP. Or, AFAIK, the 79 book, for that matter.


Or Morning Prayer.



I prefer to schedule a private confession now that I am Catholic. I have done 3 private confessions and one confession where I waited in line. I didn’t like that because you feel rushed as there are others waiting. confessing to a priest is new to me and still a bit uncomfortable.

when I was an Episcopalian I did one scheduled private confession in the few years as an adult I was an Episcopalian before converting.

there were about 25 years I did not attend church at all.

I am still weighing the benefits of confession.

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