Waiting and waiting to go to Confession


I went to confession Saturday. Confessions are scheduled at 4 pm before the 5 pm mass. I got there early, but a man and woman with a toddler in front of me each took at least 20 minutes in the confessional. It was getting later and later and I found myself watching the clock and getting angrier and angrier! I was worried confessions were going to end before I could get in. Why was the priest taking so darn long? Grrrrrr! There was an old man in-line two positions behind me–he had a cane, and could barely stand up. I was thinking if were a kinder person I should offer to change places with him–because at the rate things were going, he WASN’T going to get in at all… Finally the door opened, the lady in front of me came out, and it was my turn. The woman behind me quite audibly uttered the word “finally”. Yeah, no kidding. This wasn’t a fun sacramental experience. I basically had another SIN to confess before I even hit the confessional. Geez. If you need one-on-one time with a priest, maybe you could schedule an appointment during the week? And maybe priests should be more considerate and try to limit the amount of time with each penitent?



Perhaps you could view it as waiting for the doctor to see you in his office. Your doctor will, I am sure, give each of his patients the amount of time necessary to listen to their symptoms, examine them carefully, diagnose and talk to them about the medical procedures necessary to cure the disease. Can a priest do less? Sinners come to him to confess their sins. The priest may need to ask questions so that he can better know the seriousness of the sin(s), determine contrition, assign penance, give absolution.

When ever we grow impatient with waiting while others confess their sins, we are ignoring the fact that the priest will also give us the time needed for our confession.

We should never criticize the time given by a priest to another sinner who simply managed to go into the confessional before us.


I hear ya! Pray for patience and get there earlier. :thumbsup:


I tend to have that problem all the time (both with the waiting and the anger associated with waiting). My best advise is to try to find a church that offers confession during the week. Less people show up, and usually the priest is more willing to give you time if you need additional advice.
My hometown offered confession at 7pm-9pm on Saturdays. Usually, if I showed up around 8, I knew I would not be interfering with someone else’s confession time. Or perhaps you can ask the priest to give you a confession at a time convenient for both you and the priest?

I live in Germany now, and the one thing I love is that confession is offered all the time, but unless a big Catholic feast day is approaching, I can be in that confessional for a long time and there will be no one waiting behind me when I come out (I have been in the confessional for up to an hour on multiple occasions for advice). It’s nice.


:thumbsup: Good analogy.

Should a penitent try to be brief? Sure. Can waiting be at times frustrating? Sure

We can all struggle of course with impatience --but we can grow too via the times we need to wait --as St. Catherine teaches us virtue is formed by its opposite --we need things that will try our patience to make those acts that will increase it :wink:

And let us pray for one another – we never know what is going on in anothers life and --he ours.


This part stood out for me when reading your comment. Sounds like God was trying to speak to you at that moment.


I pray for patience all the time, it’s something I have never had much of. :slight_smile:

I agree though. When I needed an extended amount of time to talk to my priest, I make an appointment and talk to him without time restrictions. My last confession was well more than an hour, and since I’d made an appointment, it wasn’t a big deal, we had that time.

I have experienced one specific time when I wasn’t able to get to confession because one person took the entire time. That was frustrating to all 6 of us waiting in line for that hour that the first person took.

But bottom line, unless the priest tells them to make an appointment, it is what it is, and evidently that person truly needed the time they took.


Perhaps the priest was being considerate and was only 20 minutes rather than a full hour?

I do feel for you and this is one of the many reasons I am so glad I am Anglican and we at our church at least privately arrange our confessions. We never have this queue issue.
But the penitent may have thought didn’t need one on one time and it was the priest who decided to unpick things for her a little. Who knows. Its difficult I appreciate but all you can do is know that you will be heard sometime.


I find that when I pray for patience, God usually puts me into a situation like that to help me *practice *patience! Like being in the supermarket behind the little old lady who has a million coupons and wants to write a check, lol.


So true!




That’s how we normally grow in virtue. Sure, God could simply give us the grace to be patient, but where would the fun be in that? :shrug:

These past few weeks our priest has been away, and the priest who was filling in taught Moral Theology in the seminary. He also taught it in the confessional too! Saturday night he was averaging 10-15 per penitent, when the norm is 5 minutes or less. I will admit that sometimes having a priest take a few extra minutes to go a little deeper than “pray to the holy ghost to help you with that” is nice. The majority of our confession times can be extended if need be, so it really isn’t a huge issue, plus we should always remember that we don’t know what’s going on in the Confessional. It could be someone coming back after being away. We should always think the most charitable possibility for what someone is doing.


I think you are absolutely normal to be upset.

This is not acceptable behavior by either the penitent or priest. There’s no need for a 20 min confession, and the priest should make people get to the point (I’ve learned this talking to priests). If the peinitent is making confession into a counseling session, the Priest should say “Please just state your mortal sins in kind and number, and I will ask for more detail if needed”.

God Bless


We shouldn’t jump to conclusions about why it’s taking so long in Confession, but priests should be preaching about how to make a good Confession from the pulpits.


I’m blessed to have a priest that doesn’t subscribe to this style.


Sometimes, there is. :blush: Who are you to decide this? Yes, ideally, the person could meet with Father outside the confessional, but who is to say whether God didn’t push that person into the confessional after YEARS of being away? Would you like it if that person was rushed through confession and DID NOT COME BACK??? :eek:

If we had more vocations, this would not be a problem. We could maybe even set up an express line, “15 sins or less.” :smiley:


I tried that when I was coming back after 10 years. The priest rudely refused to hear my confession outside of his (non regularly) scheduled times. I was so put off by that, I never went back. Instead I found a priest several hundreds of kilometers away who actually values Confession. I didn’t make an appointment, and I let everyone go ahead of me. I think I was out in 10 to 15 minutes.


That’s terrible…how could a priest ‘refuse’ to hear a person’s confession, anytime??? He needs prayers that he will realize the enormous importance of his vocation. Our parish priest says he’s been approached by people in the supermarket and heard their confessions behind a wall of canned goods, haha.


Welcome Home, and I am so sorry that priest was unkind to you. :frowning: If we, the regular parishioners, go to confession often, and do not mortally sin in between, then we can afford to be charitable and to pray for people who seem to take “forever” in the confessional. If we have a mortal sin to confess, and are worried that we won’t have an opportunity, it can be more challenging to be patient. Not that you should be concerned, that is OUR problem, not yours. If we don’t mortally sin, then we have little to fear!



When there is only an hour for confessions, (in this case 4 to 5pm), it does seem rather inconsiderate for a penitent to take 20 minutes to confess. Apparently two penitents took up 40 minutes of the hour.

I go to confession usually before a weekday Mass. In theory the priest hears confessions for 30 minutes before Mass; in practice, he often arrives early, making the total time closer to 40 or 45 minutes available.

I try to arrive before the priest does, and there are always people waiting. I’ve noticed in many cases that he hears 15 to 20 confessions before it’s time for Mass. Couldn’t do that if everybody took 20 minutes.

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