Why do you prefer face to face confession?


Hi, Im curious about face to face confessions and why this seems to be a growing tendency within fractions of the church?

I myself hasn’t been Catholic for long, but I’ve always confessed in the confessional and couldn’t even imaginate confessing in a room with a priest (face to face).
I think it has to do with the fact that I would feel so much more ashamed of my sins (to the point where I wouldn’t go receiving the sacrament) if I where actually able to stear my priest right into his face.

So for me there is the old fashion way or no way I guess.
This leads me to my question, Why do you prefer face to face confession instead of the an anonymous one?.

Also those of you who share my love for the confessional may feel free to share why they prefer it over the face to face version as well:)

Thanks in advance for replies:S

Yours in Jesus and Mary

  • MarianCatholic


I definitely prefer the confessional, but there are times when something is weighing on me and I have to make an appointment for confession with my priest, so it is a face-to-face confession. It’s definitely tough, but I’m thankful for a kind priest because that definitely makes it easier! You just need to remember that if there is ever a reason why you can’t use a confessional and absolutely must do a face-to-face confession, the priest has heard EVERYTHING, nothing you say will surprise him at all, so don’t pass up the chance to reconcile with God just because you can’t use the confessional. :wink:


For me, I need that face-to-face contact. The most beneficial confession I ever had was when the priest and I were walking accross a farmer’s field. Still, there are times when I feel more comfortable confessing to a priest who does not know me.


I normally go to confession with my spiritual director. He knows me absolutely inside out. He knows my strengths and my weaknesses, he knows my struggles and my triumphs. He’s a wise and gentle man and I’m blessed to know him. Of course I hate to admit my failings to him, but he knows them outside of the sacrament anyway.

If for some reason he isn’t available I still prefer to go face to face with another priest. I remember going in “the box” as a kid and absolutely hating it. Those feelings never left me. Seeing the priest I’m confessing to is more human and more humane. Besides, if I sat down with Jesus I imagine him reaching out to me and saying, “Tell me about it.” There wouldn’t be a screen separating us. Since that’s ultimately who I’m confessing to anyway, it’s what I prefer.


I’m not sure if I have a preference…but, face-to-face poses no problem to me.

If as Catholics we believe priests are acting in the person of Christ, we shouldn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed, because it’s not the man we are confessing to, but to Christ in person.

Even if in a confessional, are we hiding from Jesus? No. We can’t. As God he sees all…remeber Nathanael in john 1:45-51 and how Jesus saw him under the fig tree?


I get standard boilerplate advice and council when I go behind the screen. It is the same thing every time.

I always get ongoing council and advice, specific to my own situation, when I go face to face with my regular confessor.



Pax Christi!

For me, it’s a sacrament and a serious talk. I like to know my parish priest and be serious spiritual friends.

When I feel embarrassment, I look at the floor.

God bless.

  1. Jesus did not forgive the sins of anonymous people.

  2. It’s more humbling.


I prefer face to face confession because it is a more human and intimate experience and I believe that confession is meant to be such. I have very little experience with confession behind a screen, but it always seems a bit weird to me to confess to a disembodied voice. Our world, even our communities have become anonymous and impersonal, but it doesn’t seem to me that this is the way that confession should be.

People call confession behind a screen the “traditional” way and “anonymity” a right, but the screen is only about 400 years old and anonymity is not the point of the screen. Many older confessionals and those in foreign countries have screens that are easily seen through.


I’m just old fashion. I have great priests who give good advise and penances. Its not in the least inhibiting. I have been to confession face to face a couple of times and found myself “holding back” during confession. Not good for me at all.


I have gone to confession both ways but find that when face to face I’m “there.” When behind the screen I’m wearing a barrier and rather than it adding a sense of security I feel a bit remote and maybe a bit detached as if I’m performing a duty. When face to face the feeling is of being more involved. As I think back, I’ve then been more open and giving of “me” during the exchange and have had a much richer experience. It is at those times that I have made a much better confession and left the confessional feeling like I had just renewed my commitment to Christ.


I was away from confession for quite a while before “discovering” the screened option since it’s pretty much standard where I was living at that time. This discovery proved to be a real grace in my life since I struggled with going to confession - typically thinking “what will the priest think of me…” especially when I ws confessing the same thing again. It was because I was able to confess behind a screen that I was able to return to regular / semi-regular confession. I also felt that the atmosphere - dimmed lighting, kneeling, etc - was more fitting.

However, shortly after entering the seminary, I spoke to a priest about my struggles with face to face and he advised me that i should make an effort to get used to it since, as a priest, I would have to hear confessions that way. He also observed that, for a priest, face to face is actually easier since it enables him to see the body language of the person confessing (as well as tell whether they’re young / old / etc). I’ve since taken that advice on board and now only go face to face even though, at times, it remains a struggle. Having said that, finding a good priest can make a real difference as does sticking with the same priest.


Exactly what you said.


I don’t actually have a preference over face to face or behind a screen, I just kneel down and get on with it wherever! I do prefer a confessional to not but not necesarily one with a screen.

That said, one advantage of face to face is that I don’t need to introduce myself. The priest can see it’s me. Otherwise, behind a screen I have two options:

  1. not say who I am and just get generic advice that is not at all tailored to my situation
  2. have to go through some awkward ‘hi, it’s me’ kind of bit which just feels likes it takes away from the reverent atmosphere

I usually confess either to my Spiritual Director or to a limited number of other priests in the Community who know me well. If I were to confess to a stranger, I would probably prefer the anonymity.


Always prefer the confessional box.


I really enjoy face to face confession. I wouldn’t expect that out of myself but I do. I love it, I feel more connected to Jesus, I enjoy actually talking with the priest like a friend and connecting with him.


I can’t answer the poll because I truly have no preference. My confessions tend to be in a confessional, i.e. behind the screen, because my semi-regular confessor is an ICRSS priest. When confessing to him isn’t possible, then I go anywhere I can (except in my own parish; long story) and the screen isn’t available everywhere in this corner of the planet. Makes no difference to me.

Most priests in the immediate area know who I am, and as soon as I open my mouth my accent gives me away (I have run into no other Americans in the nearby parishes, though I have heard there are some). So the screen provides zero anonymity, and I get personalized counsel as if we were face to face anyway.

Side note: many priests here won’t look at the penitent during a “face-to-face” confession, so it’s almost as if there is a screen present anyway. Such was the case with my last three confessions (two different priests). I tend to look at the ground when I confess face to face, but on this occasion I looked up briefly at one point and found the priest looking at the ground. :stuck_out_tongue:


I do face-to-face confessions

The biggest reason is the accountability. I have a healthy level of distrust towards my own strength and if I see an opportunity to reinforce my armor, I pounce on it. This includes the initial discomfort of sitting down face-to-face with the priest. I haven’t had an experience with this sacrament so far where I’ve walked out feeling anything other than wonderful and refreshed. Much of this was related to me breaking away from powerful habitual sins. These past few months have been, thank God, a different story. Now that I’m confessing without feeling obliged to do so, face-to-face might not be as important to me, but in this extremely rural area I’ll probably just continue doing it until I move on elsewhere.


I feel more at ease with face-to-face. At the same time, it has done a lot to get me to quit committing a lot of habitual sins. Honestly, if I had only been going to anonymous Confession over the last few years, there would be nowhere near as much motivation to avoid habitual or embarrassing sins. But when I knew I would have to look a priest in the eye and tell him I did XYZ, or even worse, that it had only been two weeks since my last Confession and I did XYZ several times since then, that was a strong motivator to not do it. I know that my desire to be closer to Christ should be my main motivation, but when you’re going to have to go tell this guy who you’ve eaten dinner with, who socializes with your wife and sees your children on a daily basis that you’ve fallen in this or that area yet again, that tends to weigh on your conscience.

At the same time, I’ve developed the attitude that if I’m willing to commit the sin, I need to be willing to face up to it, and kneeling or sitting behind a screen in my mind is not facing up to it. I did something the other day that, the second I did it I said to myself, “Wait, you idiot, why’d you do that?!?” While it was technically a mortal sin, it was pretty minor in the grand scheme of things and extremely out of character for the person I am now. I was kicking myself for days and was extremely tempted to go to anonymous Confession because of how embarrassed I was after having not done anything of the sort in years, but I forced myself to go facet-to-face. Father barely paid it any notice, but I was so worked up over it that I can’t imagine myself ever doing it again. Similarly, several months ago I remembered a truly major, horrendous thing I did years and years ago. I made a point of going to a priest I’ve known for decades and is a close friend of several of my family members. It’s not that I felt comfortable telling him; on the contrary, I thought I was going to throw up in the confessional. On a positive note, I couldn’t imagine ever putting myself in a position of having to confess something similar again.

I know a lot of people talk about “Catholic guilt” as though it’s a horrible, pervasive thing, but sometimes a healthy dose of guild and shame can have a very positive influence.


Gordon Sims: I know what you mean. There have been two particular habitual sins in my life to which I was addicted. Having confessed them once, I was determined never to have to go through that embarrassment again… and now it’s been about 5 years and I can honestly say I’ve rarely even been tempted in that area and certainly not fallen. Knock it all you like, Catholic guilt works!

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