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Let’s Talk About Confession | Catholic Life

Let’s Talk About Confession

No, really, let’s talk about confession. Or, more precisely, let’s talk about why people don’t talk about confession.

I wonder whether it is because we confuse the seal of confession (“Let the priest who dares to make known the sins of his penitent be deposed”) with a prohibition of discussion by those doing the confessing.

Of course it could just be that we don’t like talking about our sin, but that doesn’t seem likely since we all put our sin on display all the time, whether we know it or not.

Which leaves only the possibility that others have more interesting lives and thus don’t find the process of reconciliation all that interesting.

So, what is it?

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14 Responses to “Let’s Talk About Confession”

  1. Michelle 28. Mar, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    I talk about confession probably more than I should. When talking with a friend about it, I might even share some good counsel I received from the priest while in confession.

    But you’re right…lots of people don’t like to talk about it and I suspect it might be because they’ve left it behind. When the 2nd grade parents had their class to go over what the children needed to learn about before First Reconciliation, several parents had mocking posts on facebook about how they’d have to admit to not having been to confession since they were 16 years old. I don’t say that to be judgmental…but I do think it gives a good frame of reference why people don’t talk about confession…they don’t go.

    • Rae 30. Mar, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

      And then we wonder why teens don’t feel like going to church…!

  2. Michelle Francl-Donnay 28. Mar, 2011 at 6:39 pm #

    I go and I talk (or at least write) about it….but you’re right, I’m hesitant to talk about the specifics happened in the confessional (though I know the seal doesn’t apply to me). Does anyone want to know what transpired last Monday night in my confessor’s office? I just don’t think my sins are all that interesting!

    • Rae 30. Mar, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

      I think that you’re right that sin (in general, though maybe you just meant your own) is not that interesting. But for some reasons it is not that unusual for me to encounter priests who say very interesting things. And I suppose that I am still at that shallow stage where I’d like it if others talked more about their experiences.

      • Michelle Francl-Donnay 31. Mar, 2011 at 8:47 am #

        I don’t think it’s shallow to want to hear that others go to confession – we sin, we go. It’s good to know we aren’t alone….

  3. Katie 28. Mar, 2011 at 7:45 pm #

    Good thread, Rae. To me, the most obvious reason that we don’t talk about confession — we don’t go enough.

    Essentially, monthly confession seems adequate…however, it’s pretty rare to find the confession line as long as the communion line at Sunday Mass. We’re avoiding it.

    I have heard many priests encourage confession in homilies–the best being a missionary priest who told the congregation he wanted to catch the tuna- the big guns who’d been away from the sacrament for a long time. Mother Angelica says that people get so wrapped up in sin that they become petrified of the concept of confession…but that’s what they need the most.

    Personally, I’ve frequented confession often, but I find sometimes it’s beneficial to wait until I really feel remorse for my sin, not just guilt.

    The conversation encourages action, so you’re right that we should be talking about it.

    • felicemifa 29. Mar, 2011 at 6:11 am #

      You stole my thought, Kate – we don’t talk about it because we don’t go.

    • Rae 30. Mar, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

      I love your thoughts on this (though not the reality behind them). It is funny that I haven’t actually heard many homilies encouraging frequent confession, though I do hear it mentioned off-handedly quite often.

  4. catholicmutt 28. Mar, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

    Confession in general, or specific things about confession? I seem to have had a fair number of conversations about confession with other people, but all about general things.

    • Rae 30. Mar, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

      I was thinking about specific things, though I guess I don’t participate in conversations about it much in general either. But this post was more driven by the fact that it felt like I would be breaking some taboo by talking about anything specific, even on my blog.

  5. Mary 28. Mar, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

    I seem to talk about confession quite a bit, but usually they aren’t very long conversations, because, like other people have stated, others just aren’t going. Most people last went while at school.
    Just the other night i got talking about confession with a group of friends, and they all got very excited about the concept and said they wanted to go. Most of them weren’t Catholics though, but I told them they could still talk to the priest, but wouldn’t be able to receive absolution. Maybe they’ll look further into become Catholics so they can receive reconciliation.

    Your tweets at the side say your last tweet was 41 years ago. That’s a long time to go without tweeting. Does it say that on purpose?

    • Rae 30. Mar, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

      Those sound like amazing discussions!

      And I see what you mean about the tweets! I have no idea why it is doing that.

  6. felicemifa 29. Mar, 2011 at 6:15 am #

    Of course I talk about confession – it’s an occupational hazard, I guess. But what I find more interesting is to talk about Reconciliation. There are so many misconceptions about the Sacrament, and frankly there are a lot of ways that the Sacrament has not “caught up”, so to speak, with developments in moral theology (that’s what I would like to write my masters synth on, but I’m not sure I have the moral theology chops to pull it off). Maybe if we recognized that our confession is ideally an expression of an internal disposition toward contrition, healing, and forgiveness, we would be more inclined to discuss the development of those virtues in our hearts. When we think of confession as a check-off of sins it becomes something not worth discussing. If we can re-frame it as a verbal acknowledgment of the ways we miss the mark – and a recognition of a “mark” that is our goal – it’s a much more interesting story to tell.

    • Rae 30. Mar, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

      Oh I would love to read more of your thoughts about ways in which the Sacrament of Reconciliation should develop!

      I love your thoughts on this in general. I find that I have a very high view of “the Sacrament of Reconciliation” and what I believe about it as an ideal, but a strong dread and very low view of the reality of “confession.”

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