Sign posted on confessional door: “GET TO THE POINT!”

From Fr. Z’s Blog:

I saw this photo on Twitter. I post just the photo and not the link because of the off-color remark that accompanied it, surely motivated by disgust.

I’m not precisely sure what motivated the off-color remark about this sign. Several things come to mind.

Firstly, perhaps the off-color remarker is a talker.  Some people get into the confessional and ramble.  That’s might stem from various reasons.  They could be under-informed about the purpose of the Sacrament of Penance and best practices of the confessional.  They might be nervous.  They might be ill-prepared They might be lonely.  They might be… whatever.

TIP: Make your examination of conscience before you get into the confessional.  BEFORE.  And if you make one each evening, remembering things becomes easier.

The priest who posted that sign clearly wants to hear confessions.  There have probably been problems of people in line who have not been able to go to confession because some few people took up all the time.  That’s really frustrating.   So… have a heart!

TIP: Remember that people behind you in line want the sacrament also.  So, don’t ramble.

The confessional is not a coffee shop or the priest’s appointment meeting room or office.  It is the tribunal in which you are your own prosecutor.  Confess sins not tendencies.  Tendencies, in themselves, are not sins.  Confess sins not temptations.  Temptations, in themselves, are not sins.  Confess sins not “struggles”.  A struggle isn’t a sin. Putting yourself in a near occasion of sin is another matter.

TIP: Use a list or standard method for your examination of conscience.  That will help clear your mind and be objective.

The sign’s diktat that you not explain “why you did it”… is right and wrong.  It is right, in that explanations are often unnecessary rambling.  However, it is wrong in that sometimes, not all the time, the motive and circumstances do matter.  If you are genuinely not sure about a particular possible sin, because of extenuating circumstances, include them… as briefly as you can.  For example, if you were under pressure or threat to do something, that lessens your free will.  If steal $x from a poor person that’s worse than stealing $x from a rich person.  If a sin involved something or someone or some place sacred, that’s also the sin of sacrilege in addition to whatever else it was.   BUT….

“Well, you see Father, I kicked my dog.  I  had had a hard day and the weather was bad.  You know how after one cloudy day after another you can get down?  Well, know… that’s how I was feeling.  It was really gloomy and my boss at work was on my case and it seems like I hit every red light on the way home and coming into the house there was the dog and the dog bowl was flipped over and there was stuff all over the floor and….”

At this point in the ramble, the people in line are trying to remember how to tie the hang-man’s noose and young Father Noob wants to commit sepuku.

TIP: Fathers! Don’t let people ramble.  And preach about how to make a good confession once in a while.

Fr. Z’s 20 Tips For Making A Good Confession o{]:¬)

We should…

1) …examine our consciences regularly and thoroughly;
2) …wait our turn in line patiently;
3) …come at the time confessions are scheduled, not a few minutes before they are to end;
4) …speak distinctly but never so loudly that we might be overheard;
5) …state our sins clearly and briefly without rambling;
6) …confess all mortal sins in number and kind;
7) …listen carefully to the advice the priest gives;
8) …confess our own sins and not someone else’s;
9) …carefully listen to and remember the penance and be sure to understand it;
10) …use a regular formula for confession so that it is familiar and comfortable;
11) …never be afraid to say something “embarrassing”… just say it;
12) …never worry that the priest thinks we are jerks…. he is usually impressed by our courage;
13) …never fear that the priest will not keep our confession secret… he is bound by the Seal;
14) …never confess “tendencies” or “struggles”… just sins;
15) …never leave the confessional before the priest has finished giving absolution;
16) …memorize an Act of Contrition;
17) …answer the priest’s questions briefly if he asks for a clarification;
18) …ask questions if we can’t understand what he means when he tells us something;
19) …keep in mind that sometimes priests can have bad days just like we do;
20) …remember that priests must go to confession too … they know what we are going through.

These tips are always available HERE.

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