This morning a friend of mine posted a photo regarding the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It was a photo posted to a confessional door in a church that said something along these lines: “Keep your time brief and ‘confess only your sins and offenses’ there’s no need to explain why you did them.” I don’t know if the photo was real or if it was from a real parish. But it stirred quite a debate.
I definitely fell on one side of the debate.
I understood that there would be a shortage of time for confession and that there would have to be a cutoff time—say, when Mass started, for example. But to tell people they couldn’t have their proper time with a representative of God in what I think is one of the most intimate of sacraments made me outraged. If I saw a sign such as that, I would walk away, feeling hurt and rebuffed.
I imagined going in there and reading my sins like a grocery list, and having them washed away like I was at a car wash—running through as quickly as possible for the next one to go through. There was a time during the Middle Ages when sins were read like a list—and the corresponding penance was given—also off a list—sometimes those sins required payment. That corrupt practice didn’t last long.
Sure, perhaps there are people who spend a great deal of time in confession, but maybe they need that time! Who knows what is going on in his or her lives?
What do you think of the sign? And do you think confession should be given a set time or do you think people should be given as much time as they need as determined by them and their confessor?