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Confession is A Most Vital Sacrament in this Age of Mass Sin and Grievous Error January 30, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in abdication of duty, Admin, Basics, Dallas Diocese, different religion, episcopate, General Catholic, priests, Sacraments, self-serving, Spiritual Warfare, the struggle for the Church.

A few weeks ago, I  did a post announcing Cardinal Burke coming to the Diocese of Dallas to offer Mass on 01/22.  I received some hot criticism of this post, offline.  Those upset over the post were either involved in bringing Cardinal Burke in, or were particular admirers of the pastor of the parish that hosted him.

So, what is at issue in this little local imbroglio?  Confession, and whether I was unfairly harsh towards a local priest my local correspondents feel is very good.  Admittedly, I was pointedly critical in a post that perhaps should have been both happier and more bland, simply announcing the good Cardinal’s upcoming arrival and congratulating those who arranged for his visit (both were in the post, along with some other more critical thoughts).

Now, everyone’s definition of good is relative.  My definition of a good priest in these days starts with offering the TLM, or at least the Novus Ordo in Latin, or having serious aspirations to do either but being frustrated by episcopal obstinance/malfeasance.  Frankly, a handful of exceptions aside, all the extraordinary priests I know are members of explicitly traditional orders.

Taking Confession extremely seriously is requirement #2.  This is what separates the men from the boys in my mind.  Confession is the great ignored, even inconvenient Sacrament of our time.  It is inconvenient because it is a standing rebuke to much of the new theology and ecclesiology that has been imposed on the Church in the past several decades, beliefs that say that whether one is Catholic or not doesn’t count for much, that basically all men are saved, that virtually no one ever commits a mortal sin, etc.  These kinds of beliefs are the primary reason why Confession is so little available.

There used to be a sort of rule of thumb in the Church, back in those dark unreconstructed manualist days before the “sainted” Council, that for every hour of Mass, there should be at least an equal number of hours of Confession.  In fact, most pre-conciliar parishes had priests (plural) in the Confessional before, during, and after virtually every Mass, along with other set times.  This was when the Church, and the souls within, took things like sin and Grace and damnation and redemption very seriously.

But today, in this Diocese as in almost every other, Confession is limited to perhaps an hour a week, if one is lucky, or “by appointment only,” if one is not.  This in spite of the fact that our former Bishop, now Cardinal, Kevin Farrell, repeatedly (and a bit uncharacteristically) exhorted his priests and especially pastors to have more REGULAR hours of Confession.  Many pastors responded to these exhortations, by adding one more hour weekly to the one they already had (such generosity!), while some did not. A few relative heroes did even more, adding maybe 2 or 3 hours more Confession, and staffing those hours with more than one priest.

In the dearth of Confession, the tyranny is in the numbers.  If there is only one priest hearing confessions for one hour a week, and each soul has only 3 minutes with the confessor and there are no gaps in people in the confessional, that one priest can hear 20 confessions a week or 1040  a year.  That may sound like quite a lot, but when you have numerous parishes with 7,000, 8,000, 10,000 souls ostensibly belonging, one can instantly see the problem.  Of course, the reality is different.  What tends to happen is that the same handful of relatively serious souls go to Confession with at least some regularity, while the great mass never go at all.

Couple this with what is known of Catholic belief, even among self-described regular Mass attendees, and the crisis grows into stark relief.  The vast majority of Catholics, regular Mass-goers or not, find nothing immoral in contraceptive use or fornication.  A near majority even think abortion is morally permissible in at least some cases. The large majority are fine with pseudo-sodo-marriage and think divorce and remarriage are perfectly acceptable.  The vast majority believe the Blessed Sacrament to be nothing more than a symbol.  The former, if engaged in personally, constitute grave sins requiring sacramental Confession before the Blessed Sacrament is received (recent emanations from Rome notwithstanding).  The latter places one outside the community of the faithful; reception of the Blessed Sacrament in this state constitutes the horrible sin of sacrilege and again immediate recourse to Confession is vitally necessary.

Taken together, what we have in the Church today is a great mass of people regularly receiving the Blessed Sacrament in a state that St. Paul decried perfectly in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 (a bit of Scripture infamously and deliberately excluded from the readings of the Novus Ordo Mass), and with little to no means to correct this dire condition.  Adding to that, the very lack of Confession time communicates to the faithful that this is something that isn’t to be taken very seriously.  Writ large, this is very close to what Pope Saint John Paul II decried as the “fundamental option,” the idea that God is infinitely loving (and apparently no longer just) and that virtually no one, if anyone (short of evil right wingers like me) is damned.  That this is utterly contrary to our Blessed Lord’s clear Word as revealed repeatedly in Sacred Scripture and the guidance of vast numbers of Saints and Fathers seems to count for very little these days.  Confession remains generally  unavailable.

Not only that, but we have numerous warnings from the Blessed Mother and many of these same Saints about the number of souls condemned to hell.  While such warnings are widely viewed as quaint relics from a benighted age to most priests and prelates in the Church today, they have been so numerous, so consistent, and so emphatic that to doubt or deny them is a fool’s errand. I certainly do not.  I take these warnings deadly seriously, as I take the biblical types that reveal to us the very small number of the elect, and the great number of the damned.

So, yes, I take Confession very seriously, and its lack of availability as one of the greatest scandals afflicting the Church today.  In fact, lack of Confession and unwillingness to take its vital necessity seriously constitute very large elements of the present crisis in the Faith.  Thus, the great number of souls falling to hell like so many snowflakes, to quote Our Lady of Fatima.

Several years ago, at the time when former Bishop Farrell was making his exhortations, I did a post that summarized the availability of Confession in the Diocese. I checked most every parish.  Some had zero regular hours for Confession.  Most had one.  A few had two.  A tiny handful had somewhat more.  Two parishes stood out as placing a great (or, one might say, adequate) emphasis on Confession.  I’m sure locals know which two those are (Mater Dei, and St. William in Greenville).

So, even as someone who has admitted mistakes and made public apologies in the past, I don’t feel particularly bad about the post announcing +Burke’s visit and Mass.  I didn’t criticize Cardinal Burke in the slightest (in fact I praised him quite a bit), all my critical comments were directed towards confession and the probability, the virtual certitude, that, on a daily basis, souls with unconfessed mortal sins receive the Blessed Sacrament – and the role the diminution of the importance of Confession plays in that.  Perhaps I erred in prudence in combining critical commentary in an announcement post for a happy event.  Perhaps I could have chosen more artful phrases. But if I erred in charity, it was for the souls of those in gravest risk of eternal damnation, preferring their eternal destiny over more human concerns like the feelings of my correspondents or the pastor of the parish I criticized.  Of course, even that may be argued as simply misplaced zeal, but that was my intent, nonetheless.

PS – There were claims I had erred in stating Mary Immaculate – the parish that hosted Cardinal Burke – had only one hour of Confession a week.  That was all that was listed on their website (in addition to “by appointment”). I also perused a few bulletins.  I saw no other times listed.  But apparently, there is a monthly meeting/confab called “Arise” (not entirely unproblematic in its own right) where priests hear Confession.  I have no details as to how many priests are present, or for how long Confession is available.  Whether this constitutes “regular” Confession or not is arguable.  But I thought I’d include this only substantive rebuttal of my arguments for completeness’ sake.

I certainly welcome your comments and appraisal of the matter, if you have any.  Thank you.




1. Mary - January 31, 2017

Our parish here in Atlanta started Confession and Eucharistic Adoration in the adjoining chapel on Sundays from 9:30 to 1:30 at the beginning of the Year of Mercy. The lines are long before and after (sometimes during) every Mass. People come from neighboring parishes to go to confession. Our pastor, bless him, has extended the practice beyond the year of mercy and added another day on the schedule for Adoration in addition to this and the First Friday Adoration devotion we have had for a few years.
It has not only been a big success, we have since been blessed with several new priests who are a huge gift to this parish. They believe in miracles, in healing, in wearing scapulars, praying the rosary, and so much more that they share in their homilies and during confession that I never heard a word about from a priest since 1970. I now go to adoration weekly and confession weekly or every other week. The difference it has made to my Spiritual life is huge. Every parish should do this!

Tantumblogo - January 31, 2017

Yes. A priest that responded generously to then-Bishop Farrell’s exhortation 2 or 3 more hours a week and found a great response. I haven’t been there lately, but for years lines for Confession were long and often folks did not get in before time ran out. The priest had the mentality of “if you build it they will come,” and they did. I pray more priests adopt such a holy and generous attitude towards Confession, if not more so!

2. Gc5341 - January 31, 2017

God confers upon His priests two great powers. First the priest has the ability to consecrate the host and wine into Christ’s body and blood. Second the priest has the power from Christ to absolve sins. If we die after confession then objectively we should attain Heaven. If we die in a state of mortal sin then objectively we merit eternal hell.

Today most people including the majority of Catholics live in mortal sin and do not fear the loss of Heaven because they don’t believe in or for many understand the Catholic faith.

Thus the job of the priest and bishop is critical. They need to be strong willed in making sure that the catechism is taught without diluting truth. With so many spiritually “sick” souls today more than ever we need priests in the confessional!

One hour of confession is a paltry amount of time considering the state of our people. We need to continue to discuss this and keep raising this issue with our priests and bishops with great love and charity. I am glad Tantum that you raise this issue again. Let’s all pray for our priests and bishops so that one day there will be an abundance of confession times offered in our diocese.

3. David - January 31, 2017

One thing I have noticed is when a priest frequently brings up repentance and the importance of Confession from the pulpit, more parishioners make the time to use the Sacrament. The lines on Thursday nights and Saturday mornings for confessions at St. Rita’s are long, and two priests (sometimes three) will stay until done.

The lines at St. Anthony in Wylie are fairly long on Saturday afternoons too. There are times the old pastor there (he is now in Allen) asked me to do my Act of Contrition outside in order to move the lines along. Friends have also told me at St. Ann in Coppell the lines are so long for confession on Saturday that not everyone can get theirs heard.

Years ago, I was at Mass with a friend at her parish and noticed that the confessionals had a “cue card” for Confession with guidelines. A couple of these were things like “be courteous to others. If you want spiritual direction, make an appointment ” and “please do your examination of Conscience before entering the confessional. ” I have also seen “no habla Español ” and “se habla Español ” on confessionals.

Yes, this Sacrament needs more emphasis. I was told years ago it is good to go at least monthly.

4. sixupman - January 31, 2017

My bishop visiting a parish was told the parish priest was in the Confessional, as was his wont daily. The bishop was scornful: best of luck and a waste of time was the Ordinary’s retort.

This same priest and his confreres, at another church in ‘university-land’, made available the full panoply of Catholicism to both parishioners and students. He and his confreres were usurped and transferred to somewhat less fertile ground, though successful nonetheless. But the student body suffered.

5. Leah Chapman - January 31, 2017

Lex orandi, lex credendi. If you worship in the style and atmosphere of protestants, that’s how you will end up, whether you set out that way or not.

6. Magdalene - January 31, 2017

Where I live in the archdiocese of Denver, I go between two parishes. One offers a TLM every Sunday at noon. Both parishes have two daily Masses during the week with confession offered with each; the one parish with confession times 11 times a week and the parish with the TLM has confession available all 7 days a week. The one parish just got a new pastor this month and at his old parish confession was ‘by appointment’ which means basically that no one goes to confession. I think it is the height of LAZINESS when a priest does not offer very generous confession times. And a dereliction of duty as well. Priests are ordained to offer the holy sacrifice and to forgive sins through the sacrament of confession. Meetings, days off, recreation, etc. are things secondary to the primary duties.

And now with powers that be and many bishops offering the Blessed Sacrament to ANY one, no matter who they are, what their spiritual condition is, etc….why bother with those ‘annulments’ which were as a Catholic divorce anyway? Why bother to marry? Why bother to confess sins, especially since there really aren’t that many sins and God loves us as we are? What has our Church become? We seem to have the first lutheran pope which is not helping but ‘making a mess’ as he asked all to do.

7. Canon212 Update: People in Pews are Patriots, Not FrancisFlunkies – The Stumbling Block - January 31, 2017


8. Margaret Costello - February 5, 2017

Agree with David above. Offering more hours of confession is usually linked the a priest/pastor who loves his people enough to consistently bring up the realities of the Four Last Things, Sin, Moral Law and the life and beauty of the sacrament of confession. People don’t know what they are missing and they are also not aware of the danger their souls are in my sacrilegious communion. The priest needs to wake up his spiritually dead parishoners via the pulpit, and the lines for the confessional will grow:+) God bless~

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