Jump to content

Question regarding confession


  • Please log in to reply
38 replies to this topic

#1 fruitbat72

Posted 16 November 2012 - 10:09 AM

Hello, non Catholic here with a genuine question

Is it usual that the priest receiving confession is aware of the identity of the person seeking absolution?   Or do they pretend they don't know them?



#2 Hayleymumof3

Posted 16 November 2012 - 10:14 AM

QUOTE
Is it usual that the priest receiving confession is aware of the identity of the person seeking absolution? Or do they pretend they don't know them?


In congregations where the priest has been there a long time I am guessing they know who is confessing and just pretend not to know.

#3 ComradeBob

Posted 16 November 2012 - 10:17 AM

They know, because more often than not, it's a member of their congregation. I imagine that for the first few weeks a new priest wouldn't know, but they'd soon realise.

#4 Feral-as-Meggs

Posted 16 November 2012 - 10:33 AM

They don't always confess with the screen anyway.

At my friend's church they just sit in a little room with the priest.

#5 Mitis angelam

Posted 16 November 2012 - 10:38 AM

It also depends where you are.  A CBD church or a Cathedral, or somewhere that's a focus of pilgrimage, will often have random unknown people walking in asking for confession.  Even if you just sit in a room together, there might be no exchange of names and you might never see them again.  That's much less common, for example, in a little country town.  

It's my observation that people who use confession regularly tend to develop a preference for a priest they find particularly helpful; it's more the one-off visitors or the people deliberately going where they're not known (which can be a way to deal with emotions of shame and guilt, if you know you never have to see this particular priest again), who tend to be unknown.

Edited by Ange Vert, 16 November 2012 - 02:40 PM.


#6 Coffeegirl

Posted 16 November 2012 - 10:42 AM

It's been a long time since I went to confession.  But we always had the option of the screen open or closed.  Even when open, we sat side by side with the partition between, so even then, you didn't have to look the priest square in the face.

As a teen it was easy to omit things as I didn't have that face-to-face thing IYKWIM.    ph34r.gif  

At my old church, the priest entered his part of the confessional, and the those waiting were scattered through the church.  There was no 'queue' so the priest really wouldn't know who went in first or last or in the middle.   With the partition closed, if you were not a regular member of that church or had regular conversations with the priest, I would think it would be hard for them to recognise you.






#7 Feral_Pooks

Posted 16 November 2012 - 11:11 AM

Another non Catholic here.

I don't get it.

I don't get why the priest is involved at all, or what he adds to it.

Can anyone explain that?

(Sorry to hijack thread OP but your question has me wondering!)

#8 Feral Grey Mare

Posted 16 November 2012 - 11:17 AM

QUOTE (Pooks_ @ 16/11/2012, 12:11 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Another non Catholic here.

I don't get it.

I don't get why the priest is involved at all, or what he adds to it.

Can anyone explain that?

(Sorry to hijack thread OP but your question has me wondering!)


I have wondered this as well. Why isn't it enough to confess your sins to God? From my observation and talking to Catholic friends it seems that God takes a back seat in the Catholic church somewhere behind Mary, the Pope and the priest. Does he really need all these "middle men"?

#9 ComradeBob

Posted 16 November 2012 - 11:21 AM

The cynical response is so the church can continue to control the population via the mechanism of knowing everyone's business.

I'm not sure of what the theological background to it is.


#10 RichardParker

Posted 16 November 2012 - 11:26 AM

In the traditional-style confessionals, where it's essentially two stalls with two separate doors to enter and just a little speaking hole with a curtain in between, the priest would only know if they recognise your voice, or see you waiting outside before hand and know who you are.  

If you go to confession at a big city church (who are often the only ones that have regular confession times these days), you rarely know the priest, and he certainly doesn't know you.  There are different priests on duty every week and there's such a huge turnover of people that you'd be lucky to come across the same one twice.

A country town, where the priest knows everyone in the congregation, the priest would probably recognise your voice, but in my experience they sort of respect your privacy by not indicating that they might recognise you.

#11 Mitis angelam

Posted 16 November 2012 - 11:27 AM

As a non-Catholic whose tradition includes private confession, and who is preparing to hear confessions...

I think there can be - for some people, in some situations - great benefit in actually talking their guilt through with someone else.  A number of examples...

- Say I do something bad routinely, and I struggle with it and confess it over and over and am discouraged and ashamed that I can't be "good."  A good pastor can help me explore that pattern of behaviour, what underlies it, and help me to work towards more than a surface change.

- Suppose you feel guilt inappropriately; you take on a sense of responsibility for something which is not your fault.  A good pastor can help you recognise that and free you from a burden you shouldn't be carrying.

- Not everyone feels forgiven just because they've prayed or the Bible says they are.  Having a real flesh-and-blood person reassure them, care for them, validate their true desire to be better, and emphasise again the mercy and forgiveness of God...all of these things can have a deep and lasting impact in a way that might not happen if someone just prays on his or her own.

- I suspect also that for those who do use confession as a regular spiritual discipline, the aspect of accountability makes a difference.  If I know that I have to show up, red-faced, and admit that I've done x....maybe I'll think twice about doing it!

And so on - I think I've made my point.

Of course, in my tradition confession isn't compulsory the way it notionally is for Catholics, and I do think that makes a difference.



#12 loulou_b

Posted 16 November 2012 - 11:29 AM

QUOTE
Another non Catholic here.

I don't get it.

I don't get why the priest is involved at all, or what he adds to it.

Can anyone explain that?


Speaking as an average catholic here, not a theologian or expert.....

It's not "proper" confession and reconciliation unless a priest hears your sin and "absolves" you of them.  You tell your sin, he has a quick chat if you like, and then absolves you with a blessing and gives you a "penance", usually to say a few Hail Marys and Our Fathers.

With the above you are working on the assumption that a priest is God's representative on Earth and somehow has the power to absolve that others don't.  

The older I get the more I question the whole thing.  I don't go to confession any more.

I can see the point that perhaps a priest might be like a counsellor for some, as often things that trouble you aren't so troubling when you discuss them, but the "absolving" thing I just don't get.

#13 ComradeBob

Posted 16 November 2012 - 11:30 AM

Far enough Ange, my views are somewhat coloured by my DH and his brothers who would regularly have to go to confession at boarding school, where the priest, as often as not, was the one who used to get a little frisson from the confessions of a school of hormonal teenage boys  sick.gif



#14 QueenIanthe

Posted 16 November 2012 - 11:34 AM

See to me the whole point of Jesus is so we don't have a barrier to God and no one needs to intercede for us. It's such a fundamental belief that I can't get my head around the need for confession.

Ange I can see in that context it being helpful. Similar to counselling but concerning spiritual welfare.

#15 Feral-as-Meggs

Posted 16 November 2012 - 11:35 AM

It's a bit like spiritual Weightwatchers.

You can justify all kinds of things to yourself, but when you have to account to someone else it makes things clearer as being right or wrong.

And remember this all started before there were psychologists or anonymous internet forums to talk to.

#16 QueenIanthe

Posted 16 November 2012 - 11:38 AM

QUOTE (meggs1 @ 16/11/2012, 12:35 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
You can justify all kinds of things to yourself, but when you have to account to someone else it makes things clearer as being right or wrong.


I can see the value in that. It's more the necessary part that I can't understand.

#17 Feral_Pooks

Posted 16 November 2012 - 11:41 AM

Thank you for those responses.

I guess my worry is how can a priest ascertain if a person is genuinely remorseful? Surely only the Spirit can do that? "My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to Heaven go"- what is a confession without true feelings of remorse?

Also- How can a person act on behalf of God like that? Maybe there is some stuff around what a priest is that I'm missing.

Ange, I can understand what benefit that might bring of assuring someone of forgiveness. Makes sense.

I guess on reflection, I was thinking more about confessions that MUST be preformed by a priest, or where the priest is the one "doing" the forgiving. Where a person thinks they can't have forgiveness without confessing to a priest... Is that the case with Catholicism? I could keep a priest busy for a week with all of my sins, surely you can't bring everything to the priest?

The OP was asking about the privacy or otherwise of confession, I just can't imagine HAVING to share my "deepest and darkest" with anyone.

Makes it very confusing in terms of the debate around whether admissions of child abuse in confession should be reported to police. If a person has literally no other way in their belief system to confess, it makes me kind of understand why priests don't want to report. It might mean people don't confess at all and therefore go to hell or something. Am I right?

#18 Acidulous Osprey

Posted 16 November 2012 - 11:43 AM

It's part of the structure of the two thousand year old Catholic church.  In the confessional and during Mass the priest is representing the Holy Trinity.

#19 Mitis angelam

Posted 16 November 2012 - 12:07 PM

QUOTE (Pooks_ @ 16/11/2012, 12:41 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I guess my worry is how can a priest ascertain if a person is genuinely remorseful? Surely only the Spirit can do that?


You can lie in confession.  I'm sure people do all the time.  In the end, though, you're only cheating yourself.

QUOTE (Pooks_ @ 16/11/2012, 12:41 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Also- How can a person act on behalf of God like that? Maybe there is some stuff around what a priest is that I'm missing.


People have been arguing for millennia about what a priest is, and to what extent a priest does something, and to what extent the priest only proclaims what God does.  My own view is that in giving absolution (assurance of forgiveness) a priest only proclaims the forgiveness God gives (they say the words God is not physically present in person to say, but would if He were, iykwim).  The idea is that if we come faithfully to confession, we can trust God's attitude towards us as articulated by the priest.  However....should you be dishonest in confession...well, you know that God's attitude towards you is still one of mercy, but you still need to repent to receive it!  

QUOTE (Pooks_ @ 16/11/2012, 12:41 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I guess on reflection, I was thinking more about confessions that MUST be preformed by a priest, or where the priest is the one "doing" the forgiving. Where a person thinks they can't have forgiveness without confessing to a priest... Is that the case with Catholicism? I could keep a priest busy for a week with all of my sins, surely you can't bring everything to the priest?


My understanding is that the Catholic idea is that God can forgive without you going to confession, but if you do go, you can be assured of His forgiveness.  I don't think we can understand this attitude without getting our heads around the idea of sacraments more generally, though.

QUOTE (Pooks_ @ 16/11/2012, 12:41 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Makes it very confusing in terms of the debate around whether admissions of child abuse in confession should be reported to police. If a person has literally no other way in their belief system to confess, it makes me kind of understand why priests don't want to report. It might mean people don't confess at all and therefore go to hell or something. Am I right?


Loosely, yes.

#20 RichardParker

Posted 16 November 2012 - 12:21 PM

QUOTE (Old Grey Mare @ 16/11/2012, 12:17 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I have wondered this as well. Why isn't it enough to confess your sins to God? From my observation and talking to Catholic friends it seems that God takes a back seat in the Catholic church somewhere behind Mary, the Pope and the priest. Does he really need all these "middle men"?



The short answer is that, obviously, Jesus has the power to forgive sins, and Catholics believe that  the Church is a divine institution founded by Christ to continue His work of redemption in the world, including by having the power to forgive sins. The idea is that whatever Christ the Head possesses, His Mystical Body, the Church, likewise possesses.

It comes from  Acts of the Apostles the Church forgiving sins through the administration of Baptism to converts: “Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

“Get up, be baptized, and have your sins washed away, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16).

In addition, after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to the Apostles in the Upper Room and breathed on them saying: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you ... Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (St. John 20:21-23).

Catholics believe that the priests of today have this same authority which was give to the Apostles by Jesus, because they have received it through what we refer to as the 'Apostolic succession'.  IT's an understanding that the Church has had from the beginning, that the redemptive work started by Christ and the Apostles can be continued throughout history.  The idea is that the power that Christ conferred on the Apostles (“Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (St. Matt. 18:18) continues to this day to the successors of the Apostles, who are the current Bishops and priests on earth today.



#21 Feral_Pooks

Posted 16 November 2012 - 12:23 PM

Thank you, Ange. Very interesting. Notions of a priest being anything more than just another dude who works for the church is something I think maybe people outside the church struggle to understand?

I can understand how hard it is for Catholics dealing with a wider community who don't understand this stuff, it does seem quite baffling to an outsider, and I do have a Christian background but still find it confusing. I hope my questions didn't come across as rude, but I couldn't really understand the whole does-priest-know-who-you-are, is-it-private-and-confidential thing without some other pieces of the puzzle. And I was in a relationship with a Catholic for about 5 years, and he couldn't really explain much to me, except that it "just was how they did it and always have".

He wasn't a deep thinker.

Edited due to autocorrect being funny.

Edited by Pooks_, 16 November 2012 - 12:23 PM.


#22 RichardParker

Posted 16 November 2012 - 12:31 PM

QUOTE (Pooks_ @ 16/11/2012, 12:41 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Also- How can a person act on behalf of God like that? Maybe there is some stuff around what a priest is that I'm missing.

It's not so much acting on behalf of God, but 'acting in the person of Christ' - or Christ acting through the person.  

We are physical, human creatures.  We experience things through our senses and bodies.  The act of a timeless, infinite God forgiving sin is a real act, but the way we humans hear it and experience it happening in real time and in a finite body is through the function of the Church 'Christ's mysical body'.  And that functioning of Christ's mystical body is through the body of the priest when he sits 'in persona christi' - in the person of christ.

Catholics believe that this function of priests only occurs when they're performing sacraments though - saying mass, hearing confessions, perfoming marriages etc.  When they're just walking around eating a sandwich, they're not acting in the person of christ and have no special powers or functions.

#23 RichardParker

Posted 16 November 2012 - 12:31 PM

DP

Edited by *Greenbag*, 16 November 2012 - 12:32 PM.


#24 Seven of Nine

Posted 16 November 2012 - 12:44 PM

Great explanations Greenbag, that's exactly what I believe as a Catholic.

I just wanted to say that I don't feel that the priest comes between me and God, and that I have that personal relationship with God that so many non-Catholic Christians seem to think the priest replaces in Catholicism.

Ianthe, the Bible says we have one mediator - Jesus Christ, but it mentions intercession a lot as a positive thing. Link.

#25 Feral_Pooks

Posted 16 November 2012 - 01:04 PM

Ok Greenbag, that makes a lot of sense. Thanks for your patience. I am struggling with a lot of faith stuff personally so hearing about how different people 'do it' is really interesting for me at the moment.

Plus I just realized there was a massive hole in my knowledge so thanks for helping me out on rectifying that wink.gif




1 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users

 

Abbott's childcare changes will 'reduce access and add complexity'

The government's childcare assistance package threatens to confuse and intimidate many parents, experts say.

Be careful what you wish for

Remember that chubby little baby who rocked on all fours? Remember how you wished he would start to crawl? Then remember how you felt once he did?

William Tyrrell's parents plead for information as anniversary looms

As the one-year anniversary of William Tyrrell's disappearance draws near, the missing four-year-old's parents have again pleaded with the public for information that could help bring their son home.

Family sleepovers: a tribute to my 1970s childhood

My memories of those nights in my childhood are all about fun: sleepover excitement, staying up late, watching movies we probably weren't supposed to watch ... freedom.

43 minutes of terror: family's agonising wait for ambulance for toddler

It was terrifying. As the minutes ticked by little Cooper Harrison's parents felt more and more frantic.

What not to say to a new mum

Some phrases just pop out before you really think about them, but there are some things you should try to not say to a new mum.

Mummydesking: the new hotdesking

It is a paradise that only working parents of small children can understand: a place to sit for three hours without any interruptions while someone looks after the kids.

Charlize Theron adopts baby girl

A few months after splitting from Sean Penn, the actress Charlize Theron has adopted a baby girl.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shares painful truth behind wife's pregnancy

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has shared a brutally honest truth about pregnancy in the hope it will help others through dark periods.  

Sugary drinks blamed for removal of toddlers' rotten teeth

Children as young as 18 months are having multiple rotten teeth pulled out as parents feed toddlers soft drinks through sipper bottles, and chocolate biscuits and Milo as bedtime treats.

Mum accidentally fake tans baby

Many of us have fallen foul of a bad fake tan or two, but this little guy's started a bit earlier than most.

Does this three-month-old say 'I love you'?

YouTube user Ted Moskalenko was filmed by his wife, Michelle, as his baby son, Ben, engaged in some baby chat.

Kids break out of daycare centre, cross busy highway

Two children broke out of an early childhood centre and wandered across a four-lane road.

Why I'm glad to be an indulgent granny

The phone calls started a couple of weeks ago. At about 5.30 each evening - if I am lucky - I will be greeted by a sweet, excited voice declaring: "'Allo Annie".

Newborn found in toilet at German airport

A newborn baby found abandoned and extremely ill in a bathroom in the Munich airport is doing well.

Is this the worst relationship advice ever published?

You sometimes have to wonder whether relationship/sex advice from magazines is designed to help or humiliate.

How you talk to your baby now can impact social skills later

People used to think that social skills were something kids were born with, not taught.

Three truths about C-section mums

Lately I've been thinking about the caesarean stories and the brave women who birth their children with strength and beauty.

Scientists predict when you should start a family

Scientists have calculated at exactly what age you need to start trying to get pregnant to have the best chance of realising your dream. 

Differently abled child

When 'protecting' a child is really a cover for judgement

Why are people so concerned for this happy child and his mother?

Get your FREE Baby & Toddler Show ticket!

Get your free ticket to the Sydney Essential Baby & Toddler Show for September 25-27 - register online now.

 
Advertisement
 
Advertisement
 
 
 

What's hot on EB

When toddlers have strange obsessions

When it comes to two-year-olds and birthday cakes there are a few requests that are usually at the top of the list. But a cake featuring a local personal injury lawyer?

When Mama Bear strikes

When we become mums, our instinct to protect our children and keep them safe from harm is so strong we're often likened to a Mama Bear protecting her cubs.  

Immunity boosters for kids

There are no guaranteed ways to avoid the dreaded winter illnesses completely, but there are ways we can boost our children's immunity.

Yes, you can get pregnant before your period returns post-baby

After giving birth, the last thing you want to think about is contraception. But you can get pregnant before your period comes back.

Mum shares portrait of her proudly breastfeeding three-year-old

Jade Beall usually chooses to breastfeed her son, now 3, in private. This week, however, she shared portraits of her breastfeeding her preschooler.

Dealing with a toddler's morning tantrums

Your schedule is not important to your two-year-old, and you cannot convince her otherwise. So what can you do?

My baby's first seizure

It was 1am on a cold winter's night when I woke suddenly to the screams of my 12-month-old son. Our lives were about to change forever.

MP breastfeeds baby during parliamentary session

An Argentinian mum and politician has caused a stir on social media after being filmed breastfeeding her baby.

Heartbreaking moment mum kisses her one-week-old goodbye

At 11.07am on April 2 this year, Sarah Marriott welcomed baby Sebastian into the world.

The best age to get married (according to the latest study)

Not too young, and not too old. That's reportedly the best age to get married. Not everyone agrees.

Fellow diner rewards mum after toddler's tantrum

Parents of toddlers everywhere know the feeling. After working up the courage to take your child out for lunch or dinner in public you are rewarded with a mid-meal meltdown. 

IVF gender selection being considered for Australian parents

Couples using IVF may be able to choose the gender of their babies and women could be financially compensated for donating their eggs.

The amazing Tee Pee bed and kid-friendly Frankie Bunk bed

These kids' beds definitely fit the brief of providing personality and personal space for little people who are moving up in the world.

The funny things kids say when you're pregnant

Since becoming noticeably pregnant, my son has taken more of an interest in the sibling he'll soon have.

The real problem with having one child

In this age of political correctness, it seems the one subject still subject to discrimination is that of the Only Child.

The fire hazard in more than 70,000 Australian homes

So far, 206 Samsung washing machines have caught fire and some have exploded. But many remain in people's homes.

How having a baby can bring on OCD

We all know that having a baby can turn your life upside down - and it can also bring a raft of new anxieties and worries.

IKEA begins massive safety campaign after two toddler deaths

Two children were killed when pieces from their Malm furniture line tipped over.

Which beauty treatments are safe in pregnancy?

Is it safe to use fake tan, hair dye and nail varnish during pregnancy?

A dad's guide to hyperemesis

I am in no way qualified to advise women on how to cope with hyperemesis, but I've learnt some lessons that might be worth sharing with other partners.

The five ways I know my 'baby' is no longer a baby

The truth is, I can no longer deny that my walking, babbling, somewhat-independent little miss is no longer a bona fide 'baby'.

 

FREE TICKET

See Pinky McKay live in Sydney

Get your free ticket to The Essential Baby & Toddler Show and save $20 - register online now!

 
Advertisement
 
 
Essential Baby and Essential Kids is the place to find parenting information and parenting support relating to conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids, maternity, family budgeting, family travel, nutrition and wellbeing, family entertainment, kids entertainment, tips for the family home, child-friendly recipes and parenting. Try our pregnancy due date calculator to determine your due date, or our ovulation calculator to predict ovulation and your fertile period. Our pregnancy week by week guide shows your baby's stages of development. Access our very active mum's discussion groups in the Essential Baby forums or the Essential Kids forums to talk to mums about conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids and parenting lifestyle. Essential Baby also offers a baby names database of more than 22,000 baby names, popular baby names, boys' names, girls' names and baby names advice in our baby names forum. Essential Kids features a range of free printable worksheets for kids from preschool years through to primary school years. For the latest baby clothes, maternity clothes, maternity accessories, toddler products, kids toys and kids clothing, breastfeeding and other parenting resources, check out Essential Baby and Essential Kids.