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 FeralBob!

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 Angelot

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 FeralBob!

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 Angelot

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 FeralBob!

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 Ianthe

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 Ianthe

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 sad small umbrella

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 Angelot

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 Ehubrydd

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

 

Win Coles Little Explorer nappies for your toddler

Introducing the new Coles Little Explorer Nappies! You can confidently rely on Coles Little Explorer nappies at each stage of your child's growth, so take the Big Nappy Change and try new Coles Little Explorer nappies for yourself!

Robbie Williams live tweets wife's labour

And the award for most patient woman in labour goes to ... Robbie Williams' wife, Ayda Field.

Vaccine ignorance is deadly and contagious

In the absence of credible, strong political leadership, paranoia about disease can go viral.

Parenting differently based on birth order

All children have unique personalities, but keeping birth order in mind could help when parenting.

How to get rid of the mum guilt

Motherhood and guilt seem to go hand in hand, but there are ways to focus

Paid parental leave scheme grinds to a halt

The future of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's paid parental leave scheme appears to be up in the air, despite the fact it is due to begin in less than nine months.

The devastation of foetal alcohol spectrum disorders

No one's sure how many Australians are affected by foetal alcohol spectrum disorders, but the consequences for those who are can be devastating.

The pros and cons of finding out the sex of your unborn baby

It’s often one of the biggest choices parents make during the course of their pregnancy; to find out, or not to find out, the sex of their baby before it’s born.

Toddler's awesome dress up month

Two-year-old Willow and her photographer mum, Gina Lee, made October "Dress Up Willow Month". She posted photos of Willow's costumes on her Instagram account, and her creative takes on popular culture are simply adorable.

Childhood around the world

It can be easy to assume our ideas around childhood are universal, but they are particular to where we live, as these practices show.

Best picks for baby and toddler shoes

Here's a great selection of footwear from pre-walker to walker ensuring comfort and style for growing feet.

I lost my wife and daughters to Ebola - then it came for my son

Sunday, September 21, is a day I will never forget.

The 'yucky' illness that took over my life

I have a chronic illness nobody likes to discuss. It involves toilet talk, and probably caused my miscarriage. But it needs to be talked about.

Prenatal testing: the facts

Prenatal testing is done to check if a baby has certain medical conditions before birth. Here is some important information about what the tests are for and the risks involved.

5 things to do with your baby?s old clothes

Did you think your only option for your baby?s old clothes was to pack them away or give them to the Salvos? Think again.

Why it's possible to not realise you're pregnant until the baby arrives

After hearing about 'surprise babies' born to mums who didn't know they were pregnant, it's common to ask "how did she not realise?" But experts say it's entirely possible for it to happen.

'My miracle is finally here'

How has the world continued on its pace when mine has been altered so drastically?

Dairy can help older women fall pregnant: study

Ice cream may be the ultimate comfort food, but a study suggests it could also help older women to have children.

Megan Gale goes topless for 'sexiest people' cover

Six months after a heavily pregnant Megan Gale posed nude for Marie Claire, the glowing new mum has gone topless for the cover of another magazine.

A new perspective on life from living with two diseases

A mother shares her personal story about the difficulty of living with two conditions, one of which stops her from being able to see her daughter's face.

Warning about Children's Panadol dosage

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has issued a safety advisory warning parents about confusion when using the dosing syringe supplied with Children's Panadol.

Download now: Essential Kids Activity Finder app

Got bored kids? Quickly find the best activities for kids wherever you are in Australia with the Essential Kids app.

 
Advertisement
 
Advertisement
 
 
 

What's hot on EB

Take 'The Coles Big Nappy Change' Challenge

You could become part of our Test Drive team and win one of 200 packs of Coles Little Explorer Nappies as part of our 5-day challenge.

Win 1 of 5 Canon Powershot D30 cameras

Capture life more easily with the Canon Powershot D30. Shockproof, waterproof and dustproof, you can take it almost anywhere and shoot beautiful images, time after time. Enter now!

16 parenting truths you won't find in the baby books

I am five years into this parenting gig and I’ve learnt that sleepless nights and changing dirty nappies are child’s play.

Best and worst potty party cakes

It's nice to celebrate a child making the shift from nappies to 'big kid' undies, but do we really need a semi-realistic used toilet cake to do it? Here are some of the best and worst cakes parents have used at 'potty parties' around the world.

7 tips for a financially festive Christmas

Plan ahead - and do it now - to ensure festive season expenses don't break the bank.

'Go the F*** to Sleep' author's new book for frustrated parents

A sequel is coming soon to the 2011 hit book 'Go the F*** to Sleep' - and this time, it's about mealtimes.

Great birthday party buys from Etsy

Handmade crafts to decorate and personalise your child's next birthday - from banners to cake decorations, we've got gorgeous party finds from Etsy.

Join us in The BIG nappy change

Introducing the new Coles Little Explorer Nappies! You can confidently rely on Coles Little Explorer nappies at each stage of your child's growth, so take the Big Nappy Change and try new Coles Little Explorer nappies for yourself!

Creative storage ideas for the kids' rooms

Creative and practical storage ideas for the kids' toys and books can also add some stylish decor to your home. Visit babyology.com.au for more stylish modern finds for hip kids & parents.

Weird trend

'Why we called our daughter Wyatt'

Ashton Kutcher has spoken about how he and Mila Kunis chose their daughter's name - and why they've set up her social media accounts.

To the mum in the doctor's waiting room

Maybe the mum I saw in that waiting room, seemingly disconnected from her baby, doesn’t have the support she needs.

10 space-saving nursery ideas

Starting a family doesn't always mean moving into a bigger house - not yet, anyway.

 

What's in a name?

Baby Names

Looking for a classic name, or an unusual name? Our Baby Name Finder is for you, search or browse to refine your shortlist.

 
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.