How Long for Confession?
I went to a communal penitential service in Advent, thinking that six priests would get through the confessions faster than normal. Not so. The first part of the service prepared me well to unburden my soul. But the priests were keeping penitents for ten or more minutes each. After 30 minutes in a restless queue I left and went home. Why can’t priests adapt themselves to this extraordinary communal setting, hear the confession and then just get on with it? Mildred
You have a number of choices when you want to confess your sins in the sacrament of reconciliation.
You can go to confession during the regular times in your parish; you can ask your priest to hear your confession at another convenient time; you can attend a liturgical penitential service.
You chose to participate in a community service and probably did so because you were advised that this was a good opportunity for parishioners to prepare themselves spiritually for the happy liturgical celebration of the birth of Christ.
No community, not even the average parish, is perfect in keeping the rules and regulations that bind it together. The parish as a group strives to avoid sin and to do acts of faith, hope and charity, as our Christian faith requires, but the failings of individuals detract from the achievement of this common vocation.
This is where the community penitential service comes into its own. Together we ask forgiveness of God and one another and promise to support one another as a family does, as we grow in holiness and reparation for sin, waiting to receive the kingdom of God.
You remarked that the first part of the service prepared you well. So I guess you listened attentively to the sacred readings and were guided by the words of encouragement to live a truly Christian life. Then you backed out before a priest could absolve you and give you the spiritual hug of Christ’s mercy that reconciles you with Christ and your fellow parishioners.
Priests take into account the large numbers lining up for confession and do not prolong the duration of the penitent’s contrition or their own words of advice and comfort. Priests as doctors of the soul have to “treat” each penitent thoroughly before they can attend to the next one.
The priest does not condemn the sinner for sin. Like Jesus, he waits to hear real repentance for sin and then is glad to pronounce the words of absolution to restore the soul to wholeness of mind and spirit.
A penitential service may not suit everyone, so do not despair. Priests are ready to hear your confession any time you ask. So, maybe you can take it from there.