When was your last Confession? We are all aware that the habit of regular Confession has much reduced over the last forty years or so. At one time it was common for active Catholics to go to Confession frequently. Like a motorcar, we did not wait until the engine clattered to a halt, we carried out our service schedule regularly.
We may remember that individual, private, confession was not a feature of the Church in the first millennium. There was of course public Confession for serious public sins, followed by stiff penances – which would often have to be completed before absolution. And, although private sins could be confessed privately, the regular habit which most of us were taught in our youth belongs to a later date.
So do we think that this decrease in Confessions is a good or bad thing? And, if we think it to be bad, what do we do about it? As a starting point, I list a few possible reasons for reduction in regular Confession. You may like to disagree, or add reasons of your own.
Shortage of priests leads to fewer opportunities, and often inconvenient times.
If we are not in mortal sin, it is not really necessary.
I know I have a besetting sin, and I feel a hypocrite confessing it again and again. My firm purpose of amendment is hollow.
I commit acts which the Church regards as sinful, but which I don’t.
I am a shy person. Confessing to a priest is agonisingly embarrassing for me.
I am afraid that the priest will interrogate me.
Hard as I try, I find Confession is too automatic. I’d rather repent to God on my own.
I don’t find the priest helpful. He either doesn’t give me advice, or tries to do so like an amateur psychologist with insufficient information.