Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Convert is Annoyed.

Am I allowed to talk about this?

Switching gears somewhat from the politics and chicanery of the last several posts, I want to address a topic that is long overdue for this convert.

I'm not exactly a convert, am I, having now been Catholic longer than not? I am 40 and I joined the Church at 17. I have been Catholic longer than cradle-Catholic university grads. But still, not having experienced a Catholic childhood (many cradle-Catholics haven't either) I still find there are things in regard to which I feel like an outsider.
Nope, too long.

Case in point, confession etiquette and attitude.

I've picked up through osmosis most of the unspoken rules and attitudes Catholics are supposed to have over the years - no one ever taught me these things! Like, when you are, and when you are not, supposed to make eye-contact with people or, gasp, talk to someone in the line. Like, what to do when you can hear the confession! Like, what you are supposed to do, and not do, in relation to moving about the line, whether you are sitting or standing. There is so much to learn. Like, how long are you supposed to wait to go into the box before the person the prior person can be said to have properly evacuated the area. So many things to master.

I love the sacrament. I love the availability and approachability of our priests at St. Hedwig's - likely the greatest Catholic Church in the world. I love the prayerfulness of the people. I love their commitment to confession.

But one of the most agonizing things in my existence is inefficiency in the confessional. I am just so touchy when things don't go exactly as I want them to while waiting for confession. I am very, very touchy about things relating to confession. I generally don't mind waiting in line at the grocery store. No, I don't love lines and seek to avoid them always, but in Barry's Bay, I seem to have enough time on my hands to give over those two extra minutes waiting.

I think things really get to me at confession, because it's there more than anywhere that the devil wants me to go off in a pointless huff. It used to drive me nuts at the cathedral in Halifax when they had two lines running to the confessional: by joining the shorter line a later-comer could get in before a earlier-comer. Does that outrage anyone other than me? I need to know. I really need to know.
Nope, too long.

What really bugs me: when you've got fifteen minutes before mass and someone decides to treat confession like spiritual direction. I can't even imagine what they are talking about in there, but why does my confession take not more than 70 or 80 seconds and this person's takes 5 minutes?

I think one of the reasons why I am the solitary voice being annoyed in the wilderness is because I do not comfort myself with the thought that this person is having a life-changing encounter with God. I am all for life-changing confessions - I try to make each one of my confessions life-changing, but do you have to do this fifteen minutes before mass while there is a line of people who are trying to get ready to worthily received communion? If so, come at the start of the hour, or even better, call the rectory up the very moment you are ready to change your life! You should never delay confession when things are this dire.

Yep, this looks right.
Warm, receiving and ever-present, like God.
Confession is awesome. Finding the right confessor, priceless. But if you want to use that precious hour for spiritual direction, think of all the people you are frustrating while you do so. If you can only get to certain rare times, I will drive you. I will come to your house and drive you to the rectory any time...

And if you are thinking, "Well, Colin, you shouldn't come fifteen minutes before mass."

It wasn't quarter-to when I got there, smart guy.

Further advice to make this thing run more smoothly: Ladies, hurry up. Grannies, farting is not a sin and it's okay to be mad at your children for not visiting you. Young women, this is not spiritual direction and your confessor has no idea what mansion you are in. Wives, just confess your own sins. Guys, farting in the confessional is a sin.

It'd be irresponsible to end this discussion in any other way:


  1. Different problem here in Halifax. If you go to the Franciscan priests for confession, you can be sure that you will have a long one. It is not the penitent but the priest who takes his time. The Franciscans love to give spiritual direction in the confessional, and to everyone. I have been in line waiting for people, each person had 10-15 minutes in the box. And when my turn came, I got the same. I think some priests love to hear confessions, I know the Franciscans do. But in that case, they need to allow more than the half hour before Saturday Mass for this sacrament.

  2. I would love it if priests set aside two or three hour chunks a few days a week. But, Julie, you can be sure I would studiously avoid the situation you are describing.

  3. Is farting in the confessional a venial or mortal sin? Perhaps chili would indicate grave matter? I suppose one could confess it while there, assuming the proper conditions are met.

    Around here we get confession by appointment only. I've been trying, unsuccessfully, for over a month now to get a Saturday confession time.

  4. So I guess you are missing the good 'ol St. Hedwig days. Not only is farting in the confessional a mortal sin, eating cabbage in the 24 hours prior to going to confession is grave matter too.