I’m at the point in my life were I’d like to say that I’m like a fine bottle of wine which only improves with age. However, it’s more likely that I’m a late 50’s Chevy, which only appreciates in value because my peers are slowly dying off and there’s not many of us left.
If you go to just about any Catholic Church web site, you’ll see great pictures of stain glass windows (if their old enough) or the architectural design (again before 1970 [who looks at at any church designed after 1970 anyway]), their new resource center,etc., but it’s the rare site that has a picture of the confessional.
As a Cradle Catholic [TM pending;.)] I recall about 40% of my parish going to confession on any given Saturday. We had 4 priests hearing confessions and there were 2 lines on either side at each confessional. An additional 15 to 20 folks in the pews, half saying their penance and the other half reflecting on what they needed to confess. A sense of sin loomed large back then.
Hollywood still has the image of the “traditional confessional”
Now that’s what I’m talking about – old school (although I like the darker stained wood for more somber effect)! In the grand old days of pre-Vatican II- it’s dark, confined, quite enough to hear yourself and the priest exhale. The role of the one confessing is like having to wait to get a root canal. Your tooth is killing you, but you don’t want to admit there’s a problem. Confession lets face it- is dirty business. We are all saved by the BLOOD of Christ and it’s His blood we spilled when we sin.
I know that’s confessionally incorrect (pun intended) as oppose to politically incorrect to mention going to confession these days. Won’t want to upset folks in the pews to much. But that’s the bottom line. Why even Britney Spears in her new condemned music video knows what a confessional should look like (but not dress like). I’d post a link, but it would be an occasion for sin for me. And don’t look it up either, because then I’m leading you into an occasion to sin. Just be thankful your not an Irish-guilt ridden genetically trained Cradle Catholic like me. Another trademark pending. Although knowing my family surely one of them or half of Boston, Chicago, NYC or New Jersey Irish, must have coined that as well or at least thought it.
Humanity and in particularly myself don’t like to have to place a spotlight on our sinfulness. We don’t need to be reminded that we’re sinners, unless of course we actually desire to correct those evil habits we have ignored or rationalized into acceptable behaviour based on the prevailing secular value. Co-habitation must head the list these days with 60% of society finding it “better”to live together then marry; must be a lot of Christians and I’m sure Catholics have a good share in that 60% Christian co-habitation deal, but that’s a topic for another day.
Confession is always good around Advent and Lenten seasons. I like a campaign Wuerl ran this past Lenten season–dubbed “The Light Is On for You”. It kind of grows on me.
You don’t hear the Latin Mass traditionalist & the SSPX complaining about confessionals like this one in the modern confessional. Heck I couldn’t even find the face to face set-up with a priest as is the norm in many post Vat. II designed churches.
I admit I need that screen. I’m confessing to a priest, but he’s just a representative of Christ. For me it’s like he isn’t even there, until I’m finishing saying what I need to say to repent of. When I confess I’m speaking to the Creator of the universe. The one who gives me life, sustains me, gives me everything I have, everyone I’ve ever loved, everyone I will ever love or care about in this life. He’s the one I’ve offended, but the priest is the witness, the representative not just of Christ, but of the church community, he stands in for the individual I cut off on the highway, whom I can’t ask for forgiveness, he stands in for the co-worker who drives me nuts and can’t seem to forgive or ask forgiveness. To the hundreds or perhaps thousands whom I may have sinned against but in my youth didn’t care, couldn’t care or was to young or to stupid to know I offended.
And when you walk out of the dark enclosed place a warmth of heat and light comes over you. Intellectually I know I can “simply” ask God to forgive me and I know He will. But hearing the word of the priest validates what I know in my mind and God graces makes it so in the heart.
Perhaps confession will make a comeback as Time magazine indicates. Then again we may just view it like Confessionals Cartoons.
I’ll pray for the former and hope the church continues to “Keep the light on – On any given Saturday”.
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