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Author Topic: The "scandal" of Confession?  (Read 1409 times) Average Rating: 0
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Volnutt
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« on: June 12, 2011, 04:44:29 PM »

A Lutheran I was talking to on another forum a long time ago made the claim that one reason confession is evil is because it scandalizes the priest's mind.

I dismissed him at the figuring that, "by that logic, there should be no Christian counseling ministries either!" But lately I've been thinking about it in a different way. A typical priest hears ~100 confessions a week and how many sins per confession? That's probably near to what a professional counselor would hear in years if not decades of work, yes? Whereas if Christians followed typical Evangelical advice and confessed to older members of the laity as mentors, wouldn't things be more "spread out?"
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« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2011, 04:52:44 PM »

I've known a lot of priest over the years (Both Catholic and Orthodox).  Non of them ever seemed, at least outwardly disturbed in any way from the years and years of confessions they've heard.  If anything the regular hearing of confessions is bound to make a person more sympathetic and considerate of the human condition and its many weaknesses as opposed to jaded and detached from human problems and emotions.
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« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2011, 05:41:58 PM »

I suppose it could be a problem if the priest felt that it fell upon him to "fix" all those who confess.
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« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2011, 08:40:49 PM »

Unless you think that the majority of people a priest sees for confession are confessing things like rape, murder, and pedophilia, I really don't see how a "scandalization" of priests is likely.  I mean, most priests who are going to hear their first confession (let alone those who have heard years worth) are not going to be surprised when someone confesses that they lied to their spouse about this or that, or that they were making fun of someone at school, or that they "self-pleasure," or that they got angry or yelled at someone who cut them off in traffic.  Most sins are ones that are not likely to shock anyone.  Now, certain parishoners confessing certain sins may well "scandalize" a priest, but if they are worth their salt, they will not let it get them down for long.  I doubt most parishoners are capable of scandalizing their priest, unless you happen to have a church inside of a maximum security prison...
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« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2011, 08:55:51 PM »

Unless you think that the majority of people a priest sees for confession are confessing things like rape, murder, and pedophilia, I really don't see how a "scandalization" of priests is likely.  I mean, most priests who are going to hear their first confession (let alone those who have heard years worth) are not going to be surprised when someone confesses that they lied to their spouse about this or that, or that they were making fun of someone at school, or that they "self-pleasure," or that they got angry or yelled at someone who cut them off in traffic.  Most sins are ones that are not likely to shock anyone.  Now, certain parishoners confessing certain sins may well "scandalize" a priest, but if they are worth their salt, they will not let it get them down for long.  I doubt most parishoners are capable of scandalizing their priest, unless you happen to have a church inside of a maximum security prison...
laugh Good point. I hadn't considered that.
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« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2011, 06:30:20 AM »

That is a strange comment, as some Lutheran friends have talked of their church's practice of confession on Saturday nights, before taking communion on Sundays.

Also, from what I understand the confessions are not supposed to be detailed, for that reason!
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« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2011, 07:23:13 AM »

Unless you think that the majority of people a priest sees for confession are confessing things like rape, murder, and pedophilia, I really don't see how a "scandalization" of priests is likely.  I mean, most priests who are going to hear their first confession (let alone those who have heard years worth) are not going to be surprised when someone confesses that they lied to their spouse about this or that, or that they were making fun of someone at school, or that they "self-pleasure," or that they got angry or yelled at someone who cut them off in traffic.  Most sins are ones that are not likely to shock anyone.  Now, certain parishoners confessing certain sins may well "scandalize" a priest, but if they are worth their salt, they will not let it get them down for long.  I doubt most parishoners are capable of scandalizing their priest, unless you happen to have a church inside of a maximum security prison...

A couple of weeks ago when I went to confession there were two people in line in front of me. The  first  fellow in line was well known to be going through a really difficult time and his confession took awhile. Then the Woman just before me went up and when she was all done she left in tears, practically sobbing.

Then I went up............ I mentioned I had diarrhea so I didnt come to vigil....   Tongue  Oye

Several years ago while  I was waiting to confess, a young boy of about 7 or 8 was with the Priest. Ten minutes passed, then fifteen. The Priest had to bend over since the boy was so small. Twenty minutes.. I looked at the Woman behind me and we both smiled. What in the World could he have done ?   ... I think he wrapped up at about 35 minutes... I had to come back later.  It was kinda sweet.
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« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2011, 07:48:06 AM »

That is a strange comment, as some Lutheran friends have talked of their church's practice of confession on Saturday nights, before taking communion on Sundays.
Yeah.
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« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2011, 08:21:49 AM »

That is a strange comment, as some Lutheran friends have talked of their church's practice of confession on Saturday nights, before taking communion on Sundays.

Also, from what I understand the confessions are not supposed to be detailed, for that reason!
I attended the local Greek parish church for Pentecost, being also their patronal festival.  While I know Russians who wanted communion made arrangements for confession prior to Sunday, I didn't see anyone at confession after Vespers on Saturday.  For me confession and communion are inter-linked, and in most circumstances, confession is always necessary and beneficial.
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« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2011, 10:12:27 AM »

The priest who hears confession has grace from God for this. If he is experienced, and if he believes  himself to be a worse sinner than those whose confession he hears, I don't think it would be at all easy for him to be scandalized. Confession is made to God. The priest is only a witness. Many forget what is confessed afterward. But, at the Day of Judgment, they will witness to the penitent's penitence.
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« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2011, 10:18:53 AM »

Yeah, I had a feeling that was it, it probably all blurs together after a while. Especially since the Orthodox seem to confess in "categories" of sin more often than every specific instance.
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« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2011, 11:09:39 AM »

Yeah, I had a feeling that was it, it probably all blurs together after a while. Especially since the Orthodox seem to confess in "categories" of sin more often than every specific instance.

I don't know about "categories." I confess individual sins. I don't tell a long story with a play-by-play, but I don't confess vague generalities. Also, the confessor can ask questions, or he can say, "Don't go into detail there." He's not just a passive listener, he's there to help.
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« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2011, 11:12:55 AM »

I don't know about "categories." I confess individual sins. I don't tell a long story with a play-by-play, but I don't confess vague generalities. Also, the confessor can ask questions, or he can say, "Don't go into detail there." He's not just a passive listener, he's there to help.
Ah. Ok.
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« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2011, 06:05:38 PM »

I was always taught to be somewhat specific on mentioning the details of a certain sin, but not to go into too much details.  For instance if I confessed wanting to punch someone in the face, I should not be so vague as to say that "I had bad feelings about someone", but at the same time I shouldn't say something like " It was Joe Smith who lives at 15 High St." or something with that much detail added on.  Its enough to say that you wanted to cause psychical harm to a person you know.
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« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2011, 06:13:59 PM »

What about certain (ahem) sensitive topics? How do you draw the line on that? If the priest is your spiritual father, would he need to know any background to discuss how to approach the situation with you?

I just think it would be tricky for men and women to discuss that. Of course you don't want to possibly scandalize/tempt the priest by going into specifics (for example, describing a same sex relationship or drug involvement). Would you just say, "I did  []?" and end it there? Or would you have to provide some brief explanation of how you got into it, talk briefly about the past, etc.?

Forgive me, I'm used to RC Confession, where the priest always changed. They were okay with me giving a one sentence explanation and once, I was crying so hard that I couldn't tell the priest about a specific sin, and he absolved me anyway. 

I'm not asking for specifics obviously, but a general answer would be good.
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« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2011, 07:04:38 PM »

I was always taught to be somewhat specific on mentioning the details of a certain sin, but not to go into too much details.  For instance if I confessed wanting to punch someone in the face, I should not be so vague as to say that "I had bad feelings about someone", but at the same time I shouldn't say something like " It was Joe Smith who lives at 15 High St." or something with that much detail added on.  Its enough to say that you wanted to cause psychical harm to a person you know.
Makes sense.
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« Reply #16 on: June 13, 2011, 10:13:06 PM »

That is a strange comment, as some Lutheran friends have talked of their church's practice of confession on Saturday nights, before taking communion on Sundays.

Also, from what I understand the confessions are not supposed to be detailed, for that reason!

That was my first thought.  That Lutheran ought to read the Book of Concord a bit more often.

Quote
Article XI: Of Confession.

1) Of Confession they teach that Private Absolution ought to be retained in the churches, although in confession 2] an enumeration of all sins is not necessary. For it is impossible according to the Psalm: Who can understand his errors? Ps. 19:12.

-- Augsburg Confession

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Part III, Article VIII. Of Confession.

1) Since Absolution or the Power of the Keys is also an aid and consolation against sin and a bad conscience, ordained by Christ (Himself) in the Gospel, Confession or Absolution ought by no means to be abolished in the Church, especially on account of (tender and) timid consciences and on account of the untrained (and capricious) young people, in order that they may be examined, and instructed in the Christian doctrine.

-- Smalcald Articles

Quote
V. Confession

How Christians should be taught to confess.

What is Confession?

Confession embraces two parts: the one is, that we confess our sins; the other, that we receive absolution, or forgiveness, from the confessor, as from God Himself, and in no wise doubt, but firmly believe, that our sins are thereby forgiven before God in heaven.

What sins should we confess?

Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even of those which we do not know, as we do in the Lord's Prayer. But before the confessor we should confess those sins alone which we know and feel in our hearts.

Which are these?

Here consider your station according to the Ten Commandments, whether you are a father, mother, son, daughter, master, mistress, a man-servant or maid-servant; whether you have been disobedient, unfaithful, slothful; whether you have grieved any one by words or deeds; whether you have stolen, neglected, or wasted aught, or done other injury.

-- Small Catechism

Only a sampling, mind you -- there is much, much more in there.
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« Reply #17 on: June 13, 2011, 11:28:14 PM »

That was my first thought.  That Lutheran ought to read the Book of Concord a bit more often.
You know what's even weirder? He was one that I first heard the term, "Capernatic eating" from, so he must have read the Book of Concord...
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« Reply #18 on: June 30, 2011, 05:46:07 PM »

What about certain (ahem) sensitive topics? How do you draw the line on that? If the priest is your spiritual father, would he need to know any background to discuss how to approach the situation with you?

I was taught that there are some sins that should be left somewhat vague. Enough to know the gist of what happened, but not tempt the priest. This would be, most commonly, a form of sexual sin. These are easily understood as a problem without describing what happened.

On the other hand, there are some sins which should be spoken of in great detail. Pride issues are a good example. Knowing what you're taking pride in, why and how that is displayed are all important understanding what is going on with the penitient in order to properly diagnose the issue.

This also varies somewhat from priest-to-priest. As was said, they aren't passive listeners. They can direct your focus, dig more into some things, stop you from going too far in others, etc.
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« Reply #19 on: June 30, 2011, 06:12:28 PM »

Just so y'all know from at least the perspective of this priest what the 'biggest issue' is:

It is not thinking less of anyone who is confessing to Christ their sins, and it certainly is not judging anyone...heck, the sinner in confession is more holy than I, the priest.

No, the problem for me has always been blinking the tears back while helping the penitent. The sense of pain the person is feeling as they hear themselves speak of the damage they have done to others is sometimes overwhelming.

As a priest you are called to love. Therefore you see people you love suffering, and your heart goes out to them, and you wish to help them escape from the pain that they themselves are feeling.

So, the issue of what goes through a priest's mind is very different from what y'all are thinking. Just my $0.02.
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« Reply #20 on: June 30, 2011, 06:17:13 PM »


Wow.  Thanks, Father Chris.
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« Reply #21 on: June 30, 2011, 07:02:55 PM »

Just so y'all know from at least the perspective of this priest what the 'biggest issue' is:

It is not thinking less of anyone who is confessing to Christ their sins, and it certainly is not judging anyone...heck, the sinner in confession is more holy than I, the priest.

No, the problem for me has always been blinking the tears back while helping the penitent. The sense of pain the person is feeling as they hear themselves speak of the damage they have done to others is sometimes overwhelming.

As a priest you are called to love. Therefore you see people you love suffering, and your heart goes out to them, and you wish to help them escape from the pain that they themselves are feeling.

So, the issue of what goes through a priest's mind is very different from what y'all are thinking. Just my $0.02.
Thank you for that, Father.
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