March 20, 2015
how to drive Father crazy in the confessional
The Sacrament of Confession gives us the precious opportunity to have our sins absolved, and to make a new start with God… and, of course, it includes the obligation to do penance for our sins. Don’t forget, though, that your pastor is a poor sinful human being too, and he too needs to do penance. You can make sure that Father does his penance. How? Why, right there in the confessional! All you need to do is make your confession as long and annoying as possible, and force Father to exercise the Christian virtues of patience and forbearance… whether he wants to or not; As a penitent, you have the power to turn the simple priestly task of hearing confessions into a gruelling mortification for your priest. Here are some suggestions about how to drive Father crazy in the confessional… for his own good, of course!
1. Don’t plan ahead what you are going to say, or how you are going to say it; Even if you have to stand in the confession line for half an hour, don’t even think about making an examination of conscience until you are kneeling in the box and taking up Father’s time. Hem and haw; insert long pauses; leave Father twiddling his thumbs while you try to remember why you are there. And don’t forget to interrupt Father in the middle of the prayer of Absolution to add a sin you’ve only just remembered!
2. Confess everybody’s sins, except your own; Tell Father all about how lazy and selfish your spouse is, how rude and ungrateful your children are, how unfair your boss is. Complain about the government, about the pope, about the bishop, about other priests. Complain about Father himself. Make it clear that everything that has happened to you since your last confession is somebody else’s fault. Leave Father scratching his head and wondering why you bothered to come to confession is the first place!
3. Don’t just confess your sins according to number and kind (as the Church teaches us); Go into detail… lots and lots of detail. If you stole something, describe the item precisely; don’t leave anything out, no matter how irrelevant. If you lost your temper with someone, tell Father the whole history of your relationship with that person, and everything that led up to the incident, putting special emphasis on the fact that the blow-up was really the other guy’s fault (see #2 above). If you are confessing using obscene language, be sure to tell Father all of the specific words and phrases you used… he really wants to hear that! With a little practice, you can make a 2 minute confession last 15 minutes or more; Father loves that, especially when he knows there are a lot of people waiting in line behind you!
4. Adjust the volume of your voice to the circumstances; If Father is old and hard of hearing, whisper. Make him hunch over and put his ear right up against the screen. Then, when he speaks to you to give you your penance, yell, “WHAT!? SPEAK UP! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”
5. You’ve read that great pastor-saints like Padre Pio and St John Vianney could “read souls” and knew people’s sins without even being told. Your pastor probably does not have this supernatural gift… but assume that he does! After listing your sins, say, “Is that everything, Father? Am I leaving anything out?” Father is not even sure who you are… but he’s supposed to know what you have done… right?
6. Expect Father to give you simple answers to all of your problems; Should you ask your boss for a raise? Should you break up with your girlfriend? How can you make your rebellious teen go to Mass? Don’t accept, “pray about it” as an answer! Demand solutions! Treat Father like your own personal fortune-teller… and wonder why his hair is prematurely gray!
7. If Father has to end confessions at a particular time to start Mass, he wants to wrap things up in the box in an orderly manner and have a couple of minutes for prayer and recollection before beginning the Holy Sacrifice… Don’t let him! Keep him penned down in the box for as long as you can! If you are next in line when he turns off the light and opens the door to come out, charge into the confessional anyway and insist that he stay (after all, your convenience is more important than the 300 people waiting for Mass to begin!). If you are still in line when Father ends confessions, stand there with your arms crossed and give him the evil-eye as he walks to the sacristy. Never mind that he is doing his best to take care of everybody’s needs… make sure he knows that “his best” is not good enough for you!
8. If your church has old fashioned “double-sided” confessionals (with the priest in the middle and a penitent on each side), then you have an added opportunity to elevate clerical blood-pressure; Go into the left side of the box, and launch into your confession while Father is still speaking to the person on the right side. Continue, oblivious to the fact that he is obviously not listening to you or responding. Describe sins against purity in graphic terms and a loud voice (especially if the penitent on the other side is a small child). If possible, make your whole confession before Father even has a chance to slide open the door and greet you; then make your Act of Contrition to the closed door, and leave before Father even has a chance to say ‘hello’. This will really make his day!
These are just a few ways you can make Father’s work of hearing confessions a truly penitential experience for him. I’m sure you can think of others… be creative! Pay no attention to the sound of teeth grinding on the other side of the screen; He’ll thank you someday when he gets to bypass purgatory!