21 November 2005

Why don't Catholics go to confession anymore?

Originally uploaded by tand01.

Andrew Santella in an article at Slate asks why have Roman Catholics quit going to confession? I'd be curious to know the answer myself. Santella's answer--that it's just too much work--seems reasonable. But why is it too much work? Why is it that in the earlier part of the last century confession was a regular part of Catholic worship and now people don't deem it to be a vital part of their salvation?

Since I am not yet fully Catholic, confession is not yet a part of my spiritual life. I went to confession once at an Anglo-Catholic church and found the whole thing terribly awkward and uncomfortable--rather like going to the dentist, which I also don't enjoy. But necessary all the same.

I'd be curious to know other people's thoughts on confession.

(Incidentally, my illustration is a detail of Rogier van der Weyden's Seven Sacraments Altarpiece, 1445-50)


father wb said...

Hoozah for paintings! Several hoozah's! I see you are dabbling in oils. Again: hoozah!

Also: hoozah for van der Weyden.

I concur: confession like dentist. I think maybe ideally one would have regular (say, weekly) confession, and one could develop a relationship with one's confessor. That is to say, the practical side of regular confession might be the most noticeably helpful. But another great thing about it is, of course, absolution.

MM said...

Excellent post T - I actually love confession. Its a bit like a hot bath or a drink of cold water, or having a heavy backpack taken off. I cant imagine why anyone wouldnt go frequently, in order to communicate daily... maybe it has something to do with a low view of the Eucharist... ie priests not emphasizing that youre as good as dead if you dare to consume the Lord in a state of mortal sin (which is exceedingly easy to do).

WB thinks that the common confession/absolution during the Eucharistic service is efficacious a'plenty. Maybe- Im not sure what the Church says about this. I think they think that mortal sin requires a personal visit... confession one to another, etc.