April 18, 2010

Elevated Platform, Never Gonna Conform

It's funny how you get to know people in the confessional; through these regular encounters you come to know lots of folks without knowing who they are. After three years here in the parish there are several penitents whom I know even by the sound of their feet on the way into the confessional, or by the way they move the curtain or move to the kneeler. If I say that I don't know who they are in the external forum, I commit the masked man fallacy; what I mean to say is that I don't know if I know them or not. And it's none of my business besides.

It reminds me of the experience I've had at the moments of my life when I've been a regular commuter by subway or bus. I see people I don't know over and over. I get to know them without knowing them. I've even given them names: 'the purposeful girl,' 'the melancholic partier.'

But the confessional is much deeper than the bus. It's a sort of opposite of how relationships usually go. In life and work you become acquainted with a lot of people on the surface; you know where they live and what they do, perhaps where they come from and the configuration of their families, but not much more than that. In only a handful of close relationships do you really get to know people's hearts and dreams and sufferings. In the confessional it's the other way around; you get to know the heart and the struggles without knowing the ordinary stuff.

It all calls for a lot of reverence and respect.


Rachel Gray said...

Interesting post!

That reminds me of when I had something embarrassing to confess, so I went to a priest I'd never met before who didn't know me from Adam. I ended up getting to know that priest pretty well outside the confessional. It was a heck of a first impression I gave him of me! He of course never mentioned it.

precious cup said...

I have been visiting a different church lately. For me it is all opposite. At my home parish, a Franciscan parish, going to confessions means entering a room where I sit face to face with my confessor. He because of the knows everything about me. Lately I have come to visit and love a more traditional parish. Yesterday, for only the 2nd time I made my confession, what I would call, the old way. As much as I am drawn closer and closer to the traditional style of tis particular church, entering the old confessional may take some getting use to. I must say I usually receive the sacrament of reconciliation every couple weeks, when I confess a struggle, the confessor relates back to my background, past struggles etc. etc. I don't want to say one way is better than another, maybe that all gets too personal, as I said, that was what I knew. Now in my faith journey I am trying to be less personal. Is that what God wants? I have no idea. The only thing I am sure of is that this very sacrament has changed my life, opened my eyes and heart to what God is asking of me, in my life and my marriage, everything. I feel it should be practiced hand and hand with receiving the Most Holy Eucharist. We must all remember the importance of this sacrament. That is something I am sure of.

Qualis Rex said...

As far as confession, I've pretty much sworn off American priests (no offense, Father Charles, yoiu would definitely be the exception).