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Question about Catholic faith

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#21 Yvette



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Posted 23 February 2014 - 10:57 PM

Thanks Corin. Not wanting anyone to be offended by any representations of their faith is part of the reason I wanted to make sure I wasn't way off  base with anything. But I suppose my Jew-turned-Atheist going to confession might be enough for that for some people. :-) The religion part doesn't make up the main part of the story, but it's enough that I want to do it justice.

Have you read Frank Tallis' Liebermann series? There are six books, set in early 20th century Vienna. The MC is Dr Max Liebermann, a practicing psychologist, nonpracticing Jew. In quite a few points in the series he struggles with his religion. Book 4 in particular, Darkness Rising, is heavy in religious themes. Anti-Semitism, Catholics, Jews, etc. I wonder if that might help you in your approach. :)

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#22 Killarneyjt


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Posted 04 March 2014 - 11:37 PM

(Can I ask what type of parish you're in as far as is it in a big city, smaller town, large congregation? What you're describing is pretty much exactly what I've envisioned for this particular church and priest. Also, I read that it's often a Bishop or elder clergyman that hears confession. Does that sound accurate? And does one priest stay in there all day long?? Thanks again!)


Hi J. Lea!

Sorry I was so long getting back to you! To answer your question, I work in Dover, NH, which is a small city, but we have one of the largest congregations, at about 2,000 families. So it's pretty big! We have one pastor and a chaplain, but most of the Parishes in the state only have one priest, due to a shortage in the Diocese and the country. If there is a retired priest in living at a particular church, they do usually do confessions, but the Bishop keeps raising the age of retirement :) so we don't have too many that are retired at the moment.

At my church, the pastor usually does confessions, but the chaplain will help out as needed. Most parishes have confessions at 2:30pm on Saturdays and they'll be in there for an hour or so. Often during Lent or Advent (just before Christmas) there will be special confession times available during the week and the pastor will invite other priests from the surrounding parishes to come and help out. These are usually very well attended by both parishioners and people from other parishes - you may want to have your character, attracted by the activity, come in then. She would blend in with the other attendees.

Again, my apologies for the delay. If you have any other questions, just let me know! Good luck with your book!


PS: Oh, and the Bishop does do confessions, but rarely - it would be a special occasion in an ordinary parish church.

#23 Gina Urso

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 11:09 PM

It seems like you have a lot of good advice here but I'll throw my Catholic experiences out there for you.  As far as confessionals go, they look different depending on the age of the church in my experience.  I have been to the Vatican in Italy where they have the totally closed off confessionals that look like phone booths.  There is a slider between with a small screened hole between you and the priest.  Many other old churches, especially in Europe still have the old "box" confessionals.  Here in the states and the newer churches it is more of the face to face, chair to chair approach that I imagine is designed to make the priests seem warmer and more approachable.  (just guessing).   As a kid I liked when they couldn't see my face!  LOL.  Because there is a "ritual" that old world catholics use when they enter a confessional i.e. "Forgive me Father for I have sinned, it has been XX weeks since my last confession..." a non catholic or a non practicing catholic might stand out.   As for a pre design to things, it's all in God's plan.  We can't always understand God's plan.  God has a plan for us.  Nothing is left to chance or fate.  It's all in God's control and his will.  Hope it helps and it's not redundant.

#24 Cathleen


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Posted 30 July 2014 - 02:00 PM

On confession: it's a sacrament, and those who have not been initiated (been given their first confession) are not entitled to participate.


Using a screen would mess with the willing suspension of disbelief for the practicing Catholics out there, unless yours is a period piece.  Every confessional I've been to since the seventies, small parish or large, now uses a curtain, unless it's really small, and then you're down to two chairs in the sacristy.  But typically, you can kneel on the prie-dieu in front of the curtain for privacy, or go sit in the chair where you will have eye contact with the priest. And there's no way you would catch a glimpse of him.  You would have to deliberately crane your head around the curtain, and then the priest would draw it back.


The opening is ritualized, and if a penitent doesn't follow it, the priest would ask if (s)he is Catholic.  If not, he would likely schedule an appointment to meet with them outside the confessional.


Scheduled confessions typically run for a hour and a half or so on Saturday afternoons preceeding mass, in the church.  But confessions can take place anywhere, and it is one of the solemn duties of a priest to perform confessions anytime if the penitent has great need of it. And it is usually a priest, not a bishop, simply because there are so many more priests and bishops have amazing amounts of admin work in their dioceses.  But a bishop is not exempt from the stricture to provide confession when there is great need.  One of my favorite stories about John Paul II is when he did this, and he was a pope.  However, you would not expect to find bishops or popes sitting in the confessional on Saturday afternoons for scheduled confessions.  That's really a parish priest sort of thing.


And the advice a priest gives tend to be very specific to the individual situation.  I've never had a platitude thrown at me, although from time to time, Church thinkers and doctrine may be quoted.  But again, this would be tailored to the situation.  The point of the advice given at this time is to help this particular penitent avoid this sin in the future.


Hope this helps.

#25 J. Lea Lopez

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Posted 02 August 2014 - 02:58 PM

Life has a way of interrupting the writng flow, so I am still plugging away at this ms and it's good to come back here and re-read what everyone has said and make sure what I'm writing matches up. The priest does offer to schedule an outside appointment, but not until the second time she pops into confession to talk to him.


Thanks again for everyone's input! :-)

#26 Selene Bell

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Posted 03 August 2014 - 12:13 AM

I'm sure you've gotten everything you need, but I thought I'd add my experience, too. The church I grew up in, in a medium-sized, industrial city, had a room for confessions. (It still does today.) There was a window in the door, and when you went in, you could choose to kneel in front of a screen or go around it to talk face to face with the priest (the chair option). Most churches these days have just a priest -- at least not the biggest of cities -- and they are the only ones who'd hear confessions. No one lower than them would, I guess that'd be like a brother or something -- and there typically aren't multiple priests because it's getting hard to find enough priests to cover all the parishes. Many medium sized cities have combined churches and some end up with priests from outside the U.S., where more and more of the priest population comes from, at least in my experience in the Midwest.


Anyway, anything the confessor could see from the one side of the screen, the priest could see from the other. In my childhood church, the screen was made out of the same kind of material that you see on some old chairs, where it's kind of woven but you end up with holes the size that a kid could stick her pinky through -- so not totally anonymous.


Bishops or archbishops are assigned to diocese, so there's only only one for a bunch of churches (or parishes). In Ohio, the dioceses are like a quarter of the whole state. And on a random side note, church members would call the priest Father First Name.

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