Wednesday, June 20, 2012

NEO-CONFESSIONAL: IN THE BEST INTEREST OF EVERYONE INVOLVED

We've made some minor renovations to our "Room of Reconciliation" aka Confessional. No longer will penitents be able to come around the wall and sit with the priest to confess their sins. A beautiful decorative screen crafted by our parishioner Jim Fontenot prevents them from entering where the priest sits to hear confession. However, if they wish to stand at the screen they can see the priest for a face to face confessional, but from behind the screen. The priest now has a separate door for his portion of the confessional.

Our confessional is isolated from the rest of the Church, so in the spirit of "virtus" this is for the protection of all, priest included.

There is also a small window into the priest's section of the confessional. Commonsense more than likely dictated the traditional configuration of the confessional boxes of yesteryear and today's return to this commonsense idea is most welcomed.

Before renovation, penitent could kneel at screen or walk around the wall and sit nice and comfortable with the priest and out of sight of anyone--not good!





A door is in the process of being cut in this photo by the chair that the penitent once could occupy and be out of sight and private with the priest after walking around the wall:

Permanent new screen by Jim Fontenot prevents anyone from coming into the priest's private area:






























This shows the new window from that one can look through from outside the confessional into the priest's private area:












View from the priest's side:









Someone could stand at the screen from their side and look to their right to the priest sitting for a face to face if they wish:






25 comments:

ytc said...

Is that a mod-style Ressurectifix I see?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

No it is a cheap, traditional Christ the High Priest Crucifix, quite common in pre-Vatican II times in seminary chapels, more expensive ones though. He's vest in priestly chasuble.

Bill Meyer said...

A worthy tradition restored, Father. My parish uses "reconciliation rooms", with a drape which can be drawn between priest and penitent. Of course, that would be after the penitent had already been seen by the priest, so it serves little purpose.

Templar said...

I wonder what became of the traditional box confessionals that were originally installed in St Joseph? I like the fixes you have commissioned for the Confessional but honestly Father, you have been so successful at getting people to avail themelves of the Sacrament that one confessional, no matter how nice, seems inadequate to the task at hand. There is always a very long line for confession.

Carol H. said...

Looks beautiful!

Marc said...

This is really excellent! I'm pretty excited about Confession on Saturday now! (I was excited before - I love Confession).

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

Marc, Somehow I just can't be quite that exuberant about going to Confession...LOL!

Templar said...

Really Gene? Obviously you've not yet played stump the Confessor yet. The goal is to come up with something so heinous and over the top that you hear Father spitting in shock on the other side of the screen. It's easier to get the young priests to react. Father Mac is a stone cold confessor. LOL

Anonymous said...

Is anyone actually going to stand up at a door and request a face to face confession like that???

It strikes me a gesture to be able to say that the option of face to face is still present...when in effect it has been removed.

Although I personally prefer not going to confession face to face...in my opinion it distracts both the penitent and the priest too much....and I prefer listening intently and focusing on what is said by
the priest.

Yet, those who do prefer their option of face to face are effectively told 'no' by this arrangement...and that can come across to them as their Church doesn't really want them. Nothing like a wall being put up to make someone feel shut out on some level.
Just sayin'....hope i'm wrong.

The woodwork is indeed beautiful.

If the confessional lines were growing and long, then why change something that was working?
Is it a safety issue? Did an incident happen?
One is left wondering....

~SL

Anonymous said...

Stump the confessor too hard and he'll retain your sins. ;-)

~SL

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

Well, I have been lectured by Fr. Dawid once or twice...

James I. McAuley said...

Templar, I had Father Owen Kearns, LC laugh at me in the confessional, I had another guy once say "that`s a sin? I do it all the time, anther guy who was reading Sports Illustrated as I confessed, and one old priest fall asleep and snore -- I had to wake him up to get absolution.

You are right, Newbie priests are sometimes shocked at sins, older priests have heard it all before.

But the FRANCISCAN monastery in Washington DC was the worst -- the boxes were claustrophobically small,incredibly dark, stifling hot, and the priest would always speak of the fires of hell or purgatory.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

No no incidents, just discomfort in the fact that the face to face part of the room is too isollated and not in compliance with virtus recommendations. Also the danger of a false accusation.

Fr. Jay Finelli said...

I built a tradiotional confessional about 9 years ago. If they want face to face, I can raise the curtain, but the grill is fixed. Ver rare does anyone request face to face.

Marc said...

Father, SL made me think of an interesting question: Do people have a right to face-to-face Confessions like we have a right to anonymity?

ytc said...

YOU HAVE BOX CONFESSIONALS and you don't use them?

:O

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

We have no box confessionals in the Church and the ones that were there were removed in pre-Vatican II times and the confessional was placed in the former baptistry of the Church. In 2006 the stairwell to the choir loft was shifted to the baptistry so that an elevator could be placed where the stair well was to our social hall which is the basement of the Church. The confessional is more secluded now, but still in the same place but smaller due to the stairwell to the choir loft.
There is no room in the nave of the Church for a confessional unless we remove pews which we need for seating.
My understanding is that the priest makes the decision about who can go face to face, or at least sit in front of him, not the penitent. Allowing for a slide curtain to allow the penitent to see the priest even with a fixed screen is a good compromise.

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

If you want to confess face to face, make an appointment with the Priest and go to his office...

Marc said...

Oh, this reminds me of my recent trip to the Cathedral in Richmond where they have the old style box Cnfessionals... BUT they have turned them into museum exhibit holders with pictures and artifacts and fancy lighting. Now, they have a large, glassed walled room at the back of the Church that says "Reconciliation Chapel". It appeared to hold a baptismal font and a long forgotten reliquary, as well as additional museum style exhibits.

I think the former bishop of Richmond may have forgotten that the faith is alive and isn't just a museum piece...

At any rate, the current bishop, when I was in town, was at the FSSP parish administering the Sacrament of Confirmation in the old rite. So, let us not lose hope!

James I. McAuley said...

Father,

The incidents were intended for humor. Since I have to do Virtus training as part of my being a backup church school teacher, I certainly agree with what you have done. In fact, many parishes began to abandon these rooms in the Diocese of Buffalo in the last fifteen (15) years because of many of the issues raised in Virtus training.

Do you have Pius Parsch's The Church's Year of Grace? If you do not, I will be happy to give you a set. It will blow your mind - it goes through everyday in the old liturgical calendar and shows the interrelation of the breviary and missal. It is filled with a lot of Beuronese art and is a great resource/

ytc said...

The penitent always has a right to anonymous confession. Face to face confession is a concession and it can be refused by the priest and/or bishop of the place.

I think a grille should always be in place so that, even if a penitent wishes to confess face to face, he will be physically blocked from the priest and thus will have a hard time proving "confession grope."

Marc said...

ytc, good points. It appears you are correct the priest can forbid face-to-face Confession except in the case of someone who is sick or dying (or other such emergency things).

There also may have been a custom (law, rule?) that forbid priests from hearing the Confessions of women face-to-face, which makes sense from a propriety standpoint.

ytc said...

There was no law preventing the hearing of women's confessions face to face; rather, the law was that, unless there was an emergency, the confession HAD to take place inside a confessional. This is, again, to prevent false accusations. It protects the priest.

Anonymous said...

The old confessional may not have been quite as spacious as the current one. There was only one staircase, and that went up (to the loft) --there was no way to get to the Social Hall from inside the church! However, that one staircase began on the Poplar St. wall , made one turn, then continued directly up the vestibule wall to the top landing (which also doubled as the "Choir Room" for many years). Because of the design of the stairwell, it actually took up a good bit of the usable floor space, limiting the size of the confessional somewhat.

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

"Confession grope"...LOL! Protestants have choir room grope, counselling grope, secretary's office grope, and church supper in the kitchen grope. Then there is the far more serious and treacherous, "at-the-front-door-in-a-nightie-because-I-just-didn't-have-time-to-get-dressed-but-her-hair-and-make-up-are-perfect" scenario...Run!