The boys came home one day, not long ago, and reported that a strange triangular glass room was being constructed at the meeting point of two internal walls of our church. We all speculated what it could be. Maybe it was a display case for a statue or a relic or an incorrupt body (!) A tiny crying room? A store room? A miniature chapel?  Soon we ran out of ideas. We never suspected it was a confessional. After all, we already had a perfectly good one of those.
Now I really couldn’t see why we needed a new confessional. I rather liked the old traditional one with its thick sound-proof door that kept my secrets safe from fellow parishioners. There by the priest’s window was the old wooden kneeler.  I knew that confessional intimately. It was familiar. I liked it. What I didn’t like was the idea of change.
“I can’t cope with something new, Father. I’m getting too old for change. What’s wrong with the old confessional?” I asked next time I saw our parish priest.
Father brushed aside my I’m-getting-too-old-for-change concern. He is right: most people in our congregation are far older than me. He added, “It’s dark and dingy and difficult to get into and out of.  And there’s no provision for face-to-face confession if anyone wants it.”
I wasn’t convinced. I could get into and out of the small room easily. And I didn’t want face-to-face confession.
A week ago, I arrived at the church to confess my sins.  The old confessional has been decommissioned. I had to face the new one.
I slid into a pew and looked at the new construction. It wasn’t my idea of a confessional at all: a very modern frosted glass wall encloses a triangular portion of the church. It is certainly very different from the old traditional one. What would it be like inside?
It was my turn for confession. I pulled open the glass door and was relieved to find my old friend the kneeler positioned next to a purple curtain suspended from the ceiling. I knelt down and promptly forgot my surroundings. Modern glass confessional or traditional gloomy confessional, it made no difference to the sacrament. I confessed my sins, was absolved and returned to the main part of the church with a pure clean soul.
I knelt in the main part of the church and thought about the confessional. Perhaps I’d been wrong. I’d been thinking about my own likes and dislikes. I’d been very wrapped up in my own opinions and hadn’t given a thought to anyone else.  The new confessional will be much easier  for the older parishioners to use. Not everyone is able to wind their way with ease through the pews and musical instruments in front of the door of the old confessional. Not everyone is able to kneel like me. Some people will appreciate being able to sit on a chair and confess their sins.
Just the other day I read in Fr d’Elbee’s I Believe in Love the following words:
Remember that each time you pick yourself up after a fall, the feast of the prodigal son is renewed. Your Father in Heaven clothes you again in His most beautiful cloak, puts a ring on your finger, and tells you to dance with joy. In a living faith, you will not approach the confessional with dragging feet, but as if you were going to a feast, even if you have to make a great effort each time to humble yourself and conquer the monotony of the routine.
After the absolution, you should dance like the prodigal son did at the request and the joy of his father. We do not dance enough in the spiritual life. (pp34-35)
I think about  Sophie and Gemma-Rose coming out of the confessional with their souls freshly washed. Huge smiles illuminate their faces. They skip through the church, their whole bodies reflecting the joy they feel. And as we watch the girls, our own faces light up with smiles. Joy is contagious.
It won’t matter to my younger girls what the confessional looks like or what it is made of. They will continue to come through the door dancing with joy after receiving our Father’s ring and His beautiful cloak.
And after all, aren’t we just so fortunate to have a confessional? What if we had no place to meet our Lord, to be received at the feast of the prodigal son?

Post a Comment

  1. Hi Sue, I would have been very put off by a glass confessional myself but you're right. We're there to meet the Lord and we shouldn't be worrying about who sees us. Have a Blessed Holy Week!

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  2. Hi Noreen, it isn't possible to see much through the glass - it is thick and frosted. I was wondering about the choice of material and came to the conclusion that glass allows the confessional to be light which is very important for the older parishioners. There isn't much natural light in that corner of the church. Also, the glass does match the large glass dome that is situated in the centre of the church's ceiling. I suppose someone did think these details out. My initial reaction was, "I hate it!" Now I could come to like it! A Blessed Holy Week to you too!

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  3. I am so very curious to see this new confessional now.
    God Bless you this Holy Week

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