Today’s post is by a guest blogger, whom you can follow at — a catchy name, no? 😉

Clearly God has a sense of humor.  For what other reason, in preaching to us today about Reconciliation, is he quite literally tickled pink!  I mean look at the colours today — instead of the mottled violet of Lent we have the radiant Rose of Laetare Sunday.  Because today in the Introit God says to us Laetare, Jerusalem!: Rejoice Jerusalem, rejoice Universal Church, Jerusalem of God.

But this can seem strange: why does God find joy in a sacrament we often dread?  Certainly God finds that point of view strange: as Jesus says in our Gospel, God has no greater joy than to reconcile us with him.  And this is not just His view: this is our experience after confession — walking out into the world lightened and fresh and full of the love of God.  You too can have this: simply speak to your local priest.

But there are many myths about confession.  Perhaps the biggest 7 are these:

“Vatican II did away with confession.”  On the contrary – in Sacrosanctum Concilium #72 Vatican II reaffirms its importance.

“Jesus never spoke about Confession.”  Actually, amongst his first words post-resurrection he gives the apostles power to absolve — or not absolve — sins.

“I will shock Father.” Sin is boring — and Father doesn’t hear anything new.

“I’m so bad it will take me three days to say all my sins”  I hear this a lot.  Really, it might take 5 minutes — there aren’t many kinds of sin.  This phrase usually means the person feels embarrassed to admit their stuff-ups.  Don’t be afraid!

“Father will treat me harshly.”  While priests are truly sinners, this is pretty unusual.  Priests are there to wash your feet as your humble servant.

“Father will remember what I said.”  Hearing the same stuff repeatedly, priests don’t remember: and we give it over to God afterward and deliberately forget.

“The priest might break the seal.”  Under no circumstances ever may a priest share or act on anything he has heard in confession. Even if what was confessed was very grave, or the confession wasn’t finished, or they are not Catholic. Even if the civil law changes. A priest will not even confirm whether or not he heard a particular person’s confession. Even if faced with prison, torture or death. To break the seal would be a grave betrayal of the solemn oath the cleric swore to and before God and God’s people on the day he became a priest. The Church makes this clear in the automatic excommunication of any seal-breaking priest or bishop.

There are good reasons we have the seal.  Firstly because, as every Catholic knows, while the priest is there, at the request of Christ himself, what is said is not for his ears, but God’s — and he has no business betraying the contents of another person’s soul to anyone.  Secondly — any attempt to oblige the breaking of the seal would immediately kill the Sacrament of Confession: no one would ever go.  What about the innocent?  This is a fair question.  Lifting the seal increases the danger to the innocent from wrongdoers — for the simple reason that no wrongdoer will ever tell the priest what they have done if they know the priest is mandatorily obliged to report it.  The seal of Confession thus provides a service to society by offering a space society cannot itself offer where culprits are confronted with the reality of their evil and assisted to take steps to take responsibility for their actions.