As a lifelong Catholic without lots of adult experience going to confession, I have a question: How long is your line for Confession?
When I was a child, our mother used to drop the four of us off at our parish for Confession every Saturday. Two priests gave confessions and there was one line. So if you were at the front of the line, whichever confessional door would open, you would enter. I mostly remember staring at the slate floors of our little church at everyone's shoes, and then the sliding sound of the screen. The whole process seemed to take quite a while.
That was 40 years ago. As an adult, my trips to the Confessional haven't included long lines. A priest of my acquaintance once told me he could read a Russian novel, with all the time he logs, waiting for penitents on Saturday afternoons. Statistics back him up. In 1965, nearly 40 percent of American Catholics went to confession monthly, according to the National Opinion Research Center. Today, sociologists estimate that fewer than 25 percent of Catholics regularly go to confession, and that nearly 60 percent never or almost never go.
Still, over the past month, at our new parish, we have encountered something new: long lines for the confessional. The other week, it took me more than an hour to have my turn. This morning, we figured we'd be smart and get a jumpstart on the regulars by showing up 10 minutes early, before the pastor began offering the sacrament. Not early enough: already the nuns were ahead of us in line, along with a handful of other folks. (As an aside, my husband is one of those people who always runs into someone he knows, no matter where we go in the world. Today it was a fellow coach he ran into in the confession line before we bailed for lunch.)
After we feasted on stromboli, we walked back to the church. There still was a line, with new faces. A few older men, college students, some young women. People of various races, all waiting for a moment to unburden ourselves of our sins. It still took an hour.
Lest you think I am griping, I'm not. Not too much, anyway. If I am going to be inconvenienced by a line, this is the line I want that to happen in. I have come to believe in the spiritual value of frequent confession.
Still, I am wondering. Is this hour-long wait"typical?" Let me know what your experiences are!