Be brief, be blunt and be gone.
These were the words imparted to us at a recent retreat and I think they're worth noting. Confession is not supposed to be spiritual direction, and if the latter is desired, best to make an appointment or perhaps even ask the confessor if he has time to talk about something in length. It's also considerate, before embarking on a spiritual therapy session, to take into account how many other people are waiting in line. Many is the time I've waited with an exasperated group of penitents for one person to exit the box after what seemed like an eternity. Human nature being what it is, I've even had the temptation to wonder, upon viewing the person who hogged the box, what on earth they could have done that took that long to confess. It's none of my business, so when it happens that the line moves slowly, I use the wait as a penance of its own and avert my eyes when the previous person emerges. Everything has its price. So what if one person's confession lasts the length of a chaplet or Rosary?
The subject of confession came up with someone who is a lapsed Catholic. They wanted to know if I had a problem with telling my sins to someone who was not obligated to confess theirs to me. Bypassing the obvious flaw in that thinking, I reminded the person that in many ways, a priest's "sins" are already "out there" for the parish to see.
Priests are scrutinized for everything - the kind of car that they drive, what they do and how they dress in their leisure, what improvement projects they choose to tackle and which ones they seem to ignore. I know of one busybody who wrote to the bishop to complain about about a priest cooking on the grill in the backyard of the rectory. I guess the grouch would have preferred the priest raking himself over the coals instead. While it's undeniable that some priests have kept some very dark secrets, the truth is that the vast majority are flawed people just like the rest of us, imperfect but trying. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
The following appeared in a nearby parish's bulletin. I think most of us can relate.