Example of essay on confessionals

“ The question remains”, the church deacon informed me, “ how exactly does Catholicism define the term ‘ confession’ and what does ‘ penance’ really mean?” For Catholics, living with the guilty memories of various sins is always burdensome, which is why they are supposed to go to confession at least once a year. Only the Catholic Church has this sacrament and it is reserved for members of that faith. Contrary to popular myth, they do not believe that the priest has the power to forgive sins and grant absolution. He only acts in the name of Jesus Christ, who alone is able to forgive sins.
This is what I learned when I visited the main Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Kansas City, Missouri. I chose to do so on a Sunday because I thought I would have plenty of chances to interview people, but unfortunately I arrived in the afternoon after the final Mass had ended and most of the congregation had gone. Fortunately as I was about to leave I spotted a middle-aged lady walking in my direction. My first impression of her was that she looked quite beautiful, and the long, velvet cashmere scarf around her neck seemed somehow to compliment her confident stride. I hurried after her to ask where the main office of the church was, but she told me that it was closed today. She told me that her name was Shirley and offered to help me when I explained that I was working on an assignment for my English class and the teacher had asked us to do an interview.
She showed me around the cathedral and answered all my questions, and I still remember the Old World atmosphere of the building, including the scent of the huge mahogany doors combined with the new-fallen rain. This smell was familiar to me because my father is an architect and it reminded me of home. As I started observing and taking notes, I thought that the cathedral was beautifully designed with paintings of Jesus and gorgeous sculptures of his mother Mary, and the fine craftsmanship of the choir loft on the upper level. There were two wooden confessionals on each side of the entrance, which were also handmade, as well as stained glass windows with various religious figures based on the Stations of the Cross, which show the procession of Jesus on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem where he was crucified. One window that was particularly striking and alluring was rose-colored and showed the Mystical Rose that represented Christ. I also noticed that there were separate areas for weekday prayers and for the Saturday and Sunday Masses.
Before leaving there that Sunday, Shirley explained that in this church I was always find something to fit in my calendar, although I also noticed that most of the visitors were middle-aged or elderly, and this made me feel somewhat out of place. Confessions were held three days a week, on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s after the 12: 30 Masses, and on Saturday’s between the 2: 30 and 4: 30 Masses. It was also possible to schedule a private confession with a priest at any time. Shirley also told me that she did not just come to church for religious purposes but that it had become a second home to her after her husband died as was “ very community-like”.
As I was unable to speak to a priest that day, I scheduled an interview for next Thursday, where I met Deacon Steve Livingston. I interviewed him about the practice of confession, which was unfamiliar to me because I am not a catholic or even a Christian. In the Catholic Church it is one of seven sacraments although the Protestant churches abolished it during the Reformation. In the past, Catholics were required to go to confession before Mass, since they could not receive communion or the Eucharist as they call it unless they had been absolved of the sins they had committed that week. In the past, they knelt in the confessional before a screen behind which the priest sat and began with the ritual prayer “ Bless me, Father, for I have sinned”, but the process is less formal now. Before the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, the Mass and the prayers were also in Latin, and had a very majestic tone, but since that time they have been in the native language of each particular country. Christmas and Easter are the busiest times, when people are thinking of the birth, death and resurrection of Christ, which is the central belief of the Christian faith. Specifically, confession means revealing one’s sins to the priest, showing remorse or contrition, asking for God’s grace to avoid sinning again, and then receiving forgiveness.
I also learned some interesting information about Steve, such as that he had not been born a Catholic but converted to the church in his twenties. Although he is not a priest, he can hear confessions and grant absolution. He could not give me any details about what went on since the confessional is sealed and any sins confessed cannot be revealed to anyone, not even the police or legal authorities. I asked how his work affected him and whether listening to people’s sins all the time caused him difficulty. Steve replied that it actually helped him to hear the sins and mistakes of others, and it led him to make an effort to avoid most of them and thank God afterwards. He reflected that his problems and concerns were relatively minor compared to the issues that my of the penitents had to face. “ I hear almost fifty confessions a week”, he said, “ and I would say that they have led me to try to do more good deeds and avoid evil actions, which I might not do otherwise if a particular man or women had not come to me to confess.”