Many churches where I have helped out with confessions do not give the penitent the option of going to confession behind a screen. The only option is face to face and sitting. This is terribly wrong and I will give some reasons why this is not good.
1) Embarrassment. When going to confession it is hard enough to confess embarrassing sins to another person, but becomes all the more embarrassing, when you have to tell these sin while being looked at.
2) Anonymity. When a person wishes to go to tell his sins, he has a right to not be know. This also allows the penitent to be freer in confessing his sins. When the priest knows the person, the penitent feels judged or that the priest will remember the embarrassing sin.
3) Justice. When the priest does not know who he is confessing, he is freed from human respect and can be a direct to the penitent about the seriousness of their sin. It is only just to tell all penitents the same truth and the same correction. But if one is confessing someone who one knows, one is afraid to be direct because we tend to want to be liked. Today, when you tell people that sin is sin, in many cases you will no longer be like. This is especially prevalent today, because sin is hardly ever talked about and if a priest does say it is sin,(like using birth control), even in confession, they are disliked.
4) Safe. We priest are human, and say the penitent gets too close physically in the confessional, it can cause temptation. So for the good of the penitent and the priest, a screen that divides them is a healthy safeguard.
Kneeling for confession is so much better than sitting.
1) Sorrow. Kneeling is a sign of sorrow and repentance of sin. It is the correct posture for someone who truly is sorry for bad actions they have made against God and others. It automatically puts the penitent into an attitude of sorrow.
2) Humility. We are so proud today. When we go to confession, we need to leave our pride outside the confessional and humbly confess how we have offended God, hurt ourselves and others. Kneeling is a very humble posture.
3) Seriousness of Sin. When we sit, we are in a very comfortable position and it makes confession just like any other conversation we may have sitting with others. This has the danger of diminishing the seriousness of sinning against God and others.
4) Practical. When the penitent confesses behind the screen for privacy reasons, when they are kneeling they are close to the screen and can be heard well.
It is of utmost importance that no one can hear the person confession, except the priest. In order to freely confess serious sins, the penitent needs to know that no one, except the priest, can hear them.
We are so blessed to have traditional Catholic confessions and be free to open our hearts to God through the priest. We enter loaded down, we leave absolved and free again.
The original author of this blog passed away in July of 2016. RIP Father Carota.