When you arrive. . .
The Reconciliation Room at St. Basil’s was built in 2014 in order to better represent the theology of the sacrament and improve accessibility for those with mobility challenges.
The ornate woodwork dates back to 1856 as the new room is made out of the original confessionals which were no longer used. Rather than remove them, they were carefully reconstructed and installed with noise-reducing glass. The footprint of the original confessionals was left on the East and West side of the floor, marked by the wide grey concrete outlines.
As you enter the confessional, you will notice that you have an opportunity to kneel behind the anonymity of the screen or sit in a chair facing the priest. The choice is based entirely on your comfort. As Pope Francis declared, “Confessing our sins is not going to a psychiatrist, or to a torture chamber: it’s saying to the Lord, ‘Lord, I am a sinner,’ but saying it through the brother, because this says it concretely. ‘I am sinner because of this, that and the other thing.’”
Though the structure of confession that many of us learned as children has great value, confession is meant to be a conversation with the Lord and a moment of conversion.
As you leave, you will notice that there is no door handle on the door you walked through; rather the handle belongs to a different door facing the altar on the North side of the church. It is our hope that this design reinforces the theology of the sacrament: we do not leave the same way we entered. As we are changed, so is our direction.
The most challenging aspect of confession occurs not when we enter and speak to the priest, but when we leave. Now we must let go of what we have been carrying (perhaps for a long time). Your penance is designed to help you with this – not as a requirement for God’s forgiveness, but as a reminder that the process of forgiveness takes time and work.
May God bless you on your journey.