Aug 22, 2005

What the heck is it?

The first in an LA Catholic series of posts entitled, "What the heck is it?"

Hint #1: It is found inside the L.A. Cathedral.
Hint #2: This is not where visitors leave their pets while they tour the building.
Hint #3: Those doors do not provide access to utility rooms.

Give up? Click HERE for the answer.


Anonymous Jenn said...

Hah! I guessed right. And I have to say that I think those are quite nice. Funny that I've never once noticed them though. Where exactly inside the Cathedral are they?

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

They are on the north side - opposite the chapel for the Blessed Sacrament. In contrast to most of the Cathedral, I think they are very nice, inside and out.

Not sure what Q thinks, but I wuld be surpised if he thought they were on par, aesthetically, with the rest of the place. What do you say, Q?

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Q said...

When I saw them for the first time two words came to mind: cattle car.

I don't like them. If I am not mistaken the liturgical documents indicate that confessionals should be located in a church so that they are clearly visible, accessible and recognizable as confessionals. In the case of LA's cathedral, they are sort of hidden away (not unlike the Blessed Sacrament chapel).

Michael Rose has an interesting article about this and other church architecture issues at the Envoy Magazine website.

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Bro. Andrew, nSM said...

Like Jenn, I knew what they were when I saw them. I would argue they are just as recognizable as confessionals. The style of the door gives that away.

7:22 PM  
Blogger Quintero said...


I saw your blog today and I love it. I look forward to reading about your reversion.

8:11 PM  
Blogger Quintero said...

I would respectfully disagree with Bro. Andrew about the "style" of the door.

I see cattle cars.

8:13 PM  
Blogger tagryn said...

My question is, is there any kind of 'privacy barrier' in them between the confessor and penitent, or is it in the more modern "Freud" style of having two chairs and that's it?

8:52 PM  
Blogger Venerable Aussie said...

Perhaps they don't look all that bad. (although what does their "out of sight out of mind" location say?)

I think there might be something in this "full of holes" symbolism. Reflecting Mahonian ecclesiology perhaps?

9:32 PM  
Blogger Quintero said...

There is on the website of the cathedral a picture of the interior of the confessional. One has the choice of face-to-face confession or confesson behind a screen.

The major problem with this arrangement is that there is no "false accusation protection" for the confessor. Supposedly, the "cattle car" style doors are to allow the priest and penitent to be visible. But what if no one is paying attention? Or what if the last penitent in line makes an accusation and then the priest has no defense?

These new-fangled face-to-face optional confessionals are just another name for lawsuit rooms.

By the way, I was told by a young priest recently that the Holy See ruled a few years back that a priest may choose to hear confessions exclusively behind a screen. It is the confessor's prerogative and not the penitent's.

11:09 PM  
Anonymous Suzie said...

I couldn't figure out what these were. I don't think they're recognizable as confessionals, unless there's a sign saying so somewhere. I couldn't find a picture of the interior. Personally, I like the old-fashioned confessionals. You were totally separated from the priest. I remember the confessionals in St. Peter's Basilica. The priest is in a box and the penitent kneels on the outside. No chance for abuse there. I also prefer kneeling for confession. Why does NewChurch have this aversion to kneeling?

8:08 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

While I disagree with Quintero on the aesthetic appeal of the confessionals, he makes a great point re: lawsuit rooms. A lot could go on in one of them - they are enormous inside and since face to face is an option, it is easy for the priest and penitent to have contact. If I were a priest, I would be hesitant to get in one of these where, unlike a more traditional confessionial, it is physically possible to do a lot of things and for more allegations to be within the realm of possibility.

8:09 AM  
Anonymous Jenn said...

Quintero, thanks, glad you like :)

As for the location of the Confessionals, they are immediately opposite the Blessed Sacrament chapel? Weird. Because I've been into the chapel many times and I totally missed them. Must take a better look next time.

Next time I go I'm taking some fast film with me so I can take some b&w pics of the tapestries inside the Cathedral without using a flash. I will take some pics of Roger's Angels for you, since I know you love them so ;)

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Jenn said...

Mike, isn't the idea that they are big enough to get a wheelchair into comfortably? Most confessionals I've been in you could never do that.

9:36 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Jenn - not immediately opposite - opposite as in on the opposing side of the cathedral, on the other side fo the sanctuary. And the doors don't face the ambulatory, wo you have to wander in from the side. As for wheelchairs - yes, I suppose you're right, I hadn't thought about that. But the old style confessional with only the priest inside would accomplish the same purpose. But go check it out, they reall are very big inside.


8:49 AM  
Anonymous Bro. Andrew, nSM said...

Dear Quintero,

I disagree on the cattle car allusion. It's not on wheels! ;) Seriously, though, I just went by instinct. The "tabernacle" was not what I thought it was.

5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


So, that's where they keep the rack and the Iron Maiden...;)

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Bro. Andrew, nSM said...

Dear Joseph,

That's only for the recalcitrant.

4:42 PM  

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