A disguise to hide embarassment and anxiety

Well I have a silly question, but nonetheless if it gets me to confession and I need to go seriously.

Can I wear a hat? yeah, its come to that. That veil of a curtain does nothing to veil the privacy of the person confessing I have been and the lacy curtain and the light shining above gives all the details of the so called private person.
Its hat weather anyway.

Its the disguise or my soul in jeapardy.

Please I need prayers, I havent been in 4 years and then it wasa handful of times in 3 decades.

Good for you wanting to return to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You can wear whatever you want over your face, head, or whatever.

But let me give you a better suggestion. Go somewhere else if possible. Find a parish across town or in another town altogether. That way you don’t know the confessor and he won’t know you nor would he recognize your voice. Best guarantee of anonymity that there is.

Having said that, I will tell you that from the priests that I know on a personal basis, they are universal in stating that they simply don’t remember what is being confessed and who is in the confessional. They universally say that it all blends in together for them after a while.

But I appreciate the desire for anonymity, even with that, so I would suggest just going to a different parish.

why the need for privacy?
anxiety, embarrassment, these are not valid reasons to skip confession.
that is like refusing to undress at the doctor’s office for your exam.
personal preference and feelings and comfort level are not the purpose of this sacrament. If that anxiety accompanies a reluctance to name our actual sins, and that is usually what it does mean, get all the spiritual help you can to overcome it.

Have you thought of going to a priest at another church who does not know you if the anxiety is of a clinical severity? Not to mention of course medical intervention if it disrupts your life to that degree? certainly you can wear a hat, you can wear a ski mask if it helps, but what you cannot do is use this human emotion to keep you away from the sacrament of love and mercy. The only one who matters, Jesus, is the one hearing and absolving your sins, and he already knows you.

Go ahead and wear your hat. :thumbsup:

The important thing is that you get to confession.


The embarrassment ans anxiety is the part of the contrition: you feel, what you did was wrong, and this is the firt step to change, to repent.

For centuries the confession was behind screen, the priest did not saw the penitent, and the penitent did not saw the priest. In a truly traditional church I still make my confessions in this way.

The change for face to face confession in some way suggest: oh, we shall not be embarrassed. THis is not the right way. We shall be ashamed of ourselves, and it is all right to express this shame by hiding, like the publican (Luke 18:10-14).

Just so you know, as someone who does suffer from anxiety, I don’t undress at the doctor’s office for my exam. My doctor has ways around it. So too do priests if the anxiety is bad when it comes to confession. Anxiety also kept me from confession for ten years, but I after a lot of prep work, patience of dealing with trying to find a confessor willing to hear my confession (You’d be amazed at how reluctant some priests are :mad:), and a two hour drive to go see the FSSP priest, I was able to bte the bullet and just get it over with. That was three weeks ago, and now I’m excited to go back on Saturday. Yes, that’s right. I felt like I was going to die last time, but now I’m excited to go. I realized it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. This is the magic of facing your fears and anxiety. :slight_smile:

Have you thought of going to a priest at another church who does not know you if the anxiety is of a clinical severity? Not to mention of course medical intervention if it disrupts your life to that degree?

The meds they give people for anxiety messes them up, and once you go off them, you’re right back to where you started. Medication is only recommended for those whose anxiety is so severe, they cannot leave their house or function at all in society. Not being able to go to confession doesn’t count.

Honestly, the best way to go about Confession when one has anxiety, is to just do it, and keep reminding yourself that it’s all just in your head. Seriously, it is. I know, it doesn’t help because you’re still going t feel it when you go into The Box, but if you keep breathing deep and steady when you feel your anxiety levels start to rise, remind yourself the priest doesn’t know who you are, and will not remember you after you leave (Priests have the Grace of Forgetfulness that allows them to forget everything as soon as you leave the box.), that people have confessed far more embarassing things than you. Bringing in a list of what you’re confessing is very helpful.It keeps you from forgetting sins, and it gives you something to focus your attention to. That’s what I do. I kneel, bow my head so the only thing I can see is that piece of paper (Although I can see the priest carefully listening and nodding along in my peripheral vision. Good to know I’m not putting him to sleep. :wink: Our confessional screen isn’t too great either. It breaks up the facial features, but you can still see the outline of the person, etc)

About the hat, if you’re a woman and the confessional is in the nave of the church, then you’re permitted to wear a hat, veil, etc. If you’re a man it’s very improper to wear a hat in that area, save for clergy wearing a biretta. And honestly, hats don’t disguise much anyway.

Concur that:
*]It is wonderful to return to confession
*]Visiting a parish/priest unknown to you is a fine idea, and
*]There is nothing wrong with wearing a hat

All that said, NB: While confession is private, it is mistaken to believe there is (or should be) an intrinsic expectation of *anonymity *to the sacrament.


we are not allowed to give medical advice on this forum
anyone who needs medical intervention for any reason whatever should see their own doctor and follow advice for their own condition, not rely on anything said here.

No, anxiety is not a reason to avoid confession and if it impedes your life to that degree you need treatment.

Did you not just say we’re not supposed to give medical advice? Telling someone they need treatment because their anxiety keeps them from going to confession is sill medical advice.

One thing that I once heard is that while it may be more private for you to go to a priest who does not know you, having a regular confessor is probably better because the priest DOES know you and can better give you spiritual direction because of that.

That’s a relief to hear, even though logically I knew this had to be the case. I go to the same priest for bi-weekly confession, and when I see him outside the confessional it’s always in the back of my mind if he remembers my voice as the one who told him about such-and-such. :o

Go to a parish that has a truly anonymous confessional. Every parish is supposed to offer anonymous confession, but apparently not all do.

You can wear a Groucho Marx mustache and a clown nose if it makes you feel more comfortable, and disguise your voice like Donald Duck if you want—LOL! But I think that once you experience the sheer relief of unburdening your sins and receiving absolution and God’s forgiveness, any anticipatory embarrassment you may have felt will melt away like an ice cube on a hot day.

I’m not trying to make light of your anxiety. If it’s keeping you away from Reconciliation (I think I like that name better, because it puts such a positive emphasis on what’s happening there in “the box”,) do whatever you can think of to try to overcome it just to manage to get in there and have at it. This kind of anxiety usually happens just once, the first time you go back after a long time away, and it disappears while you are actually in the process of making a good (as good as you can manage) confession.

You might want to scout out a few churches in your area to check out the confessional architecture, and select what looks the most anonymous to you. That might help you get a little less intimidated by the idea.

I don’t know what kind of curtains your church’s confessional has, but all the ones I’ve seen have been heavy velveteen or that kind of curtain that they use in hotels that block all light. There are even a couple of churches around here that have solid wooden doors on the penitent booths as well as the priest’s booth. Just about all of the churches around here have one booth labeled for the hard of hearing so that Father doesn’t have to shout penances out, either. And penitents are self-policing in my neck of the woods, no hovering next to the booth, people tend to line up a respectful distance away to be out of earshot.

And remember, the priest is in there in the place of Jesus. Jesus already knows all about whatever you’ve done, and stands ready to welcome you back to the fullness of grace with open arms. That assurance should help you overcome this discomfort.

good because that is not what I said. What I said was, if your anxiety is so severe it is disrupting your life you need treatment. medical. from a doctor. not here.

presuming to tell someone under a doctor’s care that they don’t need treatment, now there is medical advice

no, every parish is supposed to offer the option of confessing before a screen or face to face, the former does not necessarily guarantee anonymity.

[post=3873064]It’s been suggested before.[/post]


It’s ok to go to another church for confession.

Honestly, I have been in some confessionals that were literally so dark you could not see your hand in front of your face! When it was time for me to leave, I couldn’t even find the door knob!

At my parish, their isn’t too much in the confessional to really “hide” behind or give true anonymity. We have a very wispy, gauzy piece of material that separates the pentient from the priest. It’s very sheer and, to me any way, doesn’t really lend itself to providing “anonymity”.

Just my personal experience.

As mentioned any type of “mask” you need is not a problem, just get in there as soon as you can.

Think of the beauty of this, in the furure you won’t need a mask, because you’ll be going more often. And of course the Grace of the Sacrament will help you to feel comfortable.

Thanks for the clarification. I wonder though: if the screen can’t provide anonymity, what’s the point?

Many people don’t mind face to face confession, or prefer it. Others, like the OP–and there are many other in the same position–find lack of anonymity a barrier to confession.

When our parish church was remodeled some years ago, the confessionals were completely replaced with some that provided more privacy and more anonymity.

Ok Dear, I’ve been pondering on how to answer because I’m a bit worried that I’ll make myself vulnerable by doing so. I don’t want to give medical advice so I was going to give personal experience.

I suffer from severe anxiety. My parish does not have a confessional, it is face to face. I would not go to Confession because I did not to go Confession with our pastor. I knew things he would say to me would make me feel even worse. Yes, he knows of my condition, but doesn’t understand it. Believe it or not, it’s hard to find a priest that understands it.

I went to the Church we’re supposed to be going to (we’ve moved) and guess what?! they actually have a confessional, and the priest was so merciful and understanding.

It is good just to get back to confession. I know many people, who don’t even suffer from anxiety as much as I do, who will go to another parish to get back to confession. Praise God!! They get back in a state of grace and start to be close with God again.


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