Anxiety about first confession in a VERY long time


#1

I haven't been to confession since my very first one at age 9, which was 21 years ago. When I was younger, church was a regular part of my life. I attended Catholic school from pre-school all the way through high school, and as part of that attended Mass regularly. Knowing what to do and say throughout the Mass was second nature. Now, I've only been to Mass a handful of times over the last 15 years. I'm ready to start going again, but realize I probably don't remember half of what I'm supposed to say and do.
I'm getting off topic, though. While I'm worried about feeling lost in Church, before I even get to that point the first thing I need to do is get through confession. I'm ready for confession. I want to do this. I'm terrified of sitting face to face with the priest and admitting things I am not proud of for fear of feeling judged, but that's something I just have to get over. I know the priest is not there to judge, but it's still hard. The part I'm actually more nervous about is not really knowing HOW to give confession. I've been reading quite a bit about it the last few days and feel I have a decent grasp on how this is supposed to go, but I'm still nervous about how exactly to start. Despite my anxiety, I plan on doing this face to face simply because I feel I'll need the priest's help guiding me through this and so face to face will just be easier. However, since the priest will be looking right at me when I enter the room, I'm a little unsure of how exactly to start. I know I'm supposed to cross myself and say "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned." How exactly do I do this? Do I just silently walk in, make eye contact, then sit down and immediately jump right into that? Do I say hi to the priest first? Should I genuflect to give the sign of the cross first, then sit down? Do I look at and address the priest when saying "Bless me, Father...." or do I keep my head bowed and address God? I know this seems silly to worry about such small details, but I'm so afraid of looking lost and confused, or doing something incorrectly, and just want to make sure I do this all right and don't look like I have no idea what I'm doing. Can someone walk me through, step by step, how you would walk into a confessional for a face-to-face? Once I get past that first part I think I'll be okay, as there's a lot online about where to go from there and I know the priest can help guide me after that point. Thanks!


#2

[quote="reneep, post:1, topic:298582"]
I haven't been to confession since my very first one at age 9, which was 21 years ago. When I was younger, church was a regular part of my life. I attended Catholic school from pre-school all the way through high school, and as part of that attended Mass regularly. Knowing what to do and say throughout the Mass was second nature. Now, I've only been to Mass a handful of times over the last 15 years. I'm ready to start going again, but realize I probably don't remember half of what I'm supposed to say and do.
I'm getting off topic, though. While I'm worried about feeling lost in Church, before I even get to that point the first thing I need to do is get through confession. I'm ready for confession. I want to do this. I'm terrified of sitting face to face with the priest and admitting things I am not proud of for fear of feeling judged, but that's something I just have to get over. I know the priest is not there to judge, but it's still hard. The part I'm actually more nervous about is not really knowing HOW to give confession. I've been reading quite a bit about it the last few days and feel I have a decent grasp on how this is supposed to go, but I'm still nervous about how exactly to start. Despite my anxiety, I plan on doing this face to face simply because I feel I'll need the priest's help guiding me through this and so face to face will just be easier. However, since the priest will be looking right at me when I enter the room, I'm a little unsure of how exactly to start. I know I'm supposed to cross myself and say "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned." How exactly do I do this? Do I just silently walk in, make eye contact, then sit down and immediately jump right into that? Do I say hi to the priest first? Should I genuflect to give the sign of the cross first, then sit down? Do I look at and address the priest when saying "Bless me, Father...." or do I keep my head bowed and address God? I know this seems silly to worry about such small details, but I'm so afraid of looking lost and confused, or doing something incorrectly, and just want to make sure I do this all right and don't look like I have no idea what I'm doing. Can someone walk me through, step by step, how you would walk into a confessional for a face-to-face? Once I get past that first part I think I'll be okay, as there's a lot online about where to go from there and I know the priest can help guide me after that point. Thanks!

[/quote]

The best thing to do is to say to the priest is that you hadn't been to confession in 21 years and you don't know what to do. He'll guide you from there.


#3

The priest will bless you and just tell him you haven’t been to confession for 21 years. I think he’ll take it from there. :wink:

Congrats on coming back and for making an effort on going to confession!

I’ll be praying for you.


#4

The priest will help you. Just let him know it’s been 21 years and that you don’t remember and he’ll guide you through it.


#5

Wow!! I am impressed :) I am a revert myself and it inspires me to hear of other people's stories! I am entering a convent in a few weeks, and you can be sure I'll be praying for you daily! I actually have tears in my eyes because I know how hard it is to take that first step back into the Sacraments! Believe me when I say, I KNOW there is a party in Heaven right now and I know the celebration will be HUGE when you complete your dreaded confession. God has searched long and hard for you, and He has brought you back...let no fear or anxiety of what to say get in the way :)

First off, just remember...this blessed sacrament of Reconciliation is just that. It's a reconciling of your friendship with your dearest, truest friend Jesus Christ. Take a deep breath and say a quick Hail Mary before you go in to calm your nerves and close your eyes for a minute and just let the knowledge of what you're about to do sink in...it is an act of love. You are THROWING yourself in the trust of Jesus' divine Mercy and when you let the Holy Spirit take over, you'll do just fine.

In the same way as the other comments, I say don't worry about "memorizing" what to say...just review your sins prior to the Confession (I wrote mine on a sheet of paper the night before...no lie! It helped, I just pulled it out and read it!) Just sit in the room and the priest will give you a blessing before you even say anything. Then just tell him you haven't been for 21 years and ask him for help as to what to say next. :)

Bless you, my dear sister!!! I am so happy for you! Take one day at a time and start getting involved with your parish activities :) Welcome Back!!!!!


#6

Hello. Let me offer a priest's perspective on this. For me, hearing a Confession such as yours is the thing that I love most about my priestly ministry. Very frequently, people are nervous to go to Confession. As a priest, I often think to myself, "If only this penitent knew the joy that we receive as priests when we are privileged to be the instrument of grace the Lord uses in that moment to bring a sinner back to Him."

I think people are afraid that they will say something we've never heard before (you won't), or that we will be angry with the penitent (we won't). Do not be afraid!

Obviously, I can't speak for all priests, but when I hear a Confession like yours, I will walk the penitent through the process and I will help with an examination of conscience if the person so desires. If not...no big deal. Often times I'll assign as penance Psalm 100, which is a Psalm of joy as Israel was processing up to the Temple to worship the Lord. Regardless of whatever penance the priest assigns, you might take out your Bible and pray with Psalm 100 when you are done anyway.

Finally, rest assured that whatever you tell your confessor will stay between the two of you. It amazes me how many people do not know about the seal of the Confessional. Remember, as priests, we can never, under any circumstances, reveal what a penitent has told us in Confession.

I hope that this experience is a blessing for you, as well as the priest who is so blessed as to be able to hear your beautiful Confession as you return to the fount of the Lord's love and mercy for the first time in over 20 years!


#7

[quote="buc_fan33, post:6, topic:298582"]
Hello. Let me offer a priest's perspective on this. For me, hearing a Confession such as yours is the thing that I love most about my priestly ministry. Very frequently, people are nervous to go to Confession. As a priest, I often think to myself, "If only this penitent knew the joy that we receive as priests when we are privileged to be the instrument of grace the Lord uses in that moment to bring a sinner back to Him."

I think people are afraid that they will say something we've never heard before (you won't), or that we will be angry with the penitent (we won't). Do not be afraid!

Obviously, I can't speak for all priests, but when I hear a Confession like yours, I will walk the penitent through the process and I will help with an examination of conscience if the person so desires. If not...no big deal. Often times I'll assign as penance Psalm 100, which is a Psalm of joy as Israel was processing up to the Temple to worship the Lord. Regardless of whatever penance the priest assigns, you might take out your Bible and pray with Psalm 100 when you are done anyway.

Finally, rest assured that whatever you tell your confessor will stay between the two of you. It amazes me how many people do not know about the seal of the Confessional. Remember, as priests, we can never, under any circumstances, reveal what a penitent has told us in Confession.

I hope that this experience is a blessing for you, as well as the priest who is so blessed as to be able to hear your beautiful Confession as you return to the fount of the Lord's love and mercy for the first time in over 20 years!

[/quote]

Thank you Father, and God bless you so much for your kind council. I made my life confession as an adult and it was a profoundly wonderful experience. I make confession at least weekly now, and go more often when I can. It's like a shower for the soul!


#8

I have been told that even great Generals of War have feared the confessional.
Really, it is just too easy to go and once done it makes one wonder why one stressed soooo much.:shrug:


#9

Strangely enough, there was a 21 year gap for me, too. I was Born Again (whatever you may call it) when a Charismatic Catholic priest laid hands on me. I burst into tongues and had to be told what was going on by my friends and family rejoicing around me. Father then said, “come on, Ian, time you went to confession again” and it was another joyful, tearful experience, face to face in an upstairs bedroom, with Father’s arms around me most of the time. He said: “for penance, say one decade of the rosary. I suppose you haven’t got a rosary, here, use mine.” I confessed I’d forgotten how to say the Our Father and Hail Mary, so he said, “no probs, lets say it together!” I still weep (joyfully) when I recall that confession.


#10

I am not allowed to edit my message, but I feel compelled to add:
I must confess here that it has been 31 years since that confession. Of course I sin, but I am IMMEDIATELY told off so gently, by the Holy Spirit, that I immediately repent and FEEL cleansed. Certainly repentance is an understanding of how much I have hurt someone or hurt God and firmly resolve never to do THAT again. I cannot even park on a double-yellow line or disabled spot. My grave sins these days (deliberate ones not the spontaneous oops, sorry Lord) are not carrying out what the Lord has told me to do. Our late Parish priest was an angry man and, once in church, the Lord said, “Ian, tell xxx to give his bitterness to me.” I simply could not do that: my childhood reverence for priests came rushing back. I realised it was not so much reverence as fear. I never told him and now that he’s passed on I feel wretched. I feel as if a priest would lambaste me for saying that God speaks to me: “who do you think YOU are?” I get that feeling on this forum, too. I don’t know: I’ve had a particularly sin-filled life, but I guess, as Paul says, its not your works, good or bad, but the inexplicable Grace of God. I sometimes feel that 31years ago it was the finger of God that pointed at the earth, at England, at my house, at ME: “YOU I want.” If His finger twitched a millimeter the guy next door would be Born Again!
But the Lord is reminding me, I did ASK, “Lord Jesus, I’ve made a mess of my life, please take over.” And He did.


#11

Congrats! I recently went in after 25 years absent. The priest made it easy for us- he actually started it off going step-by-step through the 10 Commandments. No problems at all. :thumbsup:

You will do great and everything will be fine! We’ll be praying for you.


#12

Thank you for your responses and prayers, everyone. It means so much to me. Father, it was great to get a priest’s perspective! I am really looking forward to going even more now. I had planned on going this afternoon during the Church’s open reconciliation hours, but have decided I better call for an appointment instead so neither the priest nor I feel rushed and have to worry about other people waiting. I’ll be calling on Monday for an appointment.

Thank you again.


#13

I have had the same experience as many of those who replied to your post. It was so many years for me I wasn’t even certain, 30? or more for sure. But, I went to a different parish, I went behind the screen, I told my story and came out with a peace I had not had in years! Be not afraid. God bless you.


#14

Good plan! :thumbsup: You don’t want to feel pressured to not only do it all correctly, but in a certain “10 sins or less” sort of in and out atmosphere!

Welcome back home and all the best to you! You’ll be so happy afterward!


#15

A great idea! :thumbsup:


#16

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