Confessing to a Priest who knows you

Is it prudent for a person to confess to a priest who knows him, or even seek pastoral or spiritual guidance for a personal problem.? For instance for a father who has sexual problems or any problem outside of accepted mores or taboos of society or family, is it wise for him to confess to a priest close to his family.? What if the priest is a family member.?

Is there a valid concern that his social attitude toward him could change after hearing what he has to say? What about environment. Is it better to go outside of small communities for confessions?

I know confessions are forgotten or at least not supposed to impact human relations, but I wonder if this is what is desired rather than the reality.

For instance for those with serious and/or habitual mortal sins and for the sake of caution, does the Church recommend they go elsewhere to confess?

AndyF

The priest has heard it all. Very difficult to surprise them. BUT while the Church as far as I know does not officially recommend going to a stranger priest, if a lay person feels uncomfortable confessing to a certain priest, then by all means he should find another. This is for some the most difficult sacrament to approach and the last thing the Church wants is putting up barriers to it by restricting who you confess to. I realize that is a little indirect, so let me say basically that if you feel even a bit off about going to Father X, then go to Father Y.

I think that if you are really involved in your spiritual/religious life then I am quite sure that the priest knows you and your family. The same goes for the spiritual director.

How can we be good Catholics and keep things separate? If we try that way we can easily slide from embarrassment to hypocrisy. I am not being critical of your thinking, I just do not see how it could work.

Except in emergencies, I ALWAYS confess to the same priest. I consider this the first law of growth in spiritual life. Changing confessors really waters down the human side of the sacrament. Nothing slides by my guy – especially those sins I confess again and again. Of course, he is gracious enough to accept this arrangement and I always see him by appointment.

Scottgun:

Thanks!

I didn’t make myself clear, but I was hoping to approach this from the priest’s point of view. I’m not a cleric, but I recall in the past after confession I noted a coolness of sorts from my otherwise very outgoing and jolly priest.

I have no qualms of confessing to a known priest, but I also wouldn’t want a social change of relations to occur as a result of it either. Perhaps he has that right, who am I to say. Frankly I can’t see how a priest could successfully detach from the knowledge of serious sin. Perhaps a priest of exemplary character could pull it off and still have “afternoon golf as usual with Tom”.

AndyF

Scottgun:

Thanks!

I didn’t make myself clear, but I was hoping to approach this from the priest’s point of view. I’m not a cleric, but I recall in the past after confession I noted a coolness of sorts from my otherwise very outgoing and jolly priest.

I have no qualms of confessing to a known priest, but I also wouldn’t want a social change of relations to occur as a result of it either. Perhaps he has that right, who am I to say. Frankly I can’t see how a priest could successfully detach from the knowledge of serious sin. Perhaps a priest of exemplary character could pull it off and still have “afternoon golf as usual with Tom”. :shrug:

AndyF

It is “illegal” for a priest who hears your confession to recognize his knowledge in ANY WAY outside the confessional. If you have doubts, go to someone else.

I have heard Priests say that for them it is personally humiliating to “hear themselves” in confession – when a penitent confesses sins of which the priest himself is guilty . . .

I confess to my spiritual director, so it’s someone I know well and who knows me well. For me, this is the best way to go. I’m comfortable with him and trust him with knowing everything about me, and because he knows me well he can give me good advice and penances that are very appropriate. I also feel like I’m confessing to someone who honestly cares about me and wants what’s best for me. I can’t say how any of this works from the priest’s point of view, but I’ve never felt uncomfortable around him or like he regards me as some horrible person because I’ve sinned.

If you have a spiritual director, chances are you are not confessing idiolatry, adultery, murder, embezzling a couple of mil from the local bank, or molesting 8 year olds.

A person with serious sin on his conscience might do well to make his initial landmark confession to a stranger.

That said: even embarrassing sins, like addiction to pornography or too-frequent over-drinking are common enough that a steady confessor can be of great help and it’s not like half the world isn’t also struggling with this stuff. A good priest will respect the honest man who stays in the fight and 'fesses up to reality.

I feel really stupid, but that never occurred to me. OK…for me, I still want to go to a priest I know well. But in general I’d say that you should go to whatever priest in whatever place would be most comfortable for you. The most important thing is to GO. :slight_smile:

:amen:

I think that we are missing the general point of the topic. If I am reading the orignal post correctly, the question is “is it good for a priest to hear the confessions or give spiritual advice to a person that is a close, personal friend, or even a family member?”. And I am gathering that the question relates to the priest, not the lay person involved. So I think we should be asking “how does this effect the priest and his relationship with that particular person?”. And as one preparing for the priesthood, I would be very intrested in hearing what everyone thinks.

I heard a priest comment that he is both humbled and honored when people come to him for confession. Priests have personal spiritual lives and they sin too. Confessing particularly greivous sins takes a great deal of humility on the part of the penitant–and the inspiration such humility brings might counteract any other reaction from the priest. I also believe that God must grant special graces to priests who hear serious sin from people they respect, otherwise the burden seems very heavy to bear. God may even bring a particular penitant to a particular confessor, not just because the penitant needs the sacrament but because that particular priest needs to hear it as well.

There is no such thing as private sin, so if the family’s priest knows about a particularly serious sin of one family member, it might help him in counselling another family member–all while keeping such information confidential. The sins of one family member impacts the others, from the dad who leaves a Playboy magazine where his teenage son might find it, to the wife whose excessive nagging and gluttony may play a contributory role in her husband’s lust. A good confessor might help each family member to grow individually in holiness while the family grows holier together.

But I think this can vary from priest to priest. Some are better at administering the Sacrament of Reconciliation that others. If the original poster has any doubts about confessing to this particular priest, then go to a different priest with whom he feels more comfortable. Priests sin too, and I’m not comfortable confessing to one particular priest who knows my family.


As we’re talking about this, it seems that some of these concerns might have been lessened back when the standard confessional offered annonymity. I prefer the old style confessionals, and I’ve heard a priest mention that he can not identify anyone’s voice if they use a whisper as that completely changes a person’s voice quality. Yet, when there was less traveling from one parish to another for confession, the spiritual father of the community could know what burdens his parish struggled with most and help address those problems maybe in other ways to. Now, many people travel to different parishes for confession, and a good confessor may draw penitants from many miles away.

mercygate:

So they are friends and go to some function on a regular bases. One day he confesses to child molestation. If I read you correctly you are saying the priest is not to react or deviate from his attitude toward his friend, which includes breaking off the relationship or even standing off a little in their friendship.?

AndyF

Even for repugnant sins?

What of the reverse. While he/she handles your case, you learn she has committed a repugnant sin, would you seek another?

AndyF

That is correct. I heard a priest say that if somebody comes to him in confession and tells him that he just murdered the priest’s mother, he may not in any way acknowledge that he knows that information. Not in ANY way.

SuscipeMeDomine:

Even for repugnant sins?

What of the reverse. While he/she handles your case, you learn she has committed a repugnant sin, would you seek another and also still remain friends?

AndyF

mercygate;2435367]That is correct. Not in ANY way.

Interesting, thanks!. :slight_smile:

Seems like a tall order to ask of anyone, but OK.

AndyF

Even for repugnant sins.

You wouldn’t find out a priest’s grievous sins unless they became public, because he is not confessing to you, and the sacred seal of the confessional does not apply to public business. You would be perfectly free to distance yourself in any way that a Christian would if it should be necessary – assuming Christian charity in all things, of course.

St. John Nepomucene had his tongue cut out and was thrown in the river to drown because he would not break the seal of confession. Next to the consecrating the Eucharist, the grace of hearing confessions and giving absolution is one of the most powerful spiritual gifts of the priesthood.

Interesting, thanks!. :slight_smile:

Seems like a tall order to ask of anyone, but OK.

AndyFThey receive special spiritual graces for it. Some priests will tell you that they actually DO forget everything they hear . . .

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