I have been on a slow journey to return to the church and I think I’m finally ready to take that last big step and go to confession. It’s been a long time and there’s some stuff I’d rather not say but I know I have to. I also know it’s probably going to take a minute to get it all out. Has anyone had to make a general confession or a big one after a long absence? Any tips? I’m really dreading it and I keep coming up with excuses to postpone it, but I’d like to receive the Eucharist this Easter so I’m trying to muster up the courage to just do it.
Best advice is just do it!
Second advice is to find a good detailed examen of conscience and make notes of sins remembered since last confession, and how many times for each. Do the best you can.
Don’t withhold any remembered grave sin. Any remembered grave sin after this general confession (if it’s been a long time eg years and years), can be confessed at your next confession say in 2-3 weeks or a months’ time, by after confessing any current sins (venial or mortal) say “my remembered past sins are…” As long as you don’t withhold any serious sin in confession they are all forgiven, as we are expected to confess those we can honestly remember at the time. You just mention the serious ones you’ve since remembered.
It’s best to make an appointment as this allows the priest to set a time. You can go to another parish near you for the sake of anonymity, if you are embarrassed. Go and see this priest and tell him you’d like to make an appt for a general confession and tell him how long a time it’s been. This way, he can set an appropriate time where he can devote the time needed for you.
By the way, this is one of Satans’ tactics - making you feel awkward in telling another what you’ve done - so we keep putting it off and off. Which is what he wants, cause then a person just “gives up and forgets about it”.
As embarrassing as our sins might be - advice given to me, was just spit it out! After all priests who have been at their ministry for some time have heard it all!.
Welcome back home!! Just think - you’ll be able to receive Jesus again! Something the Angels can’t do.
Sure, lots of people here had to make a confession after a long absence. 18 years for me. There’s other people on this forum who came back after 5, 10, 20 or more years.
I understand being nervous but just go do it and you’ll feel better.
Some people like to make an appointment with a priest especially if they’re going to take a lot of time. That just sounded awful to me as I was self-conscious enough without having to sit in a private appointment with a priest, and would have taken even more time to set up, so I just went to the local cathedral at 6:30 am, walked in and did a confession to some anonymous priest there. Took me just a few minutes.
Those who are already baptised and are being received into the Catholic Church make a general confession. It is normal to have between 20-70 years of sins to confess. My first one took 10 minutes but since the priest and I talked a bit before and after it was about 30 min in total. Preparing for my first confession was way worse than confessing and I still think it is way harder. When going to confession, I have accepted that I have sinned and is in need of Gods mercy.
Remember that the priest can’t repeat anything of what is said during a confession and can’t even say that he has heard your confession. I had to ask a priest once about what he said to me during confession and he could only remember that he had heard my confession sometime in the past two/three weeks. It was three days prior and we left it at that.
Plan to do something nice afterwards like buying or picking some flowers for the statue of Our Lady or give to someone elderly or sick. Or call or visit a relative or friend that you don’t see that often.
I went to confession on Monday for the first time in three years.
I wrote every sin I could remember on a piece of paper as a preparation, using some guide for conscience examination.
Then I went to a bigger church in the city that offers regular daily confession times - an anonymous setting with a random priest I never met before. Overall, it took like 10 minutes.
Of course, I was afraid on my way there, nervous and way out of comfort zone, but I just forced myself.
I was more relieved than you can possibly imagine.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you. Ask the priest for help. God bless!
I made a list. I wrote it down and took it to me to confession. I made an appointment with the priest. I told him I had not been to confession in 40 years. He helped me through the confession.
It was (and is) a wonderful feeling to here him say that I am absolved of my sins. What a glorious feeling!
14 or 15 years for me.
Like Bearself, I just walked into the confessional and it only took about five minutes.
Unlike most others, I did not prepare at all, and I hadn’t even really planned to go to confession before going. I had been thinking about it in the back of my head. I happened to be attending two parishes with priests who never talked about the sacrament, and I hadn’t been taught well in the years before leaving the Church, and I hadn’t talked about this with any of my devout Catholic friends.
Father John was an absolute gem during that confession. I confessed a few big sins (actually lifestyle choices that I had lived for years), and he helped me address a few others – like missing mass for years at a time and receiving the Eucharist while in mortal sin.
He even counseled me to have my three-year-old son baptized ASAP.
All that took only about five minutes. And Father was so joyful and welcoming!
I still thank God for that nudging of the Holy Spirit that morning.
@powerandglory I’ll keep you in my prayers.
This is an examine based on the 10 Commandments. Many people find it good after a long absence:
Helps to do kind and number if you group it this way, imho.
There ought to be some penance services in your area soon, you can also make an appointment (appointments do not have to be face to face, simply specify if you want behind the screen).
Brought tears to my eyes. Welcome back home!!
I made one rather recently.
Go to a large Church like a Basilica or a Cathedral that has long blocks of regular Confession times if you don’t want to make an appointment at your regular Parish. That is what I did. The Priest was very “by-the-book”, and it was easier to confess to him behind a curtain than to my regular Confessor face to face.
I started with the 6th Commandment stuff, because a lot of the more embarrassing stuff to get out was there, then went back. My examination was laid out by Commandments and Precepts of the Church, so that is how I did it. After getting the 6th Commandment stuff out, I went back to the 1st.
Get the hardest sins out early. Plan your confession to get anything hard for you to talk about out early.
The scariest part is the examination and the period before the Confession. So resolve to Confess soon after you do the examination and get it over with. Don’t dwell on it, just do it. The worst fear is in anticipation. Once you get going, the fear starts to drop. And then there is the sweet relief of the words “and I absolve you from your sins…”
You might forget something or accidentally skip over it in your nervousness (I skipped over a fairly significant one and realized it while I was doing my penance! I went back to the same confessional and it was open, so i told the same Priest I missed something I meant to confess and confessed it then and there). Make a note if that happens and confess those sins at your next confession.
The actual confession didn’t take all that long—but it is kind of a blur. Luckily, this Priest didn’t interrupt me and let me just go, then was very brief in his comments afterwards.
One thing you might want to do is treat yourself afterwards to relax. Decompress.
Praise the Lord and thanks to him for helping you make a good confession, Constantin!
Truly awesome news.
I’ve been there. Last Easter season I made a confession after years of absence. It was emotional and driving home felt really good. One thing to remember-the priest has almost assuredly heard worse. These guys (and God bless them for it) hear things that you and I don’t want to come within ten feet of. I had done some crazy stuff-leaving the church, multiple marriages, etc. I figured, if I can’t tell a priest who can I tell?
I give thanks and praise to the Lord for all the people posting in this thread about their confessions after many years of absence. Hallelujah!
Like the others here, I committed sins during my years away that I wouldn’t want to mention on a public forum, and in a few cases they went on for years. There was probably even stuff I’d done in the past while still going to confession that I didn’t mention because I was confused, embarrassed, not sure if it was a sin, or had some other justification that much like the sin itself “seemed like a good idea at the time” but in hindsight not so much.
It is good to know that one is truly free of all that past dirt and back in good standing with Our Lord. For me it was the Year of Mercy that did it, coupled I think with a push from beyond by my mom who was recently deceased at the time and had wanted me to go back to church.
It’s kinda like a trip to the dentist when one is nervous of dentists. I’ll never be able to say I enjoy confession, but I feel better overall when I go regularly. Once a year really is not enough. That’s why many devotions like First Saturday and indulgences encourage confessions. It’s good for us.
Welcome back and just go to Confession, tell the Priest first about your time away from the Church and then Confess your sins. Believe me he will be more than happy to hear your Confession and absolve you. Jesus is waiting for you, GO!
I went to my very first confession just before Christmas 2018. I am 55 years old. My…very… first…confession… Nothing can make becoming Catholic more real than that. I was nervous of course and I had meant to go since my “reversion” in September of 2018 but kept putting it off. I thought it would take at least an hour. I went the regularly scheduled Saturday morning at 11am confession at my parish. No appointment. It didn’t take anywhere near an hour. I wrote several things down. I thought it was a good confession. I believe it was less than 10 minutes I was in the reconciliation chapel.
You will be fine.
I have a great time setting the piece of paper on fire after I have been to confession. I have heard that my sins are absolved and I see them turn into ash.
I did it. The priest was very understanding and after absolution, told me to destroy my list.
He didn’t even blink when I pulled the sixth page out of my sock!
Well, our list with sins is not something we would like to frame and hang on our living room wall.