Confessor re-assigned. Transitioning to a new one. Experiences?


#1

So, my regular confessor has been reassigned to another part of the world, and I’m dreading the transition to a new confessor. My confessor was the only confessor I ever had, so he knew everything about me and my issues, and could take them into account as necessary. I have social anxiety, so on a good day confession is a physiological and psychological torturous hell for me. I actually had an anxiety attack during Mass when the news was dropped (hence why I sit on the end and block the pew :p). Good times.

I imagine this happens to everyone to some degree (granted, diocesan priests don’t get transferred overseas) in their life. Anyone have any advice for the transition?


#2

This is probably a dumb question, please forgive me as I’m a new Catholic. Is it possible, with your permission, to discuss your situation with the new priest. It would be beneficial to you if he had some information on your particular needs. Can one give permission for a priest to break the seal of confession in a situation like this?

I will pray for you.


#3

No it is not permissible to break the seal of confession like that. I would have to be the one to bring it up, but it’s a little more complex than that. I’ve had to go to a number of fill-in priests this year and it was a disaster with inappropriate counsel. Though, I should have used my common sense and realized such wouldn’t work in my case.


#4

I’m sorry.

I’ll pray that you’ll find someone wonderful as your new confessor.


#5

Having my own anxiety issues over going to Confession I understand a very little bit about your issue. I don’t have a problem going to whomever is in the Confessional when I do finally get the courage to go (even went with the Archbishop recently). But since you do have this anxiety (disorder?) perhaps you could see if there is a retired Priest locally who would be willing to be your regular Confessor. This may mean making a general Confession with him to bring him “up to date” on your anxiety etc.

If this is totally not do-able, know I was just thinking out loud, throwing an idea out there for you to consider and more importantly, know I am praying for you.


#6

I don’t know how old you are, but what you might try is to go to your parish office and make an appointment to see the Pastor. If the parish secretary ask what it is about, just tell her it is a personal matter.
Then, on the appointed day, show up about 1/2 hour early and enter the church if it is open. If it is not open, just sit quietly in the waiting room and pray the rosary, and ask our Blessed Mother to help you with your interview. This should calm you down.
When you meet with the Pastor, explain what your problem is, just as you have done here. If necessary, print out this thread as show it to him. This will help him to assess your situation and he will be able to assign a priest to you that is compatible to your needs. Don’t worry if there is only the Pastor or only one other priest in your parish. Your Pastor knows almost every priest in your area - both active and retired. Who knows, he might even decide to help you himself!
Remember, just pray to our Blessed Mother before hand, She will help you.


#7

And you can ask him to treat the counseling session as a confession; that is, keep it under the seal of the confessional.

While I was having a spell of not going to Mass, they up and reassigned my first confessor, too. That helped me stretch out my Masslessness for a full year. Don’t you do so!

Then I got beaten to my knees by the Holy Clue-By-Four (AKA a “dark night of the soul”), and desperately went to confession to this new guy.

Not only did my new confessor tell me something that has been a huge, huge help with my problems, but it’s obvious to me that he can’t remember a darn thing we talked about. :smiley:

Now, get going! with our prayers and love behind you. Don’t wait for the Holy Clue-By-Four! :grouphug:


#8

I changed confessors almost two months ago because my previous confessor is too far away for me to go more often than a few times per year. I had planned for the process of changing to take almost four months—not only was I changing the priest I regularly confess to but also the language I confess in. Instead it took just over half that time.

In early June, I made an appointment with the priest God chose as my new confessor. (Believe me, if the choice had been mine I would have picked someone else.) I don’t have anxiety issues in a clinical sense but I was petrified—of the priest, of the idea of having to spill my guts to a new confessor, of needing to do all of this in French. When we sat down in his office, the first thing I said is that everything I was about to tell him has already been confessed and absolved. Then I threw my entire life of misdeeds onto the table between us. We also talked about my spiritual life, how I pray (what, how much, how often), my current life, my marriage, my relationship with the Church since birth. At the end of this 45-minute session he knew everything about me, things even my parents don’t know. So it was just a matter of making the change.

I won’t go into the details of why it went down the way it did, but a transition planned for the end of September took place unexpectedly in mid-August. This might have gone completely pear-shaped except for that conversation in early June. Since my new confessor was familiar with my strengths and weaknesses both past and present, he was able to calm my fears about confessing in a language I don’t speak all that well. It wasn’t a smooth start but it got better fairly quickly. Though there are still some things I’m not thrilled about, I can no longer imagine regularly confessing to anyone but this particular priest.

The only thing I can think of that I should have done differently is pray more about the process. George Stegmeir’s suggestion of asking the Blessed Virgin for assistance is a wonderful one. I wish someone had encouraged me to do that before that first appointment in early June.

Should you go this route, don’t hold anything back. If you’re going to have a regular confessor, it’s important for him to know who you really are so he can guide you in the most effective manner. But then you probably already know that. :slight_smile:

Go with God. I’m praying for you, as I know this isn’t an easy change to make. :signofcross:


#9

[quote="Deo_Gratias42, post:1, topic:301425"]
So, my regular confessor has been reassigned to another part of the world, and I'm dreading the transition to a new confessor. My confessor was the only confessor I ever had, so he knew everything about me and my issues, and could take them into account as necessary. I have social anxiety, so on a good day confession is a physiological and psychological torturous hell for me. I actually had an anxiety attack during Mass when the news was dropped (hence why I sit on the end and block the pew :p). Good times.

I imagine this happens to everyone to some degree (granted, diocesan priests don't get transferred overseas) in their life. Anyone have any advice for the transition?

[/quote]

That the one advantage I have at the church I go to. Priests have come and gone in our parish quite regular and I have always gone to our parish priest whoever he is. Nothing to do with being Anglican, before you or anyone says so. But we just don't keep priests for very long which does have the advantage in that I am confessing to God and not the Priest and the spiritual journey in that confession varies on depending on what they say in confession to me about my sins. I've learned lots and am more or less certain its because we have had numerous priests who have a different take on things which I have learned to go with the flow with having various different priests.

Though I will admit being Anglican does help how I view confession because I do know I am talking to God and the Priest is there for that help is how I personally understand it because God forgives and the priest is able to confirm that forgiveness when we are needing to hear it and get help in our sins. So I don't have that problem of a new priest coming along because its not about that particular priest for me though its nice to have that regular build up so he knows what he said before in and out of confession and spiritual guidence etc but well I just never had in the past got used to just one person because I know they all go. This current priest has been the one who got the closest from that point of view and 4 month ago I would have been in same position as you if he said he is going. But now, okay I talk to him lots and would have a little difficulty when he goes but I am aware he will go at some point some or other and no longer as big an issue for me as once was.

I think its healthy to change after so long anyway as they get to know you too well and we get too comfortable with them that don't try as much as one does at the beginning and don't put as much work into it as originally. God doesn't change, its only the confessor is changing and it will take time getting to know another one but he will bring differerent qualities that will help you nearer to your personal achievement. Hope you feel happier soon


#10

I have to disagree with you on this. We call Catholic priests “Father” not as some fancy honorary title such as doctor, professor, etc, but because they are just that, a spiritual father. While some confessors may take their role as to just dispense absolution, my experiences with my confessor have been that he will hold you accountable if you start getting complacent. I have found that the more I went to confession to the same confessor, the more I felt compelled to actually make noticeable progress lest it be thought that I was an insincere recidivist and would thus be refused absolution and accused of misusing the sacrament. Also, this allows him to notice if past sins that haven’t been committed for a long time start creeping up and the person starts to backslide. Also, because I’m a weekly penitent, going to a different priest every week would be a red flag for the priest that the person might be scrupulous. I’m not, but I find when I’m away and have gone to someone else he has been suspicious that I’m one of those penitents who goes around to different priests reconfessing the same sins over and over again. Also, the saints and spiritual writers stress the importance of having a good, holy, regular confessor for advancing in holiness.


#11

I went through this to some extent when my pastor was transferred 5 or 6 years ago. Do you know who your new confessor will be?

I did not know our new pastor at all, so I figured I’d give him first shot. The first time I went to him for confession was pretty neutral. Nothing that said, “run and never come back” and nothing that said, “this is the confessor you’ve been waiting for.” So a month or so later, I returned to him. I think at that time, I was somewhat impressed by his insights. And so I returned again in a few months… And gradually, gradually, that confessor-penitent relationship has developed. He has been my only confessor for the past 6 years, and I deeply value his opinions and insights. (Yes, some spiritual direction does occur in that context.)

My advice in transitioning…take it slow. Take it easy. Be open. There will be a learning curve for both of you.

And pray.


#12

I went to my new confessor for the first time tonight, and all I can say is I think I will have to find another confessor. He’s a little too intense for me. I won’t go in to detail, but it was the worst confession experience I have ever had.


#13

So you had the experience that said “run and never come back”. That happens. All confessors sit in the place of Christ, but for a regular confessor, you need to find someone with whom you can be open and honest. You want to be challenged, but (speaking for myself) also encouraged.

Pray. Keep looking.


#14

I’m of the strong belief that what I have been going through is all part of God’s divine providence to detach me from creatures and the things of this world, as well as all sensible consolations. In less than a year my dog has died, I lost my career and became poverty stricken and had to go back to school, which also meant I had to give up my plans of buying a house, and now my confessor is being taken far away from me and replaced with one who is ruthless. I’m game. Bring it on. :cool:


#15

I’m sorry for all your difficulties! :eek: Continuing to keep you in my prayers.

Okay, this I can relate to. My confessor is also ruthless, and not just in the confessional. The first time I confessed to him was the worst confession experience I’ve ever had. My instinct was to flee (preferably to another planet), but I prayed about it and ultimately decided to stay. As I said in my earlier post, I can no longer imagine regularly confessing to anyone but this particular priest.

YMMV.


#16

shop around and go with someone you feel comfortable with - no one is required to stay with just one confessor.


#17

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