Confused About Penance


#1

Hello everyone,

I went to confession today and made my confession like I normally do on Saturday. For my penance, however, I was told to attend an addict group meeting (since I confessed that I masturbated). What should I do since:

  1. I am a kid (17) and I would feel extremely embarrassed attending an adult addict group.
  2. I don't even know what the group is or where they meet. (The priest didn't give me a name)

Number 2 isn't really all that valid since the guest priest told me that I should talk with my parish priest to see if he knows anything about the group but I don't want to reveal that sin to my parish priest.

Can anybody help? I found this very hard to type and this all weighed very heavy on me throughout the day. I'm not really even sure if this is coming across clearly.

Thanks!


#2

[quote="SadandSinfulKid, post:1, topic:311196"]
Hello everyone,

I went to confession today and made my confession like I normally do on Saturday. For my penance, however, I was told to attend an addict group meeting (since I confessed that I masturbated). What should I do since:

  1. I am a kid (17) and I would feel extremely embarrassed attending an adult addict group.
  2. I don't even know what the group is or where they meet. (The priest didn't give me a name)

Number 2 isn't really all that valid since the guest priest told me that I should talk with my parish priest to see if he knows anything about the group but I don't want to reveal that sin to my parish priest.

Can anybody help? I found this very hard to type and this all weighed very heavy on me throughout the day. I'm not really even sure if this is coming across clearly.

Thanks!

[/quote]

One option is group therapy with a health care professional (usually less than 10 patients in the group).


#3

Check your parish's website or bulletin. If the parish has any active groups, including one for people who struggling with lust, then the contact information for these groups or their meeting times/locations should be listed either online or in the church bulletin. If this group is not directly affiliated with your parish then look up the parish it is associated with and you should be able to find out that way.

I know that this is an embarrassing problem to deal with, but many many people have this problem. So while this doesn't mean you shouldn't feel sorry for falling into these types of sins you should know that many people struggle with this and that you can help each other overcome these lustful habits. CAF also has a group called Impurity Addiction Support Group that you could join. I do not think this would fulfill the penance given to you by your confessor, but it might be a nice supplement for you.


#4

Well, I’d be pretty confused, too, and I’m not a kid. Priests should not be giving penances that are impossible to fulfill. They also can’t give a penance that requires you to reveal your sin to anyone else. Perhaps you misunderstood the priest? You should not leave the confessional until you fully understand the penance–everything you need to know to get it done. Yes, that might take a few extra minutes, but if the priest is giving you something so complex that it needs a bunch of explanation, the extra time is his own fault. When he gives you a penance like this, be kind and polite, “Father, I don’t understand what you want me to do. I don’t know about any groups for people my age. I don’t want to talk to anyone else about this sin, so I can’t bring this up to my parish priest.”


#5

Remember that you are absolved of your sins (if the priest absolved you). Doing, or not doing, the penance doesn't change that. Don't let this weigh you down.

What I'd recommend is going back to confession next week and asking for a clarification, explanation, or new penance.

My rector told me that, as a new priest, he was hearing confessions in an urban area in Latin America. He gave an older man a very simple penance, which required the penitent to read and meditate on some verses in scripture, very appropriate to the sin. He was quite proud of himself, and sure that the penance would help the man. Upon exiting the confessional, my friend saw the older man in the church, sitting in one of the pews, with a white cane. He was blind. He was mortified at giving a penitent an impossible penance. The older man was from a culture that doesn't question priests, and the man was now wondering, same as you, if he had somehow messed up. My priest friend now gives simple penances such as "say a Hail Mary." Unless he knows you.

Now, counsel and recommendations received during confession are something totally different, and they should be disconnected from penances.


#6

I would revisit this penance (as a penance) in confession with another Priest.

Such a penance seems to be one that can not per se be given (as well meaning as it may have been) for it seems such could involve the revelation of the sin by the penitent (self-incrimination) . Discuss it with him. Penances can be changed in confession.

I am not saying not to seek other assistance in good ways perhaps but I note this in regards to the penance (check with Catholic Answers in terms of resources that perhaps fit your particular situation --there are various ones even from them). And perhaps there was some misunderstanding and he was recommending such a course.

(And hang in there! -know that Jesus of Nazareth the Good Shepherd loves you! In him is* true life*)

(be sure to read Pope Benedict XVI's world youth day addresses and homiles)


#7

I would also go to another priest and tell him you find it hard to fulfill the penance you were given. Your sin, unfortunately is quite common and I don't think it falls under the same category as full fledged sex addiction as you would find in a group. These people are obsessed with sex in all forms. I also would not agree that a penance that would require you to reveal your sin is actually allowed. You are a minor, you would basically have to tell your parents where you are going and why. These groups may not be close by and are usually at night. If you were my kid I would be pretty upset with the priest. Did he know you were young or was it behind the screen and he thought perhaps you were an older man?


#8

I think he thought I was older by my voice. I feel so terrible about this because it feels like I am asking God for help but then when he gives it to me, I try to find some way out of it. Does Church law not allow a priest to make a person confessing reveal there sin to other people? (I’m not angry with the priest or trying to get him in trouble; I just want to clarify)


#9

Firstly, good job on taking your sins to the confessional and also taking the penance seriously. As an adult, I have had varied experiences in the confessional. It is easy to be taken off guard and not know what to do when a weird situation comes up. That said, rest assured you were absolved. You can talk to the same priest, or another one about the penance, and you can do so anonymously behinds the screen. God will be with you on this journey. Be not afraid.


#10

[quote="SadandSinfulKid, post:8, topic:311196"]
I think he thought I was older by my voice. I feel so terrible about this because it feels like I am asking God for help but then when he gives it to me, I try to find some way out of it. Does Church law not allow a priest to make a person confessing reveal there sin to other people? (I'm not angry with the priest or trying to get him in trouble; I just want to clarify)

[/quote]

Even if you were older, this is still not a suitable penance. Penances must be doable, not require the penitent to reveal his sin to anyone, and must be appropriate in making restitution to God. While the priest could suggest that if possible, you may want to try something like this, but he can't force you to

I would advise you to go to another priest in confession (it has to be in confession if it's a different priest), and tell him what you were given for a penance, and ask for one that is easier to fulfill. Then the next time you go back to that other priest, mention to him that the last penance he gave you wasn't realistically possible for you to fulfill, and that you had to have it commuted to something else because you couldn't reasonably fulfill it. He should know that that these penances aren't suitable.

Even other priests agree:
wdtprs.com/blog/2012/11/quaeritur-can-a-priest-in-the-confessional-assign-aa-meetings-for-penance/


#11

I would revisit this penance (as a penance) in confession with another Priest.

Such a penance seems to be one that can not per se be given (as well meaning as it may have been) for it seems such could involve the revelation of the sin by the penitent (self-incrimination) . Discuss it with him. Penances can be changed in confession.

I am not saying not to seek other assistance in good ways perhaps but I note this in regards to the penance (check with Catholic Answers in terms of resources that perhaps fit your particular situation --there are various ones even from them). And perhaps there was some misunderstanding and he was recommending such a course.

(And hang in there! -know that Jesus of Nazareth the Good Shepherd loves you! In him is true life)

(be sure to read Pope Benedict XVI’s world youth day addresses and homiles)


#12

Correct.


#13

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