Converting ... confession fears


#1

As some of you know, I’m in R.C.I.A. right now and will be baptized at Easter. I am very excited about my Baptism and Confirmation and receiving Holy Communion. But, I am absolutely terrified by the idea of confession. I’ve been terrified of it from the beginning, but put off thinking about it. But lately, I keep thinking about all the bad things I’ve done in my life, especially the ones I’m most ashamed of … I know they will be forgiven in my baptism, but will I have to tell them to the priest anyway? I’ve heard that some people do. So I’m especially scared about that.

Also, of course I will have to confess whatever sins I commit after I’m baptized. I don’t plan to be one of those Catholics who never goes to confession. But it really, really scares me.

And I admit, I do not trust priests. The priest scandal happened when I was pretty young and made a significant impression on me especially because I have close family members who were sexually abused as children and I knew this from the time I was very little. Also I am a young woman and I have heard of priests seducing women in confession by getting them to talk about sexual sins, I don’t know if that’s true or just anti-Catholic stuff. :frowning: Also I want to know how much detail needs to be given. :eek:

I understand the need for confession. But I’m really scared and worried about it.

Please help!


#2

Firstly - if you are being baptised then you don’t need to go to confession beforehand. Unless it’s only a conditional baptism, maybe.

About your fears - nip 'em in the bud. Don’t let them grow. Discuss them with your priest, it won’t be anything he hasn’t heard about before, lots of people are nervous and for the same reasons as you.

I’m a woman, in my mid-30s, been a practicing Catholic (including confession) for nearly twenty of those years. And yes, I’ve confessed sexual sins. No priest I’ve confessed them to has had much comment to make about them at all, let alone :eek: trying to seduce me (by which I presume you mean assault - seduction only happens by consent, and I’m sure you wouldn’t consent to anything inappropriate with your priest).

If it helps, you can confess outside the confessional, perhaps sit in the pews with the priest or something. Many people are claustrophobic and would do the same. A lot of modern churches in fact have frosted glass doors to the confessionals as well. Either way you can have privacy, but any inappropriate behaviour can be seen by other people in the church.

Might I suggest bringing a relative or friend to sit in the church with you - not close enough to listen in to the confession or anything … but at least they can see if anything inappropriate happens, or you can signal them in some way if you become at all uncomfortable.


#3

Since you have not been baptized, there is no requirement for you to tell the sins you committed in your past. Some people do it voluntarily in order to receive the priest’s advice and counsel, but it is absolutely not required. No need to worry about this!

I’d say the stuff about priests seducing young women is totally anti-Catholic lies. If it continues to concern you, you always have the right to confess with a screen between you and the priest. If the church you attend has traditional confessional boxes, you’ve even got a wall between you. If your church does not have confessional boxes, you can find one that does, if you are still worried.

In my experience, the confessional is the safest place in the world. If I said what I say in there to anyone else, I’d have no friends, my reputation would be in tatters, and my family members would never speak to me again. But what you say will NEVER, ever, go beyond the confessional. In fact, you could say it goes up in smoke immediately. Once those sins are confessed and absolved, they’re just simply gone. They’re so gone, in fact, that even the priest can’t talk to you about them in later confessions, unless you bring them up yourself first.

How much detail do you need? Enough for the priest to know what you did and how many times you did it. The only time you need additional detail would be if there were circumstances that made the sin worse. Here are some examples:

Not enough detail: I broke the sixth commandment four times.

Wayyy too much detail: There’s this guy I like at work who has the most gorgeous blue eyes, and he always talks to me and makes me feel special. We’ve been going out to the No-Tell Motel on Route 97 on Thursday afternoons for the last month, while we tell the boss we’re out on sales calls. He’s really good in bed because he . And I really like it when he . :eek:

Just enough detail: I slept with a man I’m not married to four times, lied about my whereabouts and cheated my employer by doing it on company time.

Details you would need to add because they make it worse: if he’s married, if he’s a priest, if you’re married, if you did it in the choir loft at church…

Hope this helps. Confession is a wonderful sacrament - it lifts the weight of the world off your shoulders. It lets you be directly cared for by the Good Shepherd. I pray you’ll grow to love it!

Betsy


#4

Student :hug1:

I used to be really afraid of Confession too before I became Catholic. I could barely admit my sins to myself…I had no idea how I’d be able to say them to another person!! I was REALLY scared for my first Confession… I was literally shaking. But I felt SO amazing afterwards…literally like years of sin was lifted off my shoulders. I felt free, for the first time in my life!

Since then, I’ve been going to Confession regularly. Sometimes I had* really* bad sins to confess and was afraid that the priest would judge me. But each time, he was so kind and understanding. I’ve been to several priests… all of them have been really patient.

Recently when I went to Confession, I felt so afraid that the priest would judge me. I went in there expecting judgement, and all I got was mercy. As I said my sins, he didn’t even change his expression. Lol. Literally, they’ve heard EVERYTHING under the sun! Then he talked about God’s mercy…and how if I could see Jesus now, He wouldn’t be angry, but would look at me with so much love. I was nearly crying listening to him cause this is the one thought that has helped me through really difficult times, but clearly he didn’t know this!! So many times, I felt God was speaking to me through the priest at Confession. And afterwards, I felt so free and reconciled with God.

About the abuse scandals, - this is not just a Catholic thing… it’s present in every church. It’s very sad and it’s one of the ways the devil attacks the Church. :frowning: but all the priests I’ve met have been really good! try to just find a good parish… but don’t let this prevent you from going to Confession.

It’s natural to feel afraid of confessing sins, but remember how much Jesus wants to forgive you. When you’ll be speaking to the priest, you’ll actually be speaking to Him. The priest is ‘in persona Christi’. And remember there’s NOTHING that God can’t forgive.

About your baptism, yes, all your sins will be forgiven then :slight_smile: talk to your priest about your first Confession and what you should say. As for detail…just say what the sin was and how many times you did it if it’s more than once. If you don’t remember, just say “several times” or “many times”. Priests are really patient with this and not legalistic… just be open and don’t hide any sins, and everything will be fine. And if you forget something, it will be forgiven anyways. (if you remember it later on, just mention it at your next Confession).

Don’t worry :hug1:


#5

If I said what I say in there to anyone else, I'd have no friends, my reputation would be in tatters, and my family members would never speak to me again.

so true lol :D I agree it's the safest place in the world. I've said things there I'd NEVER tell anyone else, but at Confession, it was alright, and the priest is used to hearing all kinds of sins, - honestly!


#6

Hi Student09,

Seems to me you have a couple of issues. The first is your fear of confession, a fear of being very vulnerable with a vicar of Christ; and fear not! There is NOTHING you will say that will shock the priest or cause him to think you are a bad person. In confession I am confessing my sins to Christ himself. In case I feel embarrassed, I remind myself that there are absolutely NO secrets in heaven, that everybody will know everything about everybody. I’d rather have my sins forgiven beforehand, if I am so fortunate as to make it there. Second issue is your fear or mistrust of priests themselves. The scandals of a few years past involved a very small number of priests. The vast majority of good priests felt very scandalized by this few, and futhermore took a lot of undeserved persecution. These good priests who have survived are the stronger for it. You will meet many priests in your life as a Catholic; some you may not like too much, some you will like and respect, and some will strike you as living saints. You may find that hanging out with the latter two types will get you to feel more comfortable with them. You will probably find a preferred confessor among them.

God bless you on your path, Tim


#7

Well, it’s good to hear other people’s experience of confession … and that I won’t necessarily have to confess everything I’ve ever done.

Fear of priests has been a recurring problem for me … sometimes getting to really absurd levels. I try not to consent to these thoughts because I know they are ridiculous and harmful and not true. The worst was, right before I started R.C.I.A., I had this recurring thought (for absolutely NO reason) that the priest teaching the class was secretly a satanist and I shouldn’t go to the class - with things like that I wonder WHERE they could be possibly be coming from other than the devil himself because I don’t think I’m THAT paranoid on my own! It’s just so upsetting and confusing to have thoughts like that. :frowning:

Yes, I meant assault, or just inappropriateness in general, I’m sorry if that was confusing.


#8

What Lily, and Betsy, and Monica said!

Be not afraid.

I’ve never had anything remotely inappropriate happen in confession. I’ve never been met with anything other than understanding, kindness, and encouragement. I’ve confessed the worst I had to confess, and the priest never batted an eye; never fussed; never looked shocked; never treated me any differently.

The image of the Good Shepherd going after one lost sheep has given me a lot of comfort, as does the story of the Prodigal Son.

I will always be nervous before going, I think. But the benefits far outweigh “the cost”. And the cost to us - nervousness, discomfort, embarassment, humility, is SO much less than the price that Jesus paid on our behalf.

You’ll be fine!


#9

Definitely sounds like one of the devil’s tricks. :frowning: Don’t worry, these sorts of attacks will always die down when they see it’s not working.:slight_smile:

Confession is definitely one of the most amazing things God has given us. To be in a state of grace is amazing!! You can be such a better Christian this way… And from personal experience, priests have never been strange in any way during confession. I know there was the abuse scandal, but take heart in knowing that abuse rates are higher among Americans as a whole than among priests. :thumbsup: Don’t believe the hype.

And CONGRATS!!:extrahappy:


#10

I think you have gotten pretty solid advice in the forum so far. The only thing I can add is the following: we have all broken all 10 commandments. That being said I would suggest you get a little booklet called examing your conscience. I found that it really helps you see yourself and the sacrament more clearly. Finally, and more importantly the priest is acting pro Christi so just imagine you were talking directly to him. You will also find that as with anything practice makes it easier and easier to receive graces from this most important sacrament. Not to mention you will feel so much better afterwards. As for the situation about sex abuse scandals etc. you must try to remove that from your mind. Yes, those horrible things have happened and we must try to let God take care of those individuals. Also remember you don’t have to confess face to face even though I have found this practice to be so much better. :slight_smile:


#11

[quote="Student09, post:1, topic:179515"]
As some of you know, I'm in R.C.I.A. right now and will be baptized at Easter. I am very excited about my Baptism and Confirmation and receiving Holy Communion. But, I am absolutely terrified by the idea of confession. I've been terrified of it from the beginning, but put off thinking about it. But lately, I keep thinking about all the bad things I've done in my life, especially the ones I'm most ashamed of ... I know they will be forgiven in my baptism, but will I have to tell them to the priest anyway? I've heard that some people do. So I'm especially scared about that.

Also, of course I will have to confess whatever sins I commit after I'm baptized. I don't plan to be one of those Catholics who never goes to confession. But it really, really scares me.

[/quote]

That's natural. You're supposed to have your first Confession before your Confirmation, during the RCIA process. This first one is probably going to be the most difficult, or one of the most difficult, because we do a lot of bad things before we become faithful to God. After you're trying, you're much less likely to be committing serious sins like that, so Confession gets easier.

I applaud your commitment to really practice Confession! This will do wonders for your spiritual life, drawing you nearer to God. An analogy I use for myself when praying is that I am a window, and I pray that I might be a clean window that God's light may shine through it clearly. Confession cleans that window :).

The first Confession may well be difficult. Feel free to tell your priest about this concern! They know full well that many people enter Confession with that fear, and they can be very comforting. All the priests I've ever met in Confession have been wonderful.

[quote="Student09, post:1, topic:179515"]
And I admit, I do not trust priests. The priest scandal happened when I was pretty young and made a significant impression on me especially because I have close family members who were sexually abused as children and I knew this from the time I was very little.

[/quote]

This is an extremely small percentage of priests. You don't feel fear about secular teachers doing this, but the percentage of teachers doing this, and professionals from other professions, is a lot higher than the percentage of priests involved in this sin. The media, however, has blown up the scandals in the Church and unfairly made it appear that this problem is particularly large in Catholicism, which it isn't, while never bothering to make any comparative statistics to any other group of professionals or leaders in other religions. It's outrageous and anti-Catholic how the media presents this scandal.

[quote="Student09, post:1, topic:179515"]
Also I am a young woman and I have heard of priests seducing women in confession by getting them to talk about sexual sins, I don't know if that's true or just anti-Catholic stuff. :(

[/quote]

I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised if a very small percentage of priests have done this, like a very small percentage of priests have been involved in pedophelia. You are very unlikely to meet anyone like that. And if you do, I urge you to leave, find the diocese website, report it, and find another priest to go to for Confession. But it is incredibly unlikely you'll ever meet a priest like this.

[quote="Student09, post:1, topic:179515"]
Also I want to know how much detail needs to be given. :eek:

[/quote]

My priest doesn't want me to go into detail. That surprised me, when I started to give details and he said it wasn't necessary. But I think St. Francis de Sales recommended giving some detail. So I recommend you just ask your priest about that when you go to Confession.

[quote="Student09, post:1, topic:179515"]
I understand the need for confession. But I'm really scared and worried about it.

Please help!

[/quote]

Chin up! [SIGN]Courage![/SIGN] I'll pray for you this evening before bed. I'm sure God appreciates very much the devotion you are acting in, in order to follow the Way. Your intention is admirable and I think if you keep this attitude up, you will go very far in God's Kingdom.


#12

Actually, I DO fear secular teachers, and I have since I was a child, and I would never give highly personal information about myself to a male teacher. The fact that other people besides priests sometimes behave inappropriately in this way, does take away the silly notion that it’s just a Catholic thing (and I know it’s not), but it doesn’t erase the fear that I might encounter one of those bad priests. I understand that it’s very unlikely. I’m trying not to be afraid.

Thank you everyone … I am feeling very low at the moment … Please say a prayer for me, if you would.


#13

How many priests have you known, so far? I’m obviously expecting it to be next to none, seeing as you’re just converting.

I think you’ll find yourself very, very pleasantly surprised :).


#14

[quote="ljubim, post:9, topic:179515"]
Definitely sounds like one of the devil's tricks. :( Don't worry, these sorts of attacks will always die down when they see it's not working.:)

Confession is definitely one of the most amazing things God has given us. To be in a state of grace is amazing!! You can be such a better Christian this way... And from personal experience, priests have never been strange in any way during confession. I know there was the abuse scandal, but take heart in knowing that abuse rates are higher among Americans as a whole than among priests. :thumbsup: Don't believe the hype.

And CONGRATS!!:extrahappy:

[/quote]

Hi all,

It's no shame to be afraid, if you think you're being irrational, look at me - I've been a Catholic for quite a few years, but before every Confession I still am besieged by a wave of irrational fear.I do agree that very often our reluctance to approach God, especially in the confessional is caused by the temptation of the devil.

I experienced that yesterday when I went for Confession. Long story short, right until the moment I finished confessing my sins I was struggling. Before entering the Church and the Chapel of Reconciliation, I was assailed by a bout of anger and irritation and it crossed my mind often in the 2 hours before, to turn back from Confession for that day. Then when I was in the confessional, (I like the traditional ones, where both you and the priest cannot see each other) it was a struggle to get the words out of my mouth.

But as Monica mentioned, the relief after confessing was like a weight lifted from my heart. And it was soaring after saying the prayer of contrition and hearing the priest, through the vestment of sacramental authority, absolve me of my sins.

Before I go for confession, I usually pray to God for the strength and courage to make a (proper) confession of my sins, so that my path can be made straight for Him to reside in me.

I will pray for you.

Zach Isaiah


#15

dear,

first of all… i assure you that i have BEEN THERE! i am an adult convert, i was 40 when i made my first confession.
first of all, i dont know what would make you more comfortable, confessing in a “public area” like a pew, or room… or in a traditional manner like a booth.

given your fears i would suggest you ask your RCIA peole to give you a tour of the confessionals… every church is different.
my local parish confessionals separate the priest from the penitent with a curtain… you may not feel secure enough in that, but the other church i attend has solid doors or walls between the priest and penitent.
would being in an open sit down room make it better or worse?

and my FIRST confession (for RCIA) we had appointments and did it in a room (with the door cracked open and a nun outside) it was harder, but i think they knew most of us would just plain take more time with a first confession, and didnt want to make anyone uncomfortable. (and the priest had to walk us all through what to say)

I have NEVER has a priest say, or do anything in confession that would be a problem. and none of the abuse cases involved confession that i have heard of.
(and frankly? there are usually LINES for confession…i cannot imagine a priest trying to set up some kind of assignation with fifteen people before and after you, even if it crossed his mind…)

i am going to suggest something a bit scary
do that first confession as though you were already baptized.
the priest wont expect you to go into detail after years… the advice i got was "just confess the stuff that you remember, that bothers you, that still comes up from time to time…
but get the scary bad, sinful past stuff, out of the way so you don’t have to worry later… “should i confess that?”

do it in a way that makes you feel absolutely secure… arrange that with the RCIA people…and you will have a LOT more leeway because they will undoubtedly have special arrangements for first confessions

and i can also assure you, pretty much whatever you did? someone on this forum did something similar. someone here did something worse. and probably someone here did this after they were baptized, or even confirmed in their faith.

i will be praying for you.
feel free to chat with me off the forum if you like (but just be warned, i will be off line until after Xmas at a craft show!)


#16

I just had a wonderful thing happen to me recently and hope this can help you. I was sexually abused as a kid (by a family member) and he whistled all the time. Ever since then whistling always makes me feel uncomfortable. But then, one day I realized that my super good Grandfather taught me how to whistle. Ever since then, I have changed something really negative into something great! Try to think about a priest that has done something great for you…maybe simply giving you a blessing when you are down and out, or before a trip. Maybe they said something deeply moving in a homily. Maybe they made you want to be Catholic. If you cannot think of anything, maybe ask a friend for an example to live on until you have something happen. Here is one of mine: when I came into the church 2 years ago I was making rosaries to give away like crazy…actually had ‘rosary blisters’ on my fingers. I was nicknamed the Rosary Factory in RCIA. So, right before I came in the Deacon mention to the Priest that I was doing this. He went and pulled out a special rosary that was blessed by Pope John Paul II to give to me after my confirmation. This was so special and I carry it around always (except when my husband needs some kind of spiritual boost, and then I let him take it for the day…he knows what it mean to me). There…good priest stuff :slight_smile:
As for confession, it is scary and hard, but my favorite sacrament! What a blessing! You will feel like a huge weight is lifted off of you. I did mine face to face and have never felt more ashamed of my sins…but, you know what…I have cleaned up my act so much because many of those things (mainly sexual sins) I NEVER want to have to say to a holy man again!!! So, you feel better afterwords and you begin to change your life for the better!!!


#17

Thank you, Arianna. :)


#18

I’ve not been to confession yet (only just baptised last week!), and although I do feel some trepidation, I would say that I am pleased to have access to something so special.

My priest is very understanding, and we’ve already talked about some fairly heavy things, so I’m sure he will put me right at ease when the time comes. Priests vary like any other group of people, but many of them are truly wonderful, and all but the tiniest minority are nothing to be afraid of.


#19

Hi all, I’m going to church now and won’t be posting anymore today, but before I go I just wanted to thank all of you who have posted on this thread. It’s really helping me to put my fears in perspective. I’ll say a prayer for all of you at Mass. :slight_smile:


#20

Every time I go to confession I’m incredibly nervous. I think part of it is just the normal response to telling someone all of your failings, many of which are personal. I always worry that the priest is going to judge me or even worse, tell me I’m not forgiven (that has got to be my biggest worry whenever I go to confession and confess a mortal sin). What helps me is not dwelling on what I’m going to confess for too long and not doing a face to face confession (I become overly anxious when I do a face to face confession).


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