I have chronic major depression with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I have been to confession before, and I need to continue going. I suffer from social anxiety and most of the time, I do not say all that I should have said, such as confessing more than one sin. I have gone back to confess the remaining of the sins, but it takes so long in between doing this. I am afraid to confess my sins because I am afraid that the priest will not give me absolution because most times I do not feel contrition. Actually, most times I do not have any real emotions; so I feel like I am faking my confession. My question is, should I let the priest know that I am being treated for depression or does being depressed not matter when I go to confession? If I tell the priest I am depressed, will my confession be a true confession or not? Can someone please help me understand how I should approach this confusion?
PTSD changes your brain chemistry, and thus causes the depression. A lot of the time you just don’t feel emotion even when you KNOW you should be. This is especially true if you’re on medication. There are a couple out there that cause total apathy in some people. It’s not something you can control. Priests are well versed in Psychology in addition to Theology, so yes, tell him you have depression. Maybe schedule a private appointment to discuss this (I know - the social anxiety kicks in, but it can also be a step in overcoming that aspect). They’re not just Priests, they’re Spiritual advisers.
Hi Saphire, contrition has nothing to do with feelings. Contrition is a decision, an act of the will. It’s a resolve to make changes in your life to avoid sin. So don’t worry about your confession being fake - it’s not. If you come out of the confessional with an intention to not commit sin again because you love God, your contrition is real and your confession valid.
Contrition does not have to have any emotions…it does not have to be felt.
Even love need not be felt…I can say to my wife …I love you…and mean it but not feel anything at all at that moment…or even be in great pain from something…and it is still true.
One needs only confess ones mortal sins (in number and kind) and not intentionally withhold any…if one forgets one or through anxiety can not bring it to mind (thus forgets it) at the moment of confession…the confession is still good. One needs to then just mention it the next confession…
In your case i would call a priest and make an appointment …tell him your difficulties and he can help you…
and yes if you tell him you are depressed…that has no effect on the confession!
Jesus Christ loves you and is the Good shepherd…it is he who will absolve you through the Priest…and he knows and loves you
So give a priest a call …
In the meantime pray:
Jesus I believe in you, I hope in you, I love you (pray this often)
Jesus I am sorry for my sins out of love for you…for you are the Lord you are God. I see your love for me in your dying on the Cross out of love for me!
Even if I do not feel it, I am sorry and I trust in your mercy and love. You are my anchor
you are my hope!
And know that Jesus does love you. He is our life an our hope!
He is the Good Shepherd who loves you and came to take you upon his shoulders.
He is trying our Hope!
A portion of Pope Benedict XVI’s from one of his past Urbi et Orbi messages.
I know it is not Easter yet…but it is coming…and today is Sunday which the Lord’s Day…the day of the Resurrection each week…so here you go:
"The resurrection, then, is not a theory, but a historical reality revealed by the man Jesus Christ by means of his “Passover”, his “passage”, that has opened a “new way” between heaven and earth (cf. Heb 10:20). It is neither a myth nor a dream, it is not a vision or a utopia, it is not a fairy tale, but it is a singular and unrepeatable event: Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary, who at dusk on Friday was taken down from the Cross and buried, has victoriously left the tomb. In fact, at dawn on the first day after the Sabbath, Peter and John found the tomb empty. Mary Magdalene and the other women encountered the risen Jesus. On the way to Emmaus the two disciples recognized him at the breaking of the bread. The Risen One appeared to the Apostles that evening in the Upper Room and then to many other disciples in Galilee.
The proclamation of the Lord’s Resurrection lightens up the dark regions of the world in which we live. I am referring particularly to materialism and nihilism, to a vision of the world that is unable to move beyond what is scientifically verifiable, and retreats cheerlessly into a sense of emptiness which is thought to be the definitive destiny of human life. It is a fact that if Christ had not risen, the “emptiness” would be set to prevail. If we take away Christ and his resurrection, there is no escape for man, and every one of his hopes remains an illusion. Yet today is the day when the proclamation of the Lord’s resurrection vigorously bursts forth, and it is the answer to the recurring question of the sceptics, that we also find in the book of Ecclesiastes: “Is there a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new’?” (Ec 1:10). We answer, yes: on Easter morning, everything was renewed. “Death and life have come face to face in a tremendous duel: the Lord of life was dead, but now he lives triumphant” (Easter Sequence). This is what is new! A newness that changes the lives of those who accept it, as in the case of the saints. This, for example, is what happened to Saint Paul.
Many times, in the context of the Pauline year, we have had occasion to meditate on the experience of the great Apostle. Saul of Tarsus, the relentless persecutor of Christians, encountered the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, and was “conquered” by him. The rest we know. In Paul there occurred what he would later write about to the Christians of Corinth: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17). Let us look at this great evangelizer, who with bold enthusiasm and apostolic zeal brought the Gospel to many different peoples in the world of that time. His teaching and example inspire us to go in search of the Lord Jesus. They encourage us to trust him, because that sense of emptiness, which tends to intoxicate humanity, has been overcome by the light and the hope that emanate from the resurrection. The words of the Psalm have truly been fulfilled: “Darkness is not darkness for you, and the night is as clear as the day” (Ps 139 :12). It is no longer emptiness that envelops all things, but the loving presence of God. The very reign of death has been set free, because the Word of life has even reached the “underworld”, carried by the breath of the Spirit (v. 8).
Resurrectio Domini, spes nostra! The resurrection of Christ is our hope! This the Church proclaims today with joy. She announces the hope that is now firm and invincible because God has raised Jesus Christ from the dead. She communicates the hope that she carries in her heart and wishes to share with all people in every place, especially where Christians suffer persecution because of their faith and their commitment to justice and peace. She invokes the hope that can call forth the courage to do good, even when it costs, especially when it costs. Today the Church sings “the day that the Lord has made”, and she summons people to joy. Today the Church calls in prayer upon Mary, Star of Hope, asking her to guide humanity towards the safe haven of salvation which is the heart of Christ, the paschal Victim, the Lamb who has “redeemed the world”, the Innocent one who has “reconciled us sinners with the Father”. To him, our victorious King, to him who is crucified and risen, we sing out with joy our Alleluia!"
In terms of the black and white of your answers: you’re not culpable for failing to confess sins unless you either purposefully held them back or failed to make the effort to examine your conscience. Do your best, and don’t worry that your effort is not good enough. Just try to do your best every time and look for ways to improve. You may do well to tell your confessor that you have been diagnosed with major depression and PTSD, as long as you do so for the reason you imply that you would: that is, so that he might understand your limitations and the state of your soul better, and not as an excuse for your sinful choices.
As it has been pointed out, feelings of sorrow are not required at all. An act of will to reject past and future sin is what is meant by contrition. A sociopath–that is, a person not endowed with an emotionally-operative conscience–can still make a good confession. It is not that emotions have no role our in the war against sin, but that they are very often beyond our control. We are only culpable for failing to choose what we had the capacity to choose. Even the difference between perfect and imperfect contrition isn’t an emotional difference, but rather in whether the motive behind the repentance is a desire to please God or to merely save oneself from the suffering that comes as the consequences of sin. After all, how could one be willing to suffer for good, if escaping suffering is the main reason that one avoids evil? If one avoids evil out of the love of God, though, then one will not shrink from doing good simply because suffering of some kind will be involved. Perfection is when the victory of God’s will is all that matters.
Yours are really great questions to ask your confessor directly, because it is much easier to believe these things when you have heard them from your confessor himself. As for the social anxiety, having a regular confessor might help that, too. The psychological issues that you struggle with might be something you want to share with the priest outside the confessional, though, since many confessors make it a point to forget everything you tell them about yourself in the context of confession.
Priests do differ by quite a bit in their understanding of psychology, particularly problems that are more serious than those that are the common lot of us all. If such a person is locally available, you may want to find a priest to talk to who has extra training in psychology…not necessarily as your regular confessor, but just in order to get feedback from someone who is an expert in both your psychological and your spiritual challenges.
Thanks everyone for your advice. Hopefully, I can overcome feeling guilty that I did not make a true confession and therefore, thinking that I need to re-confess the same sins. I may not feel the courage to let the priest know that I am being treated for PTSD because I don’t want to feel that I am trying to reduce the effects of the sins. I will definitely pray that God leads me correctly in making a true confession and to feel that I have been forgiven.
When I started to read this post I started to cry. I am dealing with the same mental issues as well as Type 1 diabetes’s and severe ulcerated colitis.
The only difference is I am so ashamed of my sins I have not been able to make myself go to confession, even though I very much want to.
I know that God will forgive me, it’s not that. It’s saying them out loud to a Priest. I very much want to be close to our Lord and I know until I confess my sins I am lost.
Please pray for me?
Please forgive me for highjacking this thread?
Dogiel, you did not hijack this thread. I’m glad you could share. I’m sorry for your plight and hope you make it to confession as soon as possible. Maybe you’re going through the same thing I’m experiencing which happens to be that I don’t feel guilt for committing any sin. So, I fear that I am doing a really bad thing for going to confession because it is what I am supposed to do instead of going because I am sorry for hurting God. I can only pray that God shows me my sins and, through his grace, I continue to go to confession. I wish you well, and I will pray for you to understand your pain as I am trying to understand mine.
Thank you very much. I will pray for you also. Please know that you are not alone in what you ar dealing with.