Father was harsh with me today in confession

Greetings Everyone,

I went to confession today and father was very harsh with me. He also gave me two decades of the rosary to say for my penance.

My sins were not outrageous or anything. I certainly didn’t kill anyone. Same old, same old.

I’ve been trying to go regularly as it seems to be common advice for those trying to overcome some habitual sins. I think what set him off was that my last confession was pretty recent. I thought it would be better though to get to confession again as quickly as possible instead of waiting.

I also often confess presumption along with my sins. I think this is what upset him the most. But I have to do this every time because I know of the sacrament of confession. I always know that I’ll be coming back to confession at some point. Once you are aware of confession and that you’ll be going again sometime, isn’t presumption a given? Or am I misunderstanding something?

Confession experiences can be so different. Sometimes the priest is so very gentle and understanding. Other times it’s like he’s not even paying attention. And then once in a while they are calling down fire and brimstone.

Do you have similar experiences? Do you find that when the priest is harsh that you shape up quicker than if he’s not? Or do you find it more helpful when he’s not so harsh?

I can understand the occasional kick in the pants to a penitent, but this has me wondering if I shouldn’t go quickly back to confession if I fall again. :shrug:

I personally love when the Priest gives me a real penance, something like fast for awhile or say 4 rosarys. It really helps me to appreciate the forgiveness. When they just give you like 5 Hail Marys and a Our Father it feels empty :confused:

Of course we must remember we dont do penance to earn forgiveness as it is freely given and we could never earn it. But personally I think priests should move away from the slap on the wrist concept. People to often just do it and go back into sin.

I know one man told me about once he confessed to viewing pornagraphy. The priest forbad him from recieving the Eucharist for 2 months! While this may seem overly harsh he never went NEAR porn again, and you should have seen him when his penance was over. He was in tears in thanksgiving about finally being able to recieve the Eucharist again.

Im personally not a harsh person myself, but I am also not a confessor. A little sting to the bite of sin might be good for us all.

Be thankful for a harsher penance, although lets face it 2 decades aint nothing, we all should be praying to rosary every day or at least try to. So rejoice in your penance and use it to bring you closer to Jesus Christ. :slight_smile:

The parish where I go has a new older priest and I went to him…He was blunt to the point and very hard on me for not keeping my promise to Christ mainly I think because of me also going to regular confession. I can’t remember my penance but he really got my attention and made me think. On the flip side I went last Saturday and got a soft priest He hardly reacted to me and gave me a strange penance. I asked him “is that my penance” He said that he did not like the word penance and called it something else :shrug: I’ll take the harsh old priest any day. I like old school priests.

I cannot say whether you committed the sin of presumption, but it is not a given just because someone knows he has access to the sacrament of confession.

It’s more like, Well, God is merciful and I will confess on Saturday when I go to Confession, so I will commit this sin. A lot of times I sin because I am not thinking about God and about Christ’s Passion. But if I were thinking about God and still committed the sin, that would be worse than just the sin itself.

One of the problems with the sin of presumption is that God may not allow you to get to confession–you could die on the way, no? But the real problem, as I understand it, is that it is kind of like denigrating God, saying, oh, He won’t mind, when the reality is that every sin we commit adds to Christ’s pain on the Cross. It’s one thing to sort of forgetfully add to His pain, but another to realize what one is doing and commit the sin.

So I hope you have not committed the sin of presumption, and 2 decades is not much. I remember when I was visiting my parents with my small children, going to Confession and waiting a long time, finally seeing the priest, who told me to say an entire chaplet of the Rosary (5 mysteries). I shakily asked if I had to do it right there as my smaller children were already kind of restless… and he said no, I could do it during the week. That one was tough, as we were visiting my non-Catholic parents!

But his being tough on me didn’t have much effect–I don’t even remember what I confessed that time :o

One thing you can do before confessing something is to look it up in the Catholic Encyclopedia, or the Baltimore Catechism.

Perhaps Father caught on to this dangerous attitude. You may not have killed anyone but all sins are serious: they push us further away from God. By downplaying your sins, you come across as someone who is not truly sorry. Of course I can’t judge what’s in your heart, but if you displayed the same attitude in the confessional as you did with this statement, I can see why Father was particularly harsh with you.

As to not going to Confession as much, that’s the wrong path to take. Many, many saints went to Confession every day. Frequency is not the issue.

I’m not sure what you mean by “very harsh.” Was he actually yelling at you, or was he very to the point, did he give you thought-provoking insights, and practical advice in avoiding a habitual sin? And personally, I don’t think that two decades of the Rosary is a harsh penance.

I got uber-lucky: I found a confessor at a nearby Jesuit college who is not only (obviously) a Jesuit, but is a licensed Ph. D. clinical psychologist! I not only get a couple of comments, I get some insights into some really deep-motive types of issues, as well as penances such as reading (make that studying) a particular section of a Gospel, the life of a particular saint, as well as prayer penances. Some of the commentary has been thought provoking as well–I had stayed away from the Church for some time, and when I went back this priest reminded me of the possibility that if I lived in another country I would not have been able to even attend Mass, and I should reflect my gratitude for such a freedom by making sure I attended! (I had never quite thought about it in those terms before.)

In other words, going to confession with this particular priest is not only confessing and receiving absolution, but gaining insight into why I backslide or why I get tempted. Obviously, I can’t earn forgiveness and absolution. But having a penance where I have some intellectual “skin in the game,” so to speak, is extremely helpful for the health of my soul and my spirit.

Aside from the spiritual benefits of making a good confession with a good confessor, I don’t know if most people have recognized the obvious mental health benefits of doing so. True, confession is not the same thing as psychotherapy. But developing insight into our spiritual places of darkness as well as developing practical tools for dealing with them can only improve, not only our spiritual health, but our temporal happiness as well.

a little old school is good for all of us.

he could have told you to wear a hair shirt for a month. ouch.

what we have to remember is our time here is but a blink of an eye when looking at eternity. you never know when it is time to go home. i’m sure we want to be ready for the moment.

I think the priest wanted to get that message across and you probably weren’t the only one getting the message that day.

I must say that to deny someone Christ like this hardly seems responsible on the part of the priest. It is when we are seriously tried by temptations that we most need the Sacraments, and above all the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. The Sacraments are a source of great strength, without having access to the Eucharist in a time of spiritual battle would be akin to fighting a dragon without any armor with one hand tied behind your back. And we must remember that we are indeed at war with a deadly dragon. I hope the priest who forbade this man from receiving Christ eventually realized the sin he himself committed and sought the Lord’s forgiveness during his own next confession. Though it may sound “harsh” (this seems to be a favorite word in this discussion) if ever a priest were to deny me the Lord while I was in a state of grace I would report him immediately to the bishop.

As for the assignment of praying two decades of the rosary as a penance, I do not see how this is a harsh penance. Prayer should be something we enjoy, not something we dread.

Don’t worry about the harshness. Sometimes it is needed. I have been slapped before. ( not too hard) The priest knew me too well.

Gosh, are they allowed to do that? :confused:

Probably but, not advisable I would imagine. But, it is Christ in the confessional and He knows what He is doing!

double post.

We have to remember that God speaks through his priests in the confessional.
The advice that I have received in the confessional is priceless. Some penances I was required to pray may have been out of the ‘ordinary’ (outside of the few Our Fathers and Hail Marys mostly prescribed). In turn, I learned the great significance and power of praying the Rosary, and now praying it daily, my life has changed to a great degree.

It is my belief that unless a priest is physically abusive, they can never be as ‘harsh’ as when God meets us face to face and shows each individual a play by play of every sin that we committed in our lives. It is a good thing to be treated with sternness once in a while, especially when it is for our spiritual purification.

Back in the day, murder, adultery, and apostasy resulted in excommunication until death. That is, you could still go to the bishop’s house and kneel (outside the nave, basically in the narthex) during the liturgy. However, you weren’t allowed in and everyone got to see that you had done those things. When you were dying the bishop would come to you and give you the last rites. Something like masturbation was probably a one year excommunication at least. Sometimes they were more lenient. A ten year restriction from communion might happen, too.

If people think their penances nowadays are harsh . . . well, Christians used to be a little stricter.

We need that strictness back.

Once in a while, yes. I did fairly recently and I must admit it was a turn-off. I was upset. (I often cry in confession.) The priest was cold and dismissive and impatient. The thing is, I could/can really understand if it’s been a long day for him, he’s heard confession for hours, etc. In this case he had just begun. He was a priest called in somewhat at the last minute to do a retreat (“mission”). (This is one of my few complaints about the parish priest at that church: he always knows when he wants to hold retreats, and he never gives it enough time to select the retreatmaster.) I got the feeling that the person selected was not too thrilled about being there, or for some reason felt uncomfortable, was unsuited to it, whatever. It made for a very unpleasant and unfruitful experience for me. (He also delivered his talk to the congregation in a very disengaged manner.)

Do you find that when the priest is harsh that you shape up quicker than if he’s not?

No! (Listen up, priests.)

Or do you find it more helpful when he’s not so harsh?

The confessional is the place to experience mercy and counsel – not rejection. I can understand a priest’s impatience if the penitent doesn’t seem to have put much effort into the Examen, into the recitation, etc. But that was not true in my case.

It is in experiencing mercy that we are actually made to feel more compunction for our sins, because the contrast between the mercy of God and our callousness, disregard, selfishness, self-indulgence, etc. comes into clear focus.

I can understand the occasional kick in the pants to a penitent, but this has me wondering if I shouldn’t go quickly back to confession if I fall again. :shrug:

As anyone who has visited this subforum knows, I value this sacrament highly and have few expectations of priests except to be good listeners and merely to do their best to probe, to offer advice, etc. I recognize that often they can only do what is minimal, but “being harsh” is the surest way to turn off and turn away the penitent from frequent confession, which is entirely the point.

OP, for me, it’s not that I’m going to stay away from confession, but I’m definitely not going back to this priest if he is ever again invited to the parish. If you don’t feel like doing a retreat, don’t do it. I doubt anyone twisted his arm.

The most harsh penance that I have received was one decade of the Rosary. I loved doing that penance because I knew that a harsher penance would probably take away more of my time in Purgatory. And I felt bad for my sins too. I didn’t want to have a weakling penance like 3 Hail Mary’s or 3 Our Father’s. I hate it when I get that kind of penance although that is usually what I do get.

In the early church the Christians who had betrayed the church and committed apostasy to avoid persecution were wanting to be reconciled to the church after the persecution finished. They had to confess their sins before Confessors who had survived martyrdom. These penitents at times had to wait for up to 10 years before they could be readmitted to the Mass of the Faithful and the reception of the Eucharist.

Have a look at these prescriptions from St. Basil which is a guide to what penances different sins should attract en.wikisource.org/wiki/Nicene_and_Post-Nicene_Fathers:_Series_II/Volume_VIII/The_Letters/Letter_218

For example a fornicator would not be able to receive the sacrament for SEVEN years.

By comparison, 2 months is nothing. In fact denial of the sacraments is the very best and original penance.

Now I wonder how St. Basil would have viewed porn. I wonder whether he would have given that the same penance as fornication? Needless to say. I bet there was very little fornication in the early church wheras we are utterly awash with porn these days, even amongst Catholics, or at least that is the impression I get.

Consider saying a Rosary every day, just as a good prayer/ spiritual practice. Not as a penance.

After a week or two, you might find yourself having some insights that you didn’t have before.

Say the Rosary first thing in the morning as soon as you wake up.

The most time consuming penance I ever received was to read the entire New Testament. Admittedly I had been away from the Church for a loooooong time. I was delighted with this penance. It was more an honour and a gift than a penance.

Since then I have received some very interesting penances from other priests. One advised me to give up something for Advent. More recently I was asked to do someone a nice favour.

Whether we get a harsh or a soft penance from a priest we like or dislike, we must accept that God is behind it for the good of our soul, whether we think it right, fair or not.

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