First Confession - Priest gave us little choice


#1

I need some help in discernment.

I started RCIA last fall. My first confession has been weighing on me heavily since then. I am 40 years old and have quite a bit to confess - some things that I feel are rather grave. I would like to do a good confession and had read and heard many places, including our RCIA leaders, that I could go to the priest of another parish for my first confession.

Well, the other day the Pastor of our parish gave us two options - the first is the parish penance service where there will be other priests there, but the confessions are done in the sanctuary - with other people standing by, and no privacy. The other option is to do confession the night of rehearsal for the Vigil - and that gives us the choice of 2 priests.

So, essentially, there is no anonymous option, unless I go to the parish service and confess to one of those priests, but with the congregation able to witness my emotional reaction, which, if I give a good confession, is going to be pretty intense. The other issue is that I don’t have anyone to watch my kids, and I probably won’t be able to make the parish service unless I drag them along - not exactly good parenting to take my kids to see me break down.

I emailed my priest to tell him these things yesterday and asked his thoughts, and haven’t gotten a response.

My plan had been to go to the shrine of a Saint to which I have great devotion where I can confess to an Augustinian monk. I’m tempted to go ahead and do that anyway - give a good confession and then do a second one in the parish (they want to make sure that they know we have gone). This feels very disobedient, but I don’t feel like the priest is being very thoughtful about our nervousness and concerns. There are a few things that I would rather be in my past, and I don’t want to be attending church every Sunday thinking, “Does he remember what I did?” I understand the benefit of having a regular confessor, but can’t I just go anonymous this one time? Doesn’t the church require that I be given the option of an anonymous confession?

Thoughts?


#2

It has only been a day and priests are busy so not having a response yet doesn’t really mean anything. I work with priests on a regular basis through various programs I am involved in and quick responses is not something I am really accustomed too.

I might suggest that you suggest your idea of the Augustinian Monks followed by a confession at the parish as he may be trying to find a solution for you already and the suggestion may take some of the burden off of him.


#3

I’m not sure, but I personally think it could be a powerful witness to your children to see you at confession. I have a 1 year old and a 3 year old, and whenever I go, I tell my 3 year old that we are going in to say “sorry” to Jesus for the stuff we did wrong (then I will give an example like losing my temper with them or not being nice to Daddy or not saying my bedtime prayers). I’m hoping that as they get older, they will WANT to make their first confessions and see it as a grown-up thing to do and that they will see how much better I feel afterwards and that there is nothing to be afraid of.

I never had this example growing up and was never brought to confession, so I grew to dread it, and to be honest, I still do.


#4

I see your point, but this is my first one - ever. I started tearing up at the RCIA meeting just thinking about it. I am going to be a sobbing mess. I don’t think that’s healthy for my kids to see, especially since I’m a divorced single mom and they see me struggle enough already as it is. In the future, I can see it being a very constructive family activity, and I don’t mind keeping to my parish for future confession (though one hour a week is somewhat limited). It’s just this one time that I’m concerned about.


#5

Having worked in parishes and with RCIA programs, I understand the desire for your parish priest to know that you have made a good confession. The reason to do this is that he knows that you are fully prepared to receive your First Communion on the Easter Vigil.

As for your priest not responding promptly, please remember that we are leading into Holy Week and parish staffs are likely very busy trying to get ready for Easter.

There are two suggestions I have before talking to your pastor about going elsewhere first.

  1. Contact your parish and see if they have any day care/child watch available for the large penance service. Many large parishes may offer this for families so that they can attend the Sacrament without needing to attend to their child. Another option would be to see if there is a volunteer who works with your RCIA group who would do this for you.

  2. Schedule an appointment with your parish priest. As I said above this is a very busy time for parishes. So this may not be a viable option. However if you can do this just to schedule a time to get a response from your pastor that may work as well.

Having a regular confessor is a plus because if a priest should remember a particular struggle that you are currently having, they can help guide you in a way to avoid and stop falling into that particular sin.

No priest should treat you differently because of something you have done. They are ministers of Christ’s grace and are only seeing you as the better person you are becoming for going to that sacrament.

I hope I have been of some help. Congratulations on your entrance into the Church.


#6

I had quite a bit to confess myself this year, we are in the same age ballpark and I had some real humdingers. Just meet with one of them, tell them what you’ve done, they have heard it all before.

When its over its over.

Don’t sweat it. Easy to say, hard to do, but by all means obey your priest.


#7

I teach RCIA, and the Saturday before Easter (the one before Palm Sunday) We would have a special meeting with those who were to go to confession.

Father would take each one outside and just walk and talk with them while we would be inside praying for them. Yes, some of them came back full of tears, but also with huge smiles. One was an 80 year old ex Marine, and he was pretty worried about what he had to say!

My point is, your priest is there for YOU. He will not remember your sins. It is important to get to know and trust him to guide you and instruct you. Remember, you do not have to be totally explicit.

I always close my eyes and picture Jesus listening to me as His repentent child.

Good luck and may God Bless and guide you.


#8

I think you are fine to go to the Shrine and then go again when the penance service is. The priest is open to you confessing to another priest so there shouldn’t be a problem. Also, you have a right to privacy and I wouldn’t want to do a lifetime confession out in the open either. It seems to me like you are taking this seriously and that is great! I don’t think going else where would be disobedient to your priest. Congratulations on your Confirmation.


#9

Thank you for the suggestion. I did this - told him how I had such a devotion to St. Rita and had my heart set on going to my first confession at her shrine, and could I have permission to go this week and then confess again with the parish priests next week? Told him that if he feels very strongly that I should confess with him, then I will obey. Now it’s in God’s hands.

Thank you everyone!


#10

From what I have seen of those services in the Latin Church, they give a generous amount of room for the person confessing so that no one here anyone’s confession and hymns are played.

In the Eastern Churches this is the norm for all confessions. They generally take place in the sanctuary in front of people but, far enough that no one hears.

If you prefer the second option, don’t worry. The priests have heard almost every kind of sin all the time. I am very far from perfect myself. :thumbsup:

“Did you commit sin? Enter the Church, repent for your sin, for here is the physician, not the judge. Here one is not investigated; one receives remission of sins.” - St John Chrysostom


#11

I like the idea of going to the monestery myself- or you could ask your priest if you could set up a private confession in his office at some time.


#12

I went to another parish for my first Confession. I did ask my parish priest first, though, and he said it was up to me.


#13

#14

[quote="DAML72, post:1, topic:319420"]
I need some help in discernment.

I started RCIA last fall. My first confession has been weighing on me heavily since then. I am 40 years old and have quite a bit to confess - some things that I feel are rather grave. I would like to do a good confession and had read and heard many places, including our RCIA leaders, that I could go to the priest of another parish for my first confession.

Well, the other day the Pastor of our parish gave us two options - the first is the parish penance service where there will be other priests there, but the confessions are done in the sanctuary - with other people standing by, and no privacy. The other option is to do confession the night of rehearsal for the Vigil - and that gives us the choice of 2 priests.

So, essentially, there is no anonymous option, unless I go to the parish service and confess to one of those priests, but with the congregation able to witness my emotional reaction, which, if I give a good confession, is going to be pretty intense. The other issue is that I don't have anyone to watch my kids, and I probably won't be able to make the parish service unless I drag them along - not exactly good parenting to take my kids to see me break down.

I emailed my priest to tell him these things yesterday and asked his thoughts, and haven't gotten a response.

My plan had been to go to the shrine of a Saint to which I have great devotion where I can confess to an Augustinian monk. I'm tempted to go ahead and do that anyway - give a good confession and then do a second one in the parish (they want to make sure that they know we have gone). This feels very disobedient, but I don't feel like the priest is being very thoughtful about our nervousness and concerns. There are a few things that I would rather be in my past, and I don't want to be attending church every Sunday thinking, "Does he remember what I did?" I understand the benefit of having a regular confessor, but can't I just go anonymous this one time? Doesn't the church require that I be given the option of an anonymous confession?

Thoughts?

[/quote]

I notice your concerns is because this confession is not as private as it can be. Is that what concerns you? May be you can tell one of those priests who will be there to know about this concern of yours and choose a more appropriate place to confess. I know when parents take their children to confession to the local Orthodox Church I attend the parent will enjoy this privacy with their priest in another room while their children awaits for them somewhere close by. I find your own choice to go to a monastery to confess an excellent one if you do choose to. It is not that important at your age to make sure you go to your priest. Going to another priest is all right for the most important thing about the sacrament is confessing and not primarily to a specific priest. Any priest will do. It is good to stick with the same priest only if you desire spiritual direction from someone who you will trust to guide you. But if the only source of need for you is absolution and forgiveness than any priest will do. You don't have to confess again. If this other priest inquires then just tell him about your circumstances. He will understand.


#15

I think it is fine to go elsewhere to make an annonymous confession. I also think it is fine to confess at the communal service or before the Vigil Mass. As long as you go to confession. No priest is going to remember you from any other confession they hear. They hear so many that they can’t keep track. If for some reason they DID remember, I honestly believe they would admire your courage for making a good confession, working towards setting your life straight, and never giving up.

That being said, I completely understand your feelings. I am notorious for waiting to confess until I visit my in laws. They live in Mexico, the priest only speaks Spanish, I confess in English. Maybe that is wrong, I’m sure many people will tell me it is. But my pastor and the Mexican priest have both told me that those confessions are valid. We confess to Jesus so it makes no difference if the priest understands us or not. I do go to confession here as well. Matter of fact, I’m going this weekend.


#16

Thanks everyone - great advice here. I got a call from the parish - I got the go ahead to go where I wanted. Part of me was thinking it may be God’s plan that I confess these things to one of the priests with whom I have have a lot of contact (we have 3 priests in residence) so that i can fully experience his mercy. But there was also another element in that I have a bit of a crush on my Pastor, and receiving an anointing for healing from him a few months back didn’t help things since it was an overwhelming feeling of God’s grace and love that overcame me. I prayed to Padre Pio to intercede for me - and made sure to emphasize my concern about exposing myself to more intimacy with this priest. It wasn’t long before I got the call. LOL! Thank you St. Pio!


#17

. Part of me was thinking it may be God’s plan that I confess these things to one of the priests with whom I have have a lot of contact (we have 3 priests in residence) so that i can fully experience his mercy. But there was also another element in that I have a bit of a crush on my Pastor, and receiving an anointing for healing from him a few months back didn’t help things since it was an overwhelming feeling of God’s grace and love that overcame me. I prayed to Padre Pio to intercede for me - and made sure to emphasize my concern about exposing myself to more intimacy with this priest. It wasn’t long before I got the call. LOL! Thank you St. Pio!
:clapping:
It’s good that you get to confess where you are most comfortable. I have the feeling you will fully experience God’s mercy no matter which priest hears your first confession.

. I have a 1 year old and a 3 year old, and whenever I go, I tell my 3 year old that we are going in to say “sorry” to Jesus for the stuff we did wrong (then I will give an example like losing my temper with them or not being nice to Daddy or not saying my bedtime prayers). I’m hoping that as they get older, they will WANT to make their first confessions and see it as a grown-up thing to do and that they will see how much better I feel afterwards and that there is nothing to be afraid of.
LaSainte, you grew up Catholic, and have been a faithful Catholic since, right? While I agree that it can be helpful to children to see their parents receive the sacrament of Reconciliation, I support the OP in her assertion that having her children witness (from the pews or wherever) her first confession is not a good idea. Maybe you don’t understand the emotions experienced by adults who are confessing a lifetime of sin (or many years if they are making their first confession after being away from the Church for a while). Yes, you do come out of the sacrament feeling much better - like the weight of the world has been lifted from you - but the process (during Reconciliation) can be too painful and emotional for children to witness their mother going through. I went through half a box of tissues during my first confession after returning to the Church after 10 years - it wasn’t a pretty scene! Maybe if she takes them to the penance service or the rehearsal night for the vigil, they can see what confession can do - without making them witness their mother’s first confession.


#18

[quote="DAML72, post:4, topic:319420"]
I see your point, but this is my first one - ever. I started tearing up at the RCIA meeting just thinking about it. I am going to be a sobbing mess. I don't think that's healthy for my kids to see...

[/quote]

Keep in mind these will be tears of joy that your children see. You will be as happy as they have ever seen you, and you can simply tell them that you are crying and happy because God has forgiven all your sins.

EDIT: wrote this before I saw your resolution. God bless!


#19

You have a perfect right to go to confession wherever you like, and your idea of going to the monastery for your confession is a good one.

You can of course, also make a second confession at the parish Penance Service if you like. And since you say that the parish has now assured you that you have this option, you can put your mind at ease.


#20

Exactly! Tears of joy or not coming out of there, my children have had enough disruption in their life. It’s unsettling to see a parent so emotionally overwhelmed, and they get anxious when they know I’ve been crying. I’m not sure people are understanding that, at the parish service, there will be many people standing by - it’s done at different spots in the sanctuary. Even if people can’t hear what I’m saying, they will see my emotional response, and I’d just rather keep that private, especially since I am a professional and would rather not be sobbing in front of my kids’ friends parents, potential future clients, etc. It’s not like this is the last opportunity to share confession with my children. We’re just beginning this journey!


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