First Confession to take ages?


#1

It won’t be too long now before I enter Holy Church. :slight_smile: The local priest has sent the forms to the Archdiocese to request permission to receive me into the Catholic Church, and I expect to have a reply from him sometime next week.

Before being received into the Church, I plan to go to my First Confession, a thing which I know I must (and should) do, but which I dread and will really have a hard time with, because I feel I won’t be able to look the priest in the eye ever again with all my shame. I imagine that Confession will take hours to do, with all the sins and explanations of them to do, many of which I would rather not, but must.

Does anyone have advice on this? Can a Confession last that long? Has anyone had a similar situation?


#2

I've done a general confession, which is a confession of all sins remembered over a lifetime. I'm a cradle Catholic and did this at the age of 49 so there were lots of sins to be confessed - I had 13 written pages of sins and it took about an hour.

My suggestion is to keep explanations to a very, very bare minimum. If the priest needs an explanation of a sin or its circumstances he will ask for one - no need to clutter up your confession with needless details:

"I committed adultery on many occasions, this involved 3 different men," or "I committed the sin of fornication many times with about 10/15/20 women," covers a lot of sin without a lot of detail and is probably all the priest will need.

"I was disrespectful of my parents when I was growing up, constantly argued with them, and was not very obedient - especially during my high school years," gets the message across that you have (a) examined your conscience and found it seriously wanting in this area and (b) are sorry for your sin. Here I might have added that mine was a single mother and a specific way in which I was constantly disobedient was in not keeping my room clean.

In no way am I saying you should gloss over the sins of your lifetime and that simply saying I've broken all 10 Commandments will cover you just fine, these are just examples.

"I participated in the abortion of my own child by paying for it and driving my girlfriend to the clinic."

This experience of your confession may be embarrassing but it need not be cripplingly so. This is more like bringing your illness to the doctor and explaining all the gory details - the doctor (priest) needs to know all to help you to heal.

In my general confession I confessed something I'm pretty sure the priest had never heard before (maybe heard of, but not actually heard in a confession) but of course I don't know what he'd heard before. It was extremely embarrassing. As I had a written list of sins even that sin I abbreviated (I was too embarrassed to even write it).

During the confession I pretty much kept my eyes on my list and didn't make a lot of eye contact with Fr. Bob. I just went through my list, which had taken about 2 weeks to prepare, and he patiently listened. I cried a little but got through it. After all was done and I'd been absolved the priest gave me a hug. I had bared everything to this priest who had known me fairly well up to that point and he's never treated me differently since that time. I look him in the eye all the time and I know he loves me as he loves all the members of his flock. The confession didn't change our relationship, other than that I love him a little more for having made the time in his schedule to hear my confession.

I hope my sharing this experience gives you some peace in anticipating your first confession. Welcome to the Catholic Church!


#3

A first confession, including a general confession of an older person, will assuredly NOT take hours. As a former Anglican, I can assure you that it will take a little longer, but not much, than all other confessions. As another poster said, don’t get that detailed; mention all of the sins involved, but let the priest ask questions if he needs to. Tell him it is your first confession, and he will be more than understanding. Most priests are moved by first confessions, and handle them delicately, but joyfully.

A senior citizen whom I know made a first confession last year, and it was a fairly standard length plus maybe ten minutes. (I had had much experience making confessions to a priest, as an Anglican, so though they were not valid, I knew the format and procedure.)

I promise you that you will not tell the priest anything that he has not already heard (or will hear, if he is a younger priest), and you certinly won’t shock him. You have the option of confessing anonymously, and to any priest that you wish, so you may certainly go to another parish, if you desire. Congratulations! Crossing the Tiber is a wonderful thing, especially for a former Anglican!


#4

[quote="CutlerB, post:1, topic:341390"]
It won't be too long now before I enter Holy Church. :) The local priest has sent the forms to the Archdiocese to request permission to receive me into the Catholic Church, and I expect to have a reply from him sometime next week.

Before being received into the Church, I plan to go to my First Confession, a thing which I know I must (and should) do, but which I dread and will really have a hard time with, because I feel I won't be able to look the priest in the eye ever again with all my shame. I imagine that Confession will take hours to do, with all the sins and explanations of them to do, many of which I would rather not, but must.

Does anyone have advice on this? Can a Confession last that long? Has anyone had a similar situation?

[/quote]

A confession should last as long as it needs to. You do not need to look the priest in the eye! Even if your confession is by special appointment, you could even choose to confess you sins behind the screen.

You are supposed to feel shame in confessing your sins; not excessive shame, but enough to make you wish not to repeat experience by repeating the confession!


#5

[quote="Mary_Ellen, post:2, topic:341390"]
I've done a general confession, which is a confession of all sins remembered over a lifetime. I'm a cradle Catholic and did this at the age of 49 so there were lots of sins to be confessed - I had 13 written pages of sins and it took about an hour.

My suggestion is to keep explanations to a very, very bare minimum. If the priest needs an explanation of a sin or its circumstances he will ask for one - no need to clutter up your confession with needless details:

"I committed adultery on many occasions, this involved 3 different men," or "I committed the sin of fornication many times with about 10/15/20 women," covers a lot of sin without a lot of detail and is probably all the priest will need.

"I was disrespectful of my parents when I was growing up, constantly argued with them, and was not very obedient - especially during my high school years," gets the message across that you have (a) examined your conscience and found it seriously wanting in this area and (b) are sorry for your sin. Here I might have added that mine was a single mother and a specific way in which I was constantly disobedient was in not keeping my room clean.

In no way am I saying you should gloss over the sins of your lifetime and that simply saying I've broken all 10 Commandments will cover you just fine, these are just examples.

"I participated in the abortion of my own child by paying for it and driving my girlfriend to the clinic."

This experience of your confession may be embarrassing but it need not be cripplingly so. This is more like bringing your illness to the doctor and explaining all the gory details - the doctor (priest) needs to know all to help you to heal.

In my general confession I confessed something I'm pretty sure the priest had never heard before (maybe heard of, but not actually heard in a confession) but of course I don't know what he'd heard before. It was extremely embarrassing. As I had a written list of sins even that sin I abbreviated (I was too embarrassed to even write it).

During the confession I pretty much kept my eyes on my list and didn't make a lot of eye contact with Fr. Bob. I just went through my list, which had taken about 2 weeks to prepare, and he patiently listened. I cried a little but got through it. After all was done and I'd been absolved the priest gave me a hug. I had bared everything to this priest who had known me fairly well up to that point and he's never treated me differently since that time. I look him in the eye all the time and I know he loves me as he loves all the members of his flock. The confession didn't change our relationship, other than that I love him a little more for having made the time in his schedule to hear my confession.

I hope my sharing this experience gives you some peace in anticipating your first confession. Welcome to the Catholic Church!

[/quote]

It does help, thank you very much. :)

[quote="Chatter163, post:3, topic:341390"]
A first confession, including a general confession of an older person, will assuredly NOT take hours. As a former Anglican, I can assure you that it will take a little longer, but not much, than all other confessions. As another poster said, don't get that detailed; mention all of the sins involved, but let the priest ask questions if he needs to. Tell him it is your first confession, and he will be more than understanding. Most priests are moved by first confessions, and handle them delicately, but joyfully.

A senior citizen whom I know made a first confession last year, and it was a fairly standard length plus maybe ten minutes. (I had had much experience making confessions to a priest, as an Anglican, so though they were not valid, I knew the format and procedure.)

I promise you that you will not tell the priest anything that he has not already heard (or will hear, if he is a younger priest), and you certinly won't shock him. You have the option of confessing anonymously, and to any priest that you wish, so you may certainly go to another parish, if you desire. Congratulations! Crossing the Tiber is a wonderful thing, especially for a former Anglican!

[/quote]

Thanks! :)

Anonymously won't work, since we'll be setting a date, and he'll know who it is. He'll know at the latest when I have no idea how to confess!

[quote="runningdude, post:4, topic:341390"]
A confession should last as long as it needs to. You do not need to look the priest in the eye! Even if your confession is by special appointment, you could even choose to confess you sins behind the screen.

You are supposed to feel shame in confessing your sins; not excessive shame, but enough to make you wish not to repeat experience by repeating the confession!

[/quote]

I don't think there is a screen... :( It's a beautiful church, but it got stripped of confessionals, altar rails, high altar and other things. From what I have learned, there's a "reconciliation room" which is something I don't like, but will have to bear with. It's not really called "confession" either, but rather something like "Talk". That's according to the website of the parish.

The shame during the confession is OK, but I'm worried about the shame after the confession when I see the priest. I guess I like having a spotless façade to hide the misery... :(


#6

I came over from the Episcopal Church. First time will probably be at least 1/2 hour and you will find it better face-to-face with a priest you know. He'll have more insight as to what makes you tick. Here is a youtube for Fr. Larry Richards. As tough as he might sound, he is one I want to confide in.

youtube.com/watch?v=8Nprg5Ew6Mo


#7

[quote="CutlerB, post:5, topic:341390"]
It does help, thank you very much. :)

Thanks! :)

Anonymously won't work, since we'll be setting a date, and he'll know who it is. He'll know at the latest when I have no idea how to confess!

I don't think there is a screen... :( It's a beautiful church, but it got stripped of confessionals, altar rails, high altar and other things. From what I have learned, there's a "reconciliation room" which is something I don't like, but will have to bear with. It's not really called "confession" either, but rather something like "Talk". That's according to the website of the parish.

The shame during the confession is OK, but I'm worried about the shame after the confession when I see the priest. I guess I like having a spotless façade to hide the misery... :(

[/quote]

Wow, this is the first time I've heard confession called a "talk".... It is a sacrament, and
referring to it like that just seems wrong.
Don't worry about the after, you will feel such joy and the priests truly seem to have the
gift of forgetting who said what.


#8

First of all, Welcome Home!

Take it easy, you’re not going to say anything he hasn’t heard before 100 times :slight_smile:

Really, don’t make it overly hard on yourself, just do an examination of conscience and hit the big 10 Commandments.

Don’t give explanation or detail unless it changes the gravity of the sin, or the priest asks. Number and kind is all that’s needed, and approximate numbers suffice if a sin was numerous.

Don’t give venial sins. Mortal sins are all you need confess.

Unless you’re some super-villain, there are probably less than a dozen specific mortal sins you need to confess :wink:

End with “For these sins and any others I have failed to recall, I ask the Lord’s pardon and beg His Mercy.”

God Bless


#9

[quote="CutlerB, post:1, topic:341390"]
It won't be too long now before I enter Holy Church. :) The local priest has sent the forms to the Archdiocese to request permission to receive me into the Catholic Church, and I expect to have a reply from him sometime next week.

Before being received into the Church, I plan to go to my First Confession, a thing which I know I must (and should) do, but which I dread and will really have a hard time with, because I feel I won't be able to look the priest in the eye ever again with all my shame. I imagine that Confession will take hours to do, with all the sins and explanations of them to do, many of which I would rather not, but must.

Does anyone have advice on this? Can a Confession last that long? Has anyone had a similar situation?

[/quote]

Talk with your priest about it. Mine was scheduled as a part of my RCIA program, and the program was taught by our priest. He asked us to make an appointment for it with the parish secretary.

I thought, like you, that it would take hours (perhaps days), but he said that rarely did they ever last longer than 30 to 45 minutes. He also told us that if it did take more time that he would work with us on it.

Mine lasted about 30 minutes.


#10

Two points I wish to make from my own experience as an adult converting to the Catholic faith: 1) I was allowed to go to any Catholic priest I desired for my first confession. I went to a large pilgrimage shrine that had about 5 priests hearing confessions at any given time. 2) a Catholic can choose to protect their anonymity by seeking confession behind a screen, and choosing the priest they wish to confess to.

Double-check with your Diocese, but I doubt they can mandate who you "must" make confession with and they certainly cannot mandate that it be face to face.


#11

[quote="anonymous_in_fl, post:10, topic:341390"]
Two points I wish to make from my own experience as an adult converting to the Catholic faith: 1) I was allowed to go to any Catholic priest I desired for my first confession. I went to a large pilgrimage shrine that had about 5 priests hearing confessions at any given time. 2) a Catholic can choose to protect their anonymity by seeking confession behind a screen, and choosing the priest they wish to confess to.

Double-check with your Diocese, but I doubt they can mandate who you "must" make confession with and they certainly cannot mandate that it be face to face.

[/quote]

Yes, since my parish has rooms for conferssion, I personally sometimes prefer to do confession else where. But when I do it in a room, there is a screen that I can "hide" behind.


#12

Interesting.

Mine took less than 10 minutes and I had plenty to confess,trust me, since I had been baptized in the Baptist Church when I was 17.


#13

My first confession took 10 minutes, more or less. And I had 52 years of sin to confess!! The wonderful priest who heard my confession told me to focus on those things that weighed most heavily on my mind and heart and that is what I did. I was very nervous about confessing all those sins, some pretty egregious, but in the end they were all forgiven. I prefer face-to-face confession because I need some humility.


#14

Try this.

  1. Write down your sins. Not their explanations, not their backgrounds, nothing. Your sins.
  2. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Amen. Bless me father for I have sinned, this is my first confession (afterwards, it has been x weeks since my last confession)
  3. Read your grave sins (for example: I committed murder five times, I stole the crown jewels twice, etc… no explanations required. Think about your priest, especially if your sins are particularly lewd… does he want to hear the details? Never use the word “because”, because a) it doesn’t matter and b) that makes it sound like justification. Theft is theft, regardless of whether you gave the crown jewels to the poor.
  4. Beg forgiveness for any sins of a venial nature and for grave sins you did not realize you committed and or forgot to confess.

Chances are your priest will give you general absolution for all of your past life at this point. If you think of something particularly gruesome go ahead and confess it at another date, I guess (not sure if you need to or not).

  1. If your priest didn’t realize you were done, and he should when you say “and lastly for the venial… and any grave sins I forgot or did not realize…”, indicate you are finished. Then wait till he tells you to say the act of contrition.
  2. Say it. Then when he does the sign of the cross, do likewise and say likewise “in the name of…”
  3. Leave the confessional. Then go WOOOOOHOOOOO!!!
    :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::D:D:D

10 minutes at worst, I think (try to keep them as short as necessary, especially if there are others waiting, because they sometimes have to leave if you take too long and don’t get to go to confession). If you want to talk about your sins, confession is not the place to do it; schedule a separate time to talk with your priest.


#15

Oh, this is great, excerpt from catholic.about.com regards to venial sins.

"Venial sins, on the other hand, are often easier to forget, but we aren't required to list all of our venial sins in Confession. The Church strongly recommends that we do so, because "regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1458). If we often fall prey to a particular venial sin, confessing it (and going to Confession frequently) may help us eradicate it. But if confessing venial sins is not technically required, then forgetting to confess one is not something we need to worry about."

If your priest is not pressed for time and no one is waiting, perhaps you can confess your venial sins, but I really think it might just take up too much time for a first confession, since they are not required to be specified. However, in the future, venial sins you repeatedly commit you may want to write down and confess specifically to help you fight them.


#16

[quote="CutlerB, post:5, topic:341390"]
Anonymously won't work, since we'll be setting a date, and he'll know who it is.

[/quote]

What does this mean? :confused:


#17

Excuse my confusion! :slight_smile:

I meant this: I will be letting the priest know I’d like to go to confession before First Communion. Since the parish doesn’t seem to have regular confession times, we will have to set a time for me to go to confession. Thus, the priest will know who I am, removing anonymity.


#18

Every Catholic may go to any Catholic priest any time for confession. You are not required to make your first, or any other, confession to your parish priest. (Not having regular confession times is a tragedy, when there is a parish priest. :()


#19

Under Canon Law, the faithful have a right to the presence of a fixed grille during the Sacrament of Penance. Unfortunately this is one of the rights that is breached quite often. You will be in my prayers.


#20

[quote="CutlerB, post:5, topic:341390"]
The shame during the confession is OK, but I'm worried about the shame after the confession when I see the priest. I guess I like having a spotless façade to hide the misery... :(

[/quote]

He won't give it another thought after you have left the confessional box. He will have heard it all before. Priests don't judge sinners, he will probably think all the more of your for coming along and confessing your sins. Priests are not easily shocked.


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