[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!
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!
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!
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... :(