I’m helping an adult who went through RCIA and then didn’t go to confession for some time. When they eventually went to confession unprepared, the priest berated them for not knowing what to say and the person left embarrassed and angry and they haven’t been back yet. I’ve gone through practice confessions with them and when they feel comfortable enough to go back, should they say it’s their first confession, their a second attempt at a first confession?
It’s the first confession since an actual sacrament didn’t take place. It might be a good idea, however, if the person feels comfortable doing so, to mention his previous experience. It will tip off the priest to be more patient and pastoral than his predecessor.
Try to explain to your friend that priests are spiritual doctors to the soul. Just like medical doctors, some may have a lousy “bedside manner,” but that doesn’t negate the importance or effectiveness of the “medicine” (i.e., grace) to be dispensed. It might also help to point out that priests are also frail human beings, just like us, entrusted with an enormous responsibility to offer this grace in Christ’s own stead. When they falter, we should offer up the hurt and pray for them.
St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, once commented that there are no bad priests… only priests for whom there has not been enough prayer.