Follow up questions after confession?


I went to confession earlier in the week - made an appointment - and spent 20 minutes or so with various issues. Once I left and started to mull over some of the advice, a couple of questions surfaced. - neither of which is deeply personal.

In one case we were talking about maintaining our own identity, not allowing someone to destroy what God is building. He said, “Jesus emptied himself, but he didn’t ________.”. It is driving me up a wall not to know what goes in that blank. (something along the lines of sell-out…But much better put)

On the other, he was talking about “overly pious” displays. No idea what his point was, though. Just mildly curious on that.

So once you leave the confessional, are you just out of luck? I will see him at a youth event tomorrow. Could I ask then if the opportunity presented itself? Should I revisit the confessional. Or just forget about it?


The easiest thing to do is to speak to him again, making no reference to your confession, and revisiting what you were speaking about in your confession that you would like follow up on. The issue comes with the seal.


As you know, he’s alluding to Philippians 2:7 …

[BIBLEDRB]Philippians 2:7[/BIBLEDRB]

Perhaps if you reread that and following verses, it’ll spur your memory?

Otherwise, ask Father again.


The confession could be mentioned. A priest can talk about your confession if YOU bring it up. He can’t just bring it up. The person can say, “Yesterday you told me in confession _ _ _ _ _ can you please explain what you meant by that?” The priest is free to talk about it then but only to you if you ask about it. I have done this a number of times. If you say remember what you said to me in confession yesterday, he will saw no, even if he does remember. You have to be specific about your question.


And I could do this standing in line at the salad bar at the pizza place if the opportunity presented itself?

Glad to know this happens to other people, too!


Unfortunately, it does not. It was a new take - something I had not heard before. It takes more and more to spur my memory these days…

But thanks.


On the first question, I remember the context. On the second…I’m not sure what his point was in bringing it up or what exactly we were talking about. I don’t think I’m “overly pious”…


That doesn’t sound like any confession I’ve heard of. Typically confession is the enumeration of mortal sins (in kind and number), assignment of penance, and absolution. Also, 20 mins. is really long unless it’s the first confession in 10 or 20 years.

What you’re describing sounds more like spiritual direction. Maybe it would be helpful to you to separate confession from spiritual direction. Limit confession to specific mortal sins, and have a separate meeting with the priest for spiritual direction.

That way, the Priest will be free to bring up topics again, w/o the seal of the confessional involved.

God Bless


Good point about being able to revisit topics outside of the confessional.

Not too many mortal sins these days (thank you, God0…but my confessor often says confession is not just for mortal sins.

To be sure, there was a good bit of spiritual direction within the context of confession, and that is why I made an appointment. I’m sure he understood that, because i rarely schedule appointments. He has been my confessor for the last 5 years, and sometimes we are done in 2 minutes with no advice wanted or given, and others it takes 7 or 8 or 20. But I have a hunch that if I asked him to meet me for Spiritual Direction, he would tell me that he doesn’t do SD. But he is always willing to hear a confession and give counsel as needed.


Right, not implying you did something wrong. If you took 20 minutes in the regular confession line with others waiting, that would be a problem, but with an appointment it’s fine.

I’m just saying you might benefit spiritually if you could separate the counsel from the confession. Just so you can freely have the conversation “Remember father when you said XYZ, could you explain that more” etc.

God Bless


I’ve heard from priests that anything revealed in spiritual direction is not protected under the seal, and that sometimes individuals will start “confessing things”. In order to protect the penitent and themselves from the obligation to report what’s mentioned, if they notice the SD is turning into a confession, they’ll stop the person from speaking, put on their purple stole and tell the person, “let’s start with the sign of the cross” in order to invoke the seal.


My director told me he treats anything I tell him during direction under the seal of confession. Sometimes we just go right into confession without a stopping and starting and we never make the sign of the cross when we begin. And my confessor is one of the most orthodox and conservative priests in the diocese. When confession is part of direction he does it differently than if I went into the confessional with him.


There’s counseling, and then there’s confession. Sometimes during the latter the former occurs.

But the purpose of confession is to receive sacramental grace and forgiveness/absolution. Counseling is just icing on the cake. But not necessary.

So after receiving the sacrament, if you have further questions, it’s absolutely fine to discuss this with the priest.


I’m not sure but I don’t think that is correct. Its not a case of the priest being able to discuss what was said during a Confession with the penitent unless the penitent brings it up.
The Seal of Confession means the priest is not permitted to talk about anything said during Confession, even with the penitent once Confession is over.
I would be interested to read any Church documents which shows this is allowed.


Thanks to all for their suggestions.

I asked today, “If I wanted to follow up on our conversation the other day…”. He seemed OK, so I proceeded.

He didn’t fill in the blank for me, but re-explained the concept, which I had understood initially. He did answer my second question…tell me again why we were talking about that?

And all is well.


From what I’ve read/heard, it is correct that they can only discuss something from Confession if you bring it up, privately. But they are allowed to discuss it with you if you have questions or forgot the penance, etc.

someone correct me if I’m wrong.


I can find nothing in Canon Law which allows that. It states the Seal of Confession is inviolable. It does not say inviolable except for the penitent if he wants to discuss something later.
There will have to be a document stating what was said in Confession may be discussed later at the penitant’s request or I won’t believe it. This is not something that can be assumed by default.

You say you have read this. What is the document you read?


Thank you for returning and telling us the resolution! I was reading along just now, and am heartened to read that it all turned out well for everybody. So glad you’re blessed by a good Priest, too!


Not a specific document. Just the common sense recognition that the seal is NOT broken or violated if I ask him to discuss something about the confession with me alone. I was there at the confession. When you read the CCC, it talks about breaking the seal. Well the seal isn’t broken if we discuss it alone at my request.


Adding on to say that my confessor has a canon law degree and is very much a by-the-book guy. If what I was asking of him was taboo or if I needed to return to the confessional, i have no doubt he would have stopped me and told me that he could not answer for xyz reason, and how I should follow up, if it were possible. Instead, he invited the question.

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