Going to confession for the right reason?


#1

Hey everybody! I've read this site often, but had to finally register because I've got a couple questions.(Actually, a ton, but I'll stay on topic here.)

The homily my priest gave today has scared me straight. He talked about how you could die right now so you better get everything straight with God. Of course I knew that, but I'd never really thought about it like I did today and it freaked me out.

Anyway, it made me want to go to confession. Which, admittedly, has been the weakest part of my faith. I've been Catholic for about 11 years now. I was baptized and confirmed at the same time on the Easter Vigil. (:thumbsup:) But I never went to confession. Partly because I wasn't convinced that it was the right thing, and mostly because - I'll admit it - I'm pretty afraid.

During college I was really close with the priest there, like we hung out quite often so there was no way I could go to confession there. I went once on a retreat thing, but was so nervous that it was a terrible confession and I left so much out that I felt worse than I did before I went in.

I'm planning to call the priest here this week and set up an appointment. (Clear the schedule.) My question is, am I just doing this because of the intense homily? I honestly want to embrace confession, I guess I just need to read up on my Catechism, and I don't want to just go on a reaction.

Finally, I know everyone on here says the priests have heard it all before. But I've done some stuff online that I feel really bad about, and I don't think I could even say it. I highly doubt the priest in this tiny town has heard it. I want to go to this priest because he is super hardcore and conservative, and I think that'll set me straight. But also, I'll see him all the time in this small parish (not to mention around town) and I don't want him to be like hey, there's that guy that ______ .

Anyway, sorry for the long first post. I look forward to discussions with you all. :)


#2

To be completely honest, I wouldn't pysch yourself out about your motive right now. The first thing is to get yourself to Confession. Making what is called a "perfect act of contrition," meaning that you are truly sorry for your sins because you truly feel bad about offending God, rather than being scared of punishment, is very, very, very difficult. My confessor describes it as nearly impossible.

However, he has also said to me that the very first step on the road to forgiveness and contrition is the grace to know that you need it, whatever it was that made you wake up and smell the coffee. God has given you that grace already: you know you need to go to confession.

Step two: actually go. As your pastor said in his homily, do not put it off.

Step three: once you get there and confess your sins, ask the priest about what it means to have the right disposition for confession. Tell him your concerns that you afraid that the only reason you went to confession was because the homily frightened you. Whether you doubt that he has heard the specific sins you are confession, he no doubt will have heard people worried about if they're going to confession for the "wrong" reason. The only "wrong" reason I can think of is to use the sacrament as a crutch; that is to say, choosing to commit sins on Friday because you know confessions will be heard on Saturday.

Next, you can make your confession anonymously. Ask the priest if that's a possibility when you make the appointment, and use the screen in the confessional. And even if you make a face to face confession, the priest is completely bound to secrecy. Completely. Bound. To. Secrecy. There is no power that can allow a priest to mention what you said to him in confession ever again, even to you. My confessor constantly speaks in general terms about previous advice he's given me, rather than saying specifically, "Remember what I told you last week?" So far as he's concerned, he told me, the seal of the confessional is that strict. Do not worry about it. There are some serious things that your priest has heard and no doubt still saw that penitent "around" again. He's dealt with that before and knows the meaning of discretion.

Lastly, I would tell you that I keep you in my prayers to maintain your courage in the face of this spiritual hurdle.

God bless you.
~M


#3

As for the anonymity issue, 2 things:

You can go behind the screen. :thumbsup:

More than 1 priest has told me that God gives them the gift of amnesia after confessions and they don't remember what was said, or who said it.

No worries, just go.


#4

Okay, first of all, congratualations on wanting to make your first confession! And, just so you know, going to confession is often the weakest part of a Catholic's faith. I know it's the weakest of mine - I go a few times a year, though I know I should go more. With me, it's more because I'm actually embarrassed of my sins and having a hard time even admitting to myself what my sins are and how grave they are. Seriously, though, going to confession is like going to the doctor. In order for Confession to work the fullness of its grace, you have to be perfectly honest with yourself and the priest, just like you have to be perfectly honest with a doctor for the doctor to be able to fully help you.

Second of all, remember, what you say to the priest in confession is between you and Jesus. The priest actually becomes Jesus during confession (especially during absolution), and so it is Jesus Himself who forgives you of your sins. The priest is not allowed to tell ANYONE - even under oath in a court of law - what you told him during confession (and, no one who accidentally overheard a confession is allowed to say anything, either). And, honestly, unless you see the same priest week after week for the same sins, most priests actually generally forget what individual people confessed to them, anyway. Plus, almost every priest has literally HEARD IT ALL - there are many priests that go to prisons to hear confessions, and so almost nothing that you can confess would be shocking to the priest.

Now, though it's better to go to Confession because you are sorry for offending Jesus, in reality, many (if not most) people go to Confession to begin with because we are afraid of going to Hell. And that's okay to begin with. Honestly, when you first apologized to your parents, was it because you were truly sorry for offending your parents, or was it because you were afraid of the punishment? It wasn't until you were really able to understand why what you did was offensive to them that you were able to apologize due to offending them. As such, it won't be until you are fully aware of how your sins offend (and actually crucify) Jesus that you are able to go to Confession and truly be sorry for how your sins were offending (and crucifying) Jesus.


#5

Thank you guys, that was very helpful! I'm glad I'm not the only one feels that way. A lot of my Catholic friends seem to go often and love it. I've always felt bad that I didn't. The one time I did go was only because my good friend and the college priest called me several times until I came. (Although like I said it didn't go very well.) That friend of mine is going to seminary right now, so that might have something to do with it. ;)

Ok..I'm going to set this up. It's going to be painfully uncomfortable, but I know it'll feel so much better when it's over and I'm not feeling bad about things that have been ongoing for years.

Aquila-- Thank you. I like what you said about "waking up and smelling the coffee." Getting in there has really been the hardest thing I've struggled with being Catholic. I'm new to this area so I'm still getting to know the priest, but he seems very intelligent so I think he would do a great job of explaining that to me.

Oh, definitely I see how that would be a terrible idea. Definitely wouldn't use it as a crutch.

Thereal-- That's good, I hope so! True. I suppose that would make it less... awkward. I'll consider it for sure.

PowerofK- I need to get better about going to the doctor too! Haha, seriously though. I think of these things sorta like taking care of my car. I always check up on it and I take it to the shop if something's wrong, or to change the oil. I do that for my car so why don't I do it for my body or soul? Thinking of it like that makes me a looot less nervous. :shrug:

Yes, that is awesome. For me, accepting the in persona Christi idea for confession has been a long process. I don't know why, because I totally get it when it comes to the Eucharist. Just a personal problem I suppose!

One last thing--- is it ok to have a conversation during confession? I'm not talking about random chit chat, but like discussing the sins and why they are sins, why I do them, etc.**


#6

[quote="downsouth, post:5, topic:331468"]

One last thing--- is it ok to have a conversation during confession? I'm not talking about random chit chat, but like discussing the sins and why they are sins, why I do them, etc.**

Some priests will engage the person confessing in a short conversation about their sins. Sometimes, the priest will ask questions to see how grave a sin is, and ask about context, etc. The priest I had when I was in college would actually often give about a 2-minute homily to the person confessing about the sins that the person was confessing. And, when the person has actually made an appointment for confession, the priest may do a more extensive back-and-forth, as there are no other people waiting for confession. Oh, btw, do not be discouraged if you continue to fall back into the same sin. Most of us have our sets of sins that we continually commit. Going to confession often can help you gain the strength to eventually break the sinful habit. And - just so you know - the priest will ask you for an Act of Contrition. There are two formulaic prayers, and a third option to say your own. Regardless of which prayer you choose, the important part is to say that you are sorry for all of your sins of omission and commission and that you acknowledge that only with Jesus's help can you do better.

[/quote]


#7

your thoughts on this is a sign of the Holy Spirit working within you giving you a critical conscience. It is good to evaluate what you are doing and giving it some serious thought.

Make a general confession letting the priest know what you told us here. A general confession, see this link catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=33707

I often am embarrassed and shameful of my sins which have and do occur online and I have driven miles to go to confession to be away from my home parish. Don't be ashamed, do what you need to do but confess.

As for the homily, when we sin ask for forgiveness and you are forgiven. So if you did something and hadn't gone to confession if you had said and act of contrition/asked God for forgiveness you are forgiven. God doesn't wait with a hammer to pound you into oblivion, his Love is beyond anything we can comprehend.


#8

[quote="downsouth, post:1, topic:331468"]
Hey everybody! I've read this site often, but had to finally register because I've got a couple questions.(Actually, a ton, but I'll stay on topic here.)

The homily my priest gave today has scared me straight. He talked about how you could die right now so you better get everything straight with God. Of course I knew that, but I'd never really thought about it like I did today and it freaked me out.

Anyway, it made me want to go to confession. Which, admittedly, has been the weakest part of my faith. I've been Catholic for about 11 years now. I was baptized and confirmed at the same time on the Easter Vigil. (:thumbsup:) But I never went to confession. Partly because I wasn't convinced that it was the right thing, and mostly because - I'll admit it - I'm pretty afraid.

During college I was really close with the priest there, like we hung out quite often so there was no way I could go to confession there. I went once on a retreat thing, but was so nervous that it was a terrible confession and I left so much out that I felt worse than I did before I went in.

I'm planning to call the priest here this week and set up an appointment. (Clear the schedule.) My question is, am I just doing this because of the intense homily? I honestly want to embrace confession, I guess I just need to read up on my Catechism, and I don't want to just go on a reaction.

Finally, I know everyone on here says the priests have heard it all before. But I've done some stuff online that I feel really bad about, and I don't think I could even say it. I highly doubt the priest in this tiny town has heard it. I want to go to this priest because he is super hardcore and conservative, and I think that'll set me straight. But also, I'll see him all the time in this small parish (not to mention around town) and I don't want him to be like hey, there's that guy that ______ .

Anyway, sorry for the long first post. I look forward to discussions with you all. :)

[/quote]

If you are contrite for your sins, then it is for the right reason...regardless of what external (or internal) stimulus encouraged the contrition. (Think of it as a work of the Holy Spirit giving you a little nudge...)


#9

[quote="downsouth, post:1, topic:331468"]

During college I was really close with the priest there, like we hung out quite often so there was no way I could go to confession there.

[/quote]

I have 4 priests at the parish I attend. I am a member of a ladies group. One particular Father also attends these meetings. These meetings are once a week for a couple of hours, because of this, I am closer to this priest. He is also the priest that I confess to. At my parish you have the option of kneeling behind a screen or sitting in front of the priest. I sit in front of him and it doesn't feel weird. Since he knows me, he can explain things to me better than a person who doesn't know me.

Don't be afraid to confess to a priest that you are close to. It isn't a big deal at all. :D


#10

I.find.confession rather difficult & i.guess if you keep confessing the same sin - you arent really sorry/ or dont really understand why its a sin. Also i.find confes sing details to a stranger rather difficult. I feel therefore that i.could be making better use of the sacrament, but i cant because i just rattle off a list with little discussion, & then make tracks.


#11

[quote="Joy2day, post:10, topic:331468"]
I.find.confession rather difficult & i.guess if you keep confessing the same sin - you arent really sorry/ or dont really understand why its a sin. Also i.find confes sing details to a stranger rather difficult. I feel therefore that i.could be making better use of the sacrament, but i cant because i just rattle off a list with little discussion, & then make tracks.

[/quote]

How do you know you are not sorry? Why go then? If you don't understand that it is a sin is it mortal? There is more going on in the confessional then meets the eye or ear. The graces abound and I would agree that sometimes I do feel the same way you do about listing the same ole sins over and over again but there is a difference. I am seeing positive changes over the years and growing to overcome those reoccurring sins. I would bet you are as well but don't see it yet.


#12

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