Have you had any particular good or particularly bad experiences at confession?
I’ve had a number of good experiences, but one that sticks out is when I confessed to a priest I knew that I was seriously doubting my faith. Even though it was after daily mass and I was cutting into his personal time, he sat with me for about 45 minutes and discussed my doubts with me.
He gave the best answers he could, but admitted that many of my questions didn’t have any concrete answers. He then gave me some books to read and told me that investigating the atheism vs. Christianity debate wasn’t wrong because it means I was taking my faith seriously and seeking the truth. He also told me his personal story of how he went from having no faith, to becoming Catholic. I left confession with a deep appreciation for the man.
A bad experience I had was confessing the same thing to a different priest. (It wasn’t as bad as it was sort of bizarre.) I confessed to struggling with atheism, and he asked what I meant. I told him that in simplest terms I could, that the world seemed to make more sense without invoking God. When I said this, he exclaimed loudly “Oh my God!”
I was a little taken back by his surprise because I didn’t know him personally, and I figured being a priest, this would have been something he had frequently encountered. So I replied “Well… a lot of people feel this way.” And then he quickly snapped back “That doesn’t mean that it’s true!” I nodded and agreed with him.
He then said “Tell me about your struggles with atheism.” I then spent a couple minutes explaining my doubts of theism from a philosophical and historical standpoint and my objections to the “God of the gaps” mentality. After saying all that, his only response was “But God created everything.”
I didn’t say anything for a minute because I figured he was leading to something, but then he said again “Tell me about your struggles with atheism.” I then realized that either everything I had just said went over his head, or he was suffering from dementia.
The whole thing was just kind of bizarre. I have since tried to avoid confession with this priest.