Good and Bad Confession Experiences


#1

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.


#2

JMJ
I have had some good counsel and some that left thinking…what?!
All has been good considering that I received absolution.


#3

The best was several years ago. I hadn’t been to confession in about 8 or 9 years and hadn’t been the best Catholic in that time. It took me months to decide to go, but I finally picked out a priest I had known for a long time and made the effort to get to daily Mass early. For some reason, I assumed that confessions were always heard before daily Masses, but that was probably not the case there.

I got there early, and there were a few pious souls in the church - I remember one lady walking the stations of the cross. I sat in the back near the confessional/reconciliation room, as nervous as nervous could be. I knew that even if I had to wait until after Mass to hunt down the priest, I was not leaving without absolution. Finally one of the church ladies came over and asked me if I was waiting to go to confession and offered to go get Father.

Father shows up in khakis and a sweater and asks me if “this is going to take long”. I told him if he didn’t talk too much, it wouldn’t take ME long to say what I had to say. As I went down my list of several mortal sins, I was surprised that he didn’t gasp in horror or fall out of his chair. He never batted an eye. I don’t remember what my penance was, but I do know that on that cold winter evening, I felt the weight of the world lift from my shoulders and the sensation of being wrapped in a warm blanket of forgiveness. It was awesome.

One of the most difficult was not too long ago. I wouldn’t say it was bad, but I had a hard time with that particular bunch of sins not justifying them, and I was a little embarrassed at some of them. I had gotten in the habit of just breezing through confession, and this one surprised me with the difficulty. It wasn’t a bad experience; I left thinking “that one hurt”, but mostly it was hurt pride I think. My penance was more difficult than usual, but I was thankful for God’s merciful love.

I don’t think I’ve ever been treated unkindly in confession. Some result in more “warm fuzzies” than others, but no bad experiences.


#4

I think the kindest ever experience of Confession was outside Confession. A friend of mine with whom I talked lots, came up to me after Mass one day with a big grin on his face. He’s now a priest. I’d not got to the Vigil Mass because of a family visit, but we had confession at two periods on Saturdays, the second after 6 pm Mass. Michael said he asked our parish priest, "what’s Trishie doing, coming at this time? Father G said with a sigh. “She comes every week! She wouldn’t know a sin if it jumped up and bit her.” I wish I wish I wish…but anyway, I hope that priest is there to put in a good word for me when I die! :smiley:


#5

I have been going to the same wonderful priest for about 3 months now ever since returning to the Church. Just about every experience with him is wonderful - but there was one confession in particular that I will always remember.

I was there for the Advent Reconciliation service, and went into his line for confession. I normally make appointments to see him because I like to be long-winded, but in this particular circumstance I (unfortunately) needed to go.

I sat down and told him what I did. He looked at me and told me that what I gave and honest and beautiful confession. He says this a lot to me - which is always throws me for a loop - cause I never think what I say in the confessional is beautiful :slight_smile:

But he continued to tell me that I was experiencing a beautiful conversion process and that he felt so happy to be able to have a front row seat. He told me to go home and to celebrate.

I left that confession beaming. He is just a wonderful priest.

Probably my worst was my first confession when I came back. I went to a priest who just told me to tell him my worst offense - and then gave me absolution. It felt so incomplete…


#6

Ive been to a few priests who were rather lackluster but never had what I could call a bad confession. Ive actually been really blessed, I think God is spoiling me a bit, to have some amazing priests to confess to, since Ive returned to the church a couple of years ago. They are so smart and sincere about what they say, yet they work hard because that parish has lots of time allotted for Confession and still there are always long lines. People tend to get their penance in before confessing because they usually have to wait almost an hour!

Im in my 20s and I used to hate going to confession but now I try to go what John Paul II called “frequently” that being once a month and my whole life is so much better for it. Nothing beats a good confession:thumbsup:


#7

I don’t like to talk about bad experiences here. When I go to confession I am just grateful that we have it. How would it be if we didn’t and had to remain in our sins? I try to remember that the Holy Spirit is in there too. And that Jesus is speaking the words of forgiveness as I’m being absolved. It doesn’t matter if the priest is not aving a good day etc. This is a special and most intimate contact I have with God.

I did hear a story from a good friend though. It was quite a story.
She had not been to confession since childhood and was now a young adult. She was baptised etc but never brought up in the faith or taught it. When she became intersted in the faith having been speaking to a friend she soon after decided to go to confession. She decided this when she learned that’s what she’s supposed to do. She was so nervous about going that she had a break down in the week prior. She got to the confessional and once in there she was so broken for various reasons she just froze. She was shattered in fact. Couldn’t speak. She turned her mind to God for help and he sent the Holy Spirit who physically helped her and did speak through her and embraced her soul before leaving her to make her confession. She had the most overwhelming sense of peace afterwards. She made her confession and was absolved. She is not a mystic or anything. She just ha an extraordinary leg up at a pivotal moment in her life which was also the low point of her life. I believe this girl is telling the truth. It’s extremely rare for the Holy Spirit to do this but he does sometimes. So I always try to remember that God is in there with us. He really is there in a special way even if we can’t see or experience him.


#8

I just have to tell the story of my first Confession!

In my church parish, children were not allowed to go to Confession until the fourth grade. When my third grade teacher took our class to receive the sacrament one day, I was unprepared and frightened, especially because I was a very shy and quiet child.

When I walked into the confessional, I was shocked and terrified to see that there was no screen and I would have to confess face-to-face. Worse yet, the priest was Father Bob, the meanest, sternest priest had ever met. Shame-faced, I mumbled the words, “This is my first Confession.”

He looked at me and grumbled, “Why is that?”

I explained that my church would not let me receive the sacrament because of my age. I confessed my sins, and just as I was about to leave, he said, “You tell Father Wayne that you ARE going to Confession now!”

Looking back, I realize that Father Bob was angry that my church was not allowing Confession before First Communion. At the time, though, I was so creeped out that it took years for me to become comfortable with Confession. . . :smiley:


#9

I went to confession with an Opus Dei priest a while back.

I had committed a sin which, although not mortal, still troubled me greatly and I was having difficulty saying what I had done.

The priest interrupted and asked me if I’d shot the Pope. “No!!”, I blurted. “Well”, he said, then whatever it is can’t be so bad, so take a breath and let it out."

What a great priest. I made a great Confession and was very much consoled by Christ’s absolution.


#10

Long live Opus Dei. I’ve been seeing an OD priest for near 20 yrs. There the best. God bless.:thumbsup:


#11

Ah, yes. Well, I lived in Italy for about three years and I am unhappy to report that the worst confessions (yes, plural) I had were at the Vatican.

For those that have been there, you may have noticed a great deal of confessionals off to one side…they fill them up each day around 11:00 (as I recall) with priests who speak various languages, which are displayed prominently on the front of the confessional. In addition, if the priest happens to be Religious, his order is displayed. I ended up, twice, confessing to two different Jesuit priests.

it just so happens that one of my biggest crosses deals with sins of the flesh, in basically all of its manifestations. On one occassion, I was discussing some “failures” with Natural Family Planning that I had experienced. The priest actually cut me off, curtly, and huffed “The Church has no business critiquing what you and your wife do in your bedroom!”.

The second example had different details but much the same result. Needless to say it set me back a few years in terms of getting my soul right again with “Thou shalt not covet”…:ouch:


#12

Now that’s a bad experience! :frowning:

I can’t say I’ve had many “bad” experiences in confession, but sometimes I have gotten conflicting (not necessarily bad) spiritual direction from different priests. I think that’s why I’ve heard that it is good to have a consistent confessor. Obviously, you want one that is in line with magisterial teaching.

Over the years I’ve learned to discern personal opinion given by the priest with what the church teaches on the given topic. Praised by Jesus Christ for giving us the Catechism! Study the Catechism! It’d do the soul good and help with better discernment of your confessional experiences and discerning what to internalize in living the faith in accordance with Christ’s desire for us all. :slight_smile:


#13

Yes, they are! The priest who came to our city for confessions and recollections for about 15 years was so great! He had a great memory for who you were, and was so filled with optimism that even if you murdered your mother, he would leave you with a reason for hope.

We have a new one now, and the Holy Spirit seems to sit on his shoulder. I’m just nuts about football (yes, I’m female!), and one September day I was making my confession (incidentally with no discussion of sports at all), and he made a football analogy! Right out of the blue with one of the ladies! So cool…

Lately, I’ve been going regularly to a priest who is not in Opus Dei, but receives formation from them. Outside of a very holy priest I knew years ago, who is now a bishop, he is the only diocesan priest I’ve met who really “gets it” and “gets” me. He uses words like “detachment” and “mortification,” and I am so thrilled. And he’s really young, too, so there are lots of years ahead for people to benefit from him.

Betsy


#14

I had a particularly good experience just a few weeks ago . . . have been wanting to share it, but wasn’t sure where to jump in. Besides, it’s kind of long . . . :o

Anyway, I try to go every month to confession, and found myself at the “end of the month” as well as the day before I was to have some rather significant surgery. Double reason to get to confession. It was also, however, the day of the March for Life in DC – so I wasn’t sure how crazy the typical schedule at the church I usually go to for confession during my lunch time would be and called ahead to be sure confessions would be heard.

Got over there, the line for the confessional was fairly long, and I started waiting my turn. A man came up to me and said there was a priest hearing confessions over at the side of the church – no line at the moment. So I went over.

He was a young priest, in from Boston for the march. When he heard I was having surgery, he whipped out his oils and asked if I would like an annointing of the sick as well! He was so enthusiastic, I would have felt ungrateful refusing. So – in the middle of the church (I usually opt for the closed room) – he heard my confession, gave absolution, and annointed me. For penance, he didn’t give some two minute prayer either – a full Divine Mercy chaplet of prayers. So I stayed for Mass, too, which was beginning as I was ending my penance.

Although I laughed about getting three sacraments in an hour, my surgery went well. More importantly, a spiritual problem over which I have been struggling for half dozen years seems to have lifted from my heart since that day! I would almost say “I don’t know why” it has happened – but, in fact, I DO KNOW WHY. And I am most grateful to the young priest from Boston and to God for giving us this wonderful sacrament of love.


#15

I had a very good confession experience last October…it was while I was helping run the teen retreat. We always have confessions for a night and after all the kids go the adult leaders are welcome, since there’s not too many of us anyway. Well it had been a few months and I had been struggling a lot at the time with some anger and doubt and it was basically one of those “I really, really should go” type things.

I have to say, confession is unbelievably difficult for me. I’m nearly 21 but I’ve only been a total of 4 times and only 2 since the third grade.:o I’m working on it though, and I feel a bit more comfortable going to the same priest everytime.

Anyway, I went to this same priest and started telling him about what my biggest struggles were at the moment and all the other sins that were starting to result from it. I was nervous as heck too, stuttering and shaking (not to brag, but I’m normally a really good speaker…so you know I was crazy nervous). After I got through speaking my piece he gave me first some sympathy for my struggles and then the simplest advice but it was exactly what I needed. So he gave me absolution and penance I think it was like 1 Hail Mary or something…but it was the first time I think I have ever really felt the grace from the sacrament of Reconciliation. Enough, I think to get me to go back again.:slight_smile:


#16

The worst? Ohhhh, I’d say the time the priest fell asleep. Yes, I said fell asleep. :eek:


#17

I don’t have a personal experience worth noting but my sister tells this wonderful story. The priest @ her parish is from Africa and has a thick accent & sometimes difficult to understand. A woman she knows had been in the process of returning to the faith after 25+ yrs. She told my sister she dreaded confession after that many years of living a wild and fast life. She drove the extra miles from her home parish to got to Father ‘from Africa’ because she can’t understand him and he won’t be able to understand her and she would get absolution and be done with it!! Well, according to this dear woman, ‘father from Africa’ understood every single little word and ended up talking to her for well over 30 min. in the confessional. She understood every word he said. She said it was the most wonderful experience she had ever had. She is to return to him for confession, per the priest, every few weeks and she does just that. Great, huh?


#18

Wow… I almost can’t believe that (I don’t think I’ve read any boring posts from you :slight_smile: )… maybe he had spent a long time with someone who was dying the night before and was sleep deprived.

There isn’t really one specific “good” confession experience that I’ve encountered… but the ones that have been among the “best” have been with one particular priest who’s very orthodox and traditional. It was from this priest during a confession at a really dark time of doubts and dispair that he introduced me to the concept of “offering it up”. Once I mentioned that I really had trouble focusing and not getting distracted during prayer time, and he reminded me of the verse in Romans 8… to paraphrase: we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Holy Spirit helps in our weaknesses. Since he pointed that verse out to me, I’ve not been trying to “force it”, so to speak, and praying is getting a bit easier.

Each time I confess what seems to be the same exact sins as last time (and start complaining that I know better, but I still sin usually in the same way each time) he assures me that I am human and that I will probably sin again, but as long as I am trying my best to please God and keep coming to confession when I do mess up, that’s what really matters.

I’ve never had a “bad” confession so to speak… although one time the penance was to read A Purpose Driven Life (not with the above mentioned priest, though).

Ericka


#19

Wow, an interesting topic for me to come across today. Yesterday, I made my first confession ever. I was baptized, given eucharist and confirmed at Easter Vigil in 1997, but I was always afraid to go to confession and ended up not sticking with the Church. Nearly thirteen years later, I set an appointment to talk to the priest. I told him I had never been to confession, told him I was deadly afraid to go, and had him walk me through it. He asked me if I wanted to do it then, and I said I wasn’t ready. Two weeks later, after examining my conscience and practicing (yes, practicing), I showed up to confession.

It was five or so minutes before the allotted time was up before I got into the little room. Half of me was hoping that the priest would suggest I come back later, but the other half was begging him not to send me away. I baby-stepped in and asked weakly if he was ready for me. I debated briefly whether to sit in the chair opposite the priest or kneel and remain anonymous, but I simply had to know who I was talking to, so I sat. I was very happy to see the priest with whom I had met earlier.

Like many people who come to confession after being away, I was in a sorry state. I spilled my guts about several things and I was visibly very upset. He gave me some very insightful advice and assigned me penance. I said the Act of Contrition, which I had written down. He laughed and complimented me for coming prepared. I told him that I had sense enough to know that I would not remember my lines. He told me that the prayer had three important parts: Sorrow for one’s sins, resolution to amend one’s life, and trust that God will forgive. The third part was what troubled me most, and I think he could see that. He then rose out of his seat. I wasn’t sure what was happening. He laid his hands on my head and gave me absolution, then sat and told me that I was as free from sin as the day I was baptized. He said he could hear the choirs singing in Heaven and welcomed me back.


#20

That’s really beautiful. And very uplifting to hear the story. :slight_smile:


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