Handling Interruptions in Confession


#1

I've been trying not to post threads like this, but after three weeks of uncomfortable experiences in confession, I have to ask. Okay, so lately in confession I've been interrupted by the priest. Usually it's because he thinks I'm done and begins to give me absolution. I have it in me to interrupt the priest once or twice, but after a while I can't bring my self to do it. As a result, I end up leaving out sins. Not that it's my intention to hide them, I enter the confessional fully prepared to do so; I just get so nervous/confused that I struggle to mention them. Well, also, I've had the priest interrupt me because he didn't want me confessing sins that I was unable to mention in a previous confession, due to what I mentioned above. Since I want to obey the priest so I don't mention them. The problem is that I had another sin that was committed that day and it was closely related to those that I was told not to mention. As a result, I ended up leaving out that sin; I felt that the only way to confess it was to mention the ones I was told I couldn't mention. Now my intention wasn't to conceal it, I was only trying to be obedient. Still I find the incident concerning. Am I doing anything wrong in these situations?

I am taking my concerns to my confessor like I have been told and it has helped some, but these experiences in the confessional leave my uncomfortable. Would it be wrong if I asked the priest to not interrupt until I'm done because it makes it difficult for me to finish? I hope I don't sound critical of any priests; I know that they are trying to help in these situations and they do help. Quite a bit actually. The problem is what happens afterwards. The problem isn't with them it's me. I can't think once I'm interrupted and I become scared to offend the priest. Especially since I like them, and can tell that they really care.


#2

[quote="C794, post:1, topic:331385"]
I've been trying not to post threads like this, but after three weeks of uncomfortable experiences in confession, I have to ask. Okay, so lately in confession I've been interrupted by the priest. Usually it's because he thinks I'm done and begins to give me absolution. I have it in me to interrupt the priest once or twice, but after a while I can't bring my self to do it. As a result, I end up leaving out sins. Not that it's my intention to hide them, I enter the confessional fully prepared to do so; I just get so nervous/confused that I struggle to mention them. Well, also, I've had the priest interrupt me because he didn't want me confessing sins that I was unable to mention in a previous confession, due to what I mentioned above. Since I want to obey the priest so I don't mention them. The problem is that I had another sin that was committed that day and it was closely related to those that I was told not to mention. As a result, I ended up leaving out that sin; I felt that the only way to confess it was to mention the ones I was told I couldn't mention. Now my intention wasn't to conceal it, I was only trying to be obedient. Still I find the incident concerning. Am I doing anything wrong in these situations?

I am taking my concerns to my confessor like I have been told and it has helped some, but these experiences in the confessional leave my uncomfortable. Would it be wrong if I asked the priest to not interrupt until I'm done because it makes it difficult for me to finish? I hope I don't sound critical of any priests; I know that they are trying to help in these situations and they do help. Quite a bit actually. The problem is what happens afterwards. The problem isn't with them it's me. I can't think once I'm interrupted and I become scared to offend the priest. Especially since I like them, and can tell that they really care.

[/quote]

I'm going to make an assumption that your confession was rather long and detailed and the priest started when he thought you were done. If this assumption is not correct, please excuse me and just regard this as a general matter.

First, the priest does not need to hear every little gory detail. He needs to hear the sins in number and kind. If you do a good examination of conscience before you step into the confessional, that should be a relatively quick process. For example:

Bless me Father for I have sinned, it's been one month since my last confession. In that time,

[LIST]
*]I missed going to Mass on a Holy Day of Obligation on one occasion.
*]I received communion sacrilegiously on one occasion.
*]I committed theft on two occasions
*]I took the Lord's name in vain on several occasions
*]I told a serious lie on one occasion and I withheld the truth from somebody who needed to know on two occasions
*]I spread rumors by revealing facts about somebody to those who did not need to know on three occasions
*]I had sexual fantasies that I did not immediately banish from my mind on two occasions
[/LIST]
If you go into more detail...for example,
I really needed to have some paper for my printer at home and did not have time to get to Staples and so I borrowed a ream of paper from my work, but I completely forgot to buy my work a replacement ream and now it's so late to bring it back I'm afraid my work is going to fire me because I'm sure that somebody saw me took that ream of paper oh Father I am so scared how am I going to feed my three little children Oh Father my ex husband ran off with that hussy and left me holding the back and I really need that job Father what will I do Father oh goodness can you please help me Father I don't know what to do
Frankly, if your confession resembles the second example more than the first, you may well be taking too long. The priest may recognize that there is a line of people behind you and knows they need to be served. (I've had to wait in line behind somebody who took a full 15 minutes for confession..with 10 people in line behind that person and only 30 minutes for weekly confession before Mass...and that has happened far more than just once)

On the other hand, if you are just going through number and kind, as above, and the priest interrupts you to get a little bit of clarifying detail (so as to judge the severity of what you've done), then I can full well understand your frustration. I don't think it would be unreasonable to ask him to wait until you're done before asking because you're worried you will inadvertently leave something off if you're interrupted.

Bottom line is if you are just confessing number and kind and the priest interrupts, then by all means explain that you're worried you'll forget, so please wait.

If, on the other hand, if you feel a need to make a long detailed confession...where the priest may have a concern for the people behind you in line, may I suggest that you make an appointment outside of your parish's normal confession times? He might be better able to focus on a detailed confession at that time...

Also, if I can suggest, you may wish to review Father Z's 20 tips for a good confession.


#3

[quote="markomalley, post:2, topic:331385"]

[LIST]
*]I missed going to Mass on a Holy Day of Obligation on one occasion.
*]I received communion sacrilegiously on one occasion.
*]I committed theft on two occasions
*]I took the Lord's name in vain on several occasions
*]I told a serious lie on one occasion and I withheld the truth from somebody who needed to know on two occasions
*]I spread rumors by revealing facts about somebody to those who did not need to know on three occasions
*]I had sexual fantasies that I did not immediately banish from my mind on two occasions
[/LIST]

[/quote]

I make a list like the above. I write it down on a notecard and take it with me. I tend to get nervous and forget things and this ensures I remember. Also, if Father asks something I can always go back to the list. You might find that helpful.

Also, we are told to say at the end: "These are my sins. For these and the sins of my whole life I am truly sorry". If the priest starts the absolution before you say that you can politely say, "Father I have a few more things to confess".


#4

I try to be as short and precise as I can. All that matter is that you do confess. As written in at least one answer, the priest really don't need to hear every gruesome detail.


#5

Okay I am Anglican but as mentioned I write mine down and tend to write it as I would say it so I don't have to think about presentation of it. I don't do number of times etc at all and don't know if it required by us or not and not any of the priests indicated I should be doing different etc but there again am anglican and wonder if there are any other anglicans on here that do use confession and how do they approach it. Not that I will change my style because it works so far unless a priest asks me to do as such.

But we also have a bit right after our own confession that indicates to the priest that we are finished when we ask him for penance advice and absolution as a set piece on the card.

Just once I have given my paper to the priest to read and that had pro's and cons' as he ws able to kind of like go through it more detail and asked some soul searching questions of which I kind of hated him for it but helped me in the longer run for the while.

whilst I am vagually aware our confessions are different to you guys in that certainly I have never done number and kind, whether anyone else has in anglicanism, I haven't. But reading it from a sheet of paper means I am clear-ish sometimes and it is obvious to the priest when I am done and even more when he reads. He did stumpt me a little bit when he read because I wasn't expecting him to ask if there is anything else I wanted to say but there again we both knew I had written it almost a month before as I had that one in the new year and booked it before christmas and I knew it was far better to write it, put it away and 'forget' about it and he knew of that plan.

My advice therefore would be to write it out how you would actually say it and may be ask him to read it.


#6

[quote="markomalley, post:2, topic:331385"]
I'm going to make an assumption that your confession was rather long and detailed and the priest started when he thought you were done. If this assumption is not correct, please excuse me and just regard this as a general matter.

First, the priest does not need to hear every little gory detail. He needs to hear the sins in number and kind. If you do a good examination of conscience before you step into the confessional, that should be a relatively quick process. For example:

Bless me Father for I have sinned, it's been one month since my last confession. In that time,

[LIST]
*]I missed going to Mass on a Holy Day of Obligation on one occasion.
*]I received communion sacrilegiously on one occasion.
*]I committed theft on two occasions
*]I took the Lord's name in vain on several occasions
*]I told a serious lie on one occasion and I withheld the truth from somebody who needed to know on two occasions
*]I spread rumors by revealing facts about somebody to those who did not need to know on three occasions
*]I had sexual fantasies that I did not immediately banish from my mind on two occasions
[/LIST]
If you go into more detail...for example,
I really needed to have some paper for my printer at home and did not have time to get to Staples and so I borrowed a ream of paper from my work, but I completely forgot to buy my work a replacement ream and now it's so late to bring it back I'm afraid my work is going to fire me because I'm sure that somebody saw me took that ream of paper oh Father I am so scared how am I going to feed my three little children Oh Father my ex husband ran off with that hussy and left me holding the back and I really need that job Father what will I do Father oh goodness can you please help me Father I don't know what to do
Frankly, if your confession resembles the second example more than the first, you may well be taking too long. The priest may recognize that there is a line of people behind you and knows they need to be served. (I've had to wait in line behind somebody who took a full 15 minutes for confession..with 10 people in line behind that person and only 30 minutes for weekly confession before Mass...and that has happened far more than just once)

On the other hand, if you are just going through number and kind, as above, and the priest interrupts you to get a little bit of clarifying detail (so as to judge the severity of what you've done), then I can full well understand your frustration. I don't think it would be unreasonable to ask him to wait until you're done before asking because you're worried you will inadvertently leave something off if you're interrupted.

Bottom line is if you are just confessing number and kind and the priest interrupts, then by all means explain that you're worried you'll forget, so please wait.

If, on the other hand, if you feel a need to make a long detailed confession...where the priest may have a concern for the people behind you in line, may I suggest that you make an appointment outside of your parish's normal confession times? He might be better able to focus on a detailed confession at that time...

Also, if I can suggest, you may wish to review Father Z's 20 tips for a good confession.

[/quote]

My confessions are more like the first list. There was a couple times when I went into more detail than that example, but it was nothing like example two. The interruptions are more due to things like the priest telling me not to mention sins I was unable to mention in the last confession (I was taught that while such sins would be forgiven they still needed to be mentioned at the next confession), telling me not to mention a certain sin ( I mentioned that I had confessed it before, but that I needed to ask a question about it, I don't have a habit of reconfessing sins) and something I say indicating to the priest that I'm done. All in all, I believe that these interruptions are due to misunderstandings, possibly because the priest didn't understand what I was trying to do/say.

I want to add that my frustration isn't so much with the priest as it is with how I feel after confession. Since the interruption causes me to omit sins, I leave doubting if I made a valid confession. It was worst during the latest time because it caused me to not mention a sin that I had just committed because it was related to a sin that he told me not to confess.


#7

[quote="C794, post:6, topic:331385"]
My confessions are more like the first list. There was a couple times when I went into more detail than that example, but it was nothing like example two. The interruptions are more due to things like the priest telling me not to mention sins I was unable to mention in the last confession (I was taught that while such sins would be forgiven they still needed to be mentioned at the next confession), telling me not to mention a certain sin ( I mentioned that I had confessed it before, but that I needed to ask a question about it, I don't have a habit of reconfessing sins) and something I say indicating to the priest that I'm done. All in all, I believe that these interruptions are due to misunderstandings, possibly because the priest didn't understand what I was trying to do/say.

I want to add that my frustration isn't so much with the priest as it is with how I feel after confession. Since the interruption causes me to omit sins, I leave doubting if I made a valid confession. It was worst during the latest time because it caused me to not mention a sin that I had just committed because it was related to a sin that he told me not to confess.

[/quote]

If you inadvertently forgot a sin (the key word being inadvertent), then it's absolved with the rest of them. If you intentionally hid a sin, that's a different issue altogether (but that doesn't seem to be the case here).

Yes, the first time the priest interrupted, I would respectfully ask him to wait until you're done, as you are afraid you'll forget something.


#8

Well in my case it wasn't me truly forgetting something, but it wasn't me intentionally hiding anything. I did forget aspects of sins that led me to think that mentioning them wouldn't be necessary or directing my attention away from those sins. In one instance I didn't forget a sin, but I ended up taking his directive to not mention a certain sin to include that one. They were so closely linked, that I thought they needed to be confessed together. So I guess me omitting it was out of obedience, even though I made the wrong choice (hopefully this one doesn't affect the validity because I chose to assume it didn't and then received communion). What happens with the interruptions is that they cause me to be unable to think clearly and I end up loosing my willingness to think through what I'm confessing.

It's good to know that I can ask the priest to wait; it will probably help me a lot in confession.


#9

[quote="C794, post:6, topic:331385"]
My confessions are more like the first list. There was a couple times when I went into more detail than that example, but it was nothing like example two. The interruptions are more due to things like the priest telling me not to mention sins I was unable to mention in the last confession (I was taught that while such sins would be forgiven they still needed to be mentioned at the next confession), telling me not to mention a certain sin ( I mentioned that I had confessed it before, but that I needed to ask a question about it, I don't have a habit of reconfessing sins) and something I say indicating to the priest that I'm done. All in all, I believe that these interruptions are due to misunderstandings, possibly because the priest didn't understand what I was trying to do/say.

I want to add that my frustration isn't so much with the priest as it is with how I feel after confession. Since the interruption causes me to omit sins, I leave doubting if I made a valid confession. It was worst during the latest time because it caused me to not mention a sin that I had just committed because it was related to a sin that he told me not to confess.

[/quote]

I suggest you go in with a written list, and limit the explanations of "I forgot this sin two confessions ago" to a bare minimum, mortal sins only, and save them for the end. That way you'll limit the interruptions.


#10

I have brought a list in the past and it helps to a point, but not entirely. The problem is more with my train of thought getting messed up rather than me forgetting a sin completely.


#11

Are you sure you are confessing mortal sins and not adding all your venial sins in there, or assuming something is mortal when it is not? We don’t need to confess every venial sin, although it is helpful to confess those that are particularly troubling or habitual.

Perhaps your confessions are unnecessarily long and that is why you are being interrupted.
I think making a list would be a good idea for your train of thought, but some priests are not too receptive to that, as it may signal to them that he’s in for a long haul.


#12

I'm pretty sure it's at least mostly mortal sins. I may have put a few venial sins in there because I knew they'd bother me afterwards, but I don't feel that the confession was unnecessarily long.


#13

[quote="C794, post:1, topic:331385"]
I've been trying not to post threads like this, but after three weeks of uncomfortable experiences in confession, I have to ask. Okay, so lately in confession I've been interrupted by the priest. Usually it's because he thinks I'm done and begins to give me absolution. I have it in me to interrupt the priest once or twice, but after a while I can't bring my self to do it. As a result, I end up leaving out sins. Not that it's my intention to hide them, I enter the confessional fully prepared to do so; I just get so nervous/confused that I struggle to mention them. Well, also, I've had the priest interrupt me because he didn't want me confessing sins that I was unable to mention in a previous confession, due to what I mentioned above. Since I want to obey the priest so I don't mention them. The problem is that I had another sin that was committed that day and it was closely related to those that I was told not to mention. As a result, I ended up leaving out that sin; I felt that the only way to confess it was to mention the ones I was told I couldn't mention. Now my intention wasn't to conceal it, I was only trying to be obedient. Still I find the incident concerning. Am I doing anything wrong in these situations?

[/quote]

If you are going once a week, you should be confessing three-four sins at the most. Lump all of each kind of sin together - "I did this four times," rather than, "I did this under these circumstances; then I did it again under those circumstances, and then something else happened and I did it again, and then here's what happened next, and then I did it again."

Keep it short and simple. "I gossiped with my girlfriends four times this week, when we got together for coffee after work. I wasted my employer's time surfing the Internet for personal reasons on three occasions. I saw someone drop a $20 bill and I kept it instead of returning it. I swore at a guy when he cut me off in traffic, and I don't remember whether I took the Lord's name in vain. For these and for all my sins I am truly sorry Father."

Begin with the worst ones first, and leave your venial sins until last.

Keep on speaking until you are done with your Confession - don't pause or wait for a reaction from the priest, since he may assume that you are finished if you stop talking.

Come to a definite end, and say something like, "for these and for all my sins I am truly sorry Father," so that he knows for sure you are done.

If you have a long list of mortal sins, leave out the venial sins altogether.


#14

I don't typically go once a week. It was just over the last three because I'm going through a rough time spiritually. The first one was fairly short, the second one was longer because I had some questions to ask about some sins I had just remembered and about something I said in the last confession, and this week's was also fairly short and quick. My confessions do tend to be like the second option, except for the rare sin that I feel the circumstance is important. About the keep talking: I never thought of that. Now that I think about it, I do pause a lot. I guess that's part of the problem. Thanks for the suggestion.


#15

If you are having this kind of trouble with your regular confessor then I would suggest to you that perhaps it is time for you to find a new confessor who will not fight you so much. You need a confessor whom you can trust, and someone who will trust you; I take it that you suffer at least a bit from scrupulosity? It is very important for the confessor to be able to work with you on this debilitating condition and it sounds to me like you are not seeing eye to eye. So, perhaps take a look around your neighboring parishes, and see if there is someone who will be a better fit for you and be able to guide you. You will be in my prayers.


#16

No it wasn't my regular confessor; as of now I haven't been able to find a priest that I'd trust enough for that. Currently I'm stuck switching between priests and can't go to one with any regularity. It may be a few months before I can truly have a permanent confessor .Still these situations have left me frustrated because I don't really know how to handle them and having them occur with two separate priests is fairly discouraging. There is a priest that I've been thinking about trying to establish as my regular confessor; only one of these incidents happened with him. He's less likely to interrupt and if I don't leave any long gaps I may be able to finish. On the other hand we don't really know each other, my only contact with him has been inside the confessional. Would going to him this weekend be a good idea? I really don't like going to confession multiple weeks in a row.


#17

If I know I am going to be longer than normal in confession I usually tell the priest when I start so that he knows. I also write my sins down and tell him I have a long list!


#18

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