Having a regular confessor


#1

Would anyone be willing to share their experience with having a regular confessor?
How did you decide who it would be?
Do you ever use anyone else?
Did you ask the priest or just use him regularly?
Do you go to confession at scheduled times with your confessor or make an appointment?
Value of a regular confessor.


#2

It's as easy as finding a priest you like to go to for confession and go to him consistently. You don't have to make an appointment unless you can't go at regular times. I prefer to make an appointment because my confessor is also my spiritual director and we talk about other things besides celebrating reconciliation. The advantage to having a regular confessor is that he gets to know your tendencies and areas that you have trouble with.

Even though I have a regular confessor if I need to go to confession and he is not available I will go to someone else. My confessor is not in my parish so sometimes it is difficult to get to him when I need to. Usually at Christmas and Easter I go to our parish penance service and go to whatever priest there.


#3

I do not currently have a regular confessor OR a spiritual director (they are two different things).

In the past, I have had a regular confessor in that I went to the same priest each time for confession. It wasn’t a formal arrangement. I go to confession monthly and I would simply wait for him at the scheduled time. If I needed to go to confession outside that time, I would make an appointment with him.

I have also had a formal arrangement with a priest as my regular confessor in that I asked him and we set specific times to meet outside the parish schedule for confessions.

Currently I simply go to confession to the next available priest.

When I was in formation for religious life, I had a spiritual director but not a regular confessor.

I see this as a continuum from going to confession to whichever priest is available (which is absolutely fine) through having a regular confessor who is also your spiritual director. However, a spiritual director does NOT have to be a priest. Lay people, religious, deacons all make excellent spiritual directors. There is specific training for this and some people just have a charism for it.

Anyone who is scrupulous or who is working to overcome habitual sins would benefit greatly from a regular confessor and regular confession times.


#4

[quote="ermcma, post:1, topic:307914"]
Would anyone be willing to share their experience with having a regular confessor?

[/quote]

Yeah, okay, I'll give it a shot.

[quote="ermcma, post:1, topic:307914"]
How did you decide who it would be?

[/quote]

As with many things in my life, it's a looooooong story. In a nutshell, four months ago I found myself in need of confession and unable to get to my regular confessor, who is some 145 miles (230km or so) away. I asked my pastor to recommend someone locally to whom I could confess in my native language, and he suggested I come to him. Apparently he missed the "in my native language" part of the request because once we were face to face he said he couldn't hear a confession in English so I ended up confessing in French anyway, something I had never done before and was completely unprepared to do on the day. :rolleyes: After some initial difficulties, it was just easier to keep confessing to Fr. B than it was to return to my previous confessor. The only reason I hadn't been doing so before was the language barrier. I already knew his orthodoxy to be unquestionable. I simply thought I wasn't ready to commit to confessing in French full time. I was right :D, but God has a way of fixing problems like that when it is His will.

[quote="ermcma, post:1, topic:307914"]
Do you ever use anyone else?

[/quote]

Only if I have to. Last Friday, so many people came to confess that Fr. B ran out of time before he got to me so he instructed me to confess to our parochial vicar, Fr. G, during Adoration later that evening. I will also need to confess to another priest during our respective annual vacations. (I confess weekly; we each get a month's vacation in the summer—his all in one shot, mine in two two-week segments, the first of which coincides with his time away.) And I will always run to the nearest priest I can find if I have mortal sin to confess and Fr. B isn't available.

[quote="ermcma, post:1, topic:307914"]
Did you ask the priest or just use him regularly?

[/quote]

As I said above, I asked him to send me to someone else and he said I could come to him. After that, it just sort of became a regular thing. We fell into it together. Neither of us has questioned it, but we haven't formally established that I would confess to him regularly, either. I just do, and he seems to expect it.

[quote="ermcma, post:1, topic:307914"]
Do you go to confession at scheduled times with your confessor or make an appointment?

[/quote]

Scheduled times. I'm his sacristan for the Mass that follows Friday confession, so I'm there anyway. I suppose I could make an appointment but so far haven't had to.

[quote="ermcma, post:1, topic:307914"]
Value of a regular confessor.

[/quote]

He knows me, really knows me, so his comments on my confessed sins have true relevance to my life. Because he's so familiar with my strengths and weaknesses, knows where I am spiritually, is aware of my background as well as pretty much everything going on with me at any given time, he can be very, very specific in his recommendations. I genuinely feel as if my confessor leads me directly to the Lord. I can't say everyone with a regular confessor will feel the same way, and I hasten to point out that we have had more opportunity to get to know each other than that which our time in the confessional provides because I work for him and we see each other nearly every day. So YMMV.

Hope this helps. :)


#5

I've had a regular confessor for over 3 years. I ended up choosing him, in part, actually after he asked me how long I'd had that mutilation on my foot after he first saw my tattoo that I had gotten before I converted. His honesty about his dislike of my tattoo, combined with the humor, was the deciding factor. I had known him for a few months before and had come to know his love of Christ and of His church, his orthodoxy, and I figured that he would be a good regular confessor. His honesty can be a bit painful at times, but pain is healing, and has lead to much spiritual growth and a closer relationship with God and His church with me.

If I think that I'll be quick (~2-5 minutes) then I'll go during the regularly scheduled time. If it seems that it will take longer, then I'll either ask him to hear it after evening Vespers or I'll ask for an appointment. It has definitely helped me to grow spiritually, as he has really come to know me and my specific issues, and sometimes his advise or penance has been tailored to fit my particular situation and have been a major component of my spiritual growth. He was also quick to refer me out to someone else for those issues that have mental and physical components (that were "above my paygrade", as he put it), and he addresses the spiritual side of those things in the confessional, as I need to confess them. I don't see him for spiritual direction, per se, except maybe a couple of times of year for specific questions. His schedule is almost always full, so I try not to take more than 20 minutes at a time with him.

I do go to other priests for confession at times, if I need to, but that can sometimes take longer, as I sometimes find it difficult to be brief with other priests, as my situation is somewhat unusual and it does take a bit of time to say all of the relevant information (not leaving anything important out, but not adding details that doesn't change the moral gravity of the situation).


#6

I don't currently have a regular confessor, but I will gladly share a story from a time when I did.

Many years ago, I worked at my Cathedral as the Director of Religious Education. We had a group of priests sent to our diocese from India, and one of my side-responsibilities was helping them get acquainted with the United States. I helped prepare them for their driver's test, took them to lunches, showed them around the town, etc. Gradually, the priests were all sent to their respective parishes... but one remained at the Cathedral. He was a wonderful priest. We became great friends through this period of time. I remember the first snowfall, and how he was stunned by what snow really is. He was so funny. He used to wear his flannel pajamas under his black pants, so whenever he would cross his legs I could see them poking out of the bottom. I still chuckle remembering him. What a great priest. What a great friend I had in him, and him in me! We still communicate by letter, as he is now back in India.

During this time, he became my regular confessor. He was both priest AND friend to me, and the accountability I had for my sins was very real in that situation. He knew me. He knew my struggles, and he also knew my successes. Knowing all of this about me, he was able to give me exceptional guidance. He was able to help me pick my head up if I was really beating myself up about something. The graces I received, and the love I learned for this amazing sacrament, just increased and increased during this time.

I understand the confessional is not a place for therapy. It is a place for absolution. But when you have a regular confessor, and they know your spiritual coordinates if you will, they can give penances and/or brief spiritual counsel more tuned to you. And yes,brief Spiritual Counsel should and can be given in the confessional if the need arises.


#7

My regular confessor is my pastor. I had only had a semi-regular confessor before, as I went to Opus Dei recollections and usually confessed to to the priest there. I didn’t always make the recollection and would also go elsewhere. When we got our new pastor, I told my husband that I didn’t think I’d feel comfortable confessing to him, as he is married and his wife is a friend of mine. He’s also younger than me, which made me feel a little weird. (I’m only now reaching the stage of life in which so many "authority figures are younger. I suppose I’ll get used to it soon.) One time my husband confessed to him, and mentioned that he was a really good confessor. As I got to know him as my pastor, I gradually became more open to the idea. His humility and personal holiness drew me to him. My priest hears confessions every Sunday before Liturgy, and is very approachable at other times. Because of kids’ activities, I’d been having a really hard time getting to Opus Dei recollections, or even regularly scheduled confession times at a local parish. Finally, I just asked Father if he had few minutes to hear my confession. He graciously did so, and I was impressed by the same humility that I had seen in his homilies and in his leadership of our parish. I was also surprised and helped by his insight, and helped by the care with which he gave advice and assigned penance. I realized that there is a benefit to having a confessor who know you well, and I have confessed to him almost exclusively since. Occasionally, I’ll go to someone else, but generally not.


#8

Thank you all for sharing your stories. I have done as many of you have said, found a priest I liked in the confessional and just started to use him as my "go to guy". This however has not been formal, and just during regularly scheduled times, which also seems to be okay. I too have been on retreat and of course used someone else. This is all fairly new, nothing like the length of time some of you describe. That said, I can only imagine how fruitful it would be to have a very long term regular confessor. I feel blessed to have found someone who I am comfortable seeing regularly who is both kind and at the same time tough on me because he is starting to know me. I appreciate the reinforcement that if I need him outside of scheduled times not to hesitate to set up the "appointment".

Thanks


#9

=ermcma;10116092]Would anyone be willing to share their experience with having a regular confessor?
How did you decide who it would be?
Do you ever use anyone else?
Did you ask the priest or just use him regularly?
Do you go to confession at scheduled times with your confessor or make an appointment?
Value of a regular confessor.

Sure:)

But IMO the benefit comes primarly if one is willing to “Confess-Face to Face.”

Through this practice the priest is free then to act also as a sort of Spiritual Advisor." And the benefits for Spiritual enrichment are notable. :slight_smile:

God Bless,

pat/PJM


#10

[quote="ermcma, post:1, topic:307914"]
Would anyone be willing to share their experience with having a regular confessor?
How did you decide who it would be?
Do you ever use anyone else?
Did you ask the priest or just use him regularly?
Do you go to confession at scheduled times with your confessor or make an appointment?
Value of a regular confessor.

[/quote]

I was away from confession for decades, and when I came back, it was to go once a year. The priest who became my regular confessor was the priest who, just through his homilies and other teachings, really changed me. He is the one who brought me to the point of desiring and recognizing the need for more regular confession, though he didn't realize he was doing that. That's why I choose him.

The first time I went to him, his assigned penance was really valuable. Starting with the second time, his insight into who I am and how it affected the sins I was confessing moved me almost to tears, especially as at that time he didn't really know me all that well.

I never really made it "formal", and I just went during regular times, and never to anybody else, but then he moved quite a distance. So I emailed him and told him he was the only regular confessor I had ever had and I didn't see a need for that to change, so to expect to see me regularly. He told me to let him know when I was coming so I could be sure he'd be there.

What the distance has meant is that, when necessary, I do have an appointment. It also means that sometimes I do have to go to others.

The value is that he now knows me so well. He helps me recognize things about myself or situations that I never picked up on. The other value is that I trust him, meaning it is easier to really open up. Having told him all the stuff I'd rather nobody else know, and seeing his compassion and understanding, it is easier to be more open even with myself, to see myself better.

I have been to other good confessors, even those I have known for years, but this is the priest who draws me closest to God. The value is great enough that I am still willing to travel the distance when I can.


#11

Another benefit I forgot to mention is accountability. If I confess the same thing over and over, Father is going to get a sense of chronic sin in my life. He's even been known to question me on a firm purpose of amendment.


#12

[quote="PJM, post:9, topic:307914"]
Sure:)

But IMO the benefit comes primarly if one is willing to "Confess-Face to Face."

Through this practice the priest is free then to act also as a sort of Spiritual Advisor." And the benefits for Spiritual enrichment are notable. :)

God Bless,

pat/PJM

[/quote]

There is absolutely no need for anyone to do face-to-face confession except in very limited circumstances.

A priest can act as a spiritual advisor even if he can't see your face. My former confessor even said that when people confess to priests regularly, the priests are able to determine from their previous confessions when sins start turning into habits and are able to give firm warnings and counsel the overcome their sins. This was an FSSP priest, and as a practice they don't do face-to-face confession.

Now that the Seal of Confession and priests are under attack, and there's people who make false accusations against priests committing all types of things in the confessional, it is to everyone's advantage to use the old style confessionals and keep it anonymous. Such also helps with limiting emotional attachments that some people can develop. Also, brevity can also minimize emotional attachment too.

We also must make sure that when we are going to Confession that we are going there for Confession, and not for things like consolation, etc. Not having the proper motive can also invalidate a Confession.


#13

Face-to-face vs. behind-the-screen — in 20 years of frequent confession, I’ve had plenty of both. What works might vary from one confessor to another.

One of the most profound experiences in my life was being able to practice frequent confession as taught by Benedict Baur. At the time, I attended daily Mass and Adoration. For a six-month period, I received the Sacrament of Penance 2-3 times per week from an elderly priest. He was experienced and gave me very valuable spiritual advice. I NEVER SAW HIM, EVER! No kidding. It was a large cathedral parish, and he was retired. He was in the confessional when I arrived after work and gone before Mass ended.

Then my job changed — I miss him and have yet to find another priest with his experience.


#14

My regular confessor is priest who was at my parish but is now at a different parish, and I go at the scheduled times. When our parish has its communal penance service during Advent and Lent, he is normally there, so I get in his line. If he is not there, I go to another priest. If I am travelling, I will go to another priest. I haven’t asked him to be my regular confessor, I just go to him. I think he has figured it out that I pretty much only go to him since I travel to his parish for confession.

For me, the greatest value of having a regular confessor is that he knows me, my strengths and weaknesses, my health situation, and my habits. He is better able to ask me questions about my sins instead of just glossing over them like other priests do. Because he knows me, he is better able to tailor my penance to something that helps me change my habits than just praying a few Rosaries. And, yeah, he does some spiritual guidance with me instead of just granting absolution (if the line isn’t too long behind me). I get the sense that he is more interested in the state of my soul than just some random priest. (granted, I cannot know what the other priests think/feel so I cannot say that he is or isn’t … just that it seems that way to me).


#15

=Deo Gratias42;10120608]There is absolutely no need for anyone to do face-to-face confession except in very limited circumstances.

A priest can act as a spiritual advisor even if he can’t see your face. My former confessor even said that when people confess to priests regularly, the priests are able to determine from their previous confessions when sins start turning into habits and are able to give firm warnings and counsel the overcome their sins. This was an FSSP priest, and as a practice they don’t do face-to-face confession.

Now that the Seal of Confession and priests are under attack, and there’s people who make false accusations against priests committing all types of things in the confessional, it is to everyone’s advantage to use the old style confessionals and keep it anonymous. Such also helps with limiting emotional attachments that some people can develop. Also, brevity can also minimize emotional attachment too.

We also must make sure that when we are going to Confession that we are going there for Confession, and not for things like consolation, etc. Not having the proper motive can also invalidate a Confession.

YES:) he certainly can.

BUT the benefits I mentioned nevertheless are real.

Face to face is an option and “options” do not apply to everyone, only to those chooing to exercise that option. I DO:thumbsup:

God Bless,


#16

[quote="PJM, post:15, topic:307914"]
YES:) he certainly can.

BUT the benefits I mentioned nevertheless are real.

Face to face is an option and "options" do not apply to everyone, only to those chooing to exercise that option. I DO:thumbsup:

God Bless,

[/quote]

I don't see what these benefits are.


#17

[quote="Deo_Gratias42, post:12, topic:307914"]
There is absolutely no need for anyone to do face-to-face confession except in very limited circumstances.

[/quote]

In the Byzantine tradition, face-to-face is the only option, and I'm honestly uncomfortable if I find myself having to confess behind a screen. Actually, it isn't technically considered face-to-face, as the penitent is usually facing an icon of Christ, with the priest off to the side. Still, no wall or barrier exists. It is interesting to me that Byzantine theology stresses that we confess to Christ, with the priest as witness, yet we don't have "anonymous" confession. Western theology holds that we confess to the priest, yet the centuries-old norm has been for anonymous confessions.

As far as protecting the priest from accusations, we don't generally use confessionals. Confessions are heard in the church, in a little nook or alcove, but visible to all.


#18

I do have a regular confessor though I have been to him for a while due to him being on sick leave. Please pray for him.
I find it especially beneficial having a regular confessor as he can advise me more on my repeated sins. I have only been to confession with him face to face as behind a screen makes me uncomfortable.


#19

I used to go to a regular priest at a parish close to my then-place of work. I also used to go elsewhere e.g. on weekends. At the time, I was really hung up on what the priest would think of me, especially because my confessions would frequently be very similar, despite the confession not being face-to-face. This stopped me from going a few times - I'd delay it until the weekend and go elsewhere. It's only looking back that I realise the value that going to the same priest brought - he was not at all judgemental, I developed a good relationship with him, and I think he came to understand my particular pastoral situation and thus gave me better guidance than I would otherwise get. I think this is also true of other priests I have frequently gone to for confession since then.

Just on the face-to-face versus "traditional" issue, I find that the traditional style confessionals more spiritual than going face-to-face which I'm still not entirely comfortable with. However, I discussed this with my spiritual director at the seminary last year and he said that the advantage of being able to see a person, for a priest, is the ability to read their body language and expressions. He also pointed out that as a priest I would have to hear confessions face-to-face and so I should really get used to using that form myself. So, difficult thought it still is at times, I now go face-to-face - although part of me still longs to be kneeling behind a screen in a nice darkened confessional


#20

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