How can I make a better confession?

I’m a convert from the Baptist “church” who went through RCIA (1988) but did not receive great instruction in the basic “how-to” of the rituals–I’ve studied a lot, but I still have difficulty with the sacrament of reconciliation. I have gone once a month for two years now hoping that I would start to get comfortable with it, but I have not. Here is my problem:

I do a very good examination of conscience and I feel I’m ready when I enter the reconciliation room, but when I’m there, my mind blanks out. I struggle to find the words, I can hardly breathe, and feel like I’ve given my sins “short-shrift” (pun intended:) ). It is definitely not my wonderful, godly priest making me uncomfortable–he is the greatest–and this reaction is TOTALLY out of character for me.

I also end up repeating the same (lame) stuff both within a single confession and month to month. I don’t feel I’ve expressed the “actual” sin because I’ve not expressed it well. I’m usually very general (EX: I’ve over reacted to petty frustrations and hurt my son’s feelings)–that just doesn’t get at the heart of it. I know I’m forgiven, I just don’t think I’m doing the sacrament justice.

Sorry I’m so wordy–I hope you can help. THANKS!

Dear S.,

This is an easy one. Just jot down a list or just those parts that you are likely to forget. Lots a people come to Confession with a list. It’s hard to remember everything sometimes.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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