How to overcome embarassment/shame during confession?


I have gone to confession 3 times now and all 3 times have chickened out on confessing a particular sin. I pray ahead of time for strength to say it out loud, but then in the moment, I can’t bring myself to say it to the priest. I confess other sins but not this particular one. I plan on going back on Saturday and attempting it again. Has anyone else had this issue? How did you overcome it? The way our confessional is set up, it is 2 chairs facing one another. I find it so unnerving.


Go to a different parish. That’s standard practice for me. I’m too close to my priest that I’m uncomfortable confessing to him.


I assume you have an option to be behind a screen. Once you declared how long its been since your last confession let it be the first thing you confess, the second thing should you withheld it in previous confessions due to shame and then continue if there are other things. Just get it out right at the beginning and try to get there early if your parish has a line. The longer you wait in the line I’m guessing the more nervous you become.


You don’t cover up your illness when speaking to a doctor because the doctor can’t cure you if you hide your illness. Sin is a sickness and the priest acts as your physician. If it makes you more comfortable, visit a different parish for Confession. But most of all, confess you sin so that it may be forgiven. :slight_smile:

“Did you commit sin? Enter the Church, repent for your sin, for here is the physician, not the judge. Here one is not investigated; one receives remission of sins.” - St John Chrysostom

For it has not been said to them, “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.” They who rule on earth have indeed authority to bind, but only the body: whereas this binding lays hold of the soul and penetrates the heavens; and what priests do here below God ratifies above, and the Master confirms the sentence of his servants. - St John Chrysostom, On the Priesthood, Book 3:5

“Such are the words and deeds by which, in our own district of the Rhone, they have deluded many women, who have their consciences seared as with a hot iron. Some of them, indeed, make a public confession of their sins; but others of them are ashamed to do this, and in a tacit kind of way, despairing of [attaining to] the life of God, have, some of them, apostatized altogether; while others hesitate between the two courses, and incur that which is implied in the proverb, ‘neither without nor within;’ possessing this as the fruit from the seed of the children of knowledge.” - St Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1:13


Perfectly stated! :thumbsup:

You MUST be given the option to go to Confession behind a screen. If that option is not available to you, then find another parish for this sacrament.

I have a lovely little booklet around here somewhere on Confession, and there is a wonderful quote that has helped me so many times over the years (I have to paraphrase because I can’t look for the book right now) — The devil takes away our shame when we are led to sin, but hands it back to us when we are led to the sacrament.

Don’t let Satan one up you on this — thumb your nose at him and tell Christ (through the ear of the priest) how you have hurt Him.

You can do it!!



Leaving aside the Sacrament of Reconciliation, do you feel that your priest is approachable? If so, maybe you could email the above to him, or if you can speak to him either explain or just hand him the above words on a piece of paper and ask for help.

If he has ever said to you that he absolves you of ALL your sins (since the time you committed the sin in question) the particular sin is absolved, however, as it is still a concern, it does seem to need to be addressed so that you can move forward.

I must admit I go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation at our Cathedral because it has a partition, I can kneel and be focused.

I hope this helps a little and I will pray for you.

God bless you.


Go to a parish that has a confessional for anonymity.


If you intentionally withhold a mortal sin during Confession, your sins are not absolved. The Sacrament would be invalid.


Frankly I think it is rather insensitive of priests to ‘confront’ someone on a chair in a face-to-face situation. At best it tends to be patronizing – at worst mortifying…and therefore never again esp. for sensitive teenagers. It was also key to the extreme ‘power’ that priests once held over their flock. I feel priests are confusing their role with psychiatrists etc. when they offer counselling/judgements. They are there to channel the ‘forgiveness’ of God, not to probe & pry (which thankfully most priests never do.) It is best if one is not aware of the priest at all & feels one is speaking directly to God. Therefore I believe the most sensible arrangement is the traditional screened partition. It is not supposed to be a meeting between two people but rather your private encounter with God. The priest is merely a channel to facilitate that encounter. If you are playing golf with this guy at the weekend you are hardly likely to tell him your most intimate/embarrassing secrets & worries. Lets have those curtains back!


Thank you for the clarity for myself and more importantly for the OP. I would not wish to lead anyone astray.


No problem. :thumbsup: That is what we have each other for. :slight_smile:


If you don’t have my issue of being a familiar face among priests of the near parishes, I’d suggest to try to get to another priest in another parish or something of the sort, if it isn’t too much of a hassle for you (there are litttle things that should stop you from doing your sacraments proeprly, but they simply do stop you anyway). Or suggest to your priest to just try and “ignore” the identification of the person by not looking directly on a certain day, and get in the middle of the line while he’s confessing.

Personally, I reach to a Passionist priest who responds so comprehensively to my concerns on sin, I tell everything, and he explains me everything, not making me feel embarassed for whatever I did. It’s hard to find this type of priests, and it helps that he has seen me grown since I’m young, but it’s worthy to try and find one. I find that religious ones (or the more strict/conservative as well) might be more prone to appeal to comprehensiveness or anonimity than the average diocesan priest. :thumbsup:

Good luck, hope you can find clearance and confidence in your heart for your sins to be confessed and reconciliated. :wink:


Sincere thanks to everyone! I just called the next nearest parish and they have confession available on Saturday starting at 2:30pm. I plan to be prompt & follow this advice. I am hoping it will be easier to confess to a stranger. I have never been to this parish for confession before, I hope they have a decent screen. (Our parish I guess technically has one to the side of the priest’s chair, but it is dilapidated and not very much of a partition. I don’t think anyone uses it anymore because when you walk in, our priest says “hello, have a seat”, and motions with his hand to the chair facing him.)


I agree!


Prayers offered! :gopray2:


That is a great quote! I do feel I deserve the shame. I just need the strength to overcome it and confess anyway. Thank you all for the encouragement! :heart:


Thank you for the prayers - I appreciate them. I am still nervous.


That happens to all of us at times (me all of the time :o :D). The next time you are about to sin, remember that you are in the presence of God, the King of all, not just a mere priest. :wink: If we physically saw God in all of his glory standing over our shoulders, what would we do? In his mercy, he lets us confess to priests. :slight_smile:


I agree with the comments about behind the screen. Even though I grew up with face-to-face, I really appreciate the screen. Back home, there’s 1 priest who knows me well enough that I’d trust with the more personal stuff. But at college, I very much prefer the anonymity.


Remember that your priest has heard everything in the confessional and your confession will be no different.

I also had trouble when I first started to avail myself of this sacrament but I always pray beforehand that God let me say to my confessor what I say to God myself in prayer. I find that this enables me to go in and give my unvarnished confession. I usually get the worst or most embarrassing sin out of the way first and find that its downhill after that. The relief that I experience during absolution more than makes up for any discomfort I feel during the actual confession.

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