I just went to a “catholic chat” and felt judged immediately. I just wanted to know if there was a practice type online place for confessions. Mine are bad. I want to know what’s coming if I go to a priest. Is there anyone that can help without the stereotypical “angry and judging” approach I am so afraid of meeting in person? If there is someone I can bounce this off on here, where would I go? I haven’t been to confession since I was a kid.
Hi, Pudd. I’m sorry that you had a negative experience with a Catholic chat site.
The best way to practice isn’t to role play, but to look in a mirror.
If you hav enot gone to confession for a long time, I would suggest calling the rectory and making an appointment with the priest for Confession. I would tell him up front that you haven’t been to Confession in X years (days, weeks, months, whatever) and he can help you through it.
The usual formula is:
You, (the penitent) prays for guidance from the Holy Spirit and proceed to examine your conscience. That is, you make a list of your sins (either mentally or in writing).
If you meet with the priest in his office you can greet him and chit chat until you’re comfortable. You may ask when to begin and when he gives you the go-ahead, make the Sign of the Cross. Alternatively, if you go into a confessional (booth), you make the Sign of the Cross, too.
As you bless yourself, you say, "Bless me, Father, it has been [x amount of time] since my last confession. These are my sins:
List your sins. The more frequently you go, you can list your sin and tell how many times you did it. For example, you could say that you intentionally were mean to a co-worker six times. I wouldn’t worry too much about the semantics of this until you’re in a routine of going to Confession.
When you’re done reciting your sins, you say, “For these and all my past sins, I am truly sorry.” That’s his cue to talk.
Listen to his advice. He may give you a penance to perform. Don’t be afraid to say you do not know a particular prayer or if an action doesn’t seem possible (for example he tells you to do something nice for Great Aunt Tilly because you confessed to gossiping about her, but she’s been dead for three months, heh), so you tell him about poor Aunt Tilly’s passing and he amends his penance.
The priest will then tell you to make an Act of Contrition. You recite one of the various formulas that are on the web, such as,
“O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee,
and I detest all my sins because they offend Thee, my God,
Who art all good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace,
to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.”
The priest may ask you to make an extemporaneous Act of Contrition, or there may be a card with the prayer on it. If this is your first Reconciliation in a while, contrition is key – not so much the formality of the words.
Now, the priest will pray over you and absolve you of your sins.
If you’re in his office, you may chat a bit more. But usually, he will “dismiss” you with a phrase such as, “Your sins are forgiven,” to which you respond, “Thanks be to God.”
Oh, and lest I forget: WELCOME HOME!
Thank you. Funny enough, I emailed my local church - and it bounced back as a non-email address. I guess I’m REALLY going to have to work for this one.
I think this is enough reaching out for now. Soon, I will do the real thing (I hope), and go back home.
Don’t give up, Pudd. Be assured of our (I’m emboldened to speak for CAF) prayers for you. Plug your ZIP code into masstimes.org and find another parish; calling the rectory number and get on the schedule with a secretary. You are thisclose, thisclose, thisclose – don’t give up!
Again, don’t worry so much about the formality until you get the hang of it again. If you really want to practice, just talk out loud in front of a mirror. There are some good YouTube videos, too, like this one: youtube.com/watch?v=m0V93Q54HTY (starting at about 1:30).
One note about the Examination of Conscience: you can go through each phase of your life and note highlights you remember. For example, try “high school.” “college / trade school / apprenticeship” “first job,” “marriage,” “the time I went to Las Vegas,” – go from milestone to milestone. But don’t get hung up on that: if something comes to you later, you can confess it at a later time.
I have been in a number of different parishes and gone to confession there, and all of them have had a printed guideline there. But the form is not a mandatory "Don’t miss a word!’ form.
What you can expect is forgiveness. The rest, don’t worry.
In over thirty years of making confessions–including over a decade of confessing to FSSP priests–I have never once encountered this stereotype. I would not worry about this at all.
Do not be afraid! Ask the Blessed Mother to send you a good confessor and then find some quiet time to sit down and recall the worst of the worst sins (that would be the mortal ones) and make a list. When you are ready, call around and make an appointment with a priest for confession. Tell him you haven’t been for many years and he should be able to walk you through it. Hearing confession is part of the priest job; they are not there to judge anyone, but to give absolution and rejoice with the angels in heaven that one more lost sheep has returned. Welcome (back) home! We missed you. :grouphug: