I am in a situation right now where I am getting off work at 4pm on Saturdays, and my parish is directly across the street and Reconciliation begins at 4pm… so I feel like I have an ideal opportunity to participate in the sacrament.
I’ve heard St Padre Pio was encouraging towards weekly Confession. My question is: how does a person make best use of this sacrament on a weekly basis? For example, last week I recalled how I abruptly yelled at my mother to be quiet while she was talking and talking to me and I was watching something. Once upon a time that was a common occurrence, but these days it was uncharacteristic of me, so I thought of it to confess. But what if you go through the week and you really don’t feel like you have any particularly meaningful incidents to confess? Am I suppose to just mention things in the vague sense? “I wasn’t as patient as what I could have been at work”, "I wasn’t as charitable as I could have been’ etc.?
I know once upon a time, weekly Reconciliation was a common occurrence for many Catholics. What would these people talk about?
I don’t go every week but every night I do an ‘examination of conscience’ and ask God to bring anything to mind if there was anything I did that day that offended him.
These things might not be big sins to rush to confession for, they might be faults but it’s good that I become aware of them so I can work on correcting them or if they turn to bigger sins or become a habit, I can confess them.
I think weekly confession is very much an individual thing. Some people might be too scrupulous so it’s not a good thing, such as they are confessing mistakes or things that aren’t sins.
People who struggle with habitual sins then of course weekly confession is necessary.
In some cases, confession might be too busy to go every week. Or some priests find people confessing minor things are wasting their time. (This has happened to a friend of mine, I really hope most priests do not feel this way though!)
But I do understand that we are all called to be saints and therefor should perfect ourselves and weekly confession can help.
Pope Francis goes every two weeks though. I heard every two weeks is common in religious orders.
Personally I think even once a month (at least) is great!
So my answer really is that it is a personal choice for you, not something anyone else can answer.
There are a whole host of additional questions to ask:
*]Did I fail to speak out against abortion or euthenasia when the opportunity arose?
*]Did I think I was better than someone else (pride) because of their social standing, the fact that they drove an old car, lived in a smaller house than I, or were in poorer physical health than I?
*]Did I commit the sin of gluttony by eating at the wrong times or not being satisfied with simple or plain food?.
*]Do I hoard?
There are tons of questions to ask. You have to know yourself and examine yourself accordingly.
The second bullet above is something I have become aware of and I have to constantly remind myself that just because I drive a nicer car and can run a mile, that doesn’t mean that my soul is more pleasing to God than someone else.
I think that, in the beginning, confessing things as in the examples you gave is quite natural. As time goes on, however, we will see such patterns developing as would point towards deeper sins, to more profound ways we hide ourselves from God. That deeper immersion into one’s self and into one’s relationship with God is a point of very regular confession. Thus, going to confession weekly is itself a way in which we can grow to know what to say.
Also, ultimately, perhaps it’s best to use weekly confession as a sort of prelude to spiritual direction at the hands of one who is qualified to lead your soul in such a way.
Is it appropriate to ask questions & discuss things relating to moral & spiritual concerns while the Confession is going on? Or should that come after I’ve made my Act of Contrition and been absolved?
I’ve also been bringing a tablet in with me to have my sins handy. Strangely, I’m finding venial sins just as uncomfortable to confess as the dump truck of grave ones at my first Confession. Like one time recently, I was nursing a sick cat at my parent’s house and I asked my mother if we should take it to the vet, and she was being indecisive about it, so I offhandedly told her I was going to go crush its head to put it out of its misery (which I wasn’t serious about doing). When I actually had to repeat it to my priest, it felt so embarrassing.
I confess weekly and I write my list out and have to limit it to just one page in my notebook or I could probably go on and on some weeks. We don’t just confess what we do but what we have not done. I use a few different examinations of conscience, usually switching between them but sometimes using more than one. They are based on the 10 Commandments, the Seven Capital Sins, the Beatitudes, etc.
I often cannot get much past the First Commandment - You shall have no other gods before Me. Also known as You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, soul, strength, etc. I ask myself
Have I really put God first in my life, at all times? Or have I neglected my prayers or spiritual studies for love of entertainments, popularity, image, money, rest or other selfish desires?
Have I paid too much attention to temporal concerns, neglecting the means of salvation?
Have I let someone or something influence my choices more than God?
I also have a great deal of trouble with Pride and struggle with it internally. There are many questions I ask myself about that:
Do I have a superior attitude in thinking, acting, or speaking?
Do I hold myself above others?
Am I prone to be critical of others, even if just internally?
These are just a very small sampling of the 700+ questions in the examination of conscience I use, compiled from some online sources.
If you take the time to really examine yourself you can find the ways in which you fall short on your journey to perfect union with God, on your road to sainthood. These may be the obvious external acts such as loosing patience with your mother but more often they are the quiet internal acts of omission or commission which hold us back. Remember that quite often the saints tell us that the closer they grew to God, the more visible their sins came to be to them. Frequent, even weekly confession, is a step to opening our eyes to the truth of our state before God.
If you’re going to confession at the regularly scheduled time, please refrain from engaging in discussion and q & a sessions in the confessional out of respect and courtesy to those who may be waiting. If someone is going to confession regularly (especially weekly), confession shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. If it’s a quick question, that’s one thing, but if it’s going to take several minutes for the priest to explain, make an appointment. If you want to ask a quick question, ask it quickly right after you’re done confessing your sins.
Also, leave your tablet outside the confessional. There have been priests who have refused to hear confessions if they know someone brings in their iPhone or tablet because the government have found ways to remotely turn on its phone function and eavesdrop on confessions. A piece of paper works great, and you can tear it up and flush it down the toilet afterwards.
There aren’t lines at my particular parish. There’s just been several people confessing on each week and he ends up absently sitting in the Confessional for the other 15-20 minutes. At any rate, my questions wouldn’t be lengthy so I don’t see it soaking up more than several minutes either way. I’m just interested in whether or not that would be inappropriate for the sacrament if I asked for spiritual advice within it, before receiving my absolution.
I realize the priest is bound on his end to maintain secrecy with respect to the sacrament, but it’s not something I’m personally much concerned about. Sins are unextraordinary, unoriginal, and common as dirt. I’m still anxious (in a good way) before Reconciliation though and I like having an actual list to refer to.
Yes. This is useful. I’m also very fit and I work in a drugstore/pharmacy, and I get a lot of obese/unhealthy/senile people that come into the store, and I do believe I sometimes deem them inferior in my heart. I will mention this next week.
I highly recommend going to weekly confession and I have been doing so for now two years. For me, I always have something to confess each week. One should always pray to the Holy Spirit before going to confession and ask Him to reveal what needs to be confessed. This certainly helps to discern the ***motives ***behind our actions since each action can be sinful and not based on one’s motives.
In your example about yelling at your mother, if I were confessing it, I would say something like “when I was interrupted by another person, I lost my patience and corrected the other person somewhat harshly by raising my voice.” For me, I try always to keep the identity of the other person ***anonymous ***unless it necessarily relates to a particular commandment like “honor your father and mother” or a parenting or spousal issue.
I also do not specifically identify the word or action - like instead of saying, e.g., “I called so and so an idiot,” I would say “I acted uncharitably by calling another person a name which likely hurt the other person’s feelings.” Another example of a sinful action which I have often confessed is “I revealed the faults of another person to a third person without a serious reason to do so.” This is perhaps another way of confessing gossip.
Also, one should also include any deliberate bad thoughts in one’s confessions like, e.g., “I harbored a grudge against another person for some time and had trouble letting go of the offense” or “I allowed my imagination to run away with thoughts that opened me to temptations to lust and/or despair and/or loss of faith in God . . . .” or “I deliberated on lustful thoughts for some time but then got a grip and stopped.”
I often find that my confessions involve confessing attitudes toward God like, e.g., “because I was so focused on my wanting a certain thing that I do not have, I showed a lack of gratitude toward God for all that He has done for me.” Also, sometimes I confess, “allowed my fear to prevent me from doing the good that I would have otherwise done.” I confess this many times when I am faced with a situation where I should speak up or reach out but I fail to do so because I am afraid of what another person will think of me.
These are just examples of my confessions which I hope will help you. I know that most of these are venial sins and imperfections but we are all called to be “perfect” (Mt. 5:48). I strongly recommend that you also increase the frequency that you receive Holy Communion as our Eucharistic Lord is the remedy to our sins and imperfections.
Lastly, meditate on 1 John 4:18, “there is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.” We are all called overcome our fears and become perfect in love. When we allow fear to motivate us, we lose the opportunity to show Christ’s love to all those who we encounter.
“Frequent Confession” by Benedict Baur. READ IT! Undoubtedly the best book on confession I have ever read.
Here’s a simple method I follow:
Firstly, of course, eradicate mortal sin. Secondly, pick a particular venial sin you’ve been struggling with. Make that the focus of your confessions and try to make progress each time you go. Then move on to the next venial sin.