Me and my confessor's relationship

As I’ve mentioned in other threads, my pastor is my confessor. I try to meet with him once a month, if possible, but mostly as often as necessary. Our hour long meetings are not only a chance for confession, but a chance for counselling and spiritual direction. As a result, I’ve come to prize him and all that he has done to help me. A relationship has definitely formed between us. He even thought of me to serve on the brand new Stewardship Commission, which is apparently going to be a big deal.

The problem is, though, that I now find myself worried how he, as a man, will think and judge me when I confess certain sins. I feel great embarassment to confess certain things, so I usually have to close my eyes and just say it. Sometimes I find myself looking at him after I confess something to see how he reacts, so that I can judge how he’s judging me! After I confess, he’s gotten in the habit of asking me if I’m still seeking outside councelling for my emotional and self-esteem issues, which makes me think that something about my confession presents me as a nutcase!

None of this is healthy, I know.

Should I change confessors? Or am I just going to be like this with ever confessor I go to, worried what they’ll think of me outside the confessional?

I called my pastor yesterday to schedule an appointment for a confession soon because there’s a lot of stuff on my mind, but one of those things I’m reluctant to mention to him since it involves the Commission which he volunteered me for and I’m afraid that he might think I’m now unfit for the role and remove me. God’s will be done, I guess, but it’s be a huge disappointment.

Well, first off, nothing that you tell him in the course of your confession will apply to your place on the commission. Even if a teacher at a parish school were to confess to being a child molester, a priest could not remove that teacher…it would violate the seal.

I have a very strong relationship with my confessor. He is my spiritual director and friend. One day I had to confess something that left me wondering how he would perceive me as a person. Ya know what? It made not the least bit of difference. We’re still friends. Now he knows I’m a nutcase, but doesn’t hold it against me at all! :smiley: I ended up just talking with him about it…I told him that I was embarrassed to even look at him, because I thought so highly of him, and didn’t want him to think any less of me after hearing my confession. He did give me the option of finding a new spiritual director, but I didn’t want to do that either. Sometimes you just have to push through the awkwardness and realize that God has given our priests a special grace to take what is said in the confessional and LEAVE IT THERE.

I don’t fault you for being concerned. I can totally appreciate where you’re coming from. But as far as asking about the counseling thing, I wouldn’t think twice about it. Most priests aren’t trained for that in-depth emotional stuff, and it’s probably simply a matter of him being concerned about you, and wanting to make sure that you’re getting the right kind of help. It doesn’t mean he thinks less of you, just that he cares. This sort of advice is not at all uncommon. I would bet that anyone who has a regular confessor has probably heard it themselves on one occassion or another.

Ditto to everything kristie_m said.

I also can agree what kristie said. Almost same situation with me.

ditto here too! You have a terrific confessor!

Wow, I envy what you have with your confessor. Don’t cancel such a wonderful and fruitful relationship because you feel embarrassed! It’s too valuable and you may never find someone you click that well with again.

And if it is really bothering you, mention it to him. He can set your mind at ease more than anyone.

I have a few priest friends and oddly enough, I do prefer to confess to the ones I know really well. Since they do know me well, I feel like when I am talking they see the whole person. They know I am more than my sins and they know me well enough to help me through was is bothering me, and they know exactly what to say to console and encourage me. Remember, a good priest, and it sounds like yours is a good priest, will always want to help rather than judge.

Even when I don’t go to my regular confessor, who is also a good friend as well as my director, and I did work with him a few years ago, I usually prefer to go to someone I know. I feel very uncomfortable telling my sins to a stranger. I know that is opposite of what most people feel.

I know exactly what you mean! :wink: I told my confessor (before he was my confessor, actually - I just started going to him, but he is our parish priest, a dear friends and I think the world of him and would be devastated if he thought I was a horrible person) about my concern about confessing to him. While he did offer to have me see someone else, when I told him that there were certain things I just wasn’t sure I could say in confession with him because of what he might think of me afterward, he told me that he feels the same way about his confessor! He said that God gives priests a certain grace that makes them honestly forget the details, and remember only what they need to to guide us on the right path. I wish I could put in the same words he did, because it put me right at ease. I did do my first confession with him a few weeks ago and now I can hardly wait to go back… never thought I’d say that! :shrug:

Don’t be afraid, I think there is something almost freeing about having someone you can say anything to and still depend on them to be around the next day, still on your side and ready to help you to keep working on being the best person you can be.

Well said!! :thumbsup:

I have something of a social problem due to my low self-esteem - something which I’m starting to overcome with the help of my counsellor and many self-affirming prayers. What’s not helping is that my confessed sins do still seem to be getting in the way of any further relationship with my pastor. I find that I’m ashamed to be in his presence, or to even say “hello.” I have this continuous nagging feeling that he doesn’t like me even though he’s been nothing but warm and inviting in the past.

I don’t know what to do. He knows me so well that it would be difficult to change confessors now. I don’t know how I could find another person with whom I have such a rapport. But him being my confessor is obviously affecting me socially, and it makes me sad because I see other friends and parishioners who have a good relationship with him, joking, conversing, having lunch together. It makes me jealous, but I feel that I could do none of these things since all I can think when I’m in his presence is how he’s probably looking right through me and judging me.

:frowning:

Believe me when I say he is NOT judging you. My confessor has heard some pretty bad stuff (in my opinion) from me and I still have a great realationship with him. We joke around, have lunch together and he even asks my opinion about things. No matter what I tell him he that does not seem to change how he feels about me personally. Don't worry.

I know it’s hard to imagine, but God really has given them the grace to leave your confession in the confessional. If you are feeling like he’s judging you, you might want to consider that you may be projecting your own feelings onto him. You still judge yourself harshly and are worrying needlessly about what HE thinks. In reality, the only one that is thinking about those sins and making your relationship awkward is you. I really think you ought to talk with him about it. Just let him know that you’re feeling self conscious now that you’ve confessed whatever it is, and are having a hard time reconciling that with the easy-going friendship that you had before. I think the only way you’re going to get through this is to be up front with him…the longer you wait, the more distant you are going to feel from him, and that’s not going to help your relationship at all. Praying you through this, my friend!

[quote="Epistemes, post:1, topic:173895"]
Should I change confessors? Or am I just going to be like this with ever confessor I go to, worried what they'll think of me outside the confessional?

I called my pastor yesterday to schedule an appointment for a confession soon because there's a lot of stuff on my mind, but one of those things I'm reluctant to mention to him since it involves the Commission which he volunteered me for and I'm afraid that he might think I'm now unfit for the role and remove me. God's will be done, I guess, but it's be a huge disappointment.

[/quote]

You should not change confessors, at least not over anything you wrote here. Perhaps in the future you will change, and you will know when that is. But regularity will do you good here. Stick with him.

The answer to your problem I think is going to be prayer.
In your life, you have a relationship with your pastor, but you really have several relationships with him. He is your confessor. He is your spiritual director. He is your pastor. He is a friend, and someone you admire. Now you've suddenly realized that you don't want Father M the man, and Father M the head of the Stewardship Commission to know the Epistemes that Father M the confessor knows.

When you look at him, do you see Jesus? Jesus sees you. He sees Epistemes the Sinner, he sees Epistemes the Steward, he sees Epistemes the Writer, but most importantly, he sees Epistemes the Penitent. The key part of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a firm purpose of amendment. You are weak. I am weak. We confess. And if we want to change, Jesus fills us with His Strength, and we can change, perhaps slowly, but we change.

You have said you are worried about the Stewardship Commission. That is a good thing, it means you care about it. Now, I want you to let it go. You can and will continue to serve on it, but it is important to realize that for it to be truly fruitful, it is not your decision for you to serve on it, but God's. This is really difficult because it's a good thing! Why wouldn't God want you to serve on this committee? But if you are docile to the Holy Spirit, you will hear His voice, calling you to serve, calling you to undertake particular tasks, or to do something else.

Now let's bring it all together. Father M the confessor knows Epistemes the Sinner, and Epistemes the Writer is afraid that Father M the pastor is going to find out, and kill Epistemes the Steward. Always, always, always remember, Father M the confessor knows Epistemes the Sinner, but he also knows Epistemes the Penitent, and he is the one that Father M the pastor knows too.

I hope this wasn't too confusing! but if it was, just remember, when you look at your pastor, concentrate on seeing Jesus, and everything will come together.

Peace

Keep in mind, though, that many if not most professional spiritual directors do not take on people with whom they have a social friendship. Also, it is not unusual for a pastor to ask his parish staff to have someone else for a confessor. You can see why these policies are sometimes applied.

I would not worry at all if your pastor asks you if you are still in counselling. If you see your general practictioner for regular check-ups, of course he’s going to ask whether you’ve been getting your physical therapy or seeing the cardiologist or whatever other outside care you need. Just as doctors don’t think you’re a problem child because you have a trick knee or a bad heart, pastors do not think some parishioners are nut cases because they have been lucky enough to be in the 5% getting counselling among the 50% who could profit by it. It is the non-compliant patients that make their hair go grey.

If there is a typical nut case in the life of the typical pastor, it is the one who thinks everyone else is a nutcase that needs fixing (could be true, but that is not my point) except for the nut case himself or herself, and that the pastor is just the man to do the fixing! In fact, why not last week, when the problem was first so clearly identified by the nutcase!? Aren’t you going to do something, Father? :rolleyes::smiley:

If you are working on your own faults and only your own faults, or at least keep struggling in that direction, then you are just fine.

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