Obeying a priest outside of confession

Inspired by some other threads I’ve read today, and an issue…

What should one do about obeying advice from a priest while not in confession or, obeying their answers to questions you ask in confession but NOT somethign you confessed?

I’ve had the issue recently where I asked my priest in his spare time about something I was in the process of doing, but had wondered during it if it was a sin. I asked him about this, trying to give the important details whlie not reading him a novel, you know? :rolleyes: I explained a few situations, and brought up the scenario I was in, but before I could even ask wether what I’d done was a sin, he told me that it sounded like I was worrying far too much, and I needed to not make things so complicated for myself. I thanked him and left, but wondered later if I should leave it at that, or go into more detail and ask him again, or ask someone else? I know while in confession, a priest stands for Jesus and can forgive you of your sins even if he’s heterodox and doesn’t believe they’re sins, but what of offering his answers or advice on the same issues, in or out of confession?

With a question like that, one may think that you might struggle with scruples?

Anyway, in that sort of scenario, what is essentially happening is that you are trying to form your conscience well, by seeking advice from a trusted priest. That’s a good thing in itself. As such, even if what you then do based on the advice is an objective sin, you would not be responsible for it personally due to invincible ignorance.

That’s assuming you have no other way of knowing that what the priest told you was wrong, such as he advocated something you know to be against Church teaching. But one should not go out of their way to find fault in their priest’s advice either.

It’s not “obeying” as such, but respecting the advice given to you. I gather your conscience is still uneasy with this, but if you struggle with scruples, that can cloudy your own judgement, which is why you have sought advice in the first place. So, listen to the advice!

you know, I hadn’t thought of it that way; I always see people talking about Forming your Conscience, but I hadn’t really thought of seeking priestly advice as a form of that! That actually really helps, that you!

No problem, glad if I helped.

Out of the Sacrament of Confession proper there is spiritual direction :slight_smile: Of course, all must go by degree. Asking a priest for advice is not the same as receiving spiritual direction. But it is always good to seek advice and, if possible, to find a priest who is qualified to offer spiritual direction.

The beauty of spiritual direction is just that: the director sets your soul at peace, as you trust that Christ is giving him light to understand and direct your soul according to His will.

So what exactly is the difference between one and the other? If you go to confession with a priest you know somewhat, and ask a question, is that advice, or spiritual direction? What about making a formla appointment to speak to a priest about issues? do you specifically ask for them to be your spiritual director?

I ask because I’m just uncertain. I’m starting to gain footing against scruples (yay!) but i have a long way to go. I’ve spoken to a priest in in my old parish before I moved, for example, and poured out my heart about some of my worries, praying for God to set my mind at ease. I don’t remember my exact wording, though, on some issues, or in some others, a few circumstances have changed. I’m just trying to decide if I keep what he said as being Spiritual Director advice to be followed even if it’s hard, or to take it simply as advice to weight to form my own decision based on conscience

There are no rules in this matter. Since you are not obligated to follow his advice outside of confession, you should use discernment in the matter. Perhaps the advice you receive from other posters will help–but it is still up to you to see how to proceed. Perhaps you can consider this in prayer.
Some priests can give better advice in spiritual matters than others.–but it is up to you to decide if anything I say myself is applicable.
If you ask a priest or anyone else for advice only once, he is not your spiritual director.

Haha, that’s a good point. We should always use discernment…even on a post like this that says to use discernment :slight_smile:

Discernment is a skill I’m starting to get kinda ok at, so I’ll be sure to apply it :slight_smile:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.