I had been gone from the church for three years, having had abandoned my faith altogether. Miraculously by God's Grace, last year my heart was convicted and I got my faith back. I went to my parish to confess to my priest on a Saturday at 4 during the usual time for confession. I had listed all my sins on a piece of paper because there were so very many and I had spent a good while examining my conscience and didn't want to forget any. I arrived early and was the first to arrive. I sat down and told the priest I had been gone for three years and pulled out my list of sins. He shook his head no and told me to put the list away and didn't want me to read it. I started to worry that there was no way I was going to remember all those sins from memory as there were a lot. Then he said the past is in the past and there wasn't anything I could do about that, that this was the sacrament of reconciliation and it was about what I was going to do now going forward. He asked me what I was going to do. I started to cry and told him I wanted to confess my sins so that I could be forgiven. He said confession wasn't necessary, that it was about being reconciled to the church. I said that I was truly sorry and didn't want to hurt Jesus' Sacred Heart anymore. I told the priest that I wanted to keep going back to mass every Sunday and on Holy Days, to try my hardest not to sin anymore and change my life and be a good Christian. He told me to go home and burn the list and he said the prayer of absolution. He didn't give me any penance to do either. So my question is am I absolved even though the priest wouldn't let me confess and read my list? I truly was contrite and sobbed during the whole thing, then went home and burned the list. Am I absolved of my sins? I've been a few times since because I think it's good for me and my soul to do it every month or so, even if it's just for venial sins. The great news is that I'm back involved in my church and my faith and prayer life is stronger than ever!
Since this experience my sister was moved by the Holy Spirit to become Catholic and I've been sponsoring her in RCIA at my church (she's a candidate having been baptized Methodist). When they went over the sacrament of Reconciliation, they said that group penance is the preferred way for the sacrament. They told us there would be a penance service the following Monday with about six priests and that after the priests would be up front for individual confession and that it was done once a year. They told the candidates that they didn't need to confess all the sins from their entire lives and to just say what they were struggling with in their lives right now. I'd never heard of this before and thought you were supposed to confess all your sins. I had always thought you had to confess mortal sins before taking the Eucharist. I asked the instructor after class why they said only once a year and asked what about mortal sins, and she said it was due to the shortage of priests and that you could take the Eucharist as long as it wasn't a grave sin like murder. This just didn't sound right to me. I thought all mortal sins are grave. I told my sister to make her list of sins and go to private confession, even if it meant going to another parish and making an appointment with a priest. I live in the suburbs of Houston and there are three Catholic churches in my area. There is a priest at our church every Saturday at 4pm however our parish does have almost 7,000 households and only one priest. I don't like the idea of someone else possibly overhearing my sins as this should be private to me so I don't think I'll ever go to the group reconciliation. Anyway if anyone can shed some light on this subject for me I'd appreciate it. Thanks and God Bless!