Questions on confesssion & Reconciliation


#1

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!


#2

Welcome back home! So sorry you had that terrible experience. Yes, you are supposed to list all mortal sins in kind and number. And we are also encouraged (but not required) to confess venial sins. It sounds like you gave honor to Our Lord by your desire to obey His Church. Unfortunately, there are priests who are not faithful to the Church’s teachings and discipline, in most cases I think because of poor formation in whatever seminary they went to.

I can’t speak confidently to the validity of your absolution, but you can always ask another priest if you can make a General Confession and mention everything. If you’re not sure where to go, I have always found FSSP priests to be great confessors, if you have one near you (directory here). Or you could just try another neighboring parish.


#3

Thank you! I could try to go to general confession and ask the priest at a nearby parish if he thinks my sins were absolved. The nearest parish is only 15 minutes from here. If he says they weren’t absolved, then I would need to make another list. Now I wish I hadn’t burned the list! Sigh. I know the Lord is merciful and He knows in my heart I sure did try to make a good confession.


#4

I think I would contact the bishop and tell him what happened. The Church can’t afford any more priests who teach half truths.


#5

[quote="queencastle, post:1, topic:317888"]
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!

[/quote]

I once had a similar experience. The priest didn't tell me that confession wasn't necessary, and I did get a few sins out, but I was having great difficulty speaking my sins. I was crying and I could tell that the elderly priest was uncomfortable. He told me that I didn't need to say the sins, then proceeded to give me absolution. I believe that the absolution was valid and I was forgiven because I did not deliberately withhold sins, but years later, in a completely different place in my life, I was still haunted by the fact that I not confessed those sins. I confessed them to a different priest (an Opus Dei priest), who assured me that my absolution had been valid.

I'm sorry this has happened to you. Sometimes, in their desire to be sensitive, priests do not realize what a great burden is released by the articulation of our sins. Still, I believe that you have been forgiven. You did your best, brought your sins and your contrition to the church, and receive absolution. It wouldn't hurt to bring this up at your next confession, though.


#6

Thank you so much! Your words are comforting to me and I agree with you that it’s a relief to release that burden during confession. I will definitely bring this up in my next confession. Our priest never gives anyone penance other than making the sign of the cross with holy water and he never asks us to say the act of contrition. The parish I used to go to was more traditional and used the formalities I was used to for this sacrament. Our priest at this parish is very elderly and sick. He had surgery this week. We’ve had visiting priests for over a month now. I like our priest and think he’s wonderful but this was a very confusing experience for me. I thought about maybe looking for another parish after my sister gets done with RCIA but at the same time I love my church and the people there so I’m not sure what to do. I need to pray about it for sure.


#7

Confession is always needed for those who really to need confession. I know some people don't really confession as they come for another connected situations. A woman came last night to my room telling me he missed last sunday mass. She asked me whether she missed mass. Then she asked if she could confess that in confession.
The situation is, she is on her way to a mass. It is proper to go to the priest who is to celebrate the mass in the Church but not in my room. I advice her, she needs confession for not attending mass last Sunday and to approach the Priest who is to celebrate the Mass.
Again confession is a must for those in venial and especially in a mortal sin. There is a priest here whom I have stated his name who really need to confess his evil life so he can save his soul and life when judgement day arrives.
In Christ and Mary.


#8

Yes, please report this. This is very wrong.:frowning:


#9

[quote="ChibiViolet, post:8, topic:317888"]
Yes, please report this. This is very wrong.:(

[/quote]

I had a case reported to the Bishop similar to these type of priest who teaches half truth but more dangerous as his works involves with demons. I discussed the matter with him in person together with the evil priest. The Bishop told him to do right but this evil priest continued even worst. I gave a written message from the Christ to him, but I think he did not believe. Honestly he could not understand it in full as the situation is far more complicated and that he does not have that charism to see and understand his evil works. This is very sad indeed as this priest continue to cover up his inhuman act by using a smart tactics and using others. As a defender of the Catholic Church, I will keep on protecting the Church and also those who might be in danger of this evil priest demonic inhuman deeds. He turns things on me so I can be blamed. That is what he promised to me in our meeting I mentioned herein. So I have done all the necessary means in the situation and all is left to trust in the help of the Holy Spirit to guide the Bishop in his judgement for the sake of the life of the Church now and in the future in my Diocese. If the Bishop deal with this evil priest, there will no danger now and in the future.

In Christ and Mary.:angel1:


#10

[quote="queencastle, post:3, topic:317888"]
Thank you! I could try to go to general confession and ask the priest at a nearby parish if he thinks my sins were absolved. The nearest parish is only 15 minutes from here. If he says they weren't absolved, then I would need to make another list. Now I wish I hadn't burned the list! Sigh. I know the Lord is merciful and He knows in my heart I sure did try to make a good confession.

[/quote]

You did make a good confession . [edited]

Read , and re-read today's Gospel , the parable of the Prodigal Son . The priest was being the father to you the repentant child .

You were forgiven . Trust in God's mercy , and don't let anyone make you doubt it .


#11

[quote="petronus, post:10, topic:317888"]
You did make a good confession . Don't listen to the sanctimonious nonsense from the Pharisees on this forum who are burdening you with man-made rules and regulations . How very uncharitable of you to make this statement. In fact, it is not true.

Read , and re-read today's Gospel , the parable of the Prodigal Son . The priest was being the father to you the repentant child .

You were forgiven . Trust in God's mercy , and don't let anyone make you doubt it .

[/quote]

**The Catholic Church has given us instructions as to how we are to confess our sins. It is quite clear that we are to confess our mortal sins, the kind of sins and how many times we committed them since our last good confession. The OP did the best she could. Any fault for not following the proper practice is solidly on the priest who said that we did not need to confess our sins any more.

That priest was not being any father to the OP! He was trying to lead her astray.

You should apologize to the people you are accusing of being sanctimonious and Pharisees, and for being just wrong!
**


#12

Thank you! I love that scripture :slight_smile:


#13

Me, too. And it was the Gospel reading for Mass today.:slight_smile:

Do you know Brian Flynn’s The Prodigal Father ?

brianflynnmusic.com/media/music (Playlist for Born Again)


#14

[quote="detoutcoeur, post:13, topic:317888"]
Me, too. And it was the Gospel reading for Mass today.:)

Do you know Brian Flynn's The Prodigal Father ?

brianflynnmusic.com/media/music (Playlist for Born Again)

[/quote]

No I hadn't heard it but now that I have, I love it - thanks for sharing! This morning our parish had these readings at the first mass:

usccb.org/bible/readings/031013-year-a-scrutinies.cfm

It was the Second Scrutiny for our Elect in RCIA so may be why it was different than usual.


#15

[quote="queencastle, post:14, topic:317888"]
No I hadn't heard it but now that I have, I love it - thanks for sharing! This morning our parish had these readings at the first mass:

usccb.org/bible/readings/031013-year-a-scrutinies.cfm

It was the Second Scrutiny for our Elect in RCIA so may be why it was different than usual.

[/quote]

You're welcome! The Second Scrutiny for the Elect was at an earlier Mass, so we had the usual readings for the Fourth Sunday in Lent

usccb.org/bible/readings/031013-fourth-sunday-of-lent.cfm


#16

Thank you for sharing :thumbsup: Have a great evening!


#17

You really should report him. Communal absolution is invalid except in an emergency. You're absolution is valid, although you should confess the mortal sins that you were unable to.


#18

Thank you . And please take that Word of God to heart .

The priest , looking at your list of sins , knew the sort of things you were going to say , but like the father in the parable of the Prodigal , he stopped you short , accepting your confession and embracing you in love and forgiveness .

No need for a long list . As a repentant sinner you encountered Jesus in the sacrament and received his forgiveness .


#19

I’ve had a similar experience. When I made first confession in several years, I also had a list of my previous sins which I wished to confess. Eventually, when I did confess it, the priest interrupted me as I was reading off the list, gave his spiritual direction, assigned my penance, and recited the prayer of absolution. While this appears to be somewhat more orthodox than yours, I was still perturbed by the fact that I could not complete my list of sins. When I did an online search of my circumstances, it appeared that the prayer of absolution was supposedly fully valid and I need not repeat my confession again.

Subsequently, I decided that the best answer would be obtained from my priest, not the internet warriors, and I consulted him. He understood my situation, and told me that I should confess my sins all over again, right from the top. He was a wonderful priest. He patiently allowed me to read my long list of personal sins racked up over the years, after which he gave me an equally long pastoral talk on the whys and hows in developing personal holiness to fight Satan. Subsequently, he gave me the prayer of absolution. It was probably the best and most cathartic experience I’ve ever had.

My advice to you is this: find another priest and explain your situation to him. We do not have the theological or pastoral insight to decide this for ourselves. The priest is best equipped to give you the necessary spiritual direction, and you should consider it. In a limited sense, priests are like physicians of souls - if you are ever in doubt, you may seek a second opinion, but you should not try to self-medicate.

This aside, I welcome you back into the fold of the Church! It is most befitting that yesterday’s parable spoke of the prodigal son. We celebrate your return and we pray for your continued development in faith. :slight_smile:


#20

I’ve been to penitential services, and I am happy to assure you that nobody should be able to overhear your confession. The musician will usually play some soft music and the choir may sing a chant during the confession, so your voices will be drowned out by the ambient sounds. If you are still uneasy, you may attend the next penitential service to observe the proceedings. If you decide it is safe for you to make a confession there, you may. If you think it is not, then you are not obligated to go forward for confession.

However, if you have mortal sins to confess, I personally feel that private confession is best. Mortal sins require special attention and spiritual direction which can be difficult to obtain in a group setting like a penitential service as there is a time pressure on the individual priests to see as many individuals as possible. Nonetheless, I recognise the role of penitential services to help make it easier for large groups of people to benefit from the graces of penance, especially for those waffling on the edges.

Additionally, could I ask if your sister has been confirmed as a Catholic yet? I should point out that the Sacrament of Penance is only permitted for confirmed Catholics. If she is still a candidate, she should not go for the Sacrament until she is confirmed and accepted into the Church. :slight_smile:


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