Should I wait to confess?

When I went to Confession two weeks ago, I began with the statement, “It has been one week since my last confession …” The priest, who I had never met before, interrupted, saying (almost yelling), “You don’t need to go to Confession once a week!” He said he didn’t want to hear about any sins that I’d committed that were of an obsessive-compulsive nature, such as pornography use or masturbation. (He had me think of at least one sin that wasn’t along those lines.) He then advised me that I should find a spiritual director trained in helping people with psychological issues, because he said my issues were “psycho-spiritual” in nature and couldn’t be sufficiently addressed as strictly a spiritual problem. He said that I should only confess to the spiritual director and only do so every two months or so, or that I would become scrupulous, and that even if I gave in to the habitual behavior in question, I should continue to receive communion until my next confession.

I’m not sure whether to take his advice about holding off on confession or not. I sent an email to my pastor asking how I might go about finding a spiritual director and have not heard back, but a friend recently told me that it took him a year to find one. In the mean time, I have made myself a psychiatric appointment for a couple of weeks from now, as I unquestionably have issues with depression, anxiety and self-control.

I have once again given in to the same sins as before and am debating whether to go to Confession again despite this priest’s advice, or to wait two months as he advised. I don’t want to go to Communion in a state of mortal sin, although his reasoning seemed to be that actions driven by mental illness are not entirely free choices, and therefore may not actually be mortal sins, even if they involve grave matter. Any thoughts?

Once a week is perfectly reasonable, as long as you’re not treating it like a compulsion. Go as often as you need to.

It is difficult for someone on the internet to advise on such.

Perhaps meet with your* Pastor…*…

Sounds like a regular confessor can be a good idea for you - someone who knows you and can direct or advise you accordingly.

Do, or do not do, whatever your confessor tells you and don’t seek a second opinion from strangers on the internet. Ask the priest to recommend a spiritual advisor for you; there may be many reasons why it took your friend so long to find one that don’t apply in your case. Keep your appointment; everything can be straightened out in your life and you can get back on track.

I am sure his concern was that I may be treating it like a compulsion, although he came to that conclusion based solely on the fact that I was going to confession again after just one week.

Nevertheless, I don’t think he was entirely wrong in my case. I have been stuck in a cycle of sinning and confessing, and from having reflected on this I think I need to address some other mental-health issues in order to be able move forward.

Does this Priest hear your confessions often? How does he know such and such?

Does he know you at all?

Weekly confession can be a normal part of the spiritual life and if some struggles with certain sins - they may need more frequent confessions if the fall and repent.

Go bring the matter to your Pastor…it may be that the thing to do right now it to go to confession…you can tell him with naming the Priest what he said …

Even if there are other issues needing addressing that does not mean that per se you should not goto confession. Again we are on the internet…your Pastor can help.

You know, that sounds like good advice. Your comment, “don’t seek a second opinion from strangers on the internet,” gave me a chuckle. He drew certain conclusions about me rather abruptly, and I guess I am assuming this may have been do to his own prejudices, but perhaps he observed more than I realized from watching me, and perhaps the Holy Spirit gave him some guidance as well? I honestly can’t say that any of his conclusions about me were wrong, so I guess I will hold off on confessing for two months as he advised, keep trying to find a spiritual director, get psychological counseling and trust in God’s mercy.

The priest had never met me before. I had gone to a parish other than my own mostly for scheduling purposes. Yet, his hasty conclusions about me were surprisngly accurate in my case.


Just read this again.

He said this without knowing you??

Before you confessed? You had not even confessed any sins?

Just because it had only been one week?

and then

Again based on what? He did not know you?

Only on the fact that it has been only a week since your last confession?

No I would go see your Pastor. It sounds like he did not know you to give that sort of advice…

I would go see your Pastor…

He was not your regular confessor and while it can be recommended for you to have a regular confessor… from what you wrote I would question his advice and go see your Pastor or even another Priest. Make sure to tell them that the Priest did not even let you begin and that you had never confessed to him before but only said it had been one week!

It’s unwise for any of us to countermand the advice of a confessor, so my input here would be to obey him for now, but if you do have concerns, speak to your pastor (i.e. your parish priest) or another priest with whom you are comfortable.

he was not his regular confessor… he was a Priest who did not know him at all…see my longer post. I would suggest seeing ones Pastor or other Priest as you noted but not to wait just based on advice from that one Priest who did not know him.

I still would not settle there…go see your Pastor etc He is after all your* Pastor. *He can guide you as such.

See this more in depth

Mental health issues, as well as habitual sin “may” reduce your culpability, due to decreased ability to resist them. Ask the man who has authority to forgive your sins - your parish Priest.

Prayers ascending.

Sometimes a confessor might have unusual insight as a gift from the Holy Spirit. Other times, he might have that insight as a result of his own human experiences as a confessor. Either way, if his insight was on track, you would do well to follow his advice insofar as finding a spiritual director, or at the very least, a regular confessor. A good place to start is with your own pastor. As far as the length of time between confessions, allow your regular confessor or spiritual director to guide you in this.

Yes I agree the OP should seek out his Pastor. But I would not readily say that the Priest advice was on target - he had not even confessed yet…so unless the Priest is rather gifted (less likely) I would rather question that advice and go see ones Pastor as you suggest.

Frankly, there are multiple issues here.

Firstly, there is a forum prohibition concerning raising and discussing issues of conscience.

Going to confession as frequently as weekly can indeed be a problem, for certain people and in certain situations…it can be spiritually unhealthy or harmful. That is a decision for the confessor to decide and, clearly, this confessor made that determination. There is, moreover, inadequate information, even for another confessor to evaluate that determination. The forum rules, which are wise in this situation, indicate clearly that the most that ought be said is to seek a second opinion.

Secondly, you (and the confessor) raise the issue of mental health issues, which he perceived and which you also acknowledge. There is an absolute prohibition in this forum on giving anything which even seems to touch upon medical advice. So there again, there is a preclusion from addressing an essential aspect of what your post raises.

Thirdly, you have come to a forum in which, in all the time I have been here, I have interacted with some seven other priests…in other words, you have come to seek advice in a forum where almost no one is comparably trained to the confessor you are asking about. Instead, I have found those on this forum to be shocking in their want of knowledge on topics about which they blithely comment or to assert an expertise they completely and utterly lack.

Fourthly, there is no criteria by which the confessor’s situation can be assessed. For all I know, he may be trained in psychology as well as being a priest – we do exist – and, all the more reason, I am not going to offer any thought about a confrere I do not know or have any real basis to evaluate beyond what you have written.

Rather than seeking advice here, you need to consult another confessor about your situation – in person. You are certainly free to do so and without needing to wait for two months. You can lay the entirety of the matter before him and he can determine how to proceed. What you write clearly asks for a regular confessor, who will be able to guide you on an on-going and continuing basis.

The priest to whom you confessed made the determination that there were complications arising from psychological issues that need to be addressed in the external forum, which in principle would indeed be very sound advice, especially the conditions you enumerate.

You definitely can’t get good advice from a web-site…In your first sentence you say “the priest who I had never met before.”…and people are asking you if this priest hears your confession often…:confused: :stuck_out_tongue:

Chimachol, it sounds like you had a pretty neat experience in the confessional. If I had a priest peg me like that, I would be pretty impressed. I would probably even look forward to going back
Anyway, one time I had a priest show a little frustration at me in the confessional, but for a completely different reason. I didn’t take it personally, I understood where he was coming from, and I appreciated his patience with me. Sometimes we could use a little kick in the pants.

My apologies, My intent was not violate forum policies nor to ask anyone else to do so. Within those parameters, I suppose a better question to have asked might have been, “Am I strictly obligated to follow a priest’s strongly worded advice given in confession, or is it OK to seek a second opinion from another priest if I have doubts?” Of course, you have answered that question:

Rather than seeking advice here, you need to consult another confessor about your situation – in person. You are certainly free to do so and without needing to wait for two months. You can lay the entirety of the matter before him and he can determine how to proceed. What you write clearly asks for a regular confessor, who will be able to guide you on an on-going and continuing basis.

I ended up doing just that, telling him about the whole situation and got his perspective, which was rather different from that of the aforementioned priest. I will leave it at that.

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