I have really bad social anxiety & trouble speaking in certain settings, even just hanging out with friends. I can’t say things out loud. I just can’t. I formulate thoughts in my mind but I go to speak them & I can’t get the words out.
I can’t even go to therapy (I have a history of severe depression etc. & am an abuse survivor) because I can’t talk about how I feel, or about myself, etc. I just clam up.
Which brings me to confession. I am terrified of it. Truly terrified. They are having ‘day of confessions’ at my church today & I really wanted to go, not because I really have a grave sin weighing on me but because I haven’t gone in a while & felt it would be a good thing to do to spiritually prepare for Christmas.
But I can’t bring myself to do it. I am shaky & near tears just thinking about it.
I’m not embarrassed (well, maybe a little, but that’s not the root of my issue) – I’m just afraid to talk to the priest. Afraid to speak out loud. I could probably write my confession down but I can’t speak it.
:crying: I’m so sad & disappointed in myself that I couldn’t bring myself to go. I want to be open to God’s grace. I want to be forgiven. I want to confess. I can’t do it. I don’t know how to get over this hurdle. The last time I went to confession I was shaky & crying for a good hour or more, just because I had to speak out loud. I had to have the priest walk me through it & basically repeat after him because my brain shut down. I couldn’t focus on being sorry for my sins & repenting because I was so overwhelmed with fear.
Since you said you do not have any mortal sins…one way is to pick just one or two sins you are sorry for and confess them simply.
You go in…
“In the name of Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”
“It has been 9 months since my last confession…I am married and have Children”
“I accuse myself of sins against charity and patience and all the sins of my life”
the Priest will then speak
and then it comes time for your act of contrition.
“Jesus I love you and am sorry for my sins”
Or just “Jesus I am sorry”
then all your sins that you are sorry for…even the ones you did not say…are absolved (since you do not have any mortal sins to confess…if you did you would need to confess those in number and kind")
ALSO …you can print out your post and hand it to the Priest. He will then help you
Also…Jimmy Akin the senior apologist at Catholic Answers has noted basically there can be at times exceptions to the requirement to confess the ordinary way…as when one just is not able to do it…one finds like in you example that one can not get the words out… they can write the sins down (but do not use a computer…) and hand them to the Priest and say “I confess this”. This of course is not how one may ordinarily do this…but in the case of a person with your difficulties it can be it seems one way.
For there can be case where a person is excused from “verbally” confession as is normally to be done…and your case sounds like it can be one such legit excuse.
(now for other readers…the Church is clear that one is not to do this normally…but exceptions can be made for those with real difficulty)
So perhaps prepare a short list of sins (and if in the future one has mortal sins…such must be included). Print out your post…(or even a less detailed one if you like) or this one…and take it with you to confession…and hand it to the post to the Priest to read. And then have the list ready if one needs to hand it to him and say “I confess this”…(and destroy them afterward)
Know that Jesus is the good shepherd and loves you.
Perhaps maybe whispering instead of speaking in a normal voice? Do you go face-to-face or talk through the screen? Maybe you could start with a generalization of the sin committed (instead of “I killed a man” say “I broke the 6th commandment”) and then let the priest decide if he wants you to elaborate.
I pray that God gives you–and others wanting to make a good confession today–the strength and courage and grace to do so.
rest yourself, thousands are/have been in your place. I’m not saying YOU are satan are that you are being harassed; understand me when** I** say, MY experience has always been when my heart is racing or beating faster or I really don’t want to go INTO the confessional but not because I INTENDED to go to confession, then probably satan doesn’t want you to receive God’s blessing and immediate FORGIVENESS of your sin(s). If you can just STAND UP or push yourself toward the confessional door one foot at a time and say to yourself, ‘satan get away; st michael the archangel and my guardian angel and mother Mary and all the saints are helping me go to confession and you CAN’T stop me’ I bet you make it into that place.
Tell the priest you have your issues – he’s had countless individuals in your situation and he will be able to help you along with your confession. My priest does it all the time with me; I have alzheimer’s so i can’t always remember my sins althoug I know that I have some so he helps me along inpsired by the Holy Spirit and I receive God’s forgiveness.
I’ll offer up my Mass intention for you this weekend.
Can. 988 §1. A member of the Christian faithful is obliged to confess in kind and number all grave sins committed after baptism and not yet remitted directly through the keys of the Church nor acknowledged in individual confession, of which the person has knowledge after diligent examination of conscience.
(grave sin= mortal sins)
Which also means if one forgot a mortal sin…one would need to confess it still…in the next confession (even though it can be “indirectly” absolved with the other ones)
Thank you for the information. I assume that if you do not know the number of times then can still be forgiven. I covered a long period of time where I was pretty wild so have no clue how many times I had done some things. Even now I still struggle with a few things but I will keep track.
One does what one can…sometimes one needs to approximate etc in various ways…and sometimes we have to do so in a larger way…cause we just can not really know…God and the Church understand this. Ones confessor can help.
If later you recall…“Hey that was 10 people I murdered not 5…” well mention it the next confession.
He knows he did not make a computer …or Vulcans …but humans.
you say you have severe anxiety and depression. you also say that you are a survivor of abuse.
those two reasons right there alone are MORE than enough circumstance to grant you the option of non-verbal confession. In this case, you could just write down the stuff you’re going to confession for. and then turn that in to the priest or whoever is hearing the confession.
Also, if you’re still nervous, you could even write down the reason WHY you cant do the verbal confession and explain to the priest your situation that way. if its easier for you to do it that way.
Also, I too have anxiety and depression. Although I’m positive yours is much more severe than mine. I was in a rollover around 2 or 3 years ago. I know have PTSD from it. My Mom was the one driving. So that generated alot of trust issues. I also have OCD and the rollover intensified the OCD as well. I’ve always had anxiety and depression as far back as I can remember. And yes, it is hard to make it through the day.
Again, I’m not trying to one-up you or anything like that. Not in the slightest. I’m merely explaining to you, its okay to let life get you down now and again. Its okay to be human. its okay to be yourself. You should never feel guilty about your feelings. WHat happened to you is an aweful and terrible tragedy. I am sorry that you had to endure such hardship.
But remember this, those that are true believers, which I know you are. Those that are true believers,…will always have a friend in the Trinity. If you cant go to confession, confess to God in the privacy of your own thoughts. He will understand given your situation. I’m not saying thats an excuse, just an alternative until you can muster the courage to go through a full confession.
But if you can, try to go to confession.
And I hope and pray that someday, with courage, determination, and Divine Guidance, that you will learn to cope, and above all overcome this trying time in your life.
Faith, Hope, and Love…the greatest is Love. His love…for you.
Thank you so much for the compassionate & insightful responses! I did not know that we have the option of making a non-verbal confession in some circumstances. Perhaps that is a way I could try until I can manage a verbal confession. I think that would allow me the ability to get my heart & spirit in the right place because I wouldn’t be so overwhelmed with the speaking aspect of things.
I’ve always gone face to face because I do not feel comfortable talking to someone I can’t see, that just amplifies my anxiety ten-fold. I always whisper, I guess that’s just my natural voice actually, apparently most people can’t hear me in normal conversation.
What I would really like is to be able to go to the same priest each time & on a more regular basis. But I think I’m pretty far from being able to do that since I can’t even get myself to go once. I know I need to get over this hurdle in order to grow closer to God.
I think if you print out your first post…and give it to him (or a less detailed if you wish) and bring your list… it will be a good idea. He will prob. judge that you are an exception to the rule…and then you would still say “I confess this” when handing it to him…
and again if you have no mortal sins…you can also try just confessing in the ordinary way even one sin and then “all the sins of my life” to benefit from the grace of the sacrament…
and yes I think try to get a regular priest who can know you and help you…
before you know it…you may be able to do what you never thought you could
I have a related question to this. I know we have to confess mortal sins by number and kind, and im just a little concerned because when I “reverted” to the faith after being a lukewarm ill informed Catholic, I learned about mortal sins and they need to be confessed by number and kind like 2 days before i went to confession and of course at the time I committed virtually all of these sins if not all of them I didnt know what mortal sin was, and alot of them were lust related so when i went to confession (a confession that covered a span of maybe 2-3 years) I confessed all of the objectively mortal sins i was aware of and after that i concluded with saying “and all of these sins ive committed many many times” would that have been adequate? I mean looking back now i can think of better ways to phrase it with words like “habitually” but i didnt really know the number of times I had a lustful thought or committed related sins, at the time I thought it was adequate to say that i committed these sins “many many times” and the priest didnt inquire any further. I didnt try to use lighter terms to name my sins, I said them explicitly but its just the way in which i described the frequency where i have a concern. I have of course been to confession many many times since then and now im feeling a little worried about the validity of that confession :o
Ones confessor can help you determine things in ones particular case.
But remember…one does what one can. If one does not know the exact number one makes approx numbers…for example one could say "many times…something like 5 or 6 times a week for 2 years…but sometimes one just does not know…but perhaps it can only be “many many times…I just do not know a number”…that may be as close to a number you can give (I do no not know for I am not you)…the priest can help and ask questions…
talk with your confessor…do not scruple or stress…for you were doing what you thought you could do then…if you can do more now…you can do so.
One could also make a general confession for all ones mortal sins.
Acat, would it help if you wrote down your sins (and if need be the other things you want to say, like the Act of Contrition and stuff) on a piece of paper and brought it into confession and simply read straight from it?
I sometimes make a list so that I don’t forget anything - and use a code (eg I write the first two letters of the name of each sin rather than the whole word) so that if anyone saw it they wouldn’t know it was a list of my sins.
If you tell the priest as soon as you enter the confessional that you’re extremely nervous and need notes to help you remember things it will be fine.
The priest is there to help you - if he had noticed any problem with your Confession, he would have mentioned it - that is why he is there.
A rule to follow - if you did your best at the time - you were not intentionally deceiving the priest - and if the priest gave you the Absolution, then it was a good Confession. God is the Prodigal Father rushing out to welcome you Home; He is not your enemy, looking to trap you and catch you making a mistake.
So if you had honestly said at the time “many times” thinking that is all one could say…but now realize one knows a concrete number …say you know that it was usually around 2-3 times a week for around 6 months…one would in ones next confession say this…and say it was from the past of course…that you were coming back to the Church etc and did what you could then…etc
but there can really be times one really does not know how often…and one does what one can…and leaves the rest to God…
Confession is not to be a big burden in this…but is to bring forgiveness peace and joy in being “in Christ” …knowing true life.
make sure one does not scruple over this or stress either…and again one can talk with ones confessor… he can help.
And those with scruples …do not scruple over this either But listen to your confessor…
I do really want to emphasize that a person coming “back to confession” after years…may really simply not know numbers for sure…
One does what one can…and sometimes approximates things…
God VERY MUCH understands:)
The Priest is trained and experienced in confession and can really help one know what one needs to do…he can ask questions etc… so ask him to help…he can often tell you what you need to do … or not do…
sure then if a person later remembers it was 10 persons one murdered not 5 they had mistakenly guessed at …yes…next confession…mention this…
but God does not expect us to have the memory of Vulcans…
nor does he want one to scruple …
sometimes people can really overly stress about these things… one does what one can…
Just was looking at an older moral manual from the early 1960’s…
it notes that if the error in number “minimized” the number then one would say it in next confession…
Now of course this around 50 years ago…under a different Canon Law etc…
But it makes sense…that if one confessed that one murdered 10 people and later realize it was only 8 …one does not need to mention the mistake.
But if one confessed one murdered 5 persons but later realize it was 8 then one would mention it the next confession.
So this gives me a bit of a pause…about my answer above…not sure what one would do if one said “many many times” not knowing any number… But later realized more precisely it was it was around 2-3 times a week for 2 years…
Regarding the person above…the person confessed what he could remember at the time and knew to confess…and since “many many times” could be considered “more” than the actual number that one later remembered…not sure if what was noted in that manual would apply here or still apply… (?)
But I will see what I can find out…I will try to contact a Priest who is very up on this sort of thing…
acat, does this fear occur in other situations, or just Confession? Reason why I’m asking is I had a friend (who also was a trauma survivor) who had social anxiety and would panic when doing things like writing a check at the grocery store. There is help for this kind of thing with counseling and medication. Just thought I’d mention it; you may already know.
I’ll pray for you to have peace. If it helps any, know that Confession jitters are pretty common; you just have them at the far end of the spectrum at the present time. Hopefully it will get easier and I hope you get a really wonderful understanding and helpful priest.