Used to go to confession every month, now it has been 9 months and I am terrified to go at all!


#1

How do I prepare myself for confession now?

I stopped going regularly because I was becoming distraught and emotionally unstable, seeing sin in my every action. I had been through a rough time, experiencing a miscarriage and emotional abuse at the hands of a close relative and rapid change of circumstances, and I supposed I was struggling with depression.
So, I stopped going.
Now I am terrified of the idea of going back to confession (not to mention the fact that I don’t know what to do with my children while I go). I don’t even know how to confess the sins I perceive in myself. There are things that I have struggled with that I don’t know if they are sins or temptations to sin. I don’t feel confident that I have an understanding of the difference between an imperfection and committing a sin. I also am terrified that the priest will be my pastor and some of the things I am unsure about (as in, they may not be sins, but only temptations) are extremely personal and intimate. My pastor will know it is me, and I do not want to talk about these questions with him (just as I wouldn’t with anyone other than my husband).
How can I understand if I have fallen out of a state of grace? How can I discern between mortal sin and venial sin and imperfection? I have an examination of conscience (several actually), but with my background (emotional abuse and severe upbringing leading me to constant self-recrimination) the examination of conscience book is not clear for me. I don’t want to wind myself up again and start spiraling. I also do not want to confess sins that I am not actually guilty of, out of my strong tendency to find severe fault in myself.

Any help would be appreciated. But I do hope for kind help, not condemnation or blame. I can do that well enough on my own, and I really need to know how to do this right. I find myself longing for the relief of the confessional, and inside I feel like a sinful mess, but I do not know how to properly examine my conscience without my emotional baggage getting in the way. Oh, and I should also mention, I have only been Catholic since Easter 2010, but I am a 30ish woman. Thanks so much. :o


#2

Prepare as you can and make an appointment with a Priest of your choice. Explain things to him and ask him to assist you

And I recommend you get a "regular confessor" to work with in the future --who will know you and can guide you in your particular struggles there.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd and he loves you!


#3

God Bless you Mommamaree.

Confession can be scary for many people.
on the point of feeling uncomfortable about being reccognised by your Priest the first option is: Can you travel to another nearby parish to see a confessor?

but remember this. In the confessional the Priest sits "In Persona Christi".
It is directly to Christ taht you are confessing, not to the human who's ears and mouth Christ is using. That is the purpose of Ordination.

A priest is ultimately prohibited from breaching the seal of the Confessional. by revealing any information received or acting on it. under any circumstances.
To do so would incur the most severe penalties the church can impose. and would be a Mortal Sin of the most grave form. Only the Pope himself could grant absolution for this offence (should the offending priest wish to repent, confess and re-join the church from which he had excommunicated himself).
To do this would instantly excommunicate the man from the Church, and nullify his rights and faculties to act as a Priest
Many priests have accepted Martyrdom rather than break this seal.
We will have many more in the near future go to prison, or face execution for the same throughout the world. A priest must agree to this before he is given permission to hear confessions. (not all priests have that permission)

Priests exert strong mental discipline, or are often given a spiritual gift to assist them in leaving what is heard in the confessional inside that box. I know more than one who have a spiritual gift of Forgetfulness in this area. They actually cannot remember what they heard once they step out of that box.... but some can recall it if needed in hearing the confessions of a regular confessee.


All that aside:
When you are struggling with habitual tendencies to sin. unsure of the level of guilt you have unsure of the morality of your particular situation... it is essential that you have a regular confessor. see the same priest each month. If possible someone other than your Spiritual Director if you have one. but that is not essential.

Remember: The evil one plants in us a fear of confession to make it harder to repent and clean our souls.
Jesus has already paid the price for your sins, opened his arms and called you to him. All you have to do is say "Yes" and "I'm Sorry"
As long as you can say "Im truly sorry, and truly wish to not do this again" the forgiveness is guaranteed.
Repentance is more difficult where the "Not sin again" relates to ingrained habits, or areas where you have trouble meaning "Truly" with every fibre of your being.
Sin is like an addictive drug or a bad habit. it can be extremely difficult to quit. This is where a regular confessor can really help.

Your Parish Priest is pastor to every wife living in your parish. trust me he has heard it all before. He has studied how to counsel you on the morality of these issues. He may have studied the psychology of it as well.
Those skills are part of the gift he gives to God in hearing your confession.


Go to confession without fear.
It's the spiritual equivalent of a nice hot shower. You'll feel so much better afterwards.


#4

[quote="Bookcat, post:2, topic:311718"]
Prepare as you can and make an appointment with a Priest of your choice. Explain things to him and ask him to assist you

And I recommend you get a "regular confessor" to work with in the future --who will know you and can guide you in your particular struggles there.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd and he loves you!

[/quote]

So you think it would be better to do a face-to-face appointment in spite of my fears? I mean that question sincerely, too, not sarcastically. I am so confused about how to approach this. How do I get a regular confessor? It is the luck of the draw who is doing confession hour on any particular day.
Also, is asking questions in the confessional a big No-No? So often, I just confess something as a sin, when really I have a question about if I sinned or was merely tempted. Similarly, I have questions about if I am feeling shame about something that is not actually sinful (like certain intimate things during marital act). Ugh.


#5

[quote="mommamaree, post:4, topic:311718"]
So you think it would be better to do a face-to-face appointment in spite of my fears? I mean that question sincerely, too, not sarcastically. I am so confused about how to approach this. How do I get a regular confessor? It is the luck of the draw who is doing confession hour on any particular day.
Also, is asking questions in the confessional a big No-No? So often, I just confess something as a sin, when really I have a question about if I sinned or was merely tempted. Similarly, I have questions about if I am feeling shame about something that is not actually sinful (like certain intimate things during marital act). Ugh.

[/quote]

The advantage of making appointment might be that the priest could spend a little more time helping you understand what's a sin and what isn't, because he wouldn't have to worry about the line of people waiting outside the confessional. On the other hand, it does mean showing your face. But if you do go face to face, nothing you say is likely to shock the priest, and he is there to help you, not to condemn you.

As far as I know, asking questions in the confessional is not a "no-no," but again, you are a bit more pressed for time in that situation.

Of course, if you are really, really uncomfortable, you can always drive to a parish 20 miles from your house and go to confession there. It's just as valid, and the issue of running into the priest again would not be such a concern.


#6

I would go straight to confession and say, "I used to go to confession every month, now it has been 9 months and I am terrified to be in here at all! ... I don't even know how to confess the sins I perceive in myself. There are things that I have struggled with that I don't know if they are sins or temptations to sin. I don't feel confident that I have an understanding of the difference between an imperfection and committing a sin." And the priest will help you with the rest. My guess is that you will make his day.


#7

[quote="kkollwitz, post:6, topic:311718"]
I would go straight to confession and say, "I used to go to confession every month, now it has been 9 months and I am terrified to be in here at all! ... I don't even know how to confess the sins I perceive in myself. There are things that I have struggled with that I don't know if they are sins or temptations to sin. I don't feel confident that I have an understanding of the difference between an imperfection and committing a sin." And the priest will help you with the rest. My guess is that you will make his day.

[/quote]

:rotfl:
:p
:)
Thanks. That was like a humor vaccine! I need to learn not to take myself so seriously.


#8

I definitely think that you should make an appointment and let your priest help you walk through your fears and questions. Because this will be time consuming, it isn’t feasible to try do this during regular scheduled confessions.


#9

[quote="mommamaree, post:4, topic:311718"]
So you think it would be better to do a face-to-face appointment in spite of my fears? I mean that question sincerely, too, not sarcastically. I am so confused about how to approach this. How do I get a regular confessor? It is the luck of the draw who is doing confession hour on any particular day.
Also, is asking questions in the confessional a big No-No? So often, I just confess something as a sin, when really I have a question about if I sinned or was merely tempted. Similarly, I have questions about if I am feeling shame about something that is not actually sinful (like certain intimate things during marital act). Ugh.

[/quote]

You can choose face to face or the use of a confessional/screen for the appointment. It is in part up to you. Which do you prefer?

One can arrange appointments on regular basis or ask him when he will be hearing confessions -or both :)

Yes --one MAY ask questions in the confessional. The only thing is that if it is at "regular times" one has to be "quick". Hence in this case here and now -- make an appointment.

If your "doubtful" if you committed a sin or if you committed a mortal sin -- one would note in some what that it is doubtful (not just confess it).

As to kinds of things -- Priests have heard everything --one though ought though seek to find a good way to ask (not too explicit)


#10

[quote="kkollwitz, post:6, topic:311718"]
I would go straight to confession and say, "I used to go to confession every month, now it has been 9 months and I am terrified to be in here at all! ... I don't even know how to confess the sins I perceive in myself. There are things that I have struggled with that I don't know if they are sins or temptations to sin. I don't feel confident that I have an understanding of the difference between an imperfection and committing a sin." And the priest will help you with the rest. My guess is that you will make his day.

[/quote]

:clapping: Great answer!


#11

[quote="kkollwitz, post:6, topic:311718"]
I would go straight to confession and say, "I used to go to confession every month, now it has been 9 months and I am terrified to be in here at all! ... I don't even know how to confess the sins I perceive in myself. There are things that I have struggled with that I don't know if they are sins or temptations to sin. I don't feel confident that I have an understanding of the difference between an imperfection and committing a sin." And the priest will help you with the rest. My guess is that you will make his day.

[/quote]

Forget the rest. this is the best answer.

It might seem funny- but it's the Truth on every level.

KISS (Keep It Simple (stupid))


#12

[quote="Bookcat, post:9, topic:311718"]

As to kinds of things -- Priests have heard everything --one though ought though seek to find a good way to ask (not too explicit)

[/quote]

See, this is one of my questions.

How do I found out if something is sinful or not, if the very nature of the thing in question is explicit?

Here at CAF, people's opinions are shared at the same time as statements from moral theology textbooks (like the kind priests use to give counsel in confession). If the textbook quote says one thing, but posters say that the theologian (Jone, I think) was wrong, and that certain intimate actions during the course of the marital act are morally repugnant and sinful, how do I properly form my conscience?
I cannot do a Google search. (That would turn up some dangerous links)
I cannot talk to another Catholic.
I cannot find a book that clears up the confusion I have (he says things are permissable, she says things are evil)
I am terrified to ask a priest about these matters, because the questions would need to be explicit.

So what in the world can I do?

I have some other serious concerns, too. Questions about anger and pride and lust. My RCIA journey seemed so short and I had no instruction on these kinds of things. Looking back I think my First Confession might have been full of things that did not need to be confessed, because I became hyper-paranoid about sin.


#13

[quote="mommamaree, post:12, topic:311718"]
See, this is one of my questions.

How do I found out if something is sinful or not, if the very nature of the thing in question is explicit?

.

[/quote]

One can choose ones words ...such as certainly avoid the offensive terms or too much "description" beyond what is needed etc.


#14

[quote="mommamaree, post:12, topic:311718"]

So what in the world can I do?

.

[/quote]

Yes some "information" from posters are not in keeping with the Teachings of the Church. In some matters there may be "varied judgments" about certain matters -- for the Church has not explicitly (pun intended) judged the matter. It is possible for varied orthodox moral theologians etc to have differing judgments/arguments on the particular matter.

Practically one looks to good sources -- first of course the Teaching of the Church-- then one can look to Orthodox Theologians (who "think with the Church" and are faithful) ...Orthodox books....and ones Confessor etc (via appointments --which can even take place in the confessional or like circumstance to make it less embarissing...)

(pm me if I can be of any further help).


#15

[quote="mommamaree, post:12, topic:311718"]
**See, this is one of my questions.

How do I found out if something is sinful or not, if the very nature of the thing in question is explicit? **
Here at CAF, people's opinions are shared at the same time as statements from moral theology textbooks (like the kind priests use to give counsel in confession). If the textbook quote says one thing, but posters say that the theologian (Jone, I think) was wrong, and that certain intimate actions during the course of the marital act are morally repugnant and sinful, how do I properly form my conscience?
I cannot do a Google search. (That would turn up some dangerous links)
I cannot talk to another Catholic.
I cannot find a book that clears up the confusion I have (he says things are permissable, she says things are evil)
I am terrified to ask a priest about these matters, because the questions would need to be explicit.

So what in the world can I do?

I have some other serious concerns, too. Questions about anger and pride and lust. My RCIA journey seemed so short and I had no instruction on these kinds of things. Looking back I think my First Confession might have been full of things that did not need to be confessed, because I became hyper-paranoid about sin.

[/quote]

mommamaree, see if this guide from EWTN National Catholic Register helps some! :)
ncregister.com/info/confession_guide_for_adults/

Peace, Mark


#16

[quote="mommamaree, post:1, topic:311718"]
How do I prepare myself for confession now?

I stopped going regularly because I was becoming distraught and emotionally unstable, seeing sin in my every action. I had been through a rough time, experiencing a miscarriage and emotional abuse at the hands of a close relative and rapid change of circumstances, and I supposed I was struggling with depression.
So, I stopped going.
Now I am terrified of the idea of going back to confession (not to mention the fact that I don't know what to do with my children while I go). I don't even know how to confess the sins I perceive in myself. There are things that I have struggled with that I don't know if they are sins or temptations to sin. I don't feel confident that I have an understanding of the difference between an imperfection and committing a sin. I also am terrified that the priest will be my pastor and some of the things I am unsure about (as in, they may not be sins, but only temptations) are extremely personal and intimate. My pastor will know it is me, and I do not want to talk about these questions with him (just as I wouldn't with anyone other than my husband).
How can I understand if I have fallen out of a state of grace? How can I discern between mortal sin and venial sin and imperfection? I have an examination of conscience (several actually), but with my background (emotional abuse and severe upbringing leading me to constant self-recrimination) the examination of conscience book is not clear for me. I don't want to wind myself up again and start spiraling. I also do not want to confess sins that I am not actually guilty of, out of my strong tendency to find severe fault in myself.

Any help would be appreciated. But I do hope for kind help, not condemnation or blame. I can do that well enough on my own, and I really need to know how to do this right. I find myself longing for the relief of the confessional, and inside I feel like a sinful mess, but I do not know how to properly examine my conscience without my emotional baggage getting in the way. Oh, and I should also mention, I have only been Catholic since Easter 2010, but I am a 30ish woman. Thanks so much. :o

[/quote]

Do not be afraid. I know how you feel. I did not go to Confession for a year and when I was able to go I was terrified that I would be perceived as evil or a horrible person. Eventually after months of the inability to receive the Eucharist, I prayed to God to give me the courage to go to Confession. Finally I did go and I confessed with a wonderful priest for an hour or more and it was wonderful!!! I felt physically clean, spiritually clean, unbelievably happy, and I never once felt like I was being judged or looked upon as evil or horrible.

The Sacrament of Confession is AWESOME!!! Pray and do not be afraid.


#17

[quote="Bookcat, post:13, topic:311718"]
One can choose ones words ...such as certainly avoid the offensive terms or too much "description" beyond what is needed etc.

[/quote]

This is good news for me, because I feared that by being discreet, that I would actually be guilty of a form of lying (like withholding the full truth) or guilty of trying to make myself look better.

And this goes for my questions about anger, too. I don't want to blame others, but I do have special circumstances where I am not sure if I am feeling anger or just making calm, rational decisions in response to the misbehavior of others.

In the past (who am I kidding, it happens everyday still) I would place on the blame for every misfortune, every conflict, every person's condemnation of me directly and solely upon my own shoulders. It was my coping mechanism. I would blame myself, because if I was the only responsible one, then I was "able to change/control" the "bad" that was happening to me or in my life. Of course, that coping mechanism was actually very self-destructive!

So perhaps I just need to ask my questions of the priest, letting him know how incapable I feel of discerning my own sinfulness and culpability and such, and then only confess the things which he counsels me are actually sinful?


#18

Also, is it true what I read somewhere that the Sacrament of Confession can help to heal the wounds of emotionally abused people? So that maybe someday, my habit of self-condemnation and self-hatred will cease to be my natural response to adversity?


#19

Start with the appointment with the Priest of your choice - and try to pick one you wish to have as a regular confessor so you do not have to start from scratch.


#20

[quote="mommamaree, post:18, topic:311718"]
Also, is it true what I read somewhere that the Sacrament of Confession can help to heal the wounds of emotionally abused people? So that maybe someday, my habit of self-condemnation and self-hatred will cease to be my natural response to adversity?

[/quote]

I would imagine there can be some help (human counsel too)

Catechism

1468 "The whole power of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God's grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship."73 Reconciliation with God is thus the purpose and effect of this sacrament. For those who receive the sacrament of Penance with contrite heart and religious disposition, reconciliation "is usually followed by peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation."74 Indeed the sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true "spiritual resurrection," restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God.75

1469 This sacrament reconciles us with the Church. Sin damages or even breaks fraternal communion. The sacrament of Penance repairs or restores it. In this sense it does not simply heal the one restored to ecclesial communion, but has also a revitalizing effect on the life of the Church which suffered from the sin of one of her members.76 Re-established or strengthened in the communion of saints, the sinner is made stronger by the exchange of spiritual goods among all the living members of the Body of Christ, whether still on pilgrimage or already in the heavenly homeland:77

It must be recalled that . . . this reconciliation with God leads, as it were, to other reconciliations, which repair the other breaches caused by sin. The forgiven penitent is reconciled with himself in his inmost being, where he regains his innermost truth. He is reconciled with his brethren whom he has in some way offended and wounded. He is reconciled with the Church. He is reconciled with all creation.78


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