I hope you may be able to assist me in answering a question about the validity of a confession made / absolution received.
Until recently, I lapsed from the Catholic faith for over 10 years. Over the past few months I have begun to re-examine my faith, at first through private prayer, and then more recently by attending Mass (though without receiving communion).
Last Sunday, I felt ready to seek the sacrament of reconcilliation. Before Mass, I went for confession, having over the days prior repeatedly rehearsed in my mind how I would tackle confessing over a decade of sins. Even waiting for my turn, I was running through all the things I needed to say.
However, as I knelt down in the confessional, I was overcome with emotion. I barely got out that it had been over ten years since my last confession. As I tried to compose myself, the priest (probably sensing distress, even though I wouldn’t describe my emotions as distress), just said 'Don’t be afraid, the Lord is here and he welcomes you home." That did it … I could not stop crying. The priest went on to ask “What does your soul want to say to the Lord? Speak from your heart, what do you most want to say to Him?” Through my sniffles I said that I needed His forgiveness and mercy. The priest replied that Christ has already forgiven me and stands with open arms ready to welcome me home.
He went on to recommend that I try to spend more time with the Lord to rediscover my faith. He told me about Mass times and other opportunities for prayer in the parish and said that priests were always available if I needed guidance and support. He prescribed no penance and just repeated that Christ welcomes me home a few times before he asked me to pray the act of contrition and gave me absolution, after which he asked me to take as long as I needed to compose myself before leaving the confessional.
I would like to ask you if I have made a valid confession and if the absolution I received is valid. In the more sober light of day, it occurred to me that I had not confessed a single sin and surely the priest’s absolution must therefore be invalid. After this confession, I went on to attend Mass and received communion but now I’m not sure if I was supposed/allowed to or not.
I truly appreciate your guidance.