What do I do when the priest is mean in confession?

I was really badly hurt today from my confession. I prepared a list of the sins that I would confess. As I always do, I did my best to search myself inwardly and honestly so I can show my soul to the priest and he can give me words that are fitting for my sins. It is not my habit that I just mention my sins like (just for example) “I lied, I gossiped, I spoke badly against my brother…”

What I normally do is that I mention the environment and the situations of how I sinned, the lack of effort in my part, and the causes that triggered these sins and their continuity. And if there are matters in which I am ignorant of the gravity or dimension of the sin, so I can get help from the priest. In short, I am doing my best to make a good confession to God. Today, a priest told me with sarcasm: “Can you make it quick? This is already a novel; You are reciting a novel.” I was hurt by him. This priest hit me in the way I confess my sins, which is really offensive to me, and there was almost no line of penitents for confession, so there was no reason to hurry.

I am sorry that the priest spoke to you as he did. He acted with impatience and should not have because impatience by a priest in the confessional can discourage people from returning to confession. Please try to give the priest the benefit of the doubt that he was having a bad day and say a prayer for him.

It cannot go unmentioned though that it is not necessary to give a confessor an exhaustive background to your sins. Generally speaking, the confessor ordinarily does not need to know “the environment,” or “the situations,” or your “lack of effort,” or “causes” and “continuity.” He only needs to know the sinful acts and how often (approximately) that you committed those sins. One confessor explained to me that an occasional “illustration” of a habitual sin can be helpful for a priest who does not know you, but a priest who does know you might not need even that.

It is also important to keep in mind that neither you nor the priest know how many penitents have been queuing up but leaving in frustration during the time it takes for one penitent to give a long confession. I have stood in confession lines and waited twenty minutes or more for a penitent to finish, all the while struggling against the temptation to speculate about what on earth that person could be confessing that was taking so long. A priest who is worried about disappointing other penitents who could unnecessarily be turned away from confession could easily snap at a penitent who is giving far too much detail in an attempt to move him along. Granted, he should find a kinder, more diplomatic method of doing so; but the point is that it is easy to see why a priest could be tempted against charity in such a situation.

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