I am a former Sothern Baptist convert. I joined the Church almost 9 years ago. I am having a hard time in going to confession. I completely understand the role of the priest and the biblical basis for the sacrament. I don’t have a problem with confession itself. I just cant seem to get myself to go. I have sins that I am “repentent of” and I know I need to go. I am gone from home alot and every time I tell myself I will go when I get home but then I never ‘find’ the time. I don’t know if Iam just hanging on to my old beliefs or if it is more out of fear(of the unknown) or maybe both.? Any suggestions would really help.
I had gone to confession once per year for almost 5 years. Until July 2006, I’ve started to go very often. I’ve realized the Real thing that had made me not to go confession is Satan. He can make you doubt about your belief, fear, and lazy.
When you have a good confession - that is a truly confession, you will know three things for sure - (1) make God happy, (2) receive graces and peace from God, (3) defeat the wickedness of Satan.
Personally, when I start going to confess often, I’ve realized that God has given graces to stay away from sins that I used to commit.
I don’t know how to write much, but I just try my best to describe my thoughts and experiences.
If you want to ask me more here or like to send private message, I would be happy to answer your questions.
I’m a convert too, and I waited a couple of years after my conversion to go back to confession. My original confession was rather easy. The priest came to our RCIA class and made appointments for us to come in for face to face confessions.
To be honest, it was really a matter of anxiety that kept me from confession for those years. I was intimidated, not knowing what a “normal” confession in a confessional would be like. I was afraid of looking like I didn’t know what I was doing, like I wasn’t a “real” Catholic. I had a million other excuses, like not having the time, or maybe my sins weren’t serious enough.
Well, after having gone through a period where I started getting more involved in my faith and getting to know some really inspiring Catholics, I found myself at home for several hours on a Saturday with the electricity out. I ended up flipping through a book and finding an examination of conscience. I was horrified to see just how many sins I had committed in those two years. So, I just wrote them all down and wrote out the act of contrition. I went into confession, and told the priest that I was a convert and didn’t know what I was doing but that I had a lot of sins to confess. He was very understanding and guided me through the whole process. It was amazingly relieving to unburden myself of all of those sins and all of those confession-related anxieties. I am so thankful to be Catholic and have this sacrament.
About the only thing I can advise you is to JUST DO IT. Tomorrow is Saturday, just go.
It is hard to confront the harsh reality that we have offended God with such petty sins and realize what cost Jesus bore for that. It sometimes is hard to accept that we can be forgiven sins that seem unforgivable. Between these two extremes we live.
Make an appointment with yourself to go to confession. Keep that appointment like youwere meeting an important dignitary or you very life depended on it!
If the confessional in your parish is too ‘personal’ to you, ie can’t face your parish priest then do it while you are traveling. We get ‘hung up’ goin to a priest we know and baring our souls amd sins * So go to a priest you do not know and do not have to see again. Do a complete examination of conscience. When you hear the words of absolution your mind will begin to feel refief. y the time you complete your penance your heart will be rejoicing. You will feel refreshed and a heavy weight will lift from shoulders…grace will enter into your life…
Set the date, you will not regret it…God Bless you…*
Another thing I’d like to add is that by going to confession regularly, you would be surprised that you will find it so comfortable and peace and wanting to go confession even more often. Furthermore, it helps you realize that some things you had done in the past are wrong, but you were not able to see your wrong doing back then. Don’t get freaked out by that but this is one of the benefits/graces you receive for going to confession.
It is not about committing sins then going to confession, but it is about going to confession in order to help you living it right.
Yes, tomorrow is Saturday, and many churches normally have priests available for confession.
That pretty much sums up some of my fears and as you said, anxieties, that I have been facing. It is really difficult to look at yourself that way. Thanks for your encouragement.
I completely understand what you are going through. I am a recent convert from an Evangelical background, and although I absolutely see the truth of the sacrament of confession, and although when I go I feel wonderfully at peace and refreshed, I still get a case of bad nerves when I know it’s time for me to go again.
And I think that partly this is because I wasn’t raised with the habit of confession, I tend to sweat it out, all the details of what I’m supposed to say and do, I get nervous.
I also know that I get really emotional when I am in confession, the tears start flowing (and that part is embarrassing to me, not really the confession of the sin, ironically), and it makes me nervous knowing this is going to happen when I am there.
But the reality is this: Christ is our confessor, the priest is standing in His stead. The key is to get past the human element and know Who you are really confessing to. This has helped me.
And walking out of that confessional is the best feeling I have ever had in my Christian experience, except for my first communion, of course!
I recently had the same difficulty for a few months, and found out that I was listening to Accuser of the Brthren instead of the Father who loves me and wants to heal me.
I’m sorry that the Father of Lies has tied you up in knots as he did me. Maybe the best thing is to remind yourself that you don’t have to make yourself go to Confession, but that God wants you to go to Confession so that He can demonstrate His love and compassion for you and that He can heal you and take your burdens from you.
When we go to Confession, we go to the foot of the cross, and we leave our burdens there, and we are healed by Christ’s wounds, “For by his stripes, we are healed.”
God wants you to go to Confession, not so He can chastise you, but so that He can forgive and heal you. The Father of Lies has lied to you and kept you away from this Sacrament of Healing of Healing through Reconciliation.
If you are having problems talking to your pastor, by all means, go to the pastor at another parish or at a monestary and offer you Confession to him.
Do not allow the Accuser of the Brotheren, who is the Father of all Lies, deprive you of the Grace and Healing of this Sacrament.
I hope this helps.
Your Brother in Christ, Michael
I am a cradle Catholic, but I had fallen away from the Church for about 5 years before I went back. I had known that I needed to confess but was afraid. Finally, one day, I just went. I chose to go face-to-face and poured out my heart and told the priest everything. He did not speak harshly at all. He welcomed me back. I felt like a huge weight was lifted off of me. Since that time, I have gone to Confession regularly. Even if I have not committed any serious sins I like to go, because it is a Sacrament that gives me grace, which I definitely need lots of and I’m not going to turn down opportunities from God to receive His gifts.
Tell ya what, I’m cradle Catholic and have been going 2 or 3 times a month for the past year - and sometimes I still get nervous, flounder for the right words to describe some sins, and generally get no points for style at all. I think of it as getting a head start on my penance
My dear OP, you are in my prayers. Say a Chaplet of Divine Mercy or a decade of the Rosary asking for the grace to make a good examination of conscience. I like to use Father Altier’s exam because it distinguishes mortal from venial sins but is thorough in both categories. You can see it online here. Make a written list so that you don’t have to worry about forgetting anything.
Then go and sit in line for confession tomorrow. Say another Chaplet or the Rosary while you’re waiting, and ask the Holy Spirit and all the saints and angels to be with you. When you get into the confessional tell the priest that you’re new and nervous and they’ll help.
LilyM, that examination of conscience is excellent. I am going to use it myself for when I go to confession. It’s better than anything that I have.
That is an excellent Examination of Consience. It is one of the best ones I have seen!!
Do not feel bad about not having gone to Confession in so long out of fear. What you do now is what matters. Use this as an occasion to overcome your anxiety and to openly embrace God`s forgiveness and mercy.
I am a “Cradle Catholic” but had stopped receving the Sacrament of Reconcilliation. I felt God calling me back in my mid-twenties. I hadn`t been to Confession since 8th grade, so when I entered the confessional, I explained this to the priest, let him know I was extremely anxious, and that I needed a “refresher” on exactly how to proceed. My experience was one of the best I have ever had in my spiritual life. Each time I have gone since then, it has been such a positive experience. The longer I wait between confessions, the more nervous and anxious I get. I think that is just one reason of many to go on a regular basis.
I recommend spending a lot of time examining your conscience at home. Then I would arrive at Church early so you can pray and not feel like you are rushed.
You will be so glad you went, and will feel the weight of the world lifted off you!!! I definitely agree with the previous poster, set a date and then follow through. Consider it an appointment with God, since that is exactly what it is.
I will keep you in my prayers. You have nothing to be afraid of.
May I approach this from a slightly difference way?
Going to Confession is often difficult because it is not a “normal” thing to do. What I mean by “normal” is that it’s not something we do every day or even every week (of course, there are some who do).
There is the fear of the unknown. We worry about what to say, whether we will stumble over words, whether we’ll say a proper Act of Contrition, whether the priest will be in a bad mood, etc., etc.,
When we’re trying to establish a routine or regimen for doing something new, whether it’s going to the gym, or waking up earlier, or whatever, it’s always good to set oneself up for success, and ask others to hold us accountable.
If you can, take a dry run to the church you’ll be going to for confession. Figure out how long it takes to get there, where to park, where the confessionals are in the church.
Take a little “cheat sheet” into the confessional with you with words that will help you remember what you need to confess, and with an Act of Contrition written out.
Then, if you’ve got someone you trust, tell them what you plan to do & ask them if they will consider praying for you the whole time you are in confession.
These are practical ways to “set yourself up for success” & get over mental roadblock of your first confession after a while. Of course, the “success” you are seeking is the state of grace! No better “place” to be!
Good luck, God bless & go do it!
I don’t know what to say except that when you do go, the angels will be rejoicing! —KCT
So…did you go, Revert Convert?
Another idea that might work for you would be to go to Confession before a Daily Mass. Many churches have confession 15 minutes or so before their daily Masses.
That is what I did when I went back after many years. I’m not even sure now if that particular parish had that policy, but I made up my mind that I was going and that was that. There was no priest in the confessional when I got there, so I sat in the back in a pew near the confessional. Finally one of the “church ladies” approached me and asked if I was waiting for confession. I told her I was and she offered to go get Father. It wouldn’t have mattered - I would have tracked him down after Mass if need be. Nothing was going to stand in my way.
As it turned out, she got him, and he appeared at the confessional. I’ve known him for a long time, and I know him to be a very to the point person, so I was not offended when he asked “will this take long?” I told him that if he didn’t need it to, then I didn’t need it to. So we stepped into the Confessional (um, Reconciliation Room), and the rest is history. Confession is such an awesome sacrament. I know that I floated through about the next week.
Several months later when I looked at a bulletin from this parish, there was nothing on their schedule about reconciliation before daily Masses.
I am also a cradle Catholic who has just recently discovered the wonders of this beautiful sacrament. My father used to take my brother and sister and me to first friday confessions when I was young, but after I was about 15 I stopped going to any kind of regular confession.
This continued until about a year ago (I am now 42). I started going regualrly (about once a month).
I had a lot of the same issues that you do - particularly with going to my parish priest with some of the sins I was very embarrassed and ashamed of.
I did some digging - and I found a local chapel run by Franciscans that holds confessions for 5 hours each and every day. One of the big problems I had (this one a real problem and not one out of my own head) was finding a place where I could go to confession at a time I could get there! Most churches, including my parish, had confessions for an hour or so on Saturday afternoon - with two children and tons of Saturday activities this time was impossible. Being able to go any day really, really helps. These good Friars do not know me - thus I have no issues of embarrasment with them.
Also, I discovered the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy (were the EWTN broadcast of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy is from) is in Stockbridge, MA which is about 90 minutes away from my home and on my way to Boston. I frequently go to Boston for business, and try to stop there whenever I go for Confession. The Fathers there are amazing.
I haven’t gone yet…I’m a truck driver but I will be home this weekend and I am DEFINETLY going. I wanted to thank all of you for the advise and encouragement. Especially the examination of conscience from lilym.
Thanks so much and God Bless you all!
I totally Understand . I get really nervous too. But this is not a bad thing. This is a sign of one’s humility in accepting our sins and seeking forgiveness.