Why does Reconciliation embarass us so much?

After reading the Catholic Answers on the old types of Penance I have to ask what are people afraid of so much when confessing their sins? No penance can compare to these historical examples:

Gregory the Wonderworker

“Weeping is done outside the gate of the oratory, and the sinner standing there ought to implore the faithful, as they enter, to pray for him. Hearing is in the narthex inside the gate, where the sinner ought to stand while the catechumens are there, and afterward he should depart. For let him hear the Scriptures and the teachings . . . and then be cast out and not be reckoned as worthy of [the penitential] prayer. Submission allows one to stand within the gate of the temple, but he must go out with the catechumens. Assembly allows one to be associated with the faithful, without the necessity of going out with the catechumens. Last of all is participation in the consecrated elements” (Canonical Letter, canon 11 [A.D. 256]).

Funny enough people have no problem confessing their transgressions anonymously online or even in person on Oprah or Springer. It seems that people have the most trouble admitting their sins to God, which is funny because He already knows.

2 things come to mind here…

are they confessing or ***bragging?! ***

admitting my sins to God, not so much the problem, but it does mean that I have to admit them to myself, :ouch:

which I guess, really answers question 1:hmmm:


That and the fact that many people would like forgiveness but not as many really have an intention to avoid the sin in the future. Confessing something they all but plan to do in the near future doesn’t always make people feel good about themselves.

Great question!

In my opinion it is that it takes so much humility to be able to stand up and face our screw ups. It seems to be especially hard to go to confession with a priest that we know real well because we do not want them to judge us. We have to remember that they LOVE giving us absolution. It is a hard thing for most people to admit they’re wrong because everyone in today’s society is always trying to cover up their faults. Just my thoughts on the subject.

God Bless,


Yes, lack of humility ,not being able to admit to ourselves and others that we are not perfect and are, in all reality, sinners full of pride and shame. Yes,dear Lord teach us humility, how to be humble. Help us in our sin and forgive us! Carlan

But out of that humility, a sense of dignity seems to arise - the dignity of being able to walk in the light as a beloved daughter or son of God.

I am still glowing after confession last weekend. (I don’t think I’m radioactive. :D) I went in, fumbled around for words, didn’t quite know how to wrap it all up, got beautiful advice, the perfect penance, absolution. (In less than 5 minutes, face-to-face, with a priest who knows me.) I go in with sinfulness and shame and walk out with advice, grace, and dignity. How cool is that?

I wish everyone could experience it!

You know - this is amazing - I am so glad that there are so many people that find joy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I personally think the saddest part for me is that when there are major mass times where it is expected such as Ash Wednesday or part of retreat I have to stand in line - but when I and my dh go during a scheduled time once a month or at the beginning of a new year the priest almost looks suprised and then looks at us like - Oh, it’s you.

I am continually amazed at threads on this forum, or morality (that is where people really let it all hang out) which begin “I am too embarrassed to go to confession to the priest” and then proceed to give a detailed account of their sins and failings. Can someone explain that mentality to me?

I know Annie,You read the Catholic here at answers who says, I know and believe the Sacrament of Reconciliation , but i confesss only directly to God , it isn’t necessary to go before a priest.God forgives anyway. Jesus knew in JN 20:23 that we needed to confess one to another for our mental health. Think of all the money saved on medical bills if we went into the confessional for healing of mind and soul on a regular basis!:cool:;)Love and Peace.Carlan

Very true - people would be more at peace if they used the Sacraments that were available to them instead of the quick fixes.

That is awesome! & sounds very familiar to me, as of late at least. I had the same experience a week ago from today and I’m still on fire. It’s amazing what a little absolution can do! Haha


I love this thread. Some priceless observations here. Where to begin: Posts 2, 3, 7, 9, and 10 are all astute.

The reason, the OP asks? Just simple, ancient, forever, pride (in my needing-to-be-more-humble opinion). Our fantasy of how we project ourselves to ourselves and to others, vs our realization, in the moment of truth, that we have behaved in low-life ways not at all in accord with self-image or our (laudable) aims.

I’m beginning to “enjoy” confession more (as acadian describes), now that I am attending with greater frequency. Am beginning to experience more now the freedom that results from renouncing the false self-image and being naked before God. Such freedom. I know exactly what acadian means. (I just need to do that more often!)

We’re “embarrassed,” OP, (I think) because we cling for dear life to that false sense of ego (our mask), which is costly to discard for half a second. Confession reveals to us that gap which we try desperately to deny and ignore, helped along daily in that effort by the all-too-willing devil who dwells more in pride than anywhere else.

I agree with whoever it was that said that if we only knew/remembered how much priests love to give absolution, and especially, I’ll add, how satisfying and how spiritually enriching it is for them to encounter the humility of a true penitent. This is why they went into the priesthood!

I will admitt that I am one of those people, I fret and sweat about going to confession, yes I know the priest has heard everything etc etc. doesn’t matter i am still a nervous wreck about going. It takes alot of praying and sould searching, but eventually I manage to go. Afterwords I realize that my nervousness was rediculous, and feel renewed. Nevertheless the next time I think I need to go to confession, the nervousness begins again.

You’ll get over it, jg. (I mean, it will get easier, relatively speaking.) Just keep praying. It won’t entirely eliminate that nervousness and tendency to avoid; but I do think repeated good experiences with the results, reduces the negative anticipation. I think we will all continue to have some or a lot of that while on this earth, due to the effects of pride.

Yes, it’s gotten easier for me, but I still have to (often) pray my brains out before – depending on how embarrassing/humiliating I find the sin (we’re all different: what embarrasses me appears to be very different from what embarrasses others). I first need to pray for a through, unflinching, examination of conscience, because it’s all linked together: when the examen is thorough, the realization is deeper, the impulse & urgency stronger, and even the anticipation of healing becomes the grace that allows us to make that leap over the embarrassment.

Jesus gave the apostles the authority to forgive sin in the most solemn moment, when he appeared to them after his resurrection. If they have the ability to forgive and to bind and loose they must first hear the confession. Don’t presume to dictate to Jesus what he meant by this action.

Sorry for my unclear explanation. I was referring to a dissident posting on answers, I was not contradicting anything about John 20: 23… Peace,:)Carlan

I don’t know about anyone else anywhere - but for me - before I was married the biggest issue was sexual sin. Then we decided to become celibate and it was plain old fashioned lust. Both were a bit embarassing but I am sure nothing the priest had not heard twenty million times before. Now, here’s the catch. Now that I am married it’s encouraged within certain bounds that are followed in my house - so by comparison nothing else is really that embarassing compared to telling a male virgin (or just chaste) priest that I had sex. And even that embarassment was more just the human side because I certainly was not embarassed when I was doing that. Now, the other part of it that one of the PPs wrote is I think one other thing that keeps people out of confession is that they know that the Priest will tell them their behavior was wrong and needs to be stopped - as opposed to the secular world.

Take for example a woman who uses birth control, she could probably get 9 out of 10 friends to tell her it is OK, but if she goes to confession she has to face that it is immoral. Therefore, if she has a conscience she will want to stop. That creates an issue for people who aren’t well catechized and/or don’t want to admit that it’s wrong.

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