(Closed) Going to confession

posted 8 years ago in Catholic
Post # 3
1310 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: December 2011

First of all, it’s AWESOME you are going to confession!!! Totally the right thing to do.

Secondly, don’t be scared!!! πŸ™‚ I have to go to Confession today, too, and I always get nervous, even though now I go 5-6 times a year. The thing to keep in mind is, the priest has heard it all before. He will not be shocked by what you tell him, or get angry. Priests ARE human but the vast majority will make sure to be extra kind and helpful for someone who hasn’t gone in a while. When I first went back to Confession it had been eight years! And Father was soooo nice! He even asked if I had any questions, at the end.

Practical tips:

1. I tend to write down my… ahem, “issues” that I need to discuss, on a post-it note… it’s not required but sometimes my mind goes blank when I actually get in the confessional. It relieves some anxiety knowing you don’t have to call to mind all that stuff – with me there is usually a long list πŸ™ of course make sure to rip it up into pieces after you’re done.

2. Maybe write down the Act of Contrition if you don’t remember it. There are no speciifc words you have to say – you could just say, “Lord, I’m sorry, please help me to do better next time,” but I like to have something memorized, although I guess for some people that makes it feel more mechanical. This one priest I sometimes go to has a paper with the words pinned to the curtain that seperates him from the person making the confession. So I just sit there and read it, very convenient.

3. Feel free to stay behind the screen/curtain/whatever divider thingy your church has. I have gone face-to-face with the priest exactly twice in my life, and it was fine, maybe a more spiritual experience, but usually I’m just too nervous and stay behind the screen. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. 

4. Just talk to Jesus. Confession is an encounter with God, the priest is just His representative, so it’s OK if you just address yourself to God, if you are used to and comfortable with talking outloud to Him. The priest will understand. But if you’re not used to that, it’s ok to talk directly to the priest, too.

5. Do an examination of conscience using the 10 commandments. Now you might think, hey I haven’t stolen, haven’t killed anybody or committed adultery – but it goes deeper than that. The sixth commandment – adultery – covers lusting after somebody in your heart for instance (different than feeling tingly for your husband of course). If you Google “examination of conscience” you will find some good guides.

6. Don’t feel ashamed of any sins – even tough ones – my toughest ones involve sex generally. This is why I usually stay behind the screen, because I just can’t talk about that in front of the priest, especially a priest I know well. Of course you should feel sorry, but remember that God is bigger than any sins. He already knows all about them, so don’t feel embarrassed to say them, He just wants you to acknowledge them out loud and face them head on. Don’t leave anything out, even if it makes you squirm, you’ll feel so much better if you don’t.

7. In the future consider making Confession a habit – the more frequently you do it, the easier it gets. My sister used to hate going, she got so nervous, but then she went in the convent, where they go EVERY WEEK… and now it’s the easiest thing in the world for her! No big deal. That was true for me, too – just remembering to stop by the church on Saturday afternoons every 4-6 weeks was enough to keep me going strong. I figure I do regular maintenance on my car, I should do regular spiritual maintenance too! πŸ™‚ Today it has been five months since my last confession and I am back to being a bundle of nerves.

Good luck πŸ™‚ And congratulations on BOTH getting married and going to confession!!!


Post # 4
232 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2010

Be honest and tell the priest that you haven’t gone to confession in a loooong time. Darling Husband and I went to confession the day before our wedding (very fresh start for us!) and the priest was my cousin…yes, my cousin. I was horrified at first but he was really nice about it, he said he doesn’t hold onto anything that is told to him, he just passes it on to God. When I told him it had probably been 10+ years since the last time I confessed he did something very easy for me…we went through the 10 Commandments and he would say each one and I would say whether or not I had “committed” anything against that one. A few he would get deeper into (ie. Thou shall not kill…abortion, birth control, etc) but it was very easy and I was quite relaxed.

Post # 5
464 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

Tell the priest it’s been a while- I find many of them to be very understanding about this! I’ll second not feeling bad or embarrased if you can help it- your priest has been doing this long enough that he’s likely heard far worse than you have to say!

I usually look up a good examination of conscience online first, if it’s been a while. Google that, and you can find lists of questions to ask yourself. Also, writing things down can be very helpful if you’re nervous about forgetting things or about not being brave enough to mention them (then they’re on your list, where you can’t ignore them as easily). However, if you’re going to do this make sure you DESTROY THE LIST when you’re done. The things you confess are personal, and are nobody else’s business- you don’t want to simply chuck them into your trash can where anyone can find them. Use a paper shredder, tear it up, or burn your list. If you don’t make a list and realize you’ve truly forgotten something later, don’t fret about it- the sin is forgiven if you honestly forgot (just not if you “forgot” to mention it on purpose).

Also, as Magdalena stated above, pray about it! Pray for a good confession, and pray when you’re finished.

Good luck! I always find that I feel a million times better, and much more ready to face whatever’s going on in my life, after I’ve gone to confession. I hope all goes well for you!

Post # 7
2867 posts
Sugar bee

Good for you!  I need to go as well.  I try to go several times a year and after missing Mass/and other mortal sins.  I write down my issues as well and I try to go to priests that I’m comfortable with and won’t make me cry (there’s one that makes me cry sometimes).  Also, I feel more comfortable with being “anonymous” than actually being in front of the priest.  I agree with bringing your own act of contrition, sometimes the confessional doesn’t have one.  My suggestion is to get there early, pray and think over your sins one more time before you go in.  Definitely tell Him that it’s been a while.

Post # 8
2867 posts
Sugar bee

Oh and try to be conversational and reply to the priest as much as possible.  For me that helps, for a long time I thought I was supposed to be silent and not really engage with the priest.  I eventually started speaking up and that’s when things really help the most.

Post # 10
1025 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

I really wanted to go to confession the day before our wedding, but I didn’t. It got hectic to tear myself away. I suppose I could have asked my priest to do confession before the rehearsal but I didn’t, because I didn’t want him to be thinking about my sins on my wedding day! (Okay, I realize that’s silly…I think I just didn’t want to admit that we had already had sex to the priest who was going to marry us). Also, I KNEW if I went my mom would say “why are you going to confession?” 

I used to go in college but haven’t been since. The last time I went I confessed that I missed mass sometimes (like once a semester). The priest lectured me about it! I really wanted to stop him and say “Obviously I realize its a sin, or I wouldn’t have confessed it!!”

I still feel guilty about not going….

Post # 11
2867 posts
Sugar bee

@jedeve:  I have a difficult time going to confession when there’s a certain priest in the confessional.  The last time I confessed to him, he brought me to tears and questioned if I was sincerely apologetic.  I was so surprised!  I was sincere and he lectured me on how I need to change (which was true).  He made the comment towards the end “well you must be contrite since you’re here” but the way he said it made me feel so awful.  I’ve since tried to avoid him as much as possible.  I don’t know if he was having a bad day or not, seemed a bit out of character for him.

Post # 12
968 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2011

@luli29: Wonderful!! I’m so glad that the priest made it easy for you. πŸ™‚

I find that I make it to confession once about every couple years or so…definitely not as often as I should. It is something that I think about and want to work on. I do agree that I feel better and ready to start fresh each time after I’ve gone.

@Magdalena: That was such a great breakdown of tips! I’m going to refer back to them myself. Thanks for posting!

Post # 13
350 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: January 1991

@beekiss2: You can try going to a different parish to confess – there’s nothing wrong with that.  There’s no requirement to go to your parish or to a specific priest to confess.  Sometimes it’s helpful if you’re struggling with an addiction because the priest knows your history, but it’s not required at all.

Personally, I have a parish between where I live and where I work that I stop at for confession after work.  I use the divider and don’t know the priest (and the priest doesn’t know me). 



Post # 14
6248 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 1900

I bet it was such a relief to get things off your chest before the big day. πŸ™‚

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