Monday, May 11, 2015

A couple of alternatives for confession

Part of me hesitates to write this because some already fear confession, and so me pointing out a suggestion to keep in mind will only make them more nervous.

HOWEVER, I feel that the benefit to those who go to confession will far outweigh the negatives


There are two ways to confess the same sin:

1) So I talked with my cousin Stephanie the other day and she was telling me about the trouble that she's having with her kids and I know that she struggles with her kids and I tried to be Christ like to her and listen to her problems and then my spouse came home and he was stressed out from a busy day of work and he hit his head coming into the house and the dog was barking and then the kids were running around and the house was a mess and I hadn't made dinner yet and then my neighbor came over and she needed to borrow a couple of eggs and then I opened the fridge and got some out, but I dropped two of them on the floor.  When my six year old came in and asked for help on his homework, I muttered under my breath but I ultimately sat down and helped him.  I did end up yelling at my husband because he didn't help with dinner, so I guess I'd like to confess being impatient.


2) I'd like to confess the sin of impatience


Sometimes people talk because they are nervous, and that's totally understandable

I write this not to complain, but because there are a couple of realities to keep in mind

1) usually someone else is waiting to go to confession.  If everyone rambles, then every confession is 10 minutes longer and that means that fewer people are able to go to confession

2) ALSO, and this is really why I write, when a person rambles in the confessional about every sin, I have no idea which sin they really struggle with, and thus I have no idea on what sin to offer feedback to them about.  When every sin is 4 minutes, although I'd like to offer feedback, I have no idea where the particular struggles are for a person.


A confession that will truly help a person the most, in my opinion, is something like this

Father, I'd like to confess the following sins
I've been greedy the past few weeks
I've been overly prideful
I've been short with my wife and kids...
And Father, the sin I'd really like some feedback on is ___________ and here's just a brief explanation of the situation

Maybe there aren't any sins that a person needs feedback on that week, and that's obviously great
Maybe there are two or three

But... if a person rambles on about each sin, there's no real way for the priest to know what to do with that.

It is the Year of Mercy, and I pray that everyone grows in devotion to this great sacrament!  If you haven't been in a while, come home and be freed of your burdens!

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  1. This is great Father and it took me a while to get this...mainly because my first confession wasn't until I was 33, and no one told me how to go to confession. The only advice I was given was to just tell the priest my kidding.

    What has helped tremendously, and I do it almost every time I go to confession, is to write everything down. When I do that, it helps me focus. When I am focused, I can confess as you suggest and then the confessor can ask for clarification if needed.

    I have also taught this method to my RE students and parents and it has helped them a lot and then being able to tear that sheet of paper up into little pieces after makes them feel better. I love seeing the smile on people's faces when they leave the confessional (something the priests do not get to see) and know they have made a good confession.

    1. Great point. People often wonder if they can write their sins out (or use an app to keep track of their sins) as they do an examination of conscience, and the answer is YES, absolutely that is okay!

      It isn't about making sure you get every sin right, and if you miss one God will kill you, it is about wanting to take a moment to reflect on our sins before stepping in, and then also discussing a plan of attack with a priest vs. trying to do it all off of memory, which usually only makes people MORE afraid.

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. Thank you Fr. for the great advice. I understand the 'rambling' part and thank you for pointing out what that can cause. I certainly want to make the experience as simple as possible and more importantly not confusing to the Confessor. PRAISE GOD ANYWAY!!! God Bless

  3. Thanks. No one ever told me how to go to Confession and I've been stumbling through it for years. This was hugely helpful.