Maybe it has been so long ago since you’ve been, and you simply feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. We know it is scary.
If Confession wasn’t so important, it wouldn’t feel like such a big deal. Maybe you have been thinking of going to Confession soon but you don’t know where to start. If so, we’re here to help.
How To Prepare For Confession
Doing a little bit of preparation beforehand can really help you feel more at ease. The ritual of confession is there to help us – rituals are things we do over and over in a formulaic way. There’s a good reason for this. There is comfort in ritual. If you need to, go online and find a site that will help you prepare. Our parish has examinations of conscience outside the confessional. Don’t be afraid to bring them with into the confessional. If you think you’re going to be nervous, write down your sins, do whatever you need to help you. Ultimately the ritual serves the purpose of helping you to be reconciled with Christ and His Church, so if you should feel panicky or suddenly forget everything, simply ask the priest for help. Not a problem!
One good thing to do before you go to confession is to make an Examination of Conscience. This is the process of prayerfully reflecting on what sins we need to confess in Confession itself. If we have any mortal sins, very grave sins, they must always be confessed. You may be aware of something in particular, or behaviors or patterns that you know are wrong and are holding you back from God. Always pray to the Holy Spirit to show you clearly what it is your need to say and how to say it. Sometimes things may not always be obvious to us or might be forgotten in the depths of time. Finally, remember here that God is always calling to us, waiting for us, making the first move to bring us back to Him. He doesn’t stop gently nudging us!
Worries and fears about confessing to a priest can be a very real block to going to confession. ‘What if I know him? Will he remember my sins? What if I have something terrible to say? What if I don’t have anything bad enough to say?’ Firstly, be assured, nothing you could say to a priest could shock him, no matter who you are or your age or state in life. Priests have honestly heard it all before. Don’t be ashamed to say the little things that you know are stopping you from having a close relationship with God.
If it’s been a long time that you’ve forgotten how to go, all you need to do is say to the priest, “Father, it’s been so long I don’t remember what to do nor do I even remember the Act of Contrition,” and the priest will take it from there.
No matter how well or not you know the priest, whether he gives you fantastic advice or just keeps it basic, remember that it is Christ you are confessing to. The priest is ‘in persona Christi’ which means he is in the person of Christ. The priest is the human channel of God’s mercy and forgiveness. The Sacrament still stands valid no matter the priest’s own weaknesses, flaws or lackluster Confessional advice.
“You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error: let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.”
The guilt of the most terrible things you have ever done is lifted from you. A relationship with God, which you may have thought was damaged beyond repair, is more than just mended again, it is completely restored. And through that, our own broken human relationships can begin to heal again. And all this is totally free. Don’t let fear, or your pride, get in the way of the amazing gift confession actually is.
Things I’ve heard about confession that are wrong
One person said that their mother told them that priests don’t have to go to confession, they can absolve themselves. Wrong! Priests, bishops and even the Pope goes to confession.
I should never go to my pastor for confession
You’re free to go to any priest you wish, but going to your pastor is actually ideal. You are going to the person whom God has placed in authority and responsibility for your salvation and growth in holiness.
If I actually told my sins to a priest, my confession would cause him to have a massive heart attack!
Believe me! You don’t have to be ordained very long before you’ve heard everything! There is nothing you can say that is going to shock a priest. What took all of your strength to say is probably just another typical day hearing confessions for the priest. Don’t be afraid! We’ve heard it all! And remember, priests are sinners to and go to confession.
God would never forgive me THAT
When the Lord Jesus was revealing the Divine Mercy to St. Faustina, the priest who was her confessor was having difficulty figuring out whether the apparitions she reported were real or fantasy, so as proof, he asked Faustina to ask Jesus to reveal to her what the priest’s last mortal sin was. When she asked Jesus “What was Father’s last mortal sin?” Jesus responded, “I don’t remember!” Jesus did not die on the cross to hold us forever accountable for our sins but rather to take them away and forget about them! So don’t be afraid to bring your sins to Jesus for forgiveness, no matter how serious they may be. He WILL forgive you!
“Okay, but what if I keep committing the same sin over and over?” Well, one thing a priest is never allowed to ask you is: “Will you promise me you will never commit that sin again?” He can’t ask that because you can’t promise that. All that you can promise is that you’ll try your best.
“But does God ever get tired of forgiving us? Does He ever say we’ve exhausted our supply of forgiveness? Will He ever say, ‘Hey! you’ve confessed this over and over and nothing changes! It’s time to bite the bullet and stop?’”
We might think He should – but He doesn’t! I find sometimes when I go to confession that the priest should say that to me, but he never does. God always forgives me, over and over and over, even if I don’t think He should. God has patience with me when I’ve lost patience with myself. That only tells me that God loves me even more than I love myself! Sometimes the hardest forgiveness there is to receive is not God’s but our own. If we’re afraid to go to confession, maybe it’s because we don’t feel we deserve to be forgiven. Even if you don’t think you’re worth forgiving, God does! Don’t be afraid. He is longing to forgive you – He died to forgive you – let Him!
God bless you,