Skip to main content

Confession and Anonymity

Lately, I’ve run across several articles dealing with confession. I have grown to appreciate this sacrament in the last few years. Yet, I still feel like I have a long ways to go to get a really mature handle on confession. I definitely see the benefit of frequent confessions. However, I have heard over and over it is a good idea to find one priest to be your primary confessor. This spiritual mentor will have a memory of your past confessions and can better guide you towards holiness. Intellectually, that makes perfect sense. But am still behind the screen and anonymous. I am actually quite relieved that the priest is not keenly aware that the sins I am confessing are remarkably similar to the batch I confessed just six weeks ago.

I do know that I really enjoyed going to our previous pastor for confession. When he arrived at our parish his tone from the pulpit could be somewhat scolding. For that reason I avoided his line during confession. However, there came a time when it would be painfully obvious that I was avoiding his line so I took a chance. My goodness! He was marvelous in the confessional. You could just feel the love and compassion emanating from him. He was a bundle of absolute joy over being able to offer God’s forgiveness. From then on I sought him out for confession. Still, I stayed behind the screen.

Another good confessor was a parochial vicar where I sometimes attend daily Mass. This relatively young priest would always stay and say the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet after Mass. Then he would offer to hear confessions. I always took advantage of this when I was there. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a schedule to know when he was saying Mass so finding him in the confessional was hit or miss. He has since been transferred so I am once again without a favorite confessor.

I know that some people are very comfortable with the face-to-face mode of confession. I also know that theoretically there should be no problem with having the parish priest with whom I work with on multiple projects, hear my confession face to face. But I am just not there yet. I like my anonymity. Behind the screen it is easier to just stay on topic, cover the sins, formulate a plan for avoiding sin, receive my penance and absolution and move on. Face to face and I would be tempted to turn it into a gab session with more venting and less repenting.

Does anyone have any experience with utilizing a regular confessor who truly knows you, both inside and outside of the confessional? I would love to hear your perspective.


Milehimama said…
Heh. The first time I went to confession at my new parish, the priest asked me how our move went and how one of the sick children was doing. The screen doesn't really help when NO ONE goes to confession and you're the only one in line! LOL
mallys said…
I have a regular confessor who was my pastor in my previous parish (we moved across town, so it is not far). I find it helpful not to have to continually tell the backstory which helps him to help me find more loving and charitable ways of dealing with the mental illness and alcoholism in my family members (which are occasions of sin to me) and help me to find the root sins of my uncharitable actions. I go face to face because he also helps me to deepen my prayer life.

I have gone to many different priests over the years, and have come to this process for myself. I don't have a spiritual director, but I find that having a regular confessor helps in this area as well.

During retreats, etc. I take advantage of offered confession, so it's not that I will only go to my regular confessor. I also find that every other week confession works for me, keeps my caustic tongue more in check (not in cheek...)
Sarah said…
I go face-to-face (perhaps this is because I'm a relatively new convert?) to the same priest, and have for the last five years that I have been Catholic. Just recently, I have been going more frequently, and it has made a HUGE difference in my life on ALL aspects.

Going face-to-face helps me feel the compassion from the priest. It also helps me to see that he isn't thinking "WHAT?!?!? You did WHAT?!?!" Nope, even with the biggies, the things that are, well, embarrassing to confess. The things that I wouldn't tell ANYONE ELSE, the skeletons in the spiritual closet. That's when I feel the gentleness of him as the confessor and when I hear Jesus speaking through him and I most appreciate the sacramental nature of confession.

Going more frequently (I've been shooting for 4-6 weeks) is something I just started in the last few months. What I have found is that instead of walking in with a list of the top ten things I can remember (I was averaging 6 months or more before), I walk in with one thing that needs addressed, and I can think/discuss about how I have been able, with God's grace, to address what I confessed last time. (Or not, as the case may be) Last time I went, I told Father, a little apologetically, "I only have one thing to confess, Father, but it's giving me a really hard time - I can't beat this on my own!" He replied that confession is really better in his opinion when the Holy Spirit has a chance to convict us about one thing, because in our human nature, it is easier to deal with one thing at a time.

Now that I've written the equivalent of a post in your combox, I'll shut up. I think you have inspired me to come up with something for my blog though. Confession is something I have always struggled with, even though I KNOW the facts and why it's so good and all of that. The reality is that it's HARD and that Satan attacks it because it is so very vital and important.

Scott Hahn's book Lord Have Mercy is a great resource. But I'm sure you've read it. It took me about two years after reading it to implement much of what he advises. (I am a slow, slow learner.)
Anonymous said…
i go to anonymous sacramental Confession..but meet regularly with my spiritual director who is a Priest...
Rosemary Bogdan said…
I go primarily to two priests who both know me well. But I also go to other priests from time to time, when I need to go and they are the ones available. I don't think that face-to-face is any better than behind the screen. Just a personal preference.
Michelle said…
I've had a regular confessor for three years and go face to face. I was nervous at first especially since he knows my family well. Outside of the confessional, my confessor never made me feel awkward or uncomfortable. I receive the sacrament of reconciliation twice a month.

My spiritual director recommended I keep my regular confessor. I've noticed going to confession more frequently has helped me in advancing in virtues.
Anonymous said…
I don't believe in confession I only got once a year to make my parents happy. My favorite priest was transferred to BC so I am not going to go to confession even once a year. Everytime I have gone and said that I dissagree with the church, with parents, I got the same you can't make everyone happy, everyone has their own values and opinions, nobody's perfect. What's the point of going to confession if this what I get every year.

Popular posts from this blog

Parent Letter from a Catechist

I am going to be teaching seventh grade CCD this year. We do most of the preparation for confirmation during this year since Confirmation is usually scheduled for the fall of the eighth grade year.I have composed a letter to the parents to try and keep them active in their children's religious education. I thought I would post it here and get your feedback before I send it out in a couple of weeks.

I am privileged to be your child’s seventh grade CCD teacher for the 2006-2007 school year. This is a very important year. We will focus on your child’s preparation for confirmation. Of course, you have already been preparing your child for this sacrament for many years. You are the primary catechist for your child. You show how important your Faith is by making Mass attendance a top priority and by family prayer.

Confirmation is one of the Sacraments of Initiation. It is a beginning. It is not a graduation. This year we will work to solidify the foundation of your child’s Catholic Faith.…

Dispelling the Myth of the Travel Dispensation

One of the fun things about having a site meter on my blog is I can see which posts garner the most attention. I can also see how people find my blog. One of the most read posts from my two years of blogging is this one that discusses finding Mass while traveling. I would like to think this post is so popular because it is so well written. The truth of the matter is that it generates so much traffic because I use the words “travel dispensation for Mass”—as in “There is no such thing as a travel dispensation for Mass.” I would guess that nearly a dozen times every week, someone googles “travel dispensation for Mass” and finds my blog. I wonder how many of these folks are poor souls trying to assuage their Catholic guilt with evidence of a justification for missing Mass while on the road.

I know that when I tell my seventh grade CCD students that attending Mass every Sunday is a commandment (one of the top ten!) and not just a pretty good idea they are amazed. Missing Mass has become so …

United Breaks Guitars

This guy is really talented and what a creative way to get your message across. I think he captured the "indifferent employee" perfectly. They don't just work for airlines. I think I ran into them at Walmart on Friday!