I am preparing right now for my first confession on Saturday and was wondering about how one needs to confess sexual sins. I have some sexual sins in my past that I am pretty repulsed by now and I really don’t want to be too graphic with my confession.
Lets just say that I am extremely stressed over confessing these sins and how to approach it. I’m very afraid that my priest will know who I am because of our relatively small group and the fact that we are all going at the same time.
I suppose I could go to a penance service and just pick a random priest that will never see me again but that feels like I’m cheating the sacrament itself by satisfying my pride.
My advice would be to say just that to your confessor and let him guide you. This is hugely tough. I’ve been there. But the rewards are extraordinary—to be completely released from the prison of that sin and repulsion.
It’s meant to be tough, because tough means you mean it. Screw your courage to the sticking post and remember how much God loves you!
I’m doing my first confession on Saturday too. In my area I’m the only one in RCIA so it’s obvious that my priest will know it’s me so I’ve chosen to just do a face to face confession (we have the option of face to face or through a screen at our parish).
I also have some pretty yukky stuff to confess so what I did was I sat here the other night with an examination of conscious and wrote out a list of sins I’ve committed. Anytime before I go on Saturday that I remember something else I’m adding it to the list.
When I do my confession I’m going to read down my list and if my priest wants more details he can stop me and ask. I was kind of general with most stuff, mainly because I’m thinking of how much time my confession may take. I have 2 1/2 pages of stuff to read though (yuk).
As for the sexual stuff I wrote those out general like “I entertained impure thoughts” & “I performed impure acts with others (fornication)” I figure if my priest wants details he’ll ask, but this kind of just says what happened without the details, in a general sort of way.
Oh, and something else I was told, most priests hear so many confessions (esp over Lent) that after they leave the confessional they forget it. Also, I’m sure they have heard much worse than what you or I are about to confess.
Try the list like I’m doing, it may help.
I am in somewhat the same situation. Though I am a lapsed Catholic on my way home. I was thinking of going to a nearby parish because as soon as I say “It’s been 40 years since my last confession” he’s going to know who it is. (We’ve been meeting with him and the RCIA director with private lessons) Also I was directed to a site that had a list of sins, and some of them were pretty specific sexually speaking. Because of that I thought that I had to be specific in the telling of them, not just in generalities. There are some other things that are truely shocking which I know he has not heard before hence my wanting to go somewhere where I won’t have to look them in the eye later. So really, how specific need I be?
rule for confession: state your sins by kind and number (or frequency)
just use the commonly accepted English term for the sin and estimate how long or how frequently it was done, and how long ago if this is a general confession. Be sure to tell the priest up front this is your first confession and will cover x years. Say only the grave or mortal sins. If the priest needs more detail he will ask.
don’t rely on euphemisms like “impure acts” just say the word, the priest is an adult, has had moral theology courses and years of experience, and is unlikely to hear from you anything he has not heard before.
imagine you are seeing your doctor for healing, you list all your symptoms, but also all behaviors that might contribute to your symptoms, like smoking, and it is no help to omit something embarrassing if you really want help.
the priest will not look at you knowingly, or wink, or remember or refer to your confession at all if you see him afterward.
Remember, just about everyone has committed sexual sins. The priest has definitely heard it all before and not only that, hears it repeatedly. He probably hears it from at least one penitent every time he hears confessions. So, just say it and move on to the next item on your list.
I’ve been there and have done that, but believe me, Jesus is the fountain of Mercy, think of your confessor as Jesus, put your embarassment aside, remember it’s better to make a good confession rather than concealing a grievious sin which will further compound your situation, ever heard of SACRILEGE?..There is no sin greater than God’s mercy, even Judas would have been forgiven if he repented for betraying Jesus…
I wasn’t thinking of concealing any sin. I printed out the LONG list of sins and was highlighting everything that applied. I simply don’t think I could look our priest in the eye if I thought he knew who confessed these awful things
I’ll include you in my prayers, as I always challenge myself, if the saints can do it, why can’t we? There were some saints who formerly led a life just like me, and are trying hard to reach that state of Grace…
Have no fear - he not only will have heard these things in the past at some point, he will likely hear them more than twice during that same day - and he isn’t going to be able to remember who confessed what, by the end of it.
Most sexual sins have one-word names. It’s easier just to say the word than to skirt the issue with euphemisms, and it takes less time. Fornication, masturbation, adultery, oral sex, sexual fantasies, pornography. They’ve heard it all before.
So to be clear, is anyone claiming its a sin to use euphemisms? :shrug:
I prefer it, and to claim Im skirting issues or sins is to doubt the sincerity of my confession, which only God can judge. My priest doesnt seem to mind, I dont mind and considering the Lord’s attitude in dealing with the woman how was caught in adultery, I dont think He does either?
It’s not a sin to use a euphemism, as long as it doesn’t obfuscate the sin. The purpose of confession, after all, is to confess our sins, not cloak them. To say, for example, "I was impure with my girlfriend, could mean anything from touching to intercourse. I think it’s better to be blunt and specific rather than euphemistic and unspecific. And Jesus knew exactly the sin of the woman at the well. It was adultery.
Well, it’s still a little unclear to me, but I’m not a priest hearing confessions! I’d be thinking–what does that mean?–adultery with a married man? Fornication? Oral sex? Emotional affair? Heavy petting?
Whether you confess by saying “impure acts” or “copped a feel” , the point is that you confess the sin. Jesus is the one you are confessing to, and He already knows the details. If the priest needs clarification, he’ll ask. For some people, using the more clear terminology is so terrifying, it can be a major obstacle to going to confession. If using a eupahmism is what it takes to get you into the confessional, then I say go for it!
I can understand your point. If I were a priest, and someone confessed merely to having an “impure relationship” with a member of the opposite sex, I really wouldn’t know what they did. Could be anything from minor to major. Consequently, I could not offer any particular spiritual advice on avoiding the sin. I’d probably just give absolution, figuring that both God and the penitent knew what the sin actually was, and wouldn’t bother to inquire further, because there was a line of people waiting.
Still, the point of confession is to say what we actually did–to a priest, who acts in persona Christi. The fact that one is afraid to say the actual word is merely indicative of the fact that they acknowledge its sinfulness. It’s more beneficial to the penitent to just state the sin–“I had sex with a married man,” or “I had sex with my boyfriend twice a week,” than to speak in circuitous language. Just lay the burden on the priest. He doesn’t need to know details. But he ought to know what the sin actually was, before giving absolution.
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