Confession after 10 years

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JCPhoenix

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Some time ago I finally attended Confession after 10 years…I had moved away from the Church (I was Catholic, but not practicing), and I had realized that I needed to reconcile myself again. I had been wanting to go to Confession for a long period of time…at least 3 years prior, but I was terrified. So one day I resolutely determined that I would go to confession. I went to a Penance Mass at a church I’d never attended before…mostly because the mass fit my schedule. It was a Penance service with individual confessions at the end, and as I stood in line I couldn’t keep from crying. They’d passed out a sheet listing numerous venial and mortal sinse, asking for an inventory…all for self reflection.

I realized that 10 years had built up a HUGE crust of sinful behavior and I had already begun to change my life for the better, but I really was sure that the priest hearing my confession would be shocked at what I had to say.

He noticed my tears immediately (how could he not?) and asked me what was wrong. I told him it had been 10 years and that I was a horrible human being. I cited the inventory they’d passed out and he told me that it was OK to make a general confession. I’m not sure he heard all of what I said to him so ever since then I have felt that I have not truely been absolved.

Now I’m actually in that same boat again, altought not so long, this time. I have made major progress in my reconciliation and penance and I have made great strides in changing my life. But I NEED to go to confession but every time I consider it I begin to cry and I think my emotion is getting in the way…I am truely sorry for my sins and literally try every day to overcome them, but this is keeping me from the sacrament…how do I overcome this hurdle and get myself to Confession. I am already planning to go next weekend, but I’m terrified I will chicken out and stay home.

Does anyone have any advice? Has anyone had any similar experiences? If the priest didn’t hear the sin I confessed, was it still forgiven?
 
I went back to Confession after 20+ years. When I mentioned the time since my last confession, Father took over and took me through a list of questions. I mostly only had to say “yes” or “no” and to state the number of times. Every once in a while, he asked a clarifying question.

Several people I know have had the same experience. Just tell the priest that since it has been a long time, could he please help you.

Also, at least for me, it was very helpful to go to confession with a traditional screen. I just closed my eyes and tried to focus on Father’s voice rather than the “tape” I had running through my head.

Hope this helps. The Holy Spirit will help you through it.
 
Don’t worry about whether the priest heard each sin you listed or properly understood what you were trying to say. If such things could call a confession into doubt, no one could be sure of absolution. You met the requirements at your end, and the priest, listening to you and giving you absolution, met the requirements at his end. That concludes the matter.

Do NOT bring up again the sins you confessed last time. If you committed a particular sin again since that confession, then of course mention it. But don’t mention sins that occurred prior to the last confession and that you brought up during it. Those are gone. Leave them alone.

Whenever you have been away from confession for a long time, it’s good to throw everything into the hands of the priest by asking him to lead you through the sacrament. (Of course, you will have made an examination of conscience before entering the confessional.)

Try to get in the habit of going to confession once a month, even if you have trouble thinking up a long enough list of sins to make it “worthwhile” for you to use the priest’s time. As you now know, the longer you wait, the harder it is to return.
 
Last year I too went to confession for the first time in about 8-10 years. I was horrified at the thought.

I knew I had to do it and I had no other choice because I was getting married in the church. Confession was a must since I was going to be recieving communion.

For me, I just bit the bullet and went in. I prayed fervently before the day came asking for help from the Holy Spirit and my patron saints. Have a prayer book handy? I take mine along with me and pray while waiting in line.

Is there a possibilty you could forget what you want to confess? Sometimes I have had that happen to me because I get so nervous. So what I do is make a list. I upload my list to my palm pilot and take that with me too. What’s nice about this is I can erase it when I’m done so no one can find it. 😃
 
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JCPhoenix:
I’m not sure he heard all of what I said to him so ever since then I have felt that I have not truely been absolved.

Now I’m actually in that same boat again, altought not so long, this time. I have made major progress in my reconciliation and penance and I have made great strides in changing my life. But I NEED to go to confession but every time I consider it I begin to cry and I think my emotion is getting in the way…I am truely sorry for my sins and literally try every day to overcome them, but this is keeping me from the sacrament…how do I overcome this hurdle and get myself to Confession. I am already planning to go next weekend, but I’m terrified I will chicken out and stay home.

Does anyone have any advice? Has anyone had any similar experiences? If the priest didn’t hear the sin I confessed, was it still forgiven?
Priests are people, too. I’ve had various experiences, from where I wasn’t sure the priest really heard what I said, to where I think he was basically in a hurry and wanted to get me on my way, when I really wanted to talk about a few things. When I’d been away from confession for a while, one told me it was only necessary to go once a year **if **you were in a state of mortal sin.

What I can tell you is that the priest is empowered to forgive your sins by God, through the very words of the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ. Whether or not he gives you the counseling you need to feel good about it is another matter. You’ve probably already asked God for forgiveness. You’ve thought about it. You are willing to humble yourself by telling your sins to a priest. By all means GO, and receive the assurance of forgiveness.
 
It’s your contrition, resolve to correct your behavior and your intention to make a good confession (not the priests hearing) that counts. If you did that, don’t let the Evil One steal your peace , because he will try. Since you realize your need to go again that question is mute. Pray first to the Holy Spirit to help you make a good confession. I remember a time when my daughter was young and afraid to go to confession. She told me so and I told her to pray for courage. She immediately knelt down, blessed herself with the sign of the Cross, got right back up and went into the confessional. I was overwhelmed. God is good and we’re still little in his eyes.

Making a good confession does mean knowing our sins and so a list like the previous one you received is a good starting place. They usually follow the 10 commandments and there are small pamphets available in Catholic bookstores and probably online that can help. Priests are prepared to help us make a general confession if it’s been a very long time or if it just seems a daunting task. Tears and emotion may or may not enter in, they certainly won’t hurt. They just are, so plow on through. Once you do go and I pray you do, it would probably be good to resolve to go more often. I find that going to confession every few weeks helps enormously. It keeps my goal and my soul before my eyes. Self knowledge is a true gift of God. St. Faustina Kowalska wrote:

**O Jesus, You know how weak I am; be then ever with me; guide my actions and my whole being, You who are my very best Teacher! Truly, Jesus, I become frightened when I look at my own misery,but at the same time I am reassured by Your unfathomable mercy, which exceeds my misery by the measure of all eternity. This disposition of soul clothes me in Your power. O joy that flows from the knowledge of one’s self! O unchanging Truth, Your constancy is everlasting! **
 
JCPhoenix,

If you are interested, I have a document that my church uses. Being Byzantine you may want to see a different perspective on the subject. After reading this, it sure helped me.
Send me your e mail and tell me that you want this document. I’d put it on here, but it is quite large.

Edwin
 
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Edwin1961:
JCPhoenix,

If you are interested, I have a document that my church uses. Being Byzantine you may want to see a different perspective on the subject. After reading this, it sure helped me.
Send me your e mail and tell me that you want this document. I’d put it on here, but it is quite large.

Edwin
Sure, I would love to see it, even if it is Byzantine…I’m sure the examination of conscience is similar. You can try me at JCPhoenix@catholicexchange.com. I have another main e-mail if that doesn’t work (My “real” e-mail has a virus so I"m afaid to use it at all).

Thanks to everyone for your responses, you have no idea how helpful you’ve been. I really hope to go but I have stupid fears such as: I don’t know the where the confessional is in my new church; I fear what the priest will think of me in the new church…and I realize this is pride…etc.

Most of my fears are really stupid and I think the biggest one is my emotion. I remember in college going to Mass with a couple of friends. I heard the song, “Here I am, Lord” and I couldn’t stop crying. I frequently find myself in tears at Mass, and try desperately to hide them. I go to Mass alone as I don’t know many people in the area and once I do meet them, I sure don’t want to be known as the woman who cries all the time!

I’ve read many posts throughout the site and I’ve seen that emotion is a common response in the presence of Christ, so I know I shouldn’t be embarassed and I know my tears are very real and contrite…but just the same, if they get between me and my desire to become reconciled with Jesus, then they are something detrimental and I have to find a way to overcome them.

I really appreciate everyone’s comments! Thank you!
 
I get emotional every time im in confession. I cried when i told a priest I had premaritial sex, another time when i confessed I looked upon women with lust, and almost every time when I say i dont honor my father.(who is a recovering alcholic who slips sometimes.) And i feel im a burden on my priest but he reassures me and comforts me.
 
I had only been away from confession for 2 years, but I cried like a baby too last week, confessing sins that I just discovered were mortal. (My Catholic education was seriously lacking!) And, like you, I felt that the priest didn’t hear everything I said, but I’m resolved to do some serious penance and together with the absolution, I’m feeling way better now.
P.S. The priests need our prayers, they are so few, so overwhelmed, and with so little support from much of society.
👍
 
I go to Confession at least once a month, and there have been times when I have just sobbed in the confessional. The important thing, and it’s already been mentioned here, is that you received absolution. Your obedience to the priest, as far as penance goes, is the important thing.

Don’t stay away from the Sacrament. Sometimes it’s very hard to prepare, but it feels so good to come out with a clean slate.

My pastor loves reeling in what he calls the “big fish.” The people who haven’t been to confession for years. It fills him with hope. I hope you have a priest like him you can go to.

God bless.
 
This is the most wonderful thread!

I, too, stayed away from confession. I had a bad experience when I was about 12, and didn’t make a good private confession for 30 years. I had to make three or four confessions before I felt I had confessed everything, but I am sure that God knew that I did intend to confess everything the first time – I just needed to say everything out loud.

I have the most wonderful confessor (who celebrated 40 years as a priest yesterday!) and he is patient and loving and encouraging.

What a wonderful gift we Catholics have in the sacrament of confession!

'thann
 
Just remember there is no sin greater than Gods ability to forgive.
 
God bless you all for your responses! You have no idea (or maybe you do!) how much strength your own stories lend me as I prepare to go to confession again.
 
It was almost 30 years since my last confession and I was really scared. I had to tell several friends that I was going to go, to keep myself from not going.
When I got there I almost fainted because it was face to face! I thought there was a choice, but not this time. Somehow I made it to the “cry room” that doubled for a confessional and stammered into my confession. Father was very good, he sat quietly while I tried to get everything out. I finally told him that I knew that I had committed every sin that was possible to commit over the 30 years I was gone from the church. I couldn’t stop crying, I was so afraid that I wouldn’t be forgiven.
I never knew forgiveness and acceptance would be so wonderful.
Please go, the first time I received communion after my confession all I could saw was thank You Jesus.

maggiec
 
This is my first post and am excited to be doing so…

I too, was away from confession for about 25 years, about six months ago I started saying the Rosary daily and have experienced a total turnaround in my sprititual life. In saying the Rosary for about a month I felt something pulling me toward confession, something I was also dead set against. In my first confession I was extremely nervous not knowing if things changed not to mention all the sins I needed to tell.

The bottom line is that my rosary the day before the confession was for the strength and courage to make a good confession. Being so scared the only thing I could ask for was for the Blessed Mother to be there with me. The thing is, when I went I felt as if the Blessed Mother was there holding my hand just like the wonderful Mother that she is. I now go to confession monthly and in the last six months have been to confession more than in my whole life up until then.
 
Think of it this way…Tears can be a “gift”…In fact, certain saints have spoken of the “gift of tears”…

I’m a crier too…So many things can bring me to tears. The births of my grandsons, music, being present for the Eucharist, parades, thoughts of my Mom (she died four years ago)…Strong anger can do it too…Tears seem to be a part of my makeup…and that’s Ok, because that is how God created me…If anyone here has taken the Myers-Briggs…I am a very strong INFP…I know that I am inclined to make decisions based on how I “feel”, so I am doubly careful to get the facts, so my decisiona will be informed ones…It’s tought to be an emotional person, because the world isn’t really made for us…But, it can be rewarding too…

On the subject of going to confession…I think it is hard for most of us. I went in April, with full intentions of going once a month, but have not been back since. So…Your post has helped me decide to GO…My soul needs it…
 
Father Larry Richards, a priest in the diocese of Erie, PA. has some excellent tapes that can be ordered for free from www.catholicity.com. He has one specifically titled “Confession.” This may be a help to you or anyone who needs a “nudge” to make the sacrament a regular routine in our lives as we grow in holiness. For those that sincerely confess their sins in the sacrament, God pours out his grace for us to overcome temptations and avoid near ocassions of sin. As far as crying, I’ve experienced that. I attribute that to tears of both repentence and joy. Sorrow for my sins in offending our Loving Father, Son and Holy Spirit and joy in knowing that he washes me clean in the Blood of the Lamb.
 
I listened to Fr Richards tape, its awsome! I even thought of calling him to see if he’d hear my confession over the phone)!

Isn’t forgiveness grand. Praise be to Jesus.

maggiec
 
**
On the subject of going to confession…I think it is hard for most of us. I went in April, with full intentions of going once a month, but have not been back since. So…Your post has helped me decide to GO…My soul needs it…
**

All of our souls need it. Actually, to gain a plenary indulgence for souls in purgatory it is necessary to confess at least every two weeks. This will help you to stay away from sinful behavior and keep venial sins from turning into mortal sins. :clapping: God Bless
 
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