I shall put it on my list…

Spare a thought for my husband. He’s not yet 100% comfortable in terms of making his confession in the Catholic Church (mind you are any of us ever entirely ‘comfortable’) and tonight went to his first ever service of reconciliation, prior to Easter.

I have been granted permission to blog about this, given that it was not at our local parish church or within our local cluster due to work commitments.

Mac addict that he is, he had dutifully downloaded the new confession app and was using it as a prompt whereupon the priest spied it and told him to put it away, “you don’t need a list, if you can’t remember it then it doesn’t matter, Jesus forgives all”. Whilst the priest was undoubtedly trying to be pastoral, being in his late 60s, early 70s and of the liberal school, it left my poor husband rather flummoxed, particularly when it came to saying the Act of Contrition which he has not yet memorised and needs an aide memoire, (there were no helpful cards), hence he stumbled through it rather awkwardly whilst receiving absolution.

He came away feeling that it wasn’t the most personally satisfying experience and disempowered and hindered by the priest in making his confession. He didn’t feel at an emotional level that he’d made his confession properly. On an intellectual level he knows full well that he made a confession, that he has received the sacrament and one needs to be careful not to apply a sentiment that sacraments are all about what you get out of them, but certainly the feeling of liberation following confession is an important aspect for the penitent, particularly if one has spent some time preparing.

On the plus side, at least it has prompted him that he needs to sort out a regular confessor/spiritual director at the earliest possible opportunity.

I’m wondering whether or not I’ll be allowed to use my app tomorrow; with my pregnancy hormones I can’t remember where I’ve put things five minutes previously, perhaps this ban on lists or aide memoires is a cunning ploy to get us going more often?

10 thoughts on “I shall put it on my list…

  1. What, he went into confession with an iWotsit?

    For some reason that is very funny πŸ˜€

    I used to jot down a list on a scrap of paper, in tiny handwriting and a sort of code in case I lost it. And then eat it, just in case, when leaving the church.

  2. It is funny, how as adults we are almost admonished for bringing our ‘shopping list’ of sins to confession. And yet my son who took his first confession just a few weeks ago, was praised by our priest for bringing his little list, as it showed he had thought seriously when examining his conscience. πŸ™‚

    1. I wriggle out of examinations of conscience so cunningly not even I notice I am doing it. I also have less mental discipline than a joint-smoking goldfish, and writing things down helps me think straight for more than forty seconds in a row πŸ™‚

  3. I did my first confession last week. As an Anglican, I had avoided it, because I could. Joining the catholic church doesn’t give such “freedom”. The local priest provided cards for us, as did the person taking the children for their preparation and my husband who used ones based on cards from our old parish- so we were spoilt for choice.

    I found the preparation very hard. Looking at the truth of myself isn’t always easy- especially in the run up to Easter. However, afterwards I felt wonderful- maybe it was the gentleness and kindness of the priest or maybe just the reality of getting it off my chest.

    I was left wondering why I had never done it before.

  4. Well, I was away from the Church for a long time, and I finally was forced (by the grace of God working on my conscience) to make a big confession on my way back into communion. Many great graces flowed from that, and I thank God I did it.

    After, I also found I kept remembering other things that I should have confessed, but I also knew I already was forgiven for, since there was really no question of my sincerity and intent in the confession.

    But I proceeded to confess them anyway, as they occured to me. It’s perfectly licit, and there are two ways that are salutary:

    1) You can explain the circumstances (I hadn’t confessed in a long time, and while I went last week, I forgot to mention X, Y, and Z, and would like to confess those now, plus (whatever else has come up this week)).

    2) Secondly, in a more general way, you can do the regular: Bless me father, it’s been X weeks since my last confession. X, Y, Z, “and for all the sins of my previous life, especially , I am heartily sorry.”

    Truthfully, it’s better to get it all out in the open early, sort of like draining pus, just get it all out of your body.

    Now, get one or two good examinations of conscience, maybe one based on the 10 commandments, one based on the moral virtues. Any of those things will help remind you of other things you should have done (sins of omission).

    My best recommendation (I didn’t quite do this, but I wish I did) is to keep going to confession every week for like a month until the Holy Spirit has prompted you enough that you’ve run out of serious stuff to confess, then after that, go:

    a) whenever your conscience convicts you of something moderately serious. Just get in the box. You don’t need to squirm out of confession because you aren’t certain some thing is mortal versus venial – if it’s serious, just go.

    b) semi-regularly, between two weeks and a month maybe to keep in practice. Do an examination and, while not squirming too much that you aren’t perfect and don’t do everything right every time, and despite the fact that in run-of-the-mill life, our sins are more due to “I’m an idiot” than due to “I’m inclined to grave evil” – still just go.

    Remember, you don’t have to confess _only_ mortal sins – you can and should confess the bigger of the lesser things too, and especially omissions you intend to do better on, and maybe things you’re specifically “working on”, in order to gain the graces and merit more graces.

    Without revealing too much, impatience is always an easy one for me to confess, for instance, I can generally think of something I was impatient recently pretty readily, anytime you ask. I don’t flog myself about it, but I don’t just ignore it either.

  5. The best book on the subject, ever:
    Frequent Confession, by dom Benedict Baur (Opus Dei updated reprint of a 1920/30s translation of a German book from the 1920s). Truly, the best book on the subject ever. On Amazon.

    1. Ooh thanks for that Berenike. I was wondering whether or not to approve your comment, Robin needs absolutely no encouragement to add to his book collection…;-)

  6. This was a sad post to read. I’m a priest of a Northern diocese – so a long way away. All too often, thoughtless priests forget how hard it is for folk to go to confession. I always encourage folk to say what they need to say in the way that we need to say it … If that means using a list, so be it. Does it really matter? I can’t count the number of times people come and say, I’m sorry Father, I can’t really remember what I’d planned to say and I was told years ago not to come with a shopping lost. Most unhelpful. Encourage your husband to find a good priest locally (maybe another FAC) and to use him as Confessor and or Spiritual Director. Happy Triduum.

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