Ten Tips for Confessors

Very often I read Tips for Confession, How to Make a Good Confession, etc.  I haven't ever seen tips for the confessor, at least in my experience, because I certainly hope there are discussions for priests regarding how to better the sacrament of reconciliation.

Ten Tips for Confessors

1.  Don't yell.  As a child, I often heard stories about "Don't go to Father So and So, he yells at you."  There was a confessor at Arch Street who did do this.  He's infamous about his yelling.  A priest told me that he went to confession to him, (as a priest), and was yelled at.  Thankfully, that was not my childhood experience.  However, as an adult, not too long ago, the confessor, in the middle of my laundry list of sins, yelled, "This is not spiritual direction!  This is not the time for spiritual direction!"
     "Oka-a-a-y"  I have no idea what set him off.  I was so shocked that I don't know which one, or all of my sins caused him to say that.  So I just continued with my list.  He gave me absolution and I went on my way.  Strange.

2.  Give reasonable penances.  Don't get too creative.  You would think that I, for one, would appreciate different penances.  But in this penitential circumstance--I'm not in the mood.  In the confessional, I don't have pen and paper to write down scripture verses.  One time, in particular, comes to mind.  I was given particular verses in Colossians.  When I read them, I didn't see any relevance to my sins.  I began to doubt that I remembered correctly.  So I read Galatians because it kind of, sort of, sounds like Colossians?  Again, no reference to my confession.  So I read 1 & 2 Corinthians.  I couldn't see any references that would help me.  I gave up, besides I certainly satisfied my penance requirement.
    Another time, I was in a church that was new to me.  I wanted to pray my penitential prayers in the Adoration Chapel, which was in a different part of the building than the confessional.  I got lost trying to find the place.  When I finally found the Adoration Chapel; I knelt in front of the monstrance; I blessed myself; and I couldn't remember what my penance was.  !!!!!!!!!!!  Pray for me.

3.  Don't be snippy.  Can't you tell by my demeanor that I'm serious and humbling myself before you?  This isn't easy for the penitent.  Even if you don't perceive that I'm in the correct disposition to come to confession, just presume that I am.  Why else would anyone come?

4.  Don't cut the penitent off.  If I'm taking a long time, can't you tell me, and make an appointment for me to come at another time?

5.  Don't tell me to NOT to confess so often.  I'm getting the opposite advice from everything I read.  Besides, if the penitent belongs to a lay religious organization, he may be obligated to go to confession often.

6.  Don't tell me you can't give me absolution because you don't see any sin.  Can't you give me absolution for the sins in the past?

7.  Compliment.  Isn't there anything good that you see that offers hope that the penitent will attain sanctity?  Even if it's just "Your sins are abuses of your gifts."

8.  Offer suggestions.  Help me amend my ways.  Do you see a propensity--a path that is wrong?

9.  Pray for me.

10.  Grace received in the Sacrament of Reconciliation is in proportion to the disposition of the penitent, I understand.  I'm sorry if I bore you.  Please try to be attentive.  Pretend this is the first time you are hearing confessions.  You are acting in Persona Christi, after all.  

Comments

This is a good list. I didn't know priests did all those things in Confession. I realize now that I've been very lucky in my confessors.

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