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Confessing Christopher wrote:

Hi, guys —

This will be my last question, I promise.

I'm only asking this question because I am worried about the nature of what I said in Confession.

I confessed a sin I felt that I needed to make reparation for. It involved me overreacting in talking about my emotions to friends after an argument with my mom.

After confessing the sin, I asked if I should rectify the situation. He asked me what I felt I should do. I said that I thought I should, but that I was scared and just wanted to leave it behind me.

I also mentioned that my mom told me I didn't have to. I hesitated before stating this because when I told her about it and she read the Face book posting, (it was in a private group with only 20 people), I knew she wouldn't care and I was hoping to get out of the situation.

I told him this in the beginning of my Confession and I may have re-mentioned it at the end.
He said something, that wasn't pushing me in either direction. After that, I asked if choosing
not to make reparation, (telling my friends that I may have overreacted), would invalidate my Confession, he said, No, and the fact that I made amends with my mom was the most important thing.

  • So was my Confession still valid?

Chris

  { Did my attitude, hesitation, or manipulation with the truth invalidate my Confession? }

Bob replied:

Chris —

Your Confession was valid and cannot be undone. When you were forgiven by the absolution the priest gave you that was final, you had a firm purpose of amendment at the time of the sacrament. End of story.

Whether we can clean up our messes or not does not invalidate the sacrament. Sin leaves its scars — that is part of the cost. You fix what you can and move on, avoiding the same thing in the future, and if you fail again, go to Confession.

God's mercy is easy, gentle, and above all forgiving.

Peace,

Bob K.

Chris replied:

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the answer.

I do want to send a clarifying question. After reading back over my original question, I felt that I made it seem like this happened after Confession.

The whole conversation from my original question occurred in the Confessional, before I was given absolution.

  • Does this change anything?

Sorry to break to my promise from my initial question.

Chris

Mike replied:

Hi, Chris —

You said:
I do want to send a clarifying question. After reading back over my original question, I felt that I made it seem like this happened after Confession.

The whole conversation from my original question occurred in the Confessional, before I was given absolution.

  • Does this change anything?

Sorry to break to my promise from my initial question.

No, it doesn't. The fact that this conversation took place in the Confessional before you were given absolution re-enforces Bob's correct answer.

You said:
This will be my last question, I promise.

Never worry about asking questions. That is what we are here for.
It's a health sign that you want to re-enforce and strengthen your faith.

Everyone on the team are in various:

  • single|family
  • working|unemployed
  • with kids|with no kids

situations and have various responsibilities based on our state in life but, most if the time, one of us is able to answer anyone's question within a week.

Don't be shy.

Mike
AskACatholic.com Web Admin.

Chris replied:

Hi Mike,

I think I may want to ask another question from a different angle.

It's only because I was thinking multiple things in this situation and there is a lot that worried me. I will probably ask you guys a few more questions down the road, but they won't be mortal sin or Confession related. I'm trying to begin keeping these type of questions between my priest and I, but in this case, I needed a little extra help. This question does a better job at getting to the heart of my concerns.

This one deals with the fact that I feel that I was slightly manipulative in my conversation. I didn't lie, but my concern is with how I used the truth. I definitely wanted the priest to tell me not to worry about making reparations for my actions. That's why I hesitated to mention that my mom told me not to tell my friends. When I asked her about this it wasn't because I felt a need to make reparations, but to tell my friends that I overreacted. What I felt I needed to do was to scary. I knew she wouldn't care and so I read the post to her.

Now back in the Confessional. When I went to mention this, after he asked me what I thought I should do, I paused. I knew that saying this could influence his opinion and I felt this fact held some manipulative value. My intent was to get counsel that would avoid what I felt I needed to do. As a result, I felt that giving him this information could invalidate my Confession. I may have followed up by telling him why I asked my mom her opinion. I'm not sure. I know I thought about it. Granted, I mentioned what my mom told me and my reasons for asking her at the very beginning but I felt that the situation was different after I asked him if I needed to tell my friends and he asked me what my conscience was telling me.

Then I ended by asking him if I had to make reparations. This was clearly because, while I didn't want to and was hoping I didn't have to, I was willing to so if that was what was required.

  • Does this change your assessment?

Thanks again.

You guys are awesome and have helped me quite a bit. This issue really bothers me because it's associated with an aspect of my personality I don't like.

God bless!

Chris

Mike replied:

Hi, Chris —

Thanks for the follow-up questions.

First, we are not priests so we have no Church authority to make any assessments, only your Confessor does because he acts in the person of Jesus.

I tend to think you are looking into this to deeply. When the priests says,

"I absolve you of your sins."

the priest is not saying that. Those are the words of Jesus working through the priest to forgive you of all your sins.

What I would recommend is next time you go to Confession say something like:

I have had a bad habit in previous Confession of either:

  • hiding sins
  • saying things in an unclear manner in order to hide other sins, or
  • being manipulative in what I tell the priest based on what I think he will say

and I want to work on making better Confessions that open my soul up to the Lord.
I know at times it can be embarrassing and uncomfortable but I'm willing to work toward making better Confessions in the future.

As my colleague Eric has said in the past:

Remember that the Confessional is a tribunal of mercy and healing, not of judgment. The point is not to accuse you or impose guilt; the point is to relieve guilt and apply the balm of mercy to sins so that they might be healed.

A sin is like an injury, and the priest is like a doctor.

Think of it this way, if a soldier has three pieces of shrapnel in his leg but doesn't tell the doctor about the one piece of shrapnel in his upper thigh region near his privates because it is embarrassing, the inflection will get worse, and with time, an importance part of his body will get diseased. You don't want that spiritually.

Keep this in mind!

All that is needed for a valid Confession is a sincere heart and imperfect contrition.

  • Outside of Confession a perfect contrition is needed but
  • inside Confession an imperfect contrition will do.

You said:
Thanks again. You guys are awesome and have helped me quite a bit. This issue really bothers me because it's associated with an aspect of my personality I don't like. God bless!

There are a great team of helpers who make all this possible.

I would just add that, unless there are medical [and/or] emotional issues, you haven't mentioned, aspects of our personality can always change with a good prayer life.

My motto: A Rosary a day keeps the demonic away.

Mike

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