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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wait for it . . .

One of my favorite things to do as a priest--believe it or not--is to hear confessions. Some people are afraid to go to confession because they are afraid that the priest is going to yell at them (and, unfortunately, it may even have happened to them once). Honestly, I can't imagine any reason why I would feel compelled to yell at someone during a confession. One might need to be firm about something at times, but there's still no need to yell. Indeed, my experience is that usually it becomes a joyful and healing conversation, once the person has gotten past the difficult part of confessing his or her sins. Sometimes people laugh, sometimes they cry, but it is because it has been a good experience.
Another reason people don't go is because they feel embarrassed because they don't know what to do. I wouldn't let this deter you because, in my experience, nearly half of all my confessions have been with people who weren't sure what they were doing. I'm happy to help. In fact, I often have to stop people from leaving because they've stood up to go before I've had the chance to give them absolution! Also, there's no shame in bringing a "cheat sheet" along with you. Busted Halo has provided a pretty good one, which advises: "Don't get up to leave after that prayer [the act of contrition] because the best part is yet to come: The priest will extend his hands in your direction and he will pray the Prayer of Absolution . . . " So, give it a shot, bring the sheet along with you, and don't run out before you've gotten what you came for!