Reasons People Avoid Confession by Lorraine Murray

Published: June 7, 2012 in The Georgia Bulletin

A priest once mentioned that the loneliest time of his week was Saturday afternoon when he sat in the confessional waiting for parishioners to show up. Although his comment was humorous, it points to a real problem. And here are some reasons many of us avoid this sacrament:

1. We may be afraid of looking foolish because we haven’t been to confession in a long time—and are uncertain about what to do. If you fall into this category, you can ask your confessor to guide you—or check this website for a refresher: www.catholic.org/prayers/confession.php.

2. We may have bought into the notion that we can confess our wrongdoings directly to God—and thus don’t need this sacrament. This belief goes against Catholic teaching, however, and it is not scriptural. Christ instituted the sacrament of reconciliation when he said to his apostles, the forerunners of today’s priests and bishops: “Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven. Whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.”

3. We’re uncertain about what to confess. One solution is getting a good examination-of-conscience guide to help us discern our sins. Many parishes provide these guides in the narthex, or you can ask a priest or deacon to suggest one. An excellent one for teens can be purchased at the Life Teen website: http://store.lifeteen.com/comeclean.aspx. A good examination of conscience for adults can be found online following my column at the Georgia Bulletin website.

4. We are embarrassed to mention our sins to another person. This is a common feeling because it is hard to admit our failures out loud. Praying ahead of time for the grace to be honest and courageous will help. It also helps to realize that the priest acts in persona Christi, which means that he is standing in for Jesus Christ, who knows our hearts so well.

5. Many people have been taught there is no need to confess venial sins, and they have not committed any mortal sins—so they don’t go to confession. However, according to the catechism, confession of venial sins is strongly recommended, since it helps us fight against evil tendencies.

6. Perhaps we struggle with the same sins over and over, and we are ashamed to admit this. It is true that part of a good confession is promising to avoid sins in the future—but we may fall short of the mark. Confession reminds us that God’s well of forgiveness is infinitely large.

7. We may need more than just a few minutes because we require spiritual counseling about our sins. In this case, it is best to make an appointment to see the priest in his office.

8. We are afraid of shocking the priest. Keep in mind many priests have heard thousands of confessions over the years. They surely won’t be astonished by what we confess. In fact, most priests are overjoyed that people are coming to confession, and they are eager to offer absolution.

9. We may be hesitant to tell our sins to someone we also socialize with at church suppers. The confessional has a privacy screen, but if this isn’t reassurance enough, you can always confess to a priest at another parish. Keep in mind that priests will never divulge to anyone what you have confessed.

10. We may be afraid the priest will ask us to make changes in our lives. For example, a confessor may tell a couple engaging in pre-marital sex that this is a mortal sin, or tell a married couple that using contraception is a mortal sin. It is hard to face the truth about ourselves and often it is difficult to change. But if we avoid doing this, our souls are in grave danger.

News Story: People returning to Confession because of Pope

“In Latin America, during Holy Week many people who hadn’t confessed for many years” returned to the sacrament because of things they had heard Pope Francis say…

“Many young people, men and women in these church groups have not only rediscovered the faith they lost along the way or a faith that had become sterile and indifferent, but they have undergone a real conversion of their lives,” Archbishop Fisichella said.

Read more here!

Have you been away from the Sacrament of Confession for a while? Learn more and come home!

Great books for families!

Check out these two wonderful books, perfect for building up your family and enriching your own life and reading:

Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families by Patti Armstrong and Theresa Thomas, to be released this Spring!

Big Hearted gives you an inside look into the triumphs, struggles, joys and sorrows of ordinary families with generous hearts. It invites you to witness extraordinary love in ordinary moments like the simple cooking of a meal or the hug between a teenaged brother and his baby sister. Just like your family, these families experience pain, setbacks, and challenges. And just like your family, they also experience love and immeasurable blessing through their commitment and care for each other. In this book, you will learn the story of: ? A father of seven healthy boys who struggled to love his Down syndrome baby girl ? A mother of twelve who learned an important lesson about Christmas from her children ? A special relationship between a teenaged brother and his infant sister ? Two grandparents in their final days who inspired their grandchildren in simple ways ? Two orphan children from Kenya who prayed for adoption by an American family and got what they asked for! It has been said that God cannot be outdone in generosity. The stories in these pages will show you how big hearted families experience this truth in a myriad of ways, sometimes miraculously.

Dear God, I Don’t Get It by Patti Armstrong, available now!

“Dear God, I don’t get it!” is the perfect story for 3rd through 6th grade Catholic kids and classrooms with excellent writing, vocabulary and thinking activities incorporated at the end of the book. It combines a great story with age-appropriate apologetics and is endorsed by best-selling authors Emily and Jeff Cavins as well as Bishop Zipfel. Mary Kochan, Senior Editor of Catholic Exchange and homeschooler endorses “Dear God, I don’t get it!” and explains, “Sixth-grader, Aaron Ajax is happily comfortable, with not much more than the annoyances of a little brother to disturb him and he takes his friendship with God for granted. When a sudden change in family circumstances uproots him from the home and friends he has known his whole life, Aaron wonders what has happened to his relationship with God. Through this true-to-life story we follow the journey of a young boy coming to grips with a lesson we all need – that real friendship with God means God is in charge.”

The Meaning of Marriage

A Reflection by Damien J. O’Connor, Office for Pastoral Services, Diocese of Bridgeport

I remember when I was a high school morality teacher, I used to show a video by National Geographic entitled, Lions in the Darkness. I’m sure that most of my students questioned my sanity for showing it to them. Nevertheless they watched the video intently. The scenes simply documented the daily habits of the lions and lionesses. The scenes revealed them copulating, hunting/eating, sleeping together, killing the weak and a total disregard for the greater good of the animal kingdom. It was simply in their nature and their DNA to act this way. This was their normal state. The question I presented to my classes was quite simple, “How are human beings any different in today’s society than the lions?” Now these were fairly intelligent adolescents yet they all struggled with this question. Some simply could not make a distinction between the lions and humans while others, rightfully so, were offended by the implication I was making about them (as part of society) through my question. Thank God for the students that were offended!

The recent debate over same-sex marriage has gained national attention in the United States and rightfully so. The institution of marriage or more appropriately, the Sacrament of marriage has been reduced to a simplistic list of qualities a couple should have if they meet the criteria for marriage as understood by mainstream society. The currant language that seems to qualify a couple for marriage is:
• I/We love each other
• I/We make each other happy
• I/We enjoy intercourse together
• I/We would die for each other

There is a subtle yet dangerous dynamic that occurs in every aspect of mainstream society called Normalization. Simply put, the more we are exposed to something, the more normal it becomes and ultimately accepted. Rarely do we see qualitative or quantitative studies to substantiate that which we now consider normal even if it had always been considered abnormal or even evil in nature. Rarely do we see studies that evaluate what benefits the greater good of society, consult teachings from scripture or even basic common sense and human nature. Nevertheless normalization is all around us and it is often evil.

It has become “normal” and expected to be politically correct and yet no one can provide a credible source through which politically correct or incorrect language and behavior is elucidated. Beyond inclusive language that in many cases seems reasonable, political correctness is nothing more than an overwhelmingly persuasive way of thinking that is based in fear. Due to normalization we now live in a very strange reality: we self-censor ourselves. We are afraid to say anything, so we say nothing. This is not of God and most certainly not Christian. Society and I would dare say most politicians, do not want Catholics to think, use logic, common sense and most certainly live our faith through a radical missionary spirit: which is exactly what we are called to do through our baptism.

The marriage debate regarding same-sex couples offends me deeply not because I am anti homosexuals but because the Sacrament of Marriage is immeasurably more than how it is defined by most in society and is most certainly more than a catchy one-liner on Facebook or 120 characters on twitter. Furthermore, and to be fair, if I was in a homosexual relationship and perceived the way in which marriage is predominantly exemplified in society, it would seem only fair that same sex couples qualify for the same rights. That is precisely my point. I have never understood it as a right but as a vocation.

I knew as a young adult that I was meant to give myself to God in some way as we all are. I had grown up around priests and they deeply influenced my faith development. I witnessed the profound graces of their vocation as I observed them live their faith. I also knew them as human beings, who like me, could be Christ to others or falter and need God’s mercy through the sacrament of confession. Needless to say, I was naturally drawn to the priesthood but wasn’t sure if that was what God was calling me to. I began praying daily that God would show me my vocation, because we all have one. I knew that true joy could only be achieved by fully giving of myself to God and not taking or desiring that which others had. I spent over a year praying daily that I may grow closer to God and that when my vocation became clear, I would first be completely grounded in our Lord.

Then I was given the greatest gift of my life, my wife Monica. Far more important than our nascent physical attraction, love for each other and friendship, God called us to be together. The way in which we live our marriage is a Sign of the Sacrament of Marriage. Our vocation is to be a living Sign of God’s love to all those we encounter, most especially our children, who through the miracle of their birth, consummated our Holy vocation. Although we fail at this often, that is our constant calling and what we have given our lives for. I simply do not understand marriage outside of these parameters. Our marriage (as all marriages) is meant to be a gift to the world and ultimately God, and not a gift that I deserve or qualify for. I deserve it no more than I deserve life itself.
Since Adam and Eve the world has understood marriage and the family as the basis of a civilized society. It has always been the primary source for education, faith development, morals, dignity, self-worth, sacrifice and the stewardship of God’s most precious gift, children.

From the beginning of time there was nothing more natural or understood than the structure of a family being a man, woman and children. It is shockingly narcissistic and naïve to think that suddenly now, we the current (and temporary) stewards of the earth, have come to some sort of unfounded evolution of thought and behavior that contradicts a previously universal truth that has existed since the creation of the world.

Society needs a “new normal” regarding marriage. It is paramount that sacramentally married couples boldly live their vocations and be a very visible Sign in mainstream society. We must all pray publically for vocations to sacramental marriages. When a man and a woman desire marriage, they must understand that their preparation to receive the sacrament, is just as important as the formation prior to joining religious life or ordination to the priesthood. They are giving their lives completely united in God. Canonically, a man and a woman have a right to be married. However, this does not presume that they are automatically predisposed to be Signs of a sacramental marriage. We must have the courage and discipline to prepare these couples with the same fervor, spirit and candor that is applied to men who desire ordination to the priesthood or women who wish to join religious life.

From the beginning of Christianity it has always been through our example that we evangelized the world. I implore sacramentally married couples to live their vocation with a missionary spirit, joyfully in the public square!

Salvation history was changed forever through a family, the Holy Family.

“At a historical moment of severe family fragmentation throughout the Western world, the example of evangelical Catholic families that share joys and burdens, and do so with wit and grace, is one of the most powerful conversion tools available to the Catholic Church.” (George Weigel)

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Catholics Come Home is soon to be released! Pre-order up your copy of Catholics Come Home today, and see how it will help uplift your life, bless our culture, and inspire readers to change the world!

Interview with Tom Peterson on Secular Radio

Check out

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with CCH Founder and President Tom Peterson on “Scott Sloan on Demand.” Scott talks with Tom about Catholics Come Home and the progress of the ad campaigns.