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How to Make a Good Confession (2)

Everyone knows someone who just cannot stop talking (yes, that is OK if you thought of me first!). At times they say a lot of words, but not actually anything coherent. This is one thing when it happens in everyday life, but when it slips into the confessional, we have a problem. The biggest problem, however, is that this is not limited to people who talk a lot. People who are generally quiet can become quite verbose in the confessional (maybe because they are finally letting it out?!).

In aiming at making a good confession we each need to learn what it means to be succinct. It is not helpful, nor polite to tell long stories in your confession. If after a few minutes the priest has to ask what it is that you are confessing, then you are likely rambling.

"I was on my lunch break at the Mexican Restaurant--the one with the great tacos--and there was this guy in the booth next to me that kept talking louder and louder. You know what I mean? When people do that they really do not show any consideration for others. Anyways, I tried to concentrate on the menu and order my meal, but I kept hearing him. It was awful. You know what I mean?" Is better summarized by, "I was judgmental toward a stranger".

Remember, confession is about your sins, not your neighbors. There are times when priests hear more about the sins of the penitent's co-workers and family than about the penitent's own sins! Furthermore, generally speaking, about 90% of explanations are unnecessary for the confession (and please do not assume that you are in the 10%!).

Aside from the fact that long stories make it hard for the priest to get the point, and from the fact that it is the wrong way to focus on personal sins, it is disrespectful to the others in line behind you. Even if you are the last in line, the priest might have other things he needs to do after confession is over. If you need a longer time, then ask for an appointment.

Be concise, specific, and own up to your failings. You are not there to convince the priest to say "you poor, poor, suffering child" but to acknowledge your sins and receive God's grace of forgiveness. "I lied forty-seven times, I stole a jet plane, I coveted my next door neighbor's pet great white shark". If there is a simple area that you need advice on, go ahead and ask it, but recognize that long discussions should really be kept in the counseling session, not the confessional.


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