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How to Make a Good Confession (4)

Many priests do not like doing any kind of counseling, and they end up referring most people to professional counselors. Not to say anything against counselors (I know a few that are very good at what they do), but the Church really has the best resources to help people's problems (the grace of God can help anyone that wants to be helped).

That said, I need to follow up with a hard and fast rule for confession. The confessional is not the place for therapy and counseling. If a priest counsels people well, it is natural that people will want to take advantage of that at every opportunity. Yet, the confessional is not the proper opportunity. Furthermore, he is going to have other people who want to say their confession. He will likely be willing to meet you to discuss things outside the confessional.

Now, it may be a temptation to get that counseling anonymously, so an office session may be intimidating. I understand this completely. If that is really an issue, and you are terrified to look the priest in the face because you are worried he will think less of you, I can give you an encouragement. God's grace does wonderful things (even for clergy, believe it or not!). There is something about being a spiritual Father in the Catholic Church (and nothing in the protestant churches comes anywhere close -- and I mean NOTHING -- I have been there!) that enables a priest to see his own sins enough to be compassionate towards others. By the power of God (and not my own) I find myself loving people more when they admit they need help and ask for advice and counsel (and most of the priests I know are exactly the same).

Regardless of your level of comfort in reaching out and asking for face to face counsel, the confessional is not the place for a therapy session. It is for confessing and receiving absolution. That means it should be simple, quick and to the point. When a priest gives advice in the confessional it is primarily to encourage the person to continue to resist sin and to know that there are means to overcome it. Receive that advice and use it for the good of your soul, and if you need more advice, look for it in the right place and time.


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