From a reader:
I make frequent use of the Sacrament of Penance and have a regular confessor. It’s always “anonymous,” but not anonymous. It’s awkward. The priest knows it’s me, but when he’s giving counsel he gets caught up on trying come up with a way of saying something act as though he doesn’t know it’s me. I have to fight the temptation to finish his sentences for him. Sometimes he’s slipped up and made vague reference to things I’ve done or said which he witnessed, but I didn’t speak of, or made known. Sometimes he’s caught himself doing so he tried to
cover for it, which just made things more awkward.
I know most confessors will go out of their way to protect anonymity so penitents don’t have to worry about Father knowing who is confessing, but is this extent of preserving anonymity required? I’m not talking about going into names here, etc, but if someone is confessing sins related to, for example work or home, etc, would it not be better for both parties if Father just quit beating around the bush trying to preserve anonymity when both people know it’s not
anonymous and give specific counsel to what that person’s situation is? Is there a way to get around the awkwardness?
Be grateful that the confessor is so diligent and careful!
In my opinion, the confessor is doing just fine and you should be happy that he is so attentive when walking that knife’s edge between using information he knows from a previous confession and giving you what he thinks you need.
In this case, why don’t you just make an appointment for confession on a regular basis (if the priest can do it) so that your confession can be in the context of an easier conversation.
You could, at the beginning of your confession, say when you also say what your state in life is, “Father, this is ‘[your name]’ or ‘[some made up name]’ or ‘Penitent 43′”, to take the priest off the hook. You could during the confession say, “Father, I am coming to you regularly. Could I just call myself “Penitent 43″ so that in the future you don’t have to worry about the Seal and beat around the bush about details which you know from other confessions? Is that okay?” Then go by what he says.
Otherwise, if you are not interested in that format, then you’ll have to bear these awkward moments with a little good humor and gratitude.
Please say a prayer regularly for this confessor, who sounds like he is trying to do right by you and all the people who get into his confessional.