Today, I went for confession to the capuchins like I usually do. The priests there tend to be great confessors. However, today I had quite a bad experience.
I confess in kind and number and I keep a list with me to make sure I don’t forget anything. It is what works for me, but today the confessor I had made it a point to attack me about my style of confessing. He said that he thought that I live (and confess) in a too rigid way and that he thought that I had no life energy, no happiness, in me despite my young age. I was quite shocked by his words and I immediately felt down….
He used an ad-lib style of absolution which did include the essential words. However, as you might imagine, I feel miserable. I know how the Sacraments work, but I don’t think I am worthy again to approach our Lord in communion. Would it be a sacrilege on my part to visit another priest to confess my sins and receive absolution again, despite the (valid, but illicit) absolution of today? My soul feels lost and it hungers for closure. What to do father?
I would really appreciate your advice.
First, I am really sorry. I would like to apologize to you for every stupid thing he said and did. I will do some penance in reparation for his bad treatment of you.
Second, lay people don’t have to take this mistreatment. I suggest that you write a brief letter to that Capuchin’s superior, either in the house in which he lives or his provincial. Keep it very brief. Start with the facts. Conclude with how you felt about it after. Make it much like the note you sent to me. However, include the place and time and the NAME of that priest. Send a copy of that same letter to the local diocesan bishop. Also, add a statement that you realize that, because of the Seal, that priest is forbidden to talk about that particular confession or any other. You write to let you know what YOUR experience was, apart from what that confessor might respond.
I think you should write not just because this priest acted like an oaf, and he did, and a superior will recognize that. He also didn’t stick to the form of absolution. That’s serious. Who knows what he is doing?
If the superior or the bishop write back with something stupid, save it and consider sending copies to the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome.
We don’t have to take this from confessors. They are not our overlords or judges. Christ is the Judge and they sit in his place especially to exercise mercy. They are not our accusers: WE ARE. We are our own prosecutors in the confessional.
“Life energy.” What a load of rubbish.
Yes, if you are not sure about having been validly absolved, you can by all means go to another confessor. You can go and relate the experience to another confessor as well even if you think you were validly absolved.
Alas, friends, any one who reads this: sometime we run into these dopey priests. Most of them are not malicious. They think they are really onto something! They have a rather high regard of themselves, which is not necessarily a good thing in a confessor, who ought to receive confessions in a state of confident humility.
Never let a bad confessor keep you away from going to confession regularly. As a matter of fact, what I would hope you would all do in these cases is,
- leave the confessional with the resolve to avoid that one, except in urgent need
- say a prayer for the confessor as you knock the dust from your heels
- go straight away, if possible, to another confessor and, even if you don’t need to confess because the idiot gave you valid absolution, tell that priest thank you for hearing confessions.
Yes, the idea is: fight back by getting right back up on the confession horse again.
Don’t take it lying down. Don’t be silent about it. Don’t let it slow you down or discourage you.
Everyone… pray for confessors and …
GO TO CONFESSION!