The Sacrament of Reconciliation is often intimidating, especially to those who are new to the Church. But as these stories demonstrate, Confession is beautiful, liberating, and sometimes unpredictable. Read these great Confession stories and then share your favorite experiences with us in the comments.
Brooke M. Gregory
At our cathedral, in the confessional, we have the option to confess behind the screen or sitting in a chair facing the priest. My husband was one of the last in a huge line of people to go one day, and he opted to sit in the chair, and the priest was like “Oh my son, thank God you chose the chair! I threw out my back trying to lean and hear everyone through the screen. PLEASE, tell me you’re the last person.”
How about the time I got kicked out of confession…it was a reconciliation service with priests stationed around the church and in the open (music playing and space between them to prevent overhearing). The priest was standing on a step of the altar-steps and was looking over my head at everyone behind me the whole time; he even smiled/winked/waved (yup) to some of them behind me. I stopped and asked, “Father, can you please look at me”. He said, “We’re done here”, and waved me away. He has since been excommunicated (for real). TRUE STORY.
Best confession? My first. I was in line with another girl from RCIA, and twice we were approached, by different people, offering for us to go one after the other. They both said, “Oh, you can stand with your wife/husband.” We both laughed hysterically and have since referred to each other as our ‘confession-spouse.’
My wife and I wanted to go to confession while we were visiting family in Chicago during Holy Week. So, we found a schedule and went to the nearest parish. A dozen people were bustling around inside, but it was unclear if confessions were taking place. We sat and observed, hoping to figure out what was happening. A few minutes later, an elderly priest with a walker made his way through the Church to the confessionals. My wife watched me walk in, only to walk out after 45 seconds. “What happened?” she asked. “I started, confessed impatience, and he immediately absolved me.”
I was in Rome for World Youth Day 2000 and saw a hand-written sign for confession on the door of a church directly across from the Trevi Fountain; so I popped in. I followed a series of hand-written “confession” signs with arrows directing me down a series of corridors until I was lost. A little priest in a cassock appeared and asked me in Italian what I was doing, and I said, “confession? English?” He said he didn’t speak English very well, but sighed, and motioned me into the room he had come out of. I said a few things, and then he asked me “is that it? What about this…and this…?” Then he started to ask me about specific people in my life by relationship (sister, your friend who…, etc.) and I had never mentioned any of them. He was spot on though…pretty sure I just had my soul read.
Alex R Hey
I knew I needed to make a good confession, and I was not looking forward to going. After putting it off for a couple of months, I finally went and began confessing by saying: “I’ve been noticing that Confession hasn’t been making me feel as good lately, so I did some reflection and decided that there were some things I haven’t mentioned before that I really should…” I knew what was to follow was going to be a doozy, and I did not want to be interrupted. Of course, the priest did interrupt and said, “Alex, that’s great. That is a great sign of spiritual maturity.”…..To make a long story short, that was an extremely grace-filled Confession.
I took my typically quiet toddler with me, who decided it was obviously all about him. Began, asked the priest a question, and, after a pause, it quickly became clear that the priest hadn’t heard me over the babble of the little one, because he began wrapping things up. I didn’t know what to do, as I was a new Catholic, so, instead of interrupting and possibly embarrassing him, when I left his confessional, I got in another priest’s line and waited another 30 minutes to confess again.
Our priest had a rule that we could ask him for confession at any time and he would celebrate it with us. When I first got my drivers license, I was driving around town with my Protestant friend, and we saw this priest taking a walk. I stopped the car, without parking it, ran over to him, and gave him a big bear hug, lifting him up off the ground, and asked him for confession. He told me he thought he was being mugged, but said I could only confess 3 sins because I was holding up traffic.
Tatiana Philip-Thérèse Federoff
My first confession was a nightmare. I was the very first in line out of all the kids in the group, and the confessor that day was Fr. Mike, a huge ex-military guy with a bald head and a terrifyingly constant glare. Tiny, shy me was scared stiff, and I promptly forgot every one of my sins. I ran into the confessional, said the first thing that came into my head (I think it was “I stole M&Ms from the jar this morning”), rattled off my act of contrition at record speed, and ran out while poor Fr. Mike was still pronouncing the words of absolution. My dad was waiting outside and tried to push me back into the confessional, saying I definitely had more sins to confess, but I managed to escape and hide under a pew until it was all over. I’m still not entirely sure if that confession was valid!
Matt Vander Vennet
I was on a World Youth Day pilgrimage in 2002 and we stopped at this shrine on the way to Toronto. I don’t remember which shrine it was, but it was beautiful. It was a late July summer day, and the sun was shining bright, the grass was green, and the flowers were in full bloom. It was decently busy with people. There was some time to spend outside on the property and at one point, one of the priests in our group decided that it was so perfect a day out, he would offer confession on the lawn out in front of this place. He put on his stole and just sat on the ground. I went up to him and sat down myself and did my confession outside on the lawn. It was beautiful. Probably the neatest place I’ve ever been able to go to confession.
Alex R Hey
I’ve met several people who, during their first Confession, thought the priest was reaching out for a high five when it came time for the prayer of absolution. Understandable because it was their first time, right? I have a friend who, while he was in college, thought the priest was reaching out for a high five. “Yes, I did have a good Confession,” this cradle Catholic thought. Luckily, the priest had his eyes closed, and she realized what he was actually doing before she made contact with his hand.
One powerful confession I was not part of but witnessed…before my best friend’s wedding, two priests were going to hear confessions for the wedding party and family. One had actually been ordained the day before! Before hearing confessions the two priests went into the “cry room” and sat down across from each other, with one hearing the other’s confession. The room had a window, so we who were waiting could see in. After the one received absolution, the other priest took his stole off and put it over the other priest’s shoulders and confessed to him. It was a powerful image to me of the one priesthood of Christ, that it is not the person of the priest who absolves, but Christ, whose priestly office is signified by the stole.
Sat behind the screen with my toddler who reached out and yanked the curtain back exclaiming, “peek-a-boo!!!!”