[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Editor’s note: The Compass asked several priests about their experiences of the sacrament of reconciliation. During these weeks of Lent, we will share some of their reflections here. Since priests both hear confessions and seek the sacrament of reconciliation themselves, they have a unique perspective to share. This week, Msgr. James Feely reflects on the following questions: How do you prepare for confession? What do you say to the priest-confessor? What do you do after confession?
I have been asked to do one of a series on the sacrament of reconciliation for The Compass. Now that you have read to this point, I hope you have the courage to keep reading. This is, after all, an idea that Jesus believed had some saving value. I will use my own experience as an example.
Yes, priests go to confession, too.
Anyone who has gone to confession in the fairly recent past will tell you it is quite painless.
I go to confession quite regularly, usually once a month. Because Jesus Christ is so involved in this sacrament, it benefits me in a number of ways. It helps me to feel positive about my own spiritual life. It is much easier to look at my life, somewhat day-to-day, when I am able to look back on only several days.
If at all possible, try to arrange for the same confessor each time you go to confession. The priest can get to know you a bit better and can more readily work with you in making progress in your friendship with Jesus Christ. I do this as much as I can, with few exceptions.
In between my visits to my confessor, I pray to God to ask forgiveness directly and, at the same time, I include an examination of my conscience. This is something of a remote preparation for my actual confession in a couple of weeks.
For my examination of my behavior, I simply look more closely at my life. What disappoints me about some things in my life, my failures in kindness, my talking about people in a negative manner? At times when I am acting as the confessor, listening to other people’s sins. I find I often look at myself, realizing I may well be guilty of the same faults. Others don’t usually have the same resource.
Any such preparation, which does not have to be a lengthy process, includes some minutes in prayer. We always need God’s help.
In my mind, if I review the Ten Commandments, I ask myself if I have improved in who I am since the last time I made my confession. I further try to “look” at the people in my life, especially those with whom I have regular contact and conversation. How have I been with them, my words, my thoughts?
When I enter the reconciliation room, I always sit down opposite the priest. We know each other. There is a kind of relaxed ease in what we are doing, since both of us value what is taking place. We are very aware that it is Jesus doing the forgiving. When he gives me penance to do, we together make certain I know what he is asking of me.
After my confession, and thanking my confessor, I usually attempt to fulfill my penance as early as possible, not wanting to treat this lightly and possibly forget to do it.
Afterwards, I make a practice of spending some time thanking my God for making this sacrament so available for me and for all of us. Celebrating this part of my faith life as a frequent event gives me a more consistent sense of God being wonderfully close in my life. I want to find more time to be open and aware of God. He is my most effective means for avoiding the sins in the first place.
Msgr. Feely is a senior priest of the Diocese of Green Bay. He serves as priest celebrant at SS. Peter and Paul in Hortonville.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_message]Priests share their reflections on sacrament of reconciliation
My preparation to hear confessions | By Fr. Scott Valentyn
A few steps to preparing for confession | By Fr. Callistus Elue
How I prepare for my own confession | By Fr. Dave Pleier
Assigning an appropriate penance to help grow in faith | By Fr. Richard Klingeisen
Confession helps me to feel positive about my spiritual life | By Msgr. James Feely
A senior priest reflects on reconciliation | By Fr. Willard Van De Loo[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row]