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Q & A with Father Anthony

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How can I overcome my fear of going to Confession?

Katie asks:

Dear Fr Anthony,

Thank you very much for the time and thought you put into answering the questions on this website. I want to start going to confession regularly since I read that it is a requirement when trying to discern one's vocation. I have a bit of a problem though. I know it sounds ridiculous but I get extremely nervous from the moment I tell myself that I am going to go to confession. Sometimes I get so anxious that I am unable to eat for an entire day or, when it is my turn to go, an inexplicable panic builds up inside me and I leave shaking. What can I do to make this stop? It is really embarrassing sometimes. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you in advance.


Dear Katie,

I really admire you, because despite the difficulty you are still going to Confession. That means a lot. And I can imagine the joy and consolation it is for Christ to see you coming too.

Let me tell you what Confession is like from the priest's side of the screen (by the way, often using the screen option rather than face-to-face makes it easier to go to the sacrament, so you may want to try that option if you don't already use it.) The power to forgive sins is an awesome experience and responsibility. The priest meditates long and deeply on God's mercy (the Good Shepherd, the Father of the Prodigal Son, Christ on the Cross, Jesus with Mary Magdalene and the woman caught in adultery we read about in John 8) and he goes to the confessional trying to be that same Jesus for every person who comes to Confession.

Sometimes it's a sinner coming back from being long and far away from God. Sometimes it's someone who comes regularly and is still struggling with major issues. Sometimes it's someone who comes regularly and the faults are much smaller. Sometimes the person is open to God's truth; other times he is not, or has a huge struggle with it. With each one, the priest tries to listen carefully; to hear how the Holy Spirit is guiding that soul and to help the person listen to the Holy Spirit, believe in God’s pardon and take the next step. At the same time, the priest is conscious that his role is to draw each person closer to God, closer to living the truth in their life, trying "not to stamp out the smoking reed".

So when you go to Confession, try to focus on Christ who is waiting for you there, in the person of the priest. Remember that it is Christ who wants to draw you closer to Himself; who has died for you on the Cross, and who loves you for the effort you are making to come closer to Him and is moved by it.

God bless,

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