6 Steps for a Lifelong Confession

Originally published on my secret blog in 2012, 10 years after my lifelong confession

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I was speaking with my spiritual director and confessor.  Almost as an afterthought, I told him that sometimes I didn’t feel forgiven, even after confession.  He explained that it was possible to be overscrupulous…but he also mentioned the lifelong confession.

I knew instantly that I was being called to do this…and it was terrifying.

I spent the next 2 months preparing for a lifelong confession…not because anyone should necessarily take two months to prepare, but because the only confessor I could imagine asking…was the one who had suggested it…and he lived 4 hours away.  We booked my lifelong confession for a retreat that he would be chaplain at.

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I prayed.  I reflected.  I asked the Lord to show me what I needed to confess…and boy, did He.

I remembered things from a long time ago…and other things that I had probably already confessed…loosely, vaguely, conveniently omitting frequency or severity.

I wrote everything down, especially if I wasn’t sure if I had confessed properly before.

I remember crossing the threshold into the room where I was to have my lifelong confession.

As I stepped through the doorway, I looked down at my shoes and I was thinking “I can still turn around and run!”.  It was kind of how I felt every time I walked into the hospital to have a baby…a little anxious and fearful; only then…running away wasn’t an option.

It wasn’t easy…in fact it was one of the hardest things I have ever done…to speak, out loud, a bunch of things that I was ashamed of.  I had never been so deliberate or specific or thorough …during confession.

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I can still feel how incredibly, awesomely relieved I felt after that confession.  I understood the Mercy of God and the power of confession monumentally, unbelievably, giant-steps bigger in the absolution of that confession, than I had ever felt or understood before.  It really took.

Things that I had felt mortifyingly embarrassed and ashamed about, have been released from my guilt. I know it’s the Mercy of God, and Jesus’ humongous Suffering and Death on the cross that gives us the incredible gift of confession and ability to erase our sin…but there is no doubt in my mind that I paid the little tiny price…as big as I could offer by humbling myself in front of a priest, a friend who I love and respect so much.  This was no anonymous confession.

I think being prepared and having true contrition are conditions for confession (I’ve been trying to look up the exact wording, but I can’t find it).  I don’t think I could have been more prepared or more (mortifyingly!) sorry.  No detachment, but full accountability …and in return I received Jesus’ Love and Mercy… just for me.

My confession was one of the most powerful experiences of God’s Love that I’ve ever had.

It almost made my heart stop to do it, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

And that list I wrote of my past sins?  I destroyed it. I would have set it on fire if it wouldn’t have set the sprinklers off at the hotel where the retreat was.

Feeling called to lifelong confession?

  1. Pray about it.  Are you being called to do a life-long confession?
  2. Talk to a priest and book an appointment.  You should probably give him the heads-up that this would be a life-long confession.  This is not a 5-minutes-before-Mass-starts-and-there-are-people-waiting-in-line-behind-you kind of confession.
  3. Spend time in prayer, in preparation for this special confession.  Ask the Lord to help you remember everything that you need to confess.
  4. Write it down…but you might want to keep that list hidden or use short form that only you will understand.
  5. Be open to God’s Grace, His Infinite Mercy and His Unconditional Love for you.  Remember that you are unconditionally loved by God …and sustained at every moment by His Grace…no matter what you have to confess to Jesus, through a priest. Priests are AWESOME and compassionate and have the power through Jesus to free you from whatever you need to be freed from.
  6. Go to confession.  Have a blessed Lent!

Linked up to the CWBN Blog Hop 2017:

My True Feelings about Confession

Comments

  1. Monica, this was a great post. It’s amazing how much God loves us and wants to forgive us. Thanks for posting this.

    • I’m a bit confused. Is this type of confession different from the Sacrament of Reconciliation and if so, how? Is it still confession of prior sins that might not have been confessed in the past. Is it a one time thing? Why is it advisable to tell the priest ahead of time? I have never heard of this and need to know more!

      • This was a big deal for me…kind of a once-for-my-life up-to-that-point. It’s recommended to go to confession regularly…like once a month, but I felt called to do the lifelong confession for past sins that I didn’t feel I had diligently confessed. It wasn’t a 5 minute confession…and that’s why I felt I needed to set up a special appointment with the priest.

  2. I did one of these, it was also during a retreat. I didn’t realize what it was called or that there was a “special” name for it. It was every bit as freeing as it was humbling and humiliating. My loving and awesome Priest said the kindest thing…He said “Please take that paper you wrote those on and tear it up and throw it away. You are done with all of that now”.
    I Highly recommend.

  3. Reconciliation has always been a very difficult Sacrament for me but I absolutely love the feeling that all this heaviness has been lifted off of you after a good confession. Your post was very intriguing and I really liked the idea of a “lifelong” confession. As a teenager, I attended many retreats and conferences that I felt allowed me to have a better confession but as an adult I haven’t felt I had the same opportunity. Thank you for the wonderful post 🙂

  4. I have never heard of a lifelong Confession. It makes sense, and is a really cool idea!

    One of the things our chaplain (also my spiritual director) warned me of is to not put too much stock into “feelings” – if I don’t *feel* forgiven, it could be the devil’s way of trying to make me despair of the importance and need of the Sacrament. Since he pointed that out, and since God knows I went into Confession with the desire to not commit those sins again, and was sorry for having offended Him, the forgiveness and absolution is still valid. Regardless of whether or not I *feel* it.

    This was intriguing, and a great idea for those who may not “feel” as though their Confessions were truly forgiven!

  5. This is lovely. I had to do it when I became Catholic at age 30 – it was a great experience and a good one to start out with. Thank you for sharing.

  6. I have heard what a powerful experience this can be – glad to read about your courage in actually doing this!

  7. Wow, Monica. This is huge! I will have to talk to my pastor about doing this.

  8. I have made a lifelong (or general) confession as part of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. I am so glad to read that you found this to be so fruitful, because so did I! It was extremely difficult, but it was so, so worth it. I really appreciate this outline of steps, too. It is definitely something that takes a lot of thought and prayer!

    And it is important to note that we don’t make a general confession because we need to receive forgiveness again. The sins we have confessed have been forgiven already. But it is to help us increase our understanding of our past sins and patterns of sin, and to recognize how God has worked in our lives. With so much thoughtful preparation, we might remember things, too, that we had forgotten all about! What a grace! We also can have an increased sorrow for our sins and therefore an increased gratitude for God’s mercy, which is another grace to choose a better path.

  9. This was a beautiful post! I’d never heard of lifelong Confession, but I had a similar experience a few months ago when I finally got up the nerve to Confess *everything!* I just joined the CWBN Hop and scrambled to try to write adequately about that experience. I couldn’t quite get it right! You spoke my thoughts beautifully and, after the freedom found in my full Confession, I’d like to do a deeper examination of Conscience and give this lifetime Confession a try! Thank you for your beautiful insight. 🙂

  10. I may look into life-long confession at some point, after I get regular confession down better.
    I love the idea of it, though I am pretty sure my first confession, was pretty thorough. This is great food for thought.

    I love the idea of writing things down. Several people have suggested it. I’ve learned so much and been so comforted by all these posts.
    Blessings, Em

  11. Thank you for writing about this. I did this about 3 years ago, and there was so much to get out of it. I remember needing so much tissue, and (poor priest) sobbing through the whole thing. Afterwards ( and many tissues later), it was so freeing to get all that off my chest.

    I agree so much with Sarah Damm, “And it is important to note that we don’t make a general confession because we need to receive forgiveness again. The sins we have confessed have been forgiven already. But it is to help us increase our understanding of our past sins and patterns of sin, and to recognize how God has worked in our lives.”

    This is so true.

  12. Thank you for writing about this. I did this about 3 years ago, and there was so much to get out of it. I remember needing so much tissue, and (poor priest) sobbing through the whole thing. Afterwards ( and many tissues later), it was so freeing to get all that off my chest.

    I agree so much with Sarah Damm, “And it is important to note that we don’t make a general confession because we need to receive forgiveness again. The sins we have confessed have been forgiven already. But it is to help us increase our understanding of our past sins and patterns of sin, and to recognize how God has worked in our lives.”

    This is so true.

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