do you need a Lifelong Confession?

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.
lifelong_confession
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.
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.
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.
My spiritual director / confessor and good friend once signed a card to me with these words.
Remember that you are unconditionally loved by God and sustained at every moment by His Grace.
Pray about it.  Are you being called to do a life-long confession?
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.
Spend time in prayer, in preparation for this special confession.
Ask the Lord to help you remember everything that you need to confess.
Write it down…but you might want to keep that list hidden or use some serious code.
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.
Go to confession.  Have a blessed Lent!
If you have read all the way to the end of this post or if you have been affected by this post, please leave a comment.  Just checking if anyone is reading this. =)

12 thoughts on “do you need a Lifelong Confession?

  1. Monica,
    I read this beautiful post and it was very touching! I must say I have never heard of the term "Life long confession" much less made an appointment for one! See? and that's another reason why I love our Catholic faith, besides being forgiven 🙂 I learn something new everyday about the treasures and beauty of our faith, despite the world telling us the exact opposite! Thanks for sharing and happy Lent!

  2. Monica,
    Thank-you for sharing. I was also not aware of such a thing as "life-long confession". It sounds like it is certainly freeing to the soul. I'm not sure that I could work up the courage that you did to participate. Thank you for sharing your story. It has given me a lot to think about!

  3. Thank you so much, Monica for posting this. I did a "life-long" confession about 18 years ago and it was very powerful. It was not called a life long confession, but a general confession. I have posted this information below for those who are learning about this for the first time.

    GENERAL CONFESSION

    The term has two different meanings, both referring to the reception of the sacrament of penance. Most commonly, it means a private confession where the penitent (exceptionally) resolves to confess as far as he or she can all past sins, and not only those since the last confession. The practice is recommended when a person is entering on a new state of life — the priesthood, religious life, or marriage — and is required in some religious institutes by rule to be done annually. Less often, general confession is associated with the granting of general absolution. When general absolution may be validly given, the provision for general confession is that "the penitents who wish to receive absolution" are invited "to indicate this by some kind of sign." The penitents then say a general formula for confession, for example, "I confess to almighty God." However, one of the necessary dispositions for receiving valid absolution, when only a general confession was made, is that the penitent "resolve to confess in due time each one of the grave sins which he cannot confess at present."

    All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life.

  4. I attend the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius every year and this General Confession is something that St. Ignatius thought was so important that he built it into the retreat. I remember the first one I did and I felt the same way…as if a ton of weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I took immense joy in ripping those pieces of paper up!! I just returned from that retreat this weekend and even doing a confession that only covers the past year is so refreshing. I am so happy that you got to experience that!
    God Bless

  5. Wow Monica! Very powerful witness! I have heard of life-long confession for priests. It sounds as though if one is still guilt-ridden after confession of past sins then a life-long confession would be so helpful. Sometimes the evil one can tempt us with guilt over past sins and I think we need to be aware of that too. When we confess our sins to a priest contritely and the priest absolves us from our sins, God promises to remember them no more! God is forgiving, merciful and loving. We must believe this absolutely. If we are still tempted towards guilt after confession, we need to tell Satan to 'get lost!!!' Hugs, Jeanette

  6. That's awesome! I think I did something similar right before I joined the church ~ since we weren't sure about the validity of my baptism. It was terrifying, but so freeing, so lightening, so amazing to release that huge burden at Jesus feet and just leave it there, forever!

  7. I had the same experience, I had been praying to The Holy Spirit, to be my Counselor, my goal is to be My God in Heaven and wanted to know what I had to do. He asked me write all my sins on a paper. I cried as I was writing them, remembering the pain I caused Jesus. Some of my sins I had confessed, but felt maybe they were not sincere enough. It is so funny how My God works, the day I had a spat with my family I looked at the clock and said I can make it to confession. In my tears I drove to St. Michaels, the line was short and I wondered who would be my confessor. There was no name on the door, I walked in and low and behold there was Fr. Laural Minimo. He was a fallen away Catholic at for 18 years before becoming a Priest. I know God sent me there with him because he had experience what I was going through. I confessed and felt this great rush of forgiveness, he sent me to The Adoration to sit with Jesus in silence and let him heal me and tell me I was his child. The greatest feeling I have ever felt knowing that God has such great mercy for us no matter what he have done. He excepts us with love and mercy. Blessed be God. I have been going and praying for some time, this time I received His grace. I feel that he is preparing for His Kingdom. I also ask that I can do my purgatory here before I die, so I can go to Him. Amen This is the first time on this site.

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