Don’t even think of asking a priest about your own confession, or even alluding to it outside of the seal of the sacrament. It’s rude as it puts the priest in an untenable situation. He will likely look away, change the subject abruptly. They are trained that way. Priests are trained when it comes to confession, “it never happened”, and the penalty of latae sententiae “automatic” excommunication for breaking the seal of the confessional in which a priest would have to stop any sacramental ministry and assume a life of prayer and penance under the direction of his bishop. So, don’t do it. Be polite. You should know “it never happened”, too. Since God does not remember. And, the devil never lets us forget. One of the many ways you can tell them apart. Even if the devil looks like God, but no wounds, since the devil cannot, by definition, suffer for others.
“There’s a hotel in Wilmington, North Carolina located on the grounds of a former convent, where nuns used to live and pray. The convent had been closed some years ago, and recently it was converted into this hotel.
As a way of acknowledging the history of the property, the owners decided to get “creative,” turning one part of the old convent into an amenity for their guests. No clear explanation for it is given on the hotel website’s FAQ page. It’s not even mentioned when you check-in. Instead, it’s just listed on a hotel map for guests to discover themselves. It involves a modified confessional. What you do is enter the confessional with your key card, sit down, and take up a keyboard that’s there. What’s next? Well, you’re encouraged to type in your deepest, darkest secret. It’s completely anonymous, but your answer gets recorded in the system. To compensate your candidness, upon the wall it will then randomly select and display what a previous guest typed in. You reveal your darkest secret—the worst choice you’ve made—and you get to learn about someone else’s.
This amenity seizes upon something fundamental to the fallen human condition, but at the same time it twists it. You could say this hotel confessional contains two truths and a lie.
The first truth is: when it comes to the things we have done that we’re not proud of, the natural instinct is to hide them. Hide them from others, from God, even from ourselves. We try to ignore them, but we carry them with us.
A second truth is that we all have a desire to be free. Freed from what we keep hidden. From what we’re ashamed of.
The lie is this: that we can somehow get rid of the things we’re not proud of all by ourselves. You can just type it in anonymously and leave it there. As if learning someone else’s deepest sin can free you from yours. It’s a false form of forgiveness. You walk into this hotel confessional with all your sins, and when you walk back out they’re all still there. Something has been recorded, but nothing has been deleted.
If I stayed at this place, I would ask for a refund.
Yet even then, I would still be stuck with all my baggage. “I remained to myself a place of unhappiness,” says St. Augustine about his life of sin, “in which I could not abide, yet from which I could not depart” (Confessions, Bk 4, ch. 7).
Confession is about freedom. It marks a departure and a new beginning in which to abide. A beginning where all has been forgotten. When the priest says the words of absolution, it’s like those sins get erased and the eternal hard drive is wiped clean (cf. Ps 51:11). Properly speaking, it’s inaccurate to suggest the omniscient, immutable Creator can forget something—or anything, ever. But at the same time, He wishes to inspire deep confidence in the reality of His mercy and the relationship with Him that’s restored by His forgiving the guilt of our sins.
When St. Margaret Mary Alacoque first started receiving visions of Christ, Who asked her to promote devotion to His Most Sacred Heart, she of course had a hard time finding people who believed her. No priest wanted to be her spiritual director or confessor. The first time she met Father Claude de la Colombière, SJ, he was also dismissive. He told her, “If Jesus appears to you again, you go back and ask Him what the last mortal sin was that I confessed. If you can tell me that, then I’ll be your spiritual director.”
Our Lord did indeed appear to her again, and she asked Him. Jesus looked at her and all he said was, “I don’t remember.”
Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "“Si comprehendus, non est Deus.” -St Augustine, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "As the reading of bad books fills the mind with worldly and poisonous sentiments; so, on the other hand, the reading of pious works fills the soul with holy thoughts and good desires." -St. Alphonsus Liguori, "And above all, be on your guard not to want to get anything done by force, because God has given free will to everyone and wants to force no one, but only proposes, invites and counsels." –St. Angela Merici, “Yet such are the pity and compassion of this Lord of ours, so desirous is He that we should seek Him and enjoy His company, that in one way or another He never ceases calling us to Him . . . God here speaks to souls through words uttered by pious people, by sermons or good books, and in many other such ways.” —St. Teresa of Avila, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it. I want an intelligent, well-instructed laity… I wish you to enlarge your knowledge, to cultivate your reason, to get an insight into the relation of truth to truth, to learn to view things as they are, to understand how faith and reason stand to each other, what are the bases and principles of Catholicism, and where lie the main inconsistences and absurdities of the Protestant theory.” (St. John Henry Newman, “Duties of Catholics Towards the Protestant View,” Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England), "We cannot always have access to a spiritual Father for counsel in our actions and in our doubts, but reading will abundantly supply his place by giving us directions to escape the illusions of the devil and of our own self-love, and at the same time to submit to the divine will.” —St. Alphonsus Ligouri, "The harm that comes to souls from the lack of reading holy books makes me shudder . . . What power spiritual reading has to lead to a change of course, and to make even worldly people enter into the way of perfection." –St. Padre Pio, "Screens may grab our attention, but books change our lives!" – Word on Fire, "Reading has made many saints!" -St Josemaría Escrivá, "Do you pray? You speak to the Bridegroom. Do you read? He speaks to you." —St. Jerome, from his Letter 22 to Eustochium, "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, "God here speaks to souls through…good books“ – St Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, "You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.” -St Athanasius, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth. “When we pray we talk to God; when we read God talks to us…All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.” -St Isidore of Seville, “Also in some meditations today I earnestly asked our Lord to watch over my compositions that they might do me no harm through the enmity or imprudence of any man or my own; that He would have them as His own and employ or not employ them as He should see fit. And this I believe is heard.” -GM Hopkins, SJ, "Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book." — St. John Bosco, "Why don't you try explaining it to them?" – cf St Peter Canisius, SJ, Doctor of the Church, Doctor of the Catechism, "Already I was coming to appreciate that often apologetics consists of offering theological eye glasses of varying prescriptions to an inquirer. Only one prescription will give him clear sight; all the others will give him at best indistinct sight. What you want him to see—some particular truth of the Faith—will remain fuzzy to him until you come across theological eye glasses that precisely compensate for his particular defect of vision." -Karl Keating, "The more perfectly we know God, the more perfectly we love Him." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP, ST, I-II,67,6 ad 3, “But always when I was without a book, my soul would at once become disturbed, and my thoughts wandered." —St. Teresa of Avila, "Let those who think I have said too little and those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I have said just enough thank God with me." –St. Augustine, "Without good books and spiritual reading, it will be morally impossible to save our souls." —St. Alphonsus Liguori "Never read books you aren't sure about. . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?" -St. John Bosco " To teach in order to lead others to faith is the task of every preacher and of each believer." —St. Thomas Aquinas, OP. "Prayer purifies us, reading instructs us. Both are good when both are possible. Otherwise, prayer is better than reading." –St. Isidore of Seville “The aid of spiritual books is for you a necessity.… You, who are in the midst of battle, must protect yourself with the buckler of holy thoughts drawn from good books.” -St. John Chrysostom