Question: What role does a priest play during a confession? In one church they simply absolved me of my sins without even hearing my confession (maybe because there were a lot of people); in my parish where I usually go, after having confessed my sins, I heard nothing but the absolution of my sins from the priest. Could this be the right way? They say on TV that after a person lists his sins in confession, the priest should talk to the person and see if he understands his sins, why they happened, etc. There are so many questions and a spiritual father is vital to guide and keep you from falling into despair. Can you tell me how to find him?
Answer: A spiritual father is not a needle to be looked for, it is up to God to reveal him. You have to feel confidence in that priest. I believe that all of those people who are seeking and asking God to give them such an opportunity get it.
There are different priests, and different backgrounds. Probably, when there was a holiday and crowds of people, the priest did not read the prayers that are meant to be read in the beginning of the confession. That’s his obligation and he is accountable for it. If you repent (and regret) of your sins earnestly and with all your heart, then God accepts your confession and the Sacrament is valid – as long as the priest said the absolution prayer. So do not get confused. We should follow Christ, we should live, work, and look for a genuine connection with God.
We do not talk with the priest when we confess, and neither does the priest tell us anything from himself. We talk to God with the priest as a witness of our repentance.
Of course, it would be desirable if you had a priest whom you knew, trusted, and who would know your life. This would make your conversation very different. However, you risk switching to human communication in this case. Of course, we all need human communication, but we should not forget that it is not the priest who forgives sins, but Christ, and we should turn to Him in the first place.
Question: From time to time I get caught up in a wave of strong hostility towards my friend. I am annoyed by the fact that she gossips about me, and that she constantly calls and tells me about her life and much more. I pray for her but I realize that I dislike her. I don’t wish anything bad to happen to her, but I don’t want to chat, discuss husbands and, most importantly, listen to her for hours. It hurts to hear her tell me about her sins. How to act correctly in a Christian way? How not to be judgmental?
Answer: Thank God that you pray for your friend and that you are not angry. When a person starts talking and demanding attention, and when it is unhelpful for you, your soul begins to feel pain, and you may get annoyed and have bad feelings.
You and your friend should definitely talk about it somehow. If she wants to be in touch with you in the future, you have to keep her at a distance. Why talk about things that are not beneficial at all? You should reduce your communication time and choose it yourself. If you listen to any of these things, they all get into your head. Why hurt your soul? We have enough troubles with our own sins, don’t we?
It is one thing to talk about something good, constructive, enlightening, and to give advice and support to the person. If she just rants, gossips, and pries into someone else’s dirty laundry, that’s another thing, and you don’t need it at all. You shouldn’t be shy about it, you shouldn’t tolerate it. It is fine for the time being, and then everything will blow up anyway.
You just need to talk about your relationship and specify what you would like to talk about, what you consider to be useful and what isn’t. If the person is sensible, he or she will hear what you say, and your friendship will continue. If, on the other hand, the person takes offense and turns away – well, keep praying for him or her, and maybe one day he or she will figure it out.