SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

Mortified my Sins Mentioned in Homily: What to Do?

November 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Penance/Confession, Sacraments

confessionalDear Father Joseph, The last time I went to confession, the priest ended up using my fears and sins (the ones I had confessed) while preaching his next Sunday homily. I want to go back, but I was so humiliated by this. Help!!!

It is not hard to see how uncomfortable this must have been. Our sins and failures cause us tremendous suffering and it can be a terrible mortification to even suspect that others may know what they are. This is the reason why the sacrament of confession has a protective seal on it. All things spoken there are put into God’s hands, forgiven and forgotten. No one can use the information from confession in a way that would reveal the sin and the sinner, or be onerous to the one who has confessed.

That does not mean, however, that a priest can't take the pulse of his parish based on what he hears in confession and spiritual direction. Far from citing the sins of others (which, if he mentioned the sin and the sinner would be a direct violation of the seal of confession), he could speak generally about the difficulties he sees as a way to encourage, explain, motivate and help. Tact is always important here, especially to avoid the experience you have had.

In a situation like the one you mention, you may think that the priest has you alone in mind. It is much more likely that he does not even remember what you personally told him, but rather, that he has heard similar things quite often from many others… and not only in confession. When it comes to our sins we are very sensitive and it is hard to come to any other conclusion then that the priest is signaling us out, personally.

I would recommend continuing going to the sacrament, which is a great gift from God, and which not all take advantage of (you are blessed). If you are on more familiar terms with this priest or feel sufficient confidence, you could even mention to him what you experienced in the homily. He would surely be grateful and could also offer a better explanation for why he said what he did.

If in the end things don’t change, you can always find another confessor. The Church wants you to feel free and comfortable and would like to make it as easy as possible for you to go to this life giving sacrament.

Yours in Christ, Father Joseph Burtka, LC

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, the High Calling Seminary Preparation Program, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. In 2018, he launched the annual Avila Summit held at Hanceville, Alabama. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband, father of four, and grandfather of one, the President and Chief Operating Officer of EWTN News, Inc., a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer, speaker and pilgrimage director who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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