Since it's been a few days, I thought I would add a new post rather than just submit a combox entry.
The conversation ensued as to what makes for a "run of the mill psychological excuse," to which Theresa added:
I think I spent many years making the kind of confessions you are talking about -- nothing terribly specific, and nothing that accused myself of much. I think the problem was that I needed to "grow up" in my ability to make a good Confession. A confessor once directed me to an Examination of Conscience at St. Gertrude's website, (www.stgertrude.org, under "Resources") and he recommended that I review it every day. It has helped tremendously as I try to get at those specific sins and accuse myself appropriately. Maybe you could hand these out to penitents who are struggling to make a good confession!
I think she nailed what i was thinking: nothing terribly specific, nothing that accuses of anything. It is just a bunch of generalities, with a lot of story, yet not much content. Think a Danielle Steele novel. (Just to be clear, I've never read one!)
So, if you find yourself giving long, drawn out explanations as to why, perhaps, this might or might not possibly be sinful, think to yourself: "Less story, more sin." Give the priest the context, but don't go into gory details. Especially this time or year, as we usually have lines and have to get through a number of penitents in a short amount of time.
Since my brain is running at 50% at best currently, examples:
- My husband did this and I got a little upset at him. (Remember, confess your sins, not your husband's!)
- I felt bad about this. (Ok, guilt can be a sign of the sin, but guilt is not in itself a sin.)
- excuses are out, let the priest figure out if there are extenuating circumstances.
Ok, brain is going quickly and I have to hear more confessions tonight, so I got to recharge somehow. I'll fill in as I remember.