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 were a holiday and crowds of people, the priest did not read the prayers that are meant to be read at 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.
Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok
We can inculcate anything we want in ourselves. For instance, we can repeat to ourselves that we are holy and that we love everyone. Isn’t it better if we simply admit the truth that we aren’t holy and that we don’t love anyone?