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Author Topic: Falling in love with priest/confessor?  (Read 2888 times) Average Rating: 0
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mrsdalloway
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« on: February 02, 2013, 03:20:05 AM »

Out of curiosity, have any of the women here struggled with falling in love with their priest or father confessor? If so, how did/do you deal with it?
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« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2013, 03:46:09 AM »

How to deal with it? It's a no-brainer, in my book.

Whether he's a married priest or a monk, either way it's seriously messy, at least as serious as falling in "love" with any married man. Anyone in that situation should do all they can to eradicate such thoughts and feelings from their mind and heart. And they should find another priest to confess to.
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« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2013, 03:47:17 AM »

Mrsdalloway, you raise an excellent question beneficial not only for women but for all those who are in the position of counseling others. it is very easy for a person who is going through emotional turmoils and suddenly they come across  someone caring and understanding in their lives as well as someone who actually listens really listens to them, they might face a danger of forming that kind of personal attachment. the result can affect the individual or both directly or indirectly.

priests/ confessors, need to be extremely cautious when they are dealing with advising women who seek guidance in their daily lives and especially relationships , even if those women are married, well I would add especially if they are married. the caution includes maintaining a certain distance including body language such as eye contact, smile things women are extremely attuned to and for that reason susceptible to read too much into due to the distortion  their emotional state creates.

now to the more personal part of your question, I have not. how one deals with such things I would imagine varies from person to person, in the state of their psychological health. there is no one band aid for this. the scenario has to be a bit more detailed to address properly.


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« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2013, 07:42:02 PM »

Out of curiosity, have any of the women here struggled with falling in love with their priest or father confessor? If so, how did/do you deal with it?

mrsdalloway, if you find yourself in this position, then all I can recommend is that you terminate the confessor/penitent relationship immediately, as hard, painful, and impossible as this might seem to you.  Not to do so will lead only to heartbreak and intense personal suffering.  Your love for your confessor has no future ... and no present.  Even if he were to return your love, your dreams of happiness and consummation have no future.     
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« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2013, 07:49:58 PM »

Not to fear, I'm not dealing with this. Just asking a question.
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« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2013, 07:53:25 PM »

Thanks for the replies. You all have some good thoughts and suggestions. I'm not dealing with this but I wondered if women do. It seemed likely, given how vulnerable a woman is when she confesses.
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« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2013, 08:15:20 PM »

Thanks for the replies. You all have some good thoughts and suggestions. I'm not dealing with this but I wondered if women do. It seemed likely, given how vulnerable a woman is when she confesses.

Women must take care to dress modestly, avoid perfume, and guard their tongues and their senses so they will not tempt a priest. Setting boundaries is essential for both the penitent and the confessor.

Unfortunately, some priests have left the priesthood, church, wife, and family as a result of an affair with their secretary or a penitent. It is indeed very scandalous. Other priests, when encountering such a temptation, make haste to retreat to a monastery where they can seek help so that they can return to their parish strengthened in their faith.
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« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2013, 09:44:56 PM »

Speaking of boundaries - what sort of boundaries would normally exist between priests/confessors and women laity, to maintain healthy relationships and to avoid such emotional traps? 

This boundary issue I've often wondered about and have not seen directly addressed within Orthodoxy.  The priest-confessor/penitent relationship is a very unique and open one, and potentially problematic, especially for women who are emotionally vulnerable or have boundary issues (say from past abuse).  Some of the things I've seen women advised to "go ask your priest" or disclose in confession, are things that I think risky to raise with a man who you're not married or related to, are only heard by the priest by virtue of him being a priest, that he would not hear in any other context.  How do priest/confessors and women navigate this to avoid the risk of getting "too personal" and creating unwise emotional ties?  Thanks.
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« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2013, 09:53:20 PM »

I wonder about that, too, Deborah.
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« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2013, 09:58:59 PM »

Out of curiosity, have any of the women here struggled with falling in love with their priest or father confessor? If so, how did/do you deal with it?

mrsdalloway, if you find yourself in this position, then all I can recommend is that you terminate the confessor/penitent relationship immediately, as hard, painful, and impossible as this might seem to you.  Not to do so will lead only to heartbreak and intense personal suffering.  Your love for your confessor has no future ... and no present.  Even if he were to return your love, your dreams of happiness and consummation have no future.     
^ This.  If a person finds this is the situation they are in, they must leave immediately.
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« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2013, 11:43:42 PM »

Taking the relationship with your Spiritual Father to the next level!
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« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2013, 12:43:42 AM »

Taking the relationship with your Spiritual Father to the next level!
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« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2013, 01:26:36 AM »

Speaking of boundaries - what sort of boundaries would normally exist between priests/confessors and women laity, to maintain healthy relationships and to avoid such emotional traps? 

This boundary issue I've often wondered about and have not seen directly addressed within Orthodoxy.  The priest-confessor/penitent relationship is a very unique and open one, and potentially problematic, especially for women who are emotionally vulnerable or have boundary issues (say from past abuse).  Some of the things I've seen women advised to "go ask your priest" or disclose in confession, are things that I think risky to raise with a man who you're not married or related to, are only heard by the priest by virtue of him being a priest, that he would not hear in any other context.  How do priest/confessors and women navigate this to avoid the risk of getting "too personal" and creating unwise emotional ties?  Thanks.

Is there anything in Orthodoxy -Canon or otherwise- that states a priest is THE ONLY witness whom you may confess sins in their presence?

I know a priest is well known as the person who is there for the confession, and its the only way I've seen it done (at least in modern time)... However, I can't imagine a priest really wanting to "hear" or even "fall in sin" to some details of some confessions.

What if a very attractive woman was detailing how she wore tight & lewd clothing for the sole purpose of attracting lust towards her.... Then she goes on admitting how much she wants men to drool over her.....

Hahaha as a man, I can't imagine how a guy would handle that.....   Me, I'd just want warp speed out of there...

Now, what if she admitted it to a nun....... Sweeeet mercy.   But I've never heard of it done that way.

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« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2013, 01:28:14 AM »

Can't/don't people sometimes confess to elders, even though they can't get sacramental absolution from them in many cases?
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« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2013, 01:29:52 AM »

If a woman is essentially having an emotional affair with a priest because she wants "best friend" level disclosure of minute details and feelings, I think she should probably find a trusted female friend to talk about these things with instead.

That would go the same for a married man having such a relationship with a woman, etc.
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« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2013, 01:32:33 AM »

Can't/don't people sometimes confess to elders, even though they can't get sacramental absolution from them in many cases?
I had heard that confession can technically be heard by any Orthodox Christian authorized to hear confessions but that only a priest can grant the sacramental absolution of the holy mystery.
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« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2013, 01:33:51 AM »

Can't/don't people sometimes confess to elders, even though they can't get sacramental absolution from them in many cases?
I had heard that confession can technically be heard by any Orthodox Christian authorized to hear confessions but that only a priest can grant the sacramental absolution of the holy mystery.
I think it is a fairly common practice in convents for the sisters to confess to the abbess and then receive absolution from the priest.
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« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2013, 02:08:00 AM »

A very good friend told me this little anecdote-a propos of confessing to lay people- there was this old man in their village that liked drinking a lot.  So he would go to the pub early in the morning-Sundays included. What's funny is the ritualized way he'd put it to fellow villagers : "I'm going to commune now, cause Mary (his wife) confessed me last night."
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« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2013, 02:40:57 AM »

I wonder about that, too, Deborah.

Are you Orthodox?
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« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2013, 02:52:45 AM »

Me? Yes.
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« Reply #20 on: February 03, 2013, 03:08:57 AM »

Speaking of boundaries - what sort of boundaries would normally exist between priests/confessors and women laity, to maintain healthy relationships and to avoid such emotional traps? 

This boundary issue I've often wondered about and have not seen directly addressed within Orthodoxy.  The priest-confessor/penitent relationship is a very unique and open one, and potentially problematic, especially for women who are emotionally vulnerable or have boundary issues (say from past abuse).  Some of the things I've seen women advised to "go ask your priest" or disclose in confession, are things that I think risky to raise with a man who you're not married or related to, are only heard by the priest by virtue of him being a priest, that he would not hear in any other context.  How do priest/confessors and women navigate this to avoid the risk of getting "too personal" and creating unwise emotional ties?  Thanks.

What sort of boundaries do secular male counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists have when dealing with women who really are mentally ill, and neither likely have no interest in living anything remotely resembling a holy life?   How do they avoid the emotional traps?

The way to not get too personal, is to not get too personal.  Lurid details aren't necessary and there really aren't enough hours in the day.

 

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« Reply #21 on: February 03, 2013, 03:20:26 AM »

Me? Yes.


So, you just want to know about poor, misfortunate women with misplaced affections and how priests deal with that?

I can hardly get this out without laughing, but have you asked your priest?

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« Reply #22 on: February 03, 2013, 04:57:00 AM »

I heard you don't have to go to confession rather you can show up on pascha in time to get the candle light to take home, take communion and you don't have to go back until next pascha  just kidding Tongue Roll Eyes Shocked
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« Reply #23 on: February 03, 2013, 06:28:23 AM »

Speaking of boundaries - what sort of boundaries would normally exist between priests/confessors and women laity, to maintain healthy relationships and to avoid such emotional traps? 


Deborah, these are just my .2 cents, mere personal opinions, what I would say if a friend was to ask me, so take it with a grain of salt. I am definitly not qualified to offer indepth advise on the matter so .. Smiley

The person who is in the position to hear confessions is vulnerable on many levels. There are many temptations that sink spiritual direction into merely a spiritual discussion trapping both the penitent and the confessor in an illusion of various manifestations. There can be an emotional affinity that might be created as a result of opening up to another person. There might be aspects of the personality that are unequipped to deal with having certain leverage over another without abusing that leverage towards a personal gain of some sort. But that has to do with the confessor side of things, so without going too much into that, I think there are practical aspects to this women penitents of all walks of life, can follow:


Do not go to meet with a priest/monk all unaccompanied, I know this seems archaic butstill have someone else close by with you when arranging to do visit or are being visited. This will save not only the confessor/penitent temptation but others who might see or know of the meeting.

Do not go visiting after a certain hour of the day, namely after sundown. People are spiritually vulnerable when they think they have the cover of the night.


Do not go into too much intimate detail while confessing sexual related matters, precise but general terms are enough , and if you do not know of them ask around , the laity have their own slangs for these things they will update you. Going into too much detail on those matters can recreate the temptation for you as well as having the potential to lure the confessor into one. Although spiritual guidance has a psychological aspect to it, it is not all psychology it deals with a spiritual reality far deeper than psychology is able to address. So both confessor and penitent must take care not to be a temptation and not to allow a temptation to continue unresolved the right way.


Do not make a best friend out of your confessor, if you find that you are too close to your confessor on an intimate friendly terms like Nicholas said, then it’s time to move on to another. The authoritative distance must be there for the possible correction and guidance needed and for the spirit of obedience required.


At the time of confessing or while listening to the guidance, try to keep a penitential demeanor in regards to your body language, keep your eyes towards the icon or keep your head and eyes cast down. You are not having a friendly chit chat nor are you with a best friend where you get to gaze into the eyes of your friend and indulge in your emotional bond of intimacy and understanding. Don’t cross that boundary and don’t allow yours to be crossed either.

Now as a penitential woman if one does happen to feel one is crossing the boundary perhaps it might help one's perspective to think about :

1.The integrity of you and the person you love will not be there if that boundary was to be crossed by the person and your affection was returned.
2.The spiritual guidance , understanding  and compassion you have seen is not exclusive to you, it is there to all others that come seeking help, you are not special in that sense to the confessor.

3.it is true that the Spiritually aware man has a depth that is beautiful and right beyond anything or any standard the world can offer in a man. Thus it is very easy to get attached to such a person for the spiritually inclined personalities. Often times when attachment still forms in impossible situations, it forms as a result of a deep unconscious attraction to the spiritual beauty there. However it is obvious that were they to act upon their feelings, the spiritual beauty they initially had and were attracted to will be lost. so in the light of that knowledge one must make the painful decision of terminating such relationships right away. What I am saying is, in the end the person one loves will no longer be that person when made to abandon everything that makes them who they are at the core level.

4.It is time to find another confessor and interact with stricter boundaries than before.


thats all I got for now.. Smiley
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« Reply #24 on: February 03, 2013, 11:12:15 AM »

^^ I always see my Priest in private and I can't imagine, practically, how it would be possible any other way as I don't have family in this state who are also Orthodox. Apart from that, this is great advice.
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« Reply #25 on: February 03, 2013, 12:22:28 PM »

Hiwot, thank you for this very down-to-earth, practical advice. Smiley  If this is .02 worth, I'm definitely buying the book when it comes out! Grin
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« Reply #26 on: February 03, 2013, 02:36:21 PM »

That's very personal but I can say I had this problem when I was a Roman Catholic (but in heart Orthodox).

I fell in love with a priest who was my confessor. But it had happened before he became my confessor (he was teaching religion at my school for one year). It's very long story, it was the first time I've fallen in love and it was lasting a few years. In one point he'd broken contact with me (and it's not helped to destroy my feelings toward him), after some time he's started talking to me again (my feelins were actual yet, but I was much more mature, mainly because of Orthodoxy) and even confessing me. Of course, it's very difficult to confess to someone who attracts you, but he was the priest who knew me the best and he's very good spiritual father.

However, I can say this situation was one of many factors that have leaded me to the faith of my fathers - Orthodoxy.

And I don't have such problems in the Orthodox Church at all. Maybe because Orthodox priests are married (so there is a natural blockade) and they  (I know that I'm generalizing now) treat women in a bit different way than Roman Catholics priests.
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« Reply #27 on: February 03, 2013, 03:28:40 PM »

No. Not the Priest/Confessor he's just there to guide you
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« Reply #28 on: February 03, 2013, 03:51:30 PM »

Its a tough situation. I've heard that in Orthodox countries, where there are lots of monasteries, women who are struggling with feminine problems usually seek the guidance of nuns/women monks for problems that may be too racy in words to tell a priest of course, they still have to go to confession. If I were a woman in that type of a situation, I would definitely try to talk to a nun or a respected trustworthy elder lady in the church about the issue or go to a different church (if thats possible) and of course much prayer to the Theotokos  angel.
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« Reply #29 on: February 03, 2013, 09:32:47 PM »

Thank you, Hiwot, that was all very beautifully and clearly put.

I just want to add that those who are saying one must keep a certain distance and confess or discuss in sight of "chaperones" and go to another father confessor if one starts to fall into romantic involvement with a father confessor, are completely correct.

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« Reply #30 on: February 03, 2013, 11:41:20 PM »

From my point of view it would be more of a risk to fall in love with a priest for RC since they have single priests. Otherwise it is an issue that is essentially the same as falling in love with any other married man when you are dealing with a married priest. I suspect some monastics might be careful of this issue since they are single. But I have no basis for this suspicion.
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« Reply #31 on: February 04, 2013, 12:25:01 AM »

Thank you, Hiwot, that was all very beautifully and clearly put.

I just want to add that those who are saying one must keep a certain distance and confess or discuss in sight of "chaperones" and go to another father confessor if one starts to fall into romantic involvement with a father confessor, are completely correct.

The way not to get your hand burned, is to keep it away from the stove.  

I agree.

It helps to have confessional areas where the penitent and priest are in view or slightly obscured by a metal screen. Thus, it is good to go to confession at a scheduled time at a time when others are also confessing.

Having a private room for confessions is not a good idea; in fact, isn't that a Roman Catholic or Italian invention? Greek Orthodox tend to use the crying room, while some ROCOR or OCA churches have private rooms next to the iconostasis.

From my point of view it would be more of a risk to fall in love with a priest for RC since they have single priests. Otherwise it is an issue that is essentially the same as falling in love with any other married man when you are dealing with a married priest. I suspect some monastics might be careful of this issue since they are single. But I have no basis for this suspicion.

St. Seraphim of Sarov would not confess the nuns nor hear the confession of the Abbess even though he was in charge of them. It was said in several places of St. Seraphim's biography, by Father Lazarus Moore, may his memory be eternal, that St. Seraphim cautioned monks and hieromonks against being around women or hearing their confessions as it is too great a temptation for monks to be around women. Just because a person is a monk does not mean that they are not tempted by women. Strangely, St. Seraphim did accept women into his cell to counsel them, but only after years of solitude.

Nuns too are not free of temptation. And when men and women visit a monastery, that is why they are asked to wear modest apparel: long sleeved shirts and long pants for men; long-sleeved garments and mid-calf or ankle length dresses and skirts for women and girls, and of course, the customary scarf.

[Edited to clarify some pronouns. Those pesky things.]
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« Reply #32 on: February 04, 2013, 12:36:17 AM »

I heard you don't have to go to confession rather you can show up on pascha in time to get the candle light to take home, take communion and you don't have to go back until next pascha  just kidding Tongue Roll Eyes Shocked

Unfortunately, that is a very common occurrence in many Orthodox Churches, where many people show up for the Wednesday Holy Unction and consider that service to be Holy Confession. Then they come to Pascha, get the candle, receive Holy Communion, and leave immediately after while the Divine Liturgy is still in progress. Lord have mercy. And we never see them until the Nativity or the following year's Holy Week. However, I have talked with several of those people. They were scared of confessing as they have heard of bad experiences under Communist Russia, Albania, or Romania where confessions were reported to the KGB.
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« Reply #33 on: February 04, 2013, 12:48:20 AM »

Speaking of boundaries - what sort of boundaries would normally exist between priests/confessors and women laity, to maintain healthy relationships and to avoid such emotional traps? 

This boundary issue I've often wondered about and have not seen directly addressed within Orthodoxy.  The priest-confessor/penitent relationship is a very unique and open one, and potentially problematic, especially for women who are emotionally vulnerable or have boundary issues (say from past abuse).  Some of the things I've seen women advised to "go ask your priest" or disclose in confession, are things that I think risky to raise with a man who you're not married or related to, are only heard by the priest by virtue of him being a priest, that he would not hear in any other context.  How do priest/confessors and women navigate this to avoid the risk of getting "too personal" and creating unwise emotional ties?  Thanks.

What sort of boundaries do secular male counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists have when dealing with women who really are mentally ill, and neither likely have no interest in living anything remotely resembling a holy life?   How do they avoid the emotional traps?

The way to not get too personal, is to not get too personal.  Lurid details aren't necessary and there really aren't enough hours in the day.

 



Amen.

There's no need to go into endless detail in confession. That said, a good confessor will tell you if there's some problem, so there's no need to endlessly worry about the state of the priest hearing the confession. It's pretty unlikely you'll be his first sinner to confess.
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« Reply #34 on: February 04, 2013, 11:52:50 AM »

Thank you, Hiwot, that was all very beautifully and clearly put.

I just want to add that those who are saying one must keep a certain distance and confess or discuss in sight of "chaperones" and go to another father confessor if one starts to fall into romantic involvement with a father confessor, are completely correct.

The way not to get your hand burned, is to keep it away from the stove.  

Father, something I've wondered about, is it possible for the Matushka/Popadia to hear a woman's confession and then to tell her husband that yes, she heard her sins, and yes she was penitent and leave it at that, the Priest then issuing the absolution?  Or would this weigh too heavily on the Priest, him being responsible for their "sheep's" soul?

Or do I have this all sorts of wrong?
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« Reply #35 on: February 04, 2013, 03:31:43 PM »

although I understand where the expectation for the married to be less prone to such temptation comes from. as some in here very well know, the married ones when they are in such a postion, have a better cover and for some it just comes down to a specific 'need' they are looking to address. all around its better to be cautious.

thank you Father, Deborah and Ausi:)
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« Reply #36 on: February 04, 2013, 04:10:58 PM »

in our church, only married priests generally hear womens' confessions. girls can confess to monk priests.
our priests' wives are generally like angels and we love them hugely, so that is a barrier to falling in love with the confession father.
 Smiley
(this may be the same in all the churches, but i have one tasoni i especially love very very much!)
confession is done in a quiet corner of the church, so people can see what is going on but not hear it.
if confession is done in another place, like the priest's house (when they are renting a church, so can't go to church except sunday) then someone (eg. tasoni / matushka) is always at home, maybe in another room, but in a situation where they could theoretically walk in at any minute.

if there is a really sensitive issue like with menstruation and sex, then women usually ask an older / spiritually older woman for advice and then confess (if it is necessary) an abbreviated version.
(like hiwot said - basically follow these guidelines).

remember that you are confessing your sins to God, so the sincerity of your heart is far more important than the minute details and accuracy of the confession.

i have often remembered something after confession (eg. i gossiped to x as well as to y) but if i have confessed and truly repented of (turned away from) gossiping, then i don't panic and phone the priest; instead i remember his advice on how to avoid gossip (avoid pride / jealousy / self-importance etc).
i suppose if i confessed of gossip only and then remembered lust, it would be different, and i would need to confess again.
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« Reply #37 on: February 04, 2013, 04:20:09 PM »

A very good friend told me this little anecdote-a propos of confessing to lay people- there was this old man in their village that liked drinking a lot.  So he would go to the pub early in the morning-Sundays included. What's funny is the ritualized way he'd put it to fellow villagers : "I'm going to commune now, cause Mary (his wife) confessed me last night."
LOL I wonder what she held over his head, a cast iron skillet?  Grin
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« Reply #38 on: February 04, 2013, 07:08:43 PM »

Out of curiosity, have any of the women here struggled with falling in love with their priest or father confessor? If so, how did/do you deal with it?

I will need a photo before I could advise you on how I would deal with it.
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