The knack How to confess,
Saturday 28 November 1998
The misconception about confession, that `it's all right for Catholics, you commit a sin, confess and then carry on', is not how it works. When you go, you should be thinking, `well, that wasn't very good, I'm not very pleased with myself, why did I have to be cruel, why didn't I do the right thing ... ?' You should have the idea that you don't want to do it again, you really want to be a better person. You don't go to confession so that you can continue on in the same way. Use it for self-examination and as a force for change - think, `tries hard, must do better'.
If you don't feel comfortable with a priest who knows you, go somewhere else. I often go to confession when I'm travelling round the country, or even when I'm out of the country, a cowardly thing to do, I know. Sometimes you may feel you're getting told off, like a child being guided. But that, in a sense, is what you ought to feel." Interview by Fiona McClymont
Roger McGough's most recent books are `The Spotted Unicorn' (Penguin) and `Ring of Words' (Faber), an anthology of poetry for children.
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