Sacramentally speaking, there are a few things that would make a confession invalid: The penitent must examine his or her conscience, truly repent, confess all mortal sins and do the penance he or she gets assigned. The priest has to say the words of absolution.
But my friend Nick Christie thought of a few gray areas so I filled out his list.
Your confession may be invalid if …
10. You hear a voice say: “Your confession is being recorded for quality control purposes.”
9. “This is John, a seminarian,” says the priest. “Would you mind if he joined us for training?”
8. After your confession the priest sounds accusatory and defensive: “Are you really sorry? Because I heard a tone in your voice like you’re not really sorry.”
7. When you’re done, you hear: “Whatever, buddy. Now just give me your social security number and everything will be forgiven.”
6. When you’re done you hear your wife, obviously trying to imitate a male voice, say “Good confession, my son. For your penance I want you to do more around the house. A lot more.”
5. When you’re done listing your sins, the priest says, “Awesome! Now let me tell you what I did.”
4. The priest insists on only giving you absolution using his “duck voice.”
3. The confessional fades away and becomes a clown car, and you realize you’re back in your recurring dream about the circus.
2. The priest says: “For your penance, I want you to deliver this package to the Chinese embassy. Use the back door and don’t let the woman in the yellow jacket see you.”
1. When you’re done you hear an anxious voice say, “If you are really a voice outside my head, speak my mother’s name. My voices never will.”