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  #1  
Old Nov 11, '06, 8:18 pm
ukfan ukfan is offline
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Default How does confession work exactly?

I'm currently in RCIA and have already been baptised about 15 years ago or so. I'm wondering how first confession works exactly. I mean, when I go to my first confession and confess all of the sins that I remember, are *all* of my sins forgiven? Say for instance if I confess all of my mortal sins and in between the time I confess and receive the Eucharist I remember another mortal sin do I have to confess again? If I received without confessing would I be receiving unworthily?
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  #2  
Old Nov 11, '06, 8:46 pm
water water is offline
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Default Re: How does confession work exactly?

While I am still waiting for others to answer your question, I could tell you this had exactly happened to me.

On a Saturday evening, I went to the confession and stayed to attend Mass. About 1 min to receive the communion, all of a sudden I remembered my mortal sin which I committed about 20 years ago.

I decided not to go receive the communion although I wanted to receive so bad. At the moment, I feel sad that I committed this sin and I was sad that I had been wanting to receive the communion during the Mass, and to find out that I had a mortal sin.

This sadness inside of me did not overcome the happiness that I had. Remembering this 20-year-old sin of mine just a minute before receiving His Body and Blood is not a coincident. I was happy because through God's graces, He had helped me to remember my sin and to repent.

I stayed after the Mass and told my priest that I just confessed and now I remembered another sin, he let me confess again - It was a face-to-face confession, but I wasn't nervous about it. I felt so much better - all those sins I had committed are forgiven.
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  #3  
Old Nov 11, '06, 8:54 pm
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LilyM LilyM is offline
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Default Re: How does confession work exactly?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ukfan View Post
I'm currently in RCIA and have already been baptised about 15 years ago or so. I'm wondering how first confession works exactly. I mean, when I go to my first confession and confess all of the sins that I remember, are *all* of my sins forgiven? Say for instance if I confess all of my mortal sins and in between the time I confess and receive the Eucharist I remember another mortal sin do I have to confess again? If I received without confessing would I be receiving unworthily?
You have to make an honest effort to remember and confess every mortal sin. It's not strictly necessary to confess venial sins, but you can choose to, perhaps you could concentrate just on those that recur frequently, that you've committed recently or that really weigh on your conscience.

You'll want to spend time preparing thoroughly for that first confession. Make a written list - at least you'll have it with you if you have a brain freeze in the confessional. And you can have a little fun shredding or ripping it up into confetti afterwards as a symbol of the forgiveness you've received.

You also may want to make a special appointment with the priest - 15 years worth of sins usually makes for a fairly lengthy confession!

If you genuinely forget to mention a sin, even a mortal one, it is forgiven nonetheless. If you remember something after the absolution but while still in the confessional (happens to me all the time), politely mention it anyway just so the priest knows and you're clear with God. Make a joke about 'hate to interrupt, but I also did xyz, just thought you'd like to know ...'

You may wish for your own peace of mind to mention any forgotten mortal sins the next time you confess, but you are free to receive Communion in the meantime. Just as long as you haven't deliberately omitted or deliberately been really vague about any mortal sin.
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Old Nov 11, '06, 8:59 pm
ukfan ukfan is offline
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Default Re: How does confession work exactly?

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Originally Posted by water View Post
While I am still waiting for others to answer your question, I could tell you this had exactly happened to me.

On a Saturday evening, I went to the confession and stayed to attend Mass. About 1 min to receive the communion, all of a sudden I remembered my mortal sin which I committed about 20 years ago.

I decided not to go receive the communion although I wanted to receive so bad. At the moment, I feel sad that I committed this sin and I was sad that I had been wanting to receive the communion during the Mass, and to find out that I had a mortal sin.

This sadness inside of me did not overcome the happiness that I had. Remembering this 20-year-old sin of mine just a minute before receiving His Body and Blood is not a coincident. I was happy because through God's graces, He had helped me to remember my sin and to repent.

I stayed after the Mass and told my priest that I just confessed and now I remembered another sin, he let me confess again - It was a face-to-face confession, but I wasn't nervous about it. I felt so much better - all those sins I had committed are forgiven.
I hear ya. I'm just wondering because this is going to be my first communion and I don't want to have to abstain (which I really don't want to do) or receive unworthily. 15+ years is a long time to remember all of my mortal sins. I wish the Nicene Creed said "We believe in two baptisms..."
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Old Nov 11, '06, 9:05 pm
ukfan ukfan is offline
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Default Re: How does confession work exactly?

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Originally Posted by LilyM View Post
Just as long as you haven't deliberately omitted or deliberately been really vague about any mortal sin.
I'm glad you mentioned this. Just how explicit am I supposed to be in confession? I mean, I read somewhere that I souldn't be so explicit in describing the sin to cause my confessor to sin in thought (I assumed like a sexual sin) but what do I actually say? Do I say "I've commited a sexual sin" or do I have to tell him what it was?

Sorry, what can I say? I was protestant
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  #6  
Old Nov 11, '06, 9:43 pm
FillTheVoid FillTheVoid is offline
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Default Re: How does confession work exactly?

After you are baptized do you need to confess all the sins of your past?

What about Mortal Sins you commit and forget about, are those held against you?
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  #7  
Old Nov 11, '06, 9:48 pm
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LilyM LilyM is offline
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Default Re: How does confession work exactly?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ukfan View Post
I'm glad you mentioned this. Just how explicit am I supposed to be in confession? I mean, I read somewhere that I souldn't be so explicit in describing the sin to cause my confessor to sin in thought (I assumed like a sexual sin) but what do I actually say? Do I say "I've commited a sexual sin" or do I have to tell him what it was?

Sorry, what can I say? I was protestant
It's OK - it's not like this type of thing is inborn knowledge even for us cradle Catholics. You basically need to be just specific enough for the priest to know what type of sin it was.

So for your example of 'I've committed a sexual sin" you would have to say a bit more - something like 'I looked at pornography' 'I committed homosexual acts' or whatever.

Priests are pretty much unshockable and most of them have pretty much heard everything. If statements as simple as the above cause them to sin in thought, that's really their own problem.

The priest may need slightly more information from you sometimes in order to advise you properly. For example whether you're married or single, whether the pornography was TV, internet, magazine or what have you. It's better not to volunteer these sort of details, though - the priest will ask you whatever he thinks he needs to know.

You do need to give an estimate of the number of times (or frequency) for each sin, since this helps the priest determine if the sin is an habitual one, or at least a frequent one, and thus more of a problem for you.
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  #8  
Old Nov 11, '06, 9:49 pm
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LilyM LilyM is offline
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Default Re: How does confession work exactly?

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Originally Posted by FillTheVoid View Post
After you are baptized do you need to confess all the sins of your past?

What about Mortal Sins you commit and forget about, are those held against you?
No, if you've genuinely forgotten that you committed a sin it is forgiven anyway. Just as long as you don't deliberately omit anything.
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  #9  
Old Nov 11, '06, 10:00 pm
kevinfraser kevinfraser is offline
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Default Re: How does confession work exactly?

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Originally Posted by ukfan View Post
I'm glad you mentioned this. Just how explicit am I supposed to be in confession? ... "I've commited a sexual sin" or do I have to tell him what it was?
There is NO NEED for you to apologize. You are asking a GREAT question that demonstrates you are sincerely walking with the Lord closer and closer. That you are asking this question means you are serious about the sacrament of confession and that is a powerful sign of your conversion to Him!

All you need to tell the priest is the Nature and close as possible, the number of the sins. For a large number, take a few moments beforehand and just make your best attempt at an estimate. That means there is no need for you to relate an entire story: just the outcome.

A way many of the saints have looked at confession, (and it sheds light on the tradition of viewing Satan as a kind of demonic prosecuting attorney in the heavenly courts) is to "accuse yourself." It is said that St. Francis used to accuse himself most severely in confession.

I try to use that approach myself, because it tends to focus my mind on the outcome of my sin: the offense I gave to God. My offense against Him is the bottom line.

Remember: nature and number. Go through the ten commandments--you can't go wrong with that approach.

• "I committed 16 murders"
• "I skipped mass for 18 years"
• "I purposely led innocents into sin 3 times"

If the priest needs more details to understand the nature and magnitude of these sins in your life, he will ask for more details. Priests are more attuned to sin and confession than you or I will probably ever understand. There is no way to shock a priest in the confessional--it's the LAST thing you should ever be concerned about.

Try to cover all the bases -- all the mortal sins and venial sins that are repeated because unconfessed venial sin can become mortal sin--attachment to sin. But be careful of something called scrupulosity--a kind of pride in refusing to believe in Christ's forgiveness of our sins. Ask your priest to explain scrupulosity, and how to avoid it.

Don't get the idea that I'm perfect at it myself or anything like that, but try to remember that examination of conscience is a lifelong process, and like anything else, with practice, you will improve the skill of examining your conscience. But God sees everything, and that includes sins I might decide not to confess. So if in doubt, confess it. If it isn't a sin and you think it is, the priest will tell you it isn't.

I find it helpful to say to myself "How did I turn my back on Him today?"

When you make a good confession--come clean--and the priest says "..I absolve you of your sins..." remember it is not the priest, but Jesus who speaks through the lips of his priest saying those words. This is so critical to understand, that if a priest were to say something other than "..I absolve you.." the sacrament would not be valid. This has happened to me before -- watch out for it. It also makes a better argument for always going to the same priest, too.
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Old Nov 11, '06, 10:06 pm
Animadversor Animadversor is offline
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Default Re: How does confession work exactly?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ukfan View Post
I mean, when I go to my first confession and confess all of the sins that I remember, are *all* of my sins forgiven? Say for instance if I confess all of my mortal sins and in between the time I confess and receive the Eucharist I remember another mortal sin do I have to confess again? If I received without confessing would I be receiving unworthily?
If you honestly confess all the mortal sins that you can remember—no deliberately omitting one, no deceptive vagueness—then all your sins are forgiven, including those you innocently neglected to mention. You may—and, I believe, should—receive Holy Communion without qualms or scruples even if between the time you make your confession and the time you receive Communion you remember a mortal sin that you had forgotten to mention. Now, it is true that if you do forget to confess a mortal sin and then remember it after having been absolved, you must then confess what you forgot the next time you approach the Sacrament of Penance. However, even if you deliberately decline to do so, the original innocently forgotten sin remains forgiven: God does not revoke forgiveness. You would, though, be committing a fresh sin in refusing to confess what you now remember.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ukfan View Post
Just how explicit am I supposed to be in confession? I mean, I read somewhere that I souldn't be so explicit in describing the sin to cause my confessor to sin in thought (I assumed like a sexual sin) but what do I actually say? Do I say "I've commited a sexual sin" or do I have to tell him what it was?
Be particular but not explicit. The priest needs to know just what it is you did. There is a difference, after all, between, say, masturbation and committing adultery with your brother's pre-teen wife. But there is no need to be graphic. Rely on the priest here to clue you in if you are being either insufficiently or overly explicit.
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Old Nov 11, '06, 10:34 pm
kevinfraser kevinfraser is offline
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Default Re: How does confession work exactly?

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Originally Posted by ukfan View Post
...when I go to my first confession and confess all of the sins that I remember, are *all* of my sins forgiven? ...
http://www.ewtn.com/library/Prayer/examconscience.HTM
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Old Nov 11, '06, 10:34 pm
Animadversor Animadversor is offline
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Default Re: How does confession work exactly?

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Originally Posted by kevinfraser View Post
When you make a good confession--come clean--and the priest says "..I absolve you of your sins..." remember it is not the priest, but Jesus who speaks through the lips of his priest saying those words. This is so critical to understand, that if a priest were to say something other than "..I absolve you.." the sacrament would not be valid. This has happened to me before -- watch out for it. It also makes a better argument for always going to the same priest, too.
I cannot agree with Kevin here. While I certainly think that anyone who celebrates a Sacrament ought very carefully to observe the forms prescribed by the Church, and that not to do so is an illicit act and quite possibly gravely sinful, nevertheless, failure to use the exact words prescribed would not necessarily render the Sacrament invalid, and, in the case of the Sacrament in question, leave the penitent unabsolved. For example, if instead of using the indicative form of words required by the Church, I absolve you..., the confessor were to use a deprecatory form, as in May almighty God absolve you...., the absolution would still be valid provided it were clear, as it surely would be, that by using these words the priest intended to confer absolution. You may read more in the Catholic Encyclopedia article on Absolution under the heading FORM. That said, I think that besides it being generally wrong for a priest to depart from what has been prescribed for the celebration of the Sacraments, it is most imprudent in the case of this Sacrament to do so, since such a departure may stimulate scrupulousness in a susceptible person.
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  #13  
Old Nov 12, '06, 7:31 am
Br. Rich SFO Br. Rich SFO is offline
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Default Re: How does confession work exactly?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ukfan View Post
I'm currently in RCIA and have already been baptised about 15 years ago or so. I'm wondering how first confession works exactly. I mean, when I go to my first confession and confess all of the sins that I remember, are *all* of my sins forgiven? Say for instance if I confess all of my mortal sins and in between the time I confess and receive the Eucharist I remember another mortal sin do I have to confess again? If I received without confessing would I be receiving unworthily?
If you remember a sin that you really didn't remember in Confession then it is forgiven during the part where you say "and all the past sins that I can't remember". If you remember another the sin you didn't mention it is forgiven, but you can mention it during your confession next month.
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