A question about confessions


So I have a very bad memory and even when I make a small sheet of the things to remember in confession, I often forget things from ages ago. I was told by a priest that if I also say “for these sins and any other sins which I have forgotten I am truly sorry” the other sins are forgiven and it seemed to be that he was saying I didn’t need to confess anything that I had forgotten. Is this true?


Why not try a daily examination of conscience? There are lots of forms and it can be useful before bed at night. It can remind you of your day and help you reflect on your weaknesses.


Father Z did an excellent blog post on this exact topic!




I think you need to ask the priest if you remember forgotten mortal sins what the course of action should be.

It is Catholic teaching that forgotten mortal sins need to be confessed, as Senior apologist Jimmy Akin writes, “not because forgetting mortal sins is a sin, but that one incurs new sin if he/she refuses to confess a mortal sin”.

I’m not qualified to assess your conscience, so you need to speak the priest.


Perhaps, my fellow traveler, you should either recieve The Sacrament of Reconciliation more frequently or commit far less mortal sins. How many mortal sins are you commiting and why can’t you remember them? If you gravely sin against God should you not burn with a repentant heart that aches for reconciliation and forgiveness? How is it then that you commit a grevious sin, realize it, and not get to a confessional while your heart is still repentant? Are you seriously committing a sin and before you even have time to confess you’ve already commited another? And another? This should not be so. I encourage you to stop commiting so many sins and get to confession at least weekly in order to confess those venial sins which are brought to mind by the power power of The Holy Spirit upon your examination of consciounse.

May The Sacred Heart of Jesus radiate love to you always -



I think the OP is going regularly as a discipline, not because of a great number of mortal sins. She needs our Christian compassion and loving direction.


It’s both true and not quite true, depending…

Firstly, as SuperLuigi has noted, there is an oblogation to mention forgotten mortal sins in your next confession. When the priest has said that any forgotten sins are forgiven, that’s entirely correct. If you later remember mortal sins that you had forgotten, you still need to mention them in your next confession, even though they have already been forgiven (noted in the link provided by jmr_1985). But…

Secondly, it gets a lot trickier for people who may lack the capacity to properly discern mortal sins. This can be true of scrupulous people, for example. They may keep remembering sins that they haven’t yet confessed, and not know whether they were mortal or not, so worry that they need to go to confession again to mention them. And so on and so on, for as long as they keep remembering sins they have forgotten. Such a person sould go to see a regular confessor and trust in the direction of that particular confessor.

So Aeden, I’d just suggest you keep seeing a regular confessor and trust in his directions.


Yes, perhaps you are correct. I was under a different impression altogether. I honestly have never heard of somebody striving to be in need of receiving The Sacrament of Reconciliation for all sins as venial sins are forgiven in countless ways beside priestly absolution. If one does weekly confession as a spiritual discipline then what does it matter if they remember every single piece of poor conduct? For the confession of venial sins shouldn’t the voice of The Holy Spirit speaking to your heart during your examination create a suitable confession for the purpose of growing in grace and strengthening of spiritual prowess? Anything more seems to me boardering on scrupulousness. Though I dare not say anything specifically regarding the OP as I know neither her faith or her calling. I imagine, if done properly, this discipline could provide bountiful graces. Though perhaps, thinking now, the OP has not quite figured the correct way to practice weekly or even daily confession. And, since she needs our Christian direction I will explain my form of confessional diligence. I practice weekly confession every Saturday followed by Eaucharistic Adoration and penance in the chapel. One reason I do so is simply because I love to recieve spiritual guidance from my priest through this Sacrament. However, I rarely have mortal sins to confess so I must always come up with some venial sins that are weighing on my consciounse or hidden away. These usually take the form of something that is weighing on my heart in regards to my life but may not actually be a definitive sin. So I say, “father, this and this have been weighing on my heart because I did this such thing or that thing. I know these may not have been sinful of me but still I feel as if I have not done that which is the most excellent way in regards to my duty as a Christian and would like to recieve absolution for any wrongdoing on my part and guidance should such situations/thoughts/emotions happen again.” (I have never had a confessor take issue with this.) This technique allows my spirit to focus on my progress forward in Christ throughout the week instead of my specific sins. And when I do sin (venial or mortal) I can recognize it by The Holy Spirit, check it, repent, and file it away right then and there on the spot as to whether I have absolute need to confess it or not. If it turns out not to be a mortal sin then I do not hold on to it after I have repented and prayed about it. Why should we hold on to sin that has already been forgiven? In this way I can be at all times prepared to give a good confession but at the same time not be carrying any weight of sinfulness or self imposed guilt that might detract from my steadfast love or duty of service to Christ Jesus. But I am just saying what has proven to be very fruitful to me, my dear sister (OP), and helped to work through any and every problem I ever have in my day to day life.

All peace and blessings be upon you both in Christ Jesus Our Lord -



Forgotten venial sins - never need to be mentioned. And they can be forgiven already in that confession or outside of it. So onwards - with eyes fixed on Jesus our Lord.

Forgotten mortal sins - one is* obliged *to confess them if such are remembered (in the next confession -for if one was contrite and seeking to confess and be amended for all mortal sins - they are indirectly absolved -they are though to be mentioned in the next confession.)

(I will add quickly that things may be a different if say one is scrupulous about past sins that come to mind - ones confessor can direct one -often they might be directed not to confess any from the past unless one is both 1. certain it was mortal and 2. certain that it was not confessed…)

I do want to note that confession though is not the only way venial sins (daily sins) are forgiven.

One need not (not good to wait) -wait Confession to seek forgiveness (though let us go often!). Though it is very recommended that one goes to confession frequently (see the Catechism and all good that this brings).

It is important to repent quickly of course. But calmly.

Venial sins are forgiven in many ways -acts of perfect or even imperfect contrition, prayer, reading Sacred Scripture, the Mass, Holy Communion, the prayerful use holy water, other sacramentals, little short prayers during the day, acts of love etc

I will add a related section of the Catechism:

From the Catechism:

1436 Eucharist and Penance. Daily conversion and penance find their source and nourishment in the Eucharist, for in it is made present the sacrifice of Christ which has reconciled us with God. Through the Eucharist those who live from the life of Christ are fed and strengthened. “It is a remedy to free us from our daily faults and to preserve us from mortal sins.”

1437 Reading Sacred Scripture, praying the Liturgy of the Hours and the Our Father - every sincere act of worship or devotion revives the spirit of conversion and repentance within us and contributes to the forgiveness of our sins.


Let us pray the Our Father as St. Augustine spoke of being prayed for such daily venial sins …“forgive us our trespasses…”

Indeed in the early Church such was often prayed three times a day. A wonderful practice that my family follows.

CCC The first communities prayed the Lord’s Prayer three times a day, in place of the “Eighteen Benedictions” customary in Jewish piety. scborromeo.org/ccc/p4s2a1.htm


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