Absolution for all of past sins

I’ve had this happen a few times:

I have gone to confession and started to confess serious sins from my distant past that I forgot about through the years. (I went many years without confession and I was a lax catholic). From time to time, serious sins from my distant past come to my attention when I think about the past or when I do an examination of conscience. On some occassions when I start confessing a list of past serious sins, I have been cut off by the priest and he has asked me “Are you sorry for all of your past sins?” and I reply “yes”. Then he proceeded to give me absolution for all of my past sins and the confession is over. Is this OK? Am I forgiven for all of my past sins?

Dear Tim,

Whenever you receive absolution, the sins you don’t remember are also absolved. But if you should later remember some of them, you should mention them in Confession as an act of humility, sorrow and gratitude for the Lord’s forgiveness.

The priest may have thought you were being scrupulous when in fact you were not. You might explain to him that you are not being scrupulous. All you want to do is to humbly acknowledge such sins in a verbal way to the Lord in the person of His confessor in gratitude for the His forgiveness.

Some day you might also want to make an appointment with a priest to make a general confession in which you can list all the sins of your life that you remember. You might want to spend a period of time before hand, writing them down as you remember them.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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