Being specific in confession


#1

when i go to confession do i have to be specific or can i be general when i ask for forgiveness of my sins.

Example:

Me: Please forgive me lying

Do I have to be extremely specific and ask for forgiveness of a specific big lie? lets say I lied to my boss about stealing $1000 from the cash register 10 years ago. Can i go to confession and just say im sorry for lying but not say exactly what i did because im too embarrassed to say exactly what happened?

I have already confessed for the general bad thing that i did but should i go back and be specific?


#2

In my confession catechism stands that you have to tell how grave this sin was and how often you have done it.


#3

I think it’s interesting that you categorize the sin as lying to your boss rather than stealing $1000. :wink:

For mortal sins, we are obligated to confess number and kind, along with any details that may effect the gravity of the sin (e.g. stealing $1000 is more serious than stealing $1).

We are forgiven for all sins in the Sacrament of Confession (even those we failed to mention) provided we did not intentionally fail to mention them. However, it is still a good practice (unless you are scrupulous) to confess those mortal sins at a later Confession

If it is disturbing your peace, I would always encourage bringing it up in Confession. Again, if a person is scrupulous, that might be a different story, but in that case they should be talking to their priest about their scrupulosity, so it could serve as a good segue. :wink:

In general, we need to be specific, but not hyper-specific. We don’t need to obsess over recalling the exact dollars and cents we stole, or what date it happend on. But to just say “lying” and mean for it to cover both lying to your boss and stealing a significant amount of money from your boss would be too general.


#4

Depend on what your confessing.

Mortal sins need to be confessed in kind and number (and circumstance that changes the species --like it was your Brother you murdered or it was the chalice that you stole from the Church-- hence sacrilege).

Venial sins need not be.

Jimmy Akin of Catholic Answers:jimmyakin.com/2007/03/specific_confes.html

As to lying: I accuse myself of lying. (for a venial lie)

For grave sin of lying (mortal sin) one needs to confess in number and kind etc.

(so I would just say it -- I lied in a grave way to cover up stealing $1000 from my company..1x)

I accuse myself of perjury in court (in the area of grave matter) 2x.

If one omitted something needful to say in an innocent way (say one had no clue one had to be specific in kind for mortal sins) then yes one would bring that to the Priest in confession.

If one hid the mortal sin -- then that needs to be taken care of differently --the confessor can assist one.

(those who struggle with scruples can scruple --seeking to confess various unneeded things...they should have a regular confessor who can guide them)


#5

There is an obligation to confess them --if they were mortal sins in the next confession (that of course you remember…if they have yet to be remembered --well one does not know they are forgotten…).

and to be more specific: jimmyakin.com/2006/09/a_reader_writes_1.html


#6

Thank you for the clarification. :thumbsup:


#7

your very welcome

and as you note…in the case of some with scrupulosity --they may be in a different boat --they can start to scruple about wanting to confess all sorts of things that they need not–they need to have a “regular confessor”.


#8

Yes, a good examination of conscience will be specific, and document when and how many times you have committed that sin since you last confessed. Always try to give adequate information so that the priest knows what kind of penance he should give you, and how he can counsel you about your sins. Do you really think God doesn’t know your sins already? Are you trying to hide from him? Guess what, he watched you the whole time you were sinning, believe me he knows!

If you had stolen $1000, you would confess both that you had stolen the money, and that you had lied to your boss as well. Then if you continued to lie to others, you would confess that you had kept lying about that crime for 20 years, let’s say, and the subject came up 5 times a year, on average. So you told 100 lies about that crime over the years.

I thought I had a good examination of conscience in my bookmarks, and I am somewhat surprised someone has not already suggested one. The caution is that if you have scruples, you need to have a regular confessor and/or a spiritual director, so you don’t spiral down into fear about harmless things becoming sins (is it a sin when I breathe, is it a sin when I put my shirt on inside out, etc. for example).


#9

Bless me father, for I have sinned . . . I lied to my husband.

I lied about where I was because I was buying a surprise gift for my husband.

I lied about where I was because I did not want my husband to know I had an affair.

I’d say be as specific as you can. It might make a difference. :thumbsup:


#10

Oh dear I’ve made a lot of general confessions lately because I’ve left it almost a year in some cases, I didn’t know I had to confess the number of times I mortally sinned…I don’t think I could remember anyway…Am I screwed?


#11

All mortal sins must be confessed in number, kind, and circumstances which increase or decrease culpability/severity. In the example you gave, you would have to say,

*I stole $1000 from work 10 years ago (specify if it was done as one act, or several acts). I have/have not made restitution.

I lied to my boss (once, twice, etc) about stealing the aforementioned $1000 from work. *


#12

Yes all mortal sins are to be confessed in number and kind …

Regarding the the circumstances – the must is rather that which changes the species…the kind.

Jimmy Akin of Catholic Answers puts it well.

“…when we have committed mortal sins, we are obliged to confess them, how many times we committed them, and any circumstances that affect the moral species of the act (e.g., stealing from a church is different than ordinary stealing because of the element of sacrilege is involved, ditto for lying after having taken an oath before God as opposed to ordinary lying, adultery vs. fornication, etc. Note that these distinctions all involve the *kind *of sin being committed, not the degree of sinfulness; the Church has not required that we confess circumstances that affect the degree of sinfulness, only the kind)”


#13

One is obliged to confess number only for mortal sins…

So yes that would need to be remedied in confession. But remember we examine well --and then if we do not know the number --we can approximate according to what we do not know. It may be “2-3x a month for the last 5 years” or 8-15x or a few times every month for the last 10 years or around 20x or even if need be – many times…or many many x or alot or a few times.

(regarding those who struggle with scruples: forums.catholic.com/showpost.php?p=9506572&postcount=7)


#14

You didn’t know of the obligation at the time, so you’re fine. I don’t always remember to do so either, and priests are sometimes very slack about reminding people.


#15

Yes all mortal sins are to be confessed in number and kind …

Regarding the the circumstances – the must is rather that which changes the species…the kind.

Jimmy Akin of Catholic Answers puts it well.

“…when we have committed mortal sins, we are obliged to confess them, how many times we committed them, and any circumstances that affect the moral species of the act (e.g., stealing from a church is different than ordinary stealing because of the element of sacrilege is involved, ditto for lying after having taken an oath before God as opposed to ordinary lying, adultery vs. fornication, etc. Note that these distinctions all involve the *kind *of sin being committed, not the degree of sinfulness; the Church has not required that we confess circumstances that affect the degree of sinfulness, only the kind)”


#16

They need to remedy the situation with the Priest in confession.

Such can happen and is remedied in the Sacrament.


#17

Yes all mortal sins are to be confessed in number and kind …

Regarding the the circumstances – the must is rather that which changes the species…the kind.

Jimmy Akin of Catholic Answers puts it well.

“…when we have committed mortal sins, we are obliged to confess them, how many times we committed them, and any circumstances that affect the moral species of the act (e.g., stealing from a church is different than ordinary stealing because of the element of sacrilege is involved, ditto for lying after having taken an oath before God as opposed to ordinary lying, adultery vs. fornication, etc. Note that these distinctions all involve the *kind *of sin being committed, not the degree of sinfulness; the Church has not required that we confess circumstances that affect the degree of sinfulness, only the kind)”


#18

To me that’s like saying that someone who missed Mass on Sunday, without knowing that doing so is sinful, needs to confess that they missed Mass. No they don’t - because they didn’t know it was a sin.


#19

No such is not the same case. Someone who honestly did not have a clue that they had to go to Mass --and heck did not even know to find out – yes can be without sin via their ignorance --but then no actual sin was committed. So nothing to confess.

In the case of a person confessing mortal sins --we are referring to a different matter.

Mortal sins that where committed – were indeed committed before the confession…

There are sins to be confessed. And being mortal --they are to be confessed “in number”.

They need to be submitted to the keys (such is the obligation). They are to be confessed in number and kind (and circumstance that changes the kind).

If a person say did not have a clue that mortal sins need to be confessed in number --well I would say they would be (all things being equal and presuming contrition and they were intending to confess all then needed to etc) be indirectly absolved with the “1” that they did actually confess of each (murder without a number is presumed to be 1 murder).

But they like other forgotten mortal sins or mortal sins otherwise omitted in a legit way (like one is dying and is given absolution and then later recovers…or one is given general absolution and later survives the plane crash) --still need to be submitted to the keys due to nature of the sacrament (which includes a juridical nature). We need to confess --to accuse ourselves of all our mortal sins in confession and be absolved directly of them.

(now could it be that a person seeks to make an honest confession and forgets a mortal sin etc and never remembers it? sure…no worries …God knows we can totally forget things and never remember…such can still be an formally integral confession even though it is not materially integral)

More from Jimmy Akin: jimmyakin.com/2006/09/a_reader_writes_1.html

(again I note that some which difficulties with scruples can have various difficulties --say wanting to confess all sorts of things unneeded or confess again and again out of scruple --they can be in a different boat and they need to be directed by a regular confessor)


#20

God isn’t out to smite you if you don’t have a photographic memory and perfect recall. As Bookcat said, you just approximate as best as you can.

The reason for this obligation to confess number and kind of mortal sins isn’t because the Church enjoys putting us through the wringer or watching us jump through hoops. A priest’s counsel is going to be different if you confess to sins of unchastity “twice a day for the past 6 months” as opposed to “twice in the past 6 months.”

Of course, confessing more frequently makes it easier to remember. :wink:


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