Can I be sure I'll be forgiven?

Dear Apologist,

I’m in the RCIA program now and I will be able to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation after my conditional baptism. I have been preparing for my first Confession by reading the Life in Christ section of the Catechism, and as I read it I write down every offense I’ve committed lest I miss anything.

One thing I am worried about is whether the confession I’ll make can be invalid. Can any attitude on my part render it invalid? Can the priest do anything to make it invalid? I can only guess how obsessive this sounds, but would it be better to confess the sins twice to two different priests to be sure?

Also, when I confess sins, do I have to go into details or do I just have to say the sin. In the past I committed the sin of lust by reading/looking at pornography and thinking dirty thoughts, do I just have to say “pornography” or do I have to be more specific? This really scares me because the priest I’ll be confessing to will see me every day, I am afraid that he will think I’m really dirty and will not trust me if I want to volunteer or something like that.

Thank you very much! :slight_smile:

Dear H,

You’re right, this does sound terribly obsessive. Remember, that it is the Holy Spirit who draws us to Himself. While we can choose to cooperate or not, HE is the one who makes it happen. It’s not ALL up to you. Also, the Lord LOVES you. Jesus did not suffer and die on the cross so that you would be lost by a technicality! If you are too general, the priest will tell you. The priest who will absolve you is a sinner and also goes to confession. Priests hear everything and know that everyone is a sinner. Nothing you say will surprise him or make him change his opinion about you. Believe me! I am often very humbled and edified by the humility and honesty I behold in Confession. You will do fine. Just stop obsessing!

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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