Confessing "in number"?


#1

I've seen it written that we need to confess our sins "in kind and in number" (as much as we can remember) but i've not been good about confessing the number. I've never had a priest ask me about it either. For example if I say "I've had impure thoughts" or "I've sometimes lost my temper and yelled at my kids", it's pretty clear I am confessing doing this more than once since I'm using the plural versions of the words, but i've not stated an exact number, nor specifically stated that I don't remember the exact number of times I have done it. I've never been asked for a number by the priest, and i've always received absolution. Does this mean those confessions aren't valid? I guess I thought if the priest felt he needed a number or more clarification, he would ask. I hate the thought of re-doing all those confessions, but I will if I need to...


#2

My best advice on this is to listen to the priest to whom you are confessing, and not some random people on the internet.

I know that many here at CAF are insistant that if you don't say a number, your confession is not valid, but I have never had a priest ask either.

I would ask my priest the next time, if it is something that really worries you, but in the mean time, be at peace! :)


#3

[quote="Oneofthewomen, post:2, topic:334762"]
My best advice on this is to listen to the priest to whom you are confessing, and not some random people on the internet.

I know that many here at CAF are insistant that if you don't say a number, your confession is not valid, but I have never had a priest ask either.

I would ask my priest the next time, if it is something that really worries you, but in the mean time, be at peace! :)

[/quote]

If it were to be invalid without the number the priest would ask.
Mary.


#4

Note, too, that the Church's requirement for confessing in number refers only to mortal sins, not venial sins.

I agree with Oneofthewomen that you can simply ask your priest about it next time you are in Confession.


#5

As a rule of thumb: when you didn't do something because you didn't know and those who have the knowledge didn't tell you, then usually you are fine. But now you know. So next time you confess, list mortal sins in kind and number.


#6

First the "number of times" is only required for sins that are grave sins...that you judge to be mortal sins in your conscience...and the three conditions for mortal sin were all present/met when you committed the sin).

Second, without a "number"...the priest is taking your "word"--that is--in your "judgment-- "in good conscience"...that you believe that you did not commit a "mortal" sin...you believe that it was venial sin. What you did may be a "grave" sin by God's Law or Church Law...but if your (examination) of conscience has judged that what you did is not a mortal sin...that you did not know it was a grave sin... and/or that you did not fully intend/will to commit the sin...then your subjective judgment...by your conscience...is that it is not a mortal sin...but that what you did is still (a venial) sin. This may be the case...even though what you may have done is a considered grave sin...a grave violation of God's Law or the Church's Law.

Third, priests are taught "not to pry"..."not to harm or do violence to your conscience"...by asking probing questions...he does not have be "Inspector Cluzo" or "Dick Tracy"...and certainly not "Dirty Harry...a probing sin-cop on the beat"....who has to solve a mystery.

Lastly, one of the purposes of the Sacrament of Confession is eliminate all worry and anxiety...so if you are still worried over this issue...there is only one real definitive solution...bring it up in your next confession...maybe better if it is one made by appointment outside regular scheduled Confession times.

God is Gracious...your intent of heart is always more important to God than how you actually accomplish/do something.

You tell me that you have both fire and water, ice and heat in your heart, passions as well as God, one candle burning to Saint Michael and the other to devil. Do not worry: as long as you are trying to struggle, there are not two candles burning in your heart, but only one, that of the Archangel
Saint Jose Maria Escriva (Camino, 724)

Pax Christi


#7

I went to confession for the first time in a very long time last year, and I knew that I had many grave sins to confess. I told him I had been away from the Church for most of my adult life, and that I know I have countless mortal sins to confess. I confessed the type of sins, and he did not ask me to enumerate the grave sins.


#8

[quote="Rachel126, post:1, topic:334762"]
I've seen it written that we need to confess our sins "in kind and in number" (as much as we can remember) but i've not been good about confessing the number. I've never had a priest ask me about it either. For example if I say "I've had impure thoughts" or "I've sometimes lost my temper and yelled at my kids", it's pretty clear I am confessing doing this more than once since I'm using the plural versions of the words, but i've not stated an exact number, nor specifically stated that I don't remember the exact number of times I have done it. I've never been asked for a number by the priest, and i've always received absolution. Does this mean those confessions aren't valid? I guess I thought if the priest felt he needed a number or more clarification, he would ask. I hate the thought of re-doing all those confessions, but I will if I need to...

[/quote]

The obligation to confess sins "in number" is canonical. Canon law is not itself sacramental but it does, typically, express sacramental theology forcefully, in that what is expressed in canon law is usually what "goes" sacramentally.

In other words, if canon law says you have to confess your sins in kind and number, then confess your sins in kind and number. We don't get to decide which of the Church's dictates apply to us and which don't. My intuition is that, since you didn't know this applied previously, you weren't concealing something important in confession so you didn't invalidate the absolution. If you were to do so now that you know it's required, I think you would invalidate the confession.

Priests are not generally, in my understanding, trained in canon law so it may well be the case that many are not actually aware that this is required. They may not have been well-formed in seminary (sadly, this happens). They may not be paying attention; they may not care; etc. Who knows? They may have any of a number of reasons for not asking you to confess your sins in number. Don't worry about them, but about yourself.

Kind and number, remember it, practice it, do it. ;-)


#9

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