Confessing only one sin?


I apologize if this question has already been asked/answered, but I couldn’t find it by searching.

I understand that each person is unique and that it’s never “wrong” to go to confession, but I have a question regarding repeat sins. Let’s say there are 1 or 2 particular sins with which you struggle. If they are mortal, they should be confessed before receiving the Eucharist. In that case, is it unusual to enter the confessional and only confess those 1 or 2 vices?

Again, I realize “unusual” is a subjective term. But I find myself almost digging for sins to confess simply because it seems odd to me to confess so few (even though this is a good thing and a result of more frequent confession!).

Thank you for your help!


Personally, I can usually think of at least 4-5 venial sins which I add in to my confession. So even if I committed 0-1 mortal sins, I rarely find myself going in with one only. Someone who confesses and receives the Eucharist frequently may not have many mortal sins to offer, but those who find themselves lacking in sins to confess after, say, 4-6 weeks, should do a more thorough examination of conscience, and you will often find that you tend to fall into a complacency that masks the presence of sins from your conscience.


I have absolutely no idea what other people confess in the Confessional, but I have sometimes gone in with only one sin, and the priest never acted like there was anything wrong with that. :slight_smile:


I don’t think it unusual and would go to confession.



It shouldn’t be unusual. If people confessed as they were supposed to, monthly or so, and immediately after a mortal sin, then anyone coming into confession would frequently have one single mortal sin in consideration. However, people don’t confess like they are supposed to. They commit a mortal sin and then wait another month to have confession. Or until the proximal “communal penance service” - oh how I hate those. Our pastor has abolished communal penance, because he says it encourages just such bad behavior. We have frequent and generous opportunities for scheduled confessions, and the priests are always amenable to unscheduled confessions.


I have found that the more often I go to confession, the more I see my sins. Go ahead and go and if you only have venial sins to confess just say at the end, “I ask for mercy and forgiveness for these sins, any I may have forgotten, and all the sins of my past in particular the sin of …”. If you only have venial sins to confess, including a past mortal sin will validate the confession. At least this is my understanding and every time I’ve confessed like this the priest has always told me I made a good confession. Go as often as you wish.


One is obliged to confess all of ones mortal sins (number and kind…)

If one has mortal sins - one can stop there.

If one does not have mortal sins one can confess venial sins in various ways - even if one wishes to zero in on one or two (that one is repentant of course- though remember that repentance for venial sins need not be like it is with mortal sins).


Perhaps find a more challenging Examination of Conscience?

Just a thought… :o


I take a less mechanistic approach to confession. I rather focus on the one part of my person where I am the most broken and which leads me the most frequently to mortal sin and often to despair. I focus on making confession a healing experience, and a tool to aid my inner conversion (which is of course one of my three oblate promises: stability, obedience and conversion).

I found that a mechanistic approach to confession just led to scrupulosity and feeling worse in the long run, with no discernable impact on what makes me “broken”. In fact it’s a mechanistic approach that leads me down the road to despair.

I work with a regular confessor who knows me, and I find that helps a great deal, particularly since he keeps hammering the theme of God’s grace and mercy especially when I’m at my worst.


I would not say such is “mechanistic”,…

But yes if one does not have any mortal sins -one can approach the confession of venial sins in various ways - there is great freedom in what one confesses venial sins and one can focus in on various particular sins (particular area of ones venial sins) that are more of a struggle for one. Such is one very good way to make progress in the spiritual life. And indeed- it is very good to focus on the healing aspects of confession (and the renewal of baptism!).

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