Confessing past sins


About 6 months ago I started going to confession on a monthly basis after having attended confession maybe 3 times in my entire life before that. When I first started going, I felt such wonderful peace doing so. I felt as if all the burdens of past and present sins had been lifted off of me and I felt so much more connected with God’s grace. I felt that I had finally found the cure to my constantly anxious, guilty conscience by going to confession and letting go of all that’s been holding me back from Christ.

But lately, these feelings have completely changed. Every day now it seems like I’m reminded of 50 million past sins I’ve committed that I had almost forgotten about. Literally every day a new past sin pops into my mind and I can’t stop dwelling on them. I’m so worried now that I’ll never be able to have all these specific sins forgiven and that I’ll go to hell for it. I’ve done so much wrong in my life and I’m worried that I won’t be able to remember every last sin I’ve committed. And even if I do, I’m still very afraid to be specific about every sin I’ve ever committed.

When I go to confession, can I just make a general statement such as, “I want to ask for forgiveness for every lie I’ve ever told in the past,” or “I want to ask for forgiveness for everytime I’ve been prideful” etc.? Or do I have to be specific about each sin I commit/have committed? What if I never remember every last sin I’ve done or never confess them all? Will I go to hell? Any advice is appreciated!


Only mortal sins must be confessed (and in number and kind - ie adultery, fornication, murder etc).

And if one never remembers a mortal sin from ones past -it just never is remembered- but is repentant in confession - such was* indirectly absolved* in ones good confession of what one recalled.

If one does later remember it -then one mentions it in the next confession (one does not need to run out for confession right away…)

Venial sins need not be confessed and can even be forgiven in other ways (though it is good to bring some to confession -see CCC).

One can be very general regarding venial sins - and so one can thus simply at repent and at the end of the confession of what ever sins one needs to confess (mortal) or chooses to confess (venial) - say “and all the sins of my life”…and never give another thought again to any* venial sin* from the past. Going forward in the joy of true life in Christ.

Talk about this with your confessor.




You simply go to confession and say - I recently remembered a sin committed years ago that I never confessed. It is XXXXXXXXX (just name it - whatever sin it was). Then continue with the sins you committed since your last confession. That’s it. As simple a that. I’m not sure what you mean about being specific about each sin. You need to say the sin - “I stole one hundred dollars” or “I committed adultery with a married man” (for example) is all you need say. You do not need to do into details of who or what etc.

All sins that were not confessed because they were forgotten are forgiven but we must mention them in confession if we remember them. We do not have to fly to confession immediately we remember them, but mention them at the next confession. God i not waiting to pounce on you for forgotten sins. If you remember, then confess.


Of course not only kind but also number for mortal sins. Though if one examines and does not know not the actual number - one can approximate- according to what one knows -“around 3-4x” or “around 10 x” or even if need be “many times” or “a few times”…


It’s okay to ask the priest for help. I suggest making an appointment so he can take more time with you and help you understand your obligations and how the sacrament works. You may even want to find a local monastery or friary (Carmelite, Dominican, Benedictine, etc.) and see if you can get some spiritual direction. I’ve done this myself and it has been very helpful.


Yes that’s exactly what I was looking for! Thanks for clearing that up.

And thanks to everyone else who answered. I’m feeling a lot better about it all now. :slight_smile: It’s much clearer as to what I need to do from here on out. I’m planning on meeting with my parish priest on Friday morning, so I’ll ask him about anything else I want to know on this subject. Thanks again all!


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