Confessing venial sins w/o it being a "laundry list"

I have no mortal sins at the moment, so I figured I’d start confessing venial sins. I’m somewhat baffled by how to best confess venial sins without creating a laundry list or rambling on and turning it into a therapy session.

What’s the best way to confess venial sins in a traditional confession setting. (Ie: Not one of those Reconciliation rooms where you and the priest sit face to face and “have a talk”.)

We do not confess from our own inclinations. Our Father prompts us by the action of the Holy Spirit. It is Our Father Who bears our sins (even venial) on his mighty left arm, and with His Right brings our salvation. Before confession, consider the purity of the perfect mighty arm of God.See your imperfections (maybe as tiny black hairs), and acknowledge your dependence on Him. Open your conscience and ask what you should say. He will not leave you unaided. Ever!


If your “laundry list” is too long, go to Confession more often.
Simply state the sin, and the number of times since your last Confession.

(If the Priest has a question, he will ask it.)

God bless you for trying to be the best you can be.

Not always… I will occasionally ask if I need to be more specific and receive an affirmative answer.

Thumbs up for Anne2’s reply

(If the Priest has a question, he will ask it.)
I didn’t say it was too long. I’ve read on several examinations of conscience “not to make a laundry list of sins”. A laundry list can be as few as 2-3 items, as it’s still a list. It seems that venial sins are confessed differently as mortal sins, as it’s not required to state them in number as kind.

I was just at Confession last week. I’m not going for another couple of weeks.

I find this challenging also because most of my confessions are “repeats” in many ways. I am not sure exactly what is wrong with having a laundry list, in fact often I actually bring in a list so I can remember everything and I read off of the list.

Perhaps it is so that we make a full examination of conscience and take seriously what we are doing and not approach it as if reading off of a list? That is what I would guess that it means.

Take care and God bless.

What is with everyone’s horror at a laundry list?

Two out of the four confessions I’ve had, I’ve been scolded for not confessing my sins properly, and I had listed them off.

And what exactly was the problem?

I don’t know. It was a long time ago, when I was still a little kid. I have a hard enough time doing confession thanks to the wonderful world of social phobia/social anxiety. Angry priests don’t make it any easier…

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories.
Sometimes in this sort of topic, I wonder if we’re just talking past each other. What does each person mean by “laundry list”? Is it a physical paper list? Is it a monotonous voice?

Honestly, when I confess, I try to make it as short as possible. I’ve examined my conscience (and thus have contrition), I have rehearsed what I’m going to say (so I’m less likely to leave something out), then I go in there, name my sins, and it’s done.

Now I know that others may go longer, and that’s fine. I don’t mind waiting.

My understanding is it’s basically just a list of sins of, “I did this, and this, and this, and this, and so on a so forth.” That’s how it was for my mortal sins, being that they have to be confessed in both kind and number, and it was 10 years worth of mortal sins. From my understanding, we’re not supposed to do that with venial sins. That’s all I know. There wasn’t a whole lot taught on confessing sins when I was going through the program. It was more of a “just sit down with the priest and talk to him.” Then once we started aving to go during school, we were given examinations of conscience and told there was a formula and act of contrition, and having to do penance. It was a confusing experience, which made me stop going.

I don’t confess my venial sins any differently from my mortal ones - what else are we supposed to do than ‘list’ them - in other words name them according to their kind? And number if mortal? Isn’t that what Canon Law tells us we must do?

‘Just sit down with the priest and talk to him’? About what? The weather? My health? The parish fete? But how do we talk to him about our sins without listing them? Recite a poem about them or something? :shrug:

Roman Catholic Doctrine Vs. The Doctrinal Teaching of the Word of God

Eternal life is a merited reward [1821, 2010]. - Roman Catholicism
Eternal life is the free gift of God (Romans 6:23)

No one can know if he will attain eternal life [1036, 2005] - Roman Catholicism
The believer can know that he has eternal life by the Word of God (1 John 5:13)

The Roman Catholic Church is necessary for salvation [846]. - Roman Catholicism
There is salvation in no one but the Lord Jesus Christ, “for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)

Purgatory is necessary to atone for sin and clean the soul [1030-1031]. - Roman Catholicism
Purgatory does not exist. Jesus made purification for sins on the cross (Hebrews 1:3)

Mary was preserved from all stain of original sin from the first instant of her conception (the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception) [490-492].
Mary, a descendant of Adam, was born in sin (Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12)

Mary is the Mother of the Church [963, 975]. - Roman Catholicism
Mary was the earthly mother of Jesus ( John 2:1)

The Magisterium is the authoritative teacher of the Church. [85-87]. - Roman Catholicism
The Holy Spirit is the authoritative teacher of the church (John 14:26; John 16:13, I John 2:27)

The pope, as the Bishop of Rome, is the successor of Peter [882, 936] - Roman Catholicism
Peter had no successor, nor was he a pope.

The pope is infallible in his authoritative teaching [891]. - Roman Catholicism
God alone is infallible (Numbers 23:19)

Scripture and Tradition together are the Word of God [81, 85, 97, 182]. - Roman Catholicism
Scripture is the Word of God (John 10:35, 2 Timothy 3:15-17, 2 Peter 1:20-21). Tradition is the words of men (Mark 7:1-13).

The sacrificial work of redemption is continually carried out through the Sacrifice of the Mass. [1364,1405, 1846]. - Roman Catholicism
The sacrificial work of redemption was finished when Christ gave His life for us on the cross (Ephesians 1:7, Hebrews 1:3).

God desires that consecrated bread and wine be worshiped as divine. [1378-1381] - Roman Catholicism
God forbids the worship of any object, even t hose intended to represent Him (Exodus 20:4-5, Isaiah 42:8)

Justification is lost through mortal sin [1033, 1855, 1874] - Roman Catholicism
Justification cannot be lost. Those whom God justifies will be saved from the wrath of God (Romans 5:8-9).

Justification is furthered by sacraments and good works [1212, 1392, 2010] - Roman Catholicism
Justification is the imputation of the perfect righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). In Christ the believer has been made complete (Colossians 2:10).

Salvation is attained by cooperating with grace through faith, good works, and participation in the sacraments [183, 1129, 1815, 2002]. - Roman Catholicism
Salvation is attained by grace through faith apart from works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Good works are the result, not the cause, of salvation (Ephesians 2:10).

Mary, “the All-Holy,” lived a perfectly sinless life [411, 493]. - Roman Catholicism
Mary was a sinner; God alone is sinless (Luke 18:19, Romans 3:23, Revelation 15:4).

Mary was a virgin before, during, and after the birth of Christ [496-511]. - Roman Catholicism
Mary remained a virgin until after the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:25). Later she had other children (Matthew 13:55-56, Psalm 69:8).

Each Sacrifice of the Mass appeases God’s wrath against sin [1371, 1414]. - Roman Catholicism
The once-for-all sacrifice of the cross fully appeased God’s wrath against sin. (Hebrews 10:12-18).

The Bishops, with the Pope, as their head, rule the universal church. [883, 894-896]. - Roman Catholicism
Christ, the head of the body is the Head of the Church. (Colossians 1:18).

The faithful receive the benefits of the cross in fullest measure through the Sacrifice of the Mass [1366, 1407]. - Roman Catholicism
Believers receive the benefits of the cross in fullest measure in Christ through faith (Ephesians 1:3-14).

God has exalted Mary in heavenly glory as Queen of Heaven and Earth [966]. She is to be praised with special devotion [971, 2675]. - Roman Catholicism
The name of the Lord is to be praised, for He alone is exalted above heaven and earth (Psalm 148:13). God commands, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3).

Mary is the co-mediator to whom we can entrust all our cares and petitions 9 968-970, 2677] - Roman Catholicism
Christ Jesus is the one mediator to whom we can entrust all our cares and petitions (1 Timothy 2:5, John 14:13-14, 1 Peter 5:7).

Mary is the co-redeemer, for she participate with Christ in the painful act of redemption [618, 964, 968, 970]. - Roman Catholicism
Christ alone is the Redeemer, for He alone suffered and died for sin (1 Peter 1:18-19).

The sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated in the Sacrifice of the Mass [1323, 1382] - Roman Catholicism
The Sacrifice of the cross is finished (John 19:30).

Indulgences dispensed by the Church for acts of piety release sinners from temporal punishment [1471-1473]. - Roman Catholicism
Jesus releases believers from their sins by His blood. (Revelation 1:5).

The Magisterium has the right to define truth found only obscurely or implicitly in revelation. [66, 88, 2035, 2051]. - Roman Catholicism
No one has the right to go beyond what is written in Scripture (1 Corinthians 4:6, Proverbs 30:5-6).

Scripture and Tradition together are the Church’s supreme role of faith [80, 82]. - Roman Catholicism
Scripture is the church’s rule of faith (Mark 7:7-13, 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

I’m spraying “Troll-B-Gone”:smiley:

I don’t see any problem with a list; it keeps you focused.

Remember too that one is only obliged to confess a mortal sin (in number and kind and circumstance that changes the sin…like it was your brother you murdered)

So when you examine your conscience…start there. Am I conscious …of any mortal sins that I know of? You can go through your week etc and examine.

Then after that …ask what venial sins have I committed? And then pick some of these…but do not concern yourself with any detail and one need not give any number for venial sins…though one can if one wants but it is often good to not. And then intend all your sins that you are sorry for in general…

One need not "try to get em all " (venial that is) by name…

"I accuse myself of lustful thoughts 2x

I also accuse myself ways I have not been good to my wife, of been impatient, of not working as well as I could, some intemperance and selfishness (not saying one has to keep to to this short of a list…but you get my point)

And all the sins of my life, especially against chastity and of anger (pick some category of sins your particularly sorry for from you life)."

Or if it is venial sin only…

"I accuse myself of: Anger towards my wife and arguing, impatience, intemperance, ways I have been not charitable towards others, selfishness and I lied to my wife.

(again…not saying one has to keep to to this short of a list…but you get my point…but you do not have to list all your venial sins…)

And all the sins of my life, especially against chastity and of anger (pick some category of sins your particularly sorry for from you life)."

Or with venial sins only it can be good to focus in on a particular one to work on:

"I accuse myself of: Anger towards my wife and arguing which often happens due to my laziness, I also accuse myself of impatience, intemperance, ways I have been not charitable towards others, selfishness and I lied to my wife.

And all the sins of my life, especially against chastity and of anger (pick some category of sins your particularly sorry for from you life)."

(just a fictional confession…not my last confession :)…)

Our pastor made reference at our Ash Wednesday Mass to going beyond the “grocery list” approach to sin. He said that we need to get to the root of the problem.

I suppose that means something like, “I have been impatient and uncharitable because I sometimes think my wants and needs are more important than those around me.”

That being said, I’ve gone with a list, I’ve read straight down it, and the only comment he had was “wonderful”.

Go with what the Holy Spirit shows you.

I never heard or seen anyone going into confession with a list of sins on it. Is that okay to do? Some confessionals are so dark inside that I wouldn’t even be able to read the paper :shrug:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit