Confession: number and kind?


#1

I see a lot of responses on these threads about the nature of Reconciliation, that it should be just the kind of sins and the number of times committed. I have never heard of this before, in all of my Catholic studies. I am not an expert or a pro, but I even have an MA in Catholic Studies and have not encountered this. Where does it come from, and why hasn’t a priest ever corrected me on it? Even in the sacramental prep classes that I have instructed, the materials have never mentioned this.

I am interested in knowing where the practice comes from, and whether it is a requirement or not. Thank you!


#2

[quote="Ophelia23, post:1, topic:306551"]
I see a lot of responses on these threads about the nature of Reconciliation, that it should be just the kind of sins and the number of times committed. I have never heard of this before, in all of my Catholic studies. I am not an expert or a pro, but I even have an MA in Catholic Studies and have not encountered this. Where does it come from, and why hasn't a priest ever corrected me on it? Even in the sacramental prep classes that I have instructed, the materials have never mentioned this.

I am interested in knowing where the practice comes from, and whether it is a requirement or not. Thank you!

[/quote]

St. Thomas Aquinas mentioned it in his Summa Theologia. It is also mentioned several times throughout the Church's documents, particularly The Catechism of the Council of Trent, the Baltimore Catechism, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, just to name a few. This should have been taught to you in your sacramental prep class, and priests know that Mortal sins must be confessed in kind, number, and any circumstances that change the gravity or nature of the sin. Priests, as the role of teacher in the Confessional have an obligation to correct penitents on this and during that confession. Now that you are aware of this obligation, you are required to correct yourself and make sure you confess all mortal sins in number, kind and circumstances as necessary. Failure to do so invalidates confession.

Contrary to what people like to try to do to the sacrament, it is NOT a counseling session, and under normal circumstances should only take about 5 minutes per penitent, with the exception of some exceptional cases.


#3

Yes it is a obligation.

And honest omissions of such (one had no clue for example) need to be confessed in the next confession.

But such is ONLY regarding Mortal sins --one is not even obliged to confess venial sins which can be forgiven in various ways (though it is recommended highly to confess at least some of em…)


#4

[quote="Deo_Gratias42, post:2, topic:306551"]

Contrary to what people like to try to do to the sacrament, it is NOT a counseling session, and under normal circumstances should only take about 5 minutes per penitent, with the exception of some exceptional cases.

[/quote]

Spiritual Direction and counsel can take place within the Sacrament. Often persons have questions etc.


#5

Code of Canon Law:

Can. 988 §1. A member of the Christian faithful is obliged to confess in kind and number all grave sins committed after baptism and not yet remitted directly through the keys of the Church nor acknowledged in individual confession, of which the person has knowledge after diligent examination of conscience.

§2. It is recommended to the Christian faithful that they also confess venial sins.

vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P3H.HTM

(such of course is only one place -- there are countless others...Ec. Councils, Documents of Popes etc etc)


#6

I agree that Confession is not a therapy session, and I am not trying to even imply that it is. I also agree that we need to confess each and every mortal sin to make a full and accurate confession. I have just never heard that a specific count was necessary.


#7

:) And thank you for the quick responses, by the way.


#8

Code of Canon Law:

Can. 988 §1. A member of the Christian faithful is obliged to confess in kind and number all grave sins committed after baptism and not yet remitted directly through the keys of the Church nor acknowledged in individual confession, of which the person has knowledge after diligent examination of conscience.

§2. It is recommended to the Christian faithful that they also confess venial sins.

vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P3H.HTM

(such of course is only one place -- there are countless others...Ec. Councils, Documents of Popes etc etc)


#9

Now it can happen --and especially with one who never had a clue that such was needful -- that one after ones examine does not remember the actual number of the mortal sins....

What then? Well one can approximate according to what one does remember -- it may be around 10x or 2-3x a month for the last year or 10-15x or even if need be "many times" or "Many many times", "a few times" etc


#10

The "circumstances" that need to be confessed are things like it was your brother you murdered or the gold cup you stole was the Chalice from Church (and thus sacrilege too). That which changes the kind.


#11

[quote="Bookcat, post:4, topic:306551"]
Spiritual Direction and counsel can take place within the Sacrament. Often persons have questions etc.

[/quote]

It's one thing to ask a couple questions, or for the priest to give you longer direction, but that isn't the norm. If someone wants to use the confessional for lengthy spiritual direction, one should book an appointment. Where I come from, they are now trying to move away from the laundry list style of confessing in number and kind, and are encouraging an "open dialogue" to discuss one's spiritual life. :rolleyes: That's called spiritual direction/counseling, NOT Confession.


#12

In confession if I go in and confess “murder” the Priest is likely to assume it was 1x …and not ask (it is confession after all not interrogation…)…but it is also the case that some have had poor seminary formation during some difficult times in the past in some places…that is they can be sadly misinformed. Hopefully not in most cases --but rather that they assume it was one time.

Jimmy Akin of Catholic Answers:

jimmyakin.com/2012/03/confessing-by-kind-and-number.html

jimmyakin.com/2007/03/specific_confes.html

jimmyakin.com/2006/09/a_reader_writes_1.html


#13

Well, good to know going forward. I think that it naturally comes up in most confession circumstances, but I am certain there are times that I did not specify a number but said “many times” or something equally insufficient.


#14

[quote="Bookcat, post:9, topic:306551"]
Now it can happen --and especially with one who never had a clue that such was needful -- that one after ones examine does not remember the actual number of the mortal sins....

What then? Well one can approximate according to what one does remember -- it may be around 10x or 2-3x a month for the last year or 10-15x or even if need be "many times" or "Many many times", "a few times" etc

[/quote]

Right.

Also, some sins lend themselves to remembering the count, e.g. adultery, murder, theft. Others are more amorphous: anger, envy, lust. Generally those kind of sins are not countable.

God Bless


#15

[quote="Ophelia23, post:13, topic:306551"]
Oh my goodness, does this invalidate the last 20 years of reconciliation for me?

[/quote]

No.

A Confession only invalidated if you deliberately withheld a mortal sin.

If you forget a mortal sin, or were unaware it was mortal, or didn't know to specify number, all your sins were forgiven.

God Bless


#16

Actually yes if they are mortal sins - they are countable (and are to be) . One may not perhaps due to memory get the exact number and may even need to approximate (see above).


#17

[quote="Deo_Gratias42, post:11, topic:306551"]
That's called spiritual direction/counseling, NOT Confession.

[/quote]

There is a great pedagogical value to confession...and it may be the only place where one is "truly heard in depth"

Pope Benedict XVI:

zenit.org/article-32205?l=english


#18

It is not about just going forward – one needs now to confess the mortal sins in number and kind etc that where not confessed in the past in number and kind.

Again if one say honestly did not have a clue --the past confessions can be valid --but the forgotten mortal sins still need to be confessed.

As to number when not known --see my post above.


#19

I will repost a general post on the subject of forgotten mortal sins -- remember such is referring to mortal sins.


Honestly forgetting to confess mortal sins

-is well --forgetting to do so. Hiding such is a different story. Assuming one was contrite and amended and intending to confess all mortal sins --and just forgot to say some ---

they are absolved indirectly.

One is to confess then in the next confession. Of course ones memory could honestly slip again despite ones intent etc to remember.

Yes one is to confess all forgotten post -baptismal mortal sins (well that is those one remembers!..sometimes we may forget something forever...). So if one remembers say that one murdered ones 5th grade teacher...and that it was mortal (not only grave matter but full knowledge and deliberate consent) and not confessed --one is to confess it.

(Now I will note for some out there -- who struggle with scruples -- they may be in a different boat in some cases. For some seek to confess all sorts of un-needful things --they need a regular confessor who can guide them)

jimmyakin.com/2007/03/specific_confes.html (Jimmy Akin of Catholic Answers).

More on forgotten mortal sins: jimmyakin.com/2006/09/a_reader_writes_1.html

As to "doubtful mortal sins" (like I am doubtful if I gave complete consent to it) the general recommendation is that those of an ordinary conscience should confess them (noting they are doubtful) and especially those of a lax conscience (again noting the doubt). Though there is not a strict obligation to confess them.

Those who struggle with scruples are often rather recommended to not confess them directly (if they do they too would not it is doubtful).


#20

[quote="Bookcat, post:18, topic:306551"]
It is not about just going forward -- one needs now to confess the mortal sins in number and kind etc that where not confessed in the past in number and kind.

Again if one say honestly did not have a clue --the past confessions can be valid --but the forgotten mortal sins still need to be confessed.

As to number when not known --see my post above.

[/quote]

Is this to say that the past 20 years of reconciliation for me have been invalid? It is absolutely impossible for one to go back and remain accountable for sins which were committed, confessed, absolved, and penance served for. I appreciate your insight, and I will speak with my confessor regarding this on Saturday.


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