Confession - number of times


I’m confused about if we need to confess the amount of times sinned.

I’ve confessed ‘I lied’, but I really don’t know how many times. The priest never asked me how many times either. Am I supposed to though? And if so, should I confess that in my next confession from previous confessions that I did not say. I did read on this forum about mentioning the number of times before my confessions, but I just wasn’t sure of the amount so I never said. I think I said I don’t remember how many times during confession so the priest knows though.


If it is a mortal sin, you are supposed to mention the number of times. Your Confessor probably figured that you meant it as a venial sin, which you don’t have to mention the number for.

If you believe it was a mortal sin, I would suggest mentioning it again at your next Confession. I generally try to give as accurate a number as possible, but I have been fairly vague in the past, particularly when I started going to Confession again after a long time away. I used the term “countless” to describe the number of a lot of the sins I confessed then, and the priest seemed satisfied.


If the priest needs more information he will ask; saying you don’t remember is ok. You don’t have to bring it up in your next confession that you didn’t mention it in your last confession.


Yes, the number of times is to be included. If you are not sure how many times you did it,
give your best estimate.
Also, if it is something that you did for a long time, you may say, for example: “I lied about 5 times every day for around 2 months,” instead of trying to give large numbers (“I lied 300 times”).
I would recommend mentioning it next time you go to Confession. If you did it in good faith, that is, you thought you were doing the right thing, then your sins have been forgiven. Nevertheless, you should still mention it the next time you go to confession, whenever that may be.


Number is needed only for mortal sins. And if one does not know - one may approximate according to what one knows - ie. around 5 x, or even if needed “many times” “few times” etc.

Venial sins do not need any number mentioned at all. Nor does any particular venial sin
“need” to be confessed (though frequent confession is very good).


Venial sins do not ever need to have numbers given…ever.

Only they were mortal sins of lying such as lying in court under oath or some other grave matter.

(the OP can bring their particular matter up with their confessor…but I will note that quite often “lies” are venial in matter - but let us live always in the the truth.)


I never knew that!

Do you have a source for this?


The Church :slight_smile:


The Teaching of the Church is that one must confess mortal sins in kind and number.

As to venial sins one need not confess them at all - let alone give a number (though it can be good at times say for the non-scrupulous to take a serious look at a particular venial sin -at the number --etc).

It is though very recommended to confess venial sins - at least some of them - frequently.


1458 Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father’s mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful

Venial sins can be forgiven in many many ways…prayer, act of love, act of contrition, reading Sacred Scripture even contributes to their forgiveness, reception of Holy Communion, the prayerful use of holy water etc etc

And of course in confession in a specific as well as general way.

Saint Augustine noted that we pray the Our Father for forgiveness of our daily venial sins…


This is what Canon Law says (emphasis added):

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.

Only mortal sins must be confessed, and only mortal sins must be confessed in number and kind. It is recommended that we confess venial sins, too, but a recommendation is different from an obligation. And no mention is made of number and kind (how could that be obligatory if even confessing venial sins at all is not obligatory?)

And, as Bookcat said, you do the best you can and give approximations as necessary. The Church never obligates us to do the impossible. It is not always possible for us to recall exact numbers, particularly when it has been awhile since our last Confession. Unless you have a photographic memory. And how many of us have that?


Very interesting!

While those sources do not come out and say that one need not confess the number of times one has committed a particular venial sin – if one has chosen, for devotional reasons, to confess them at all – I can certainly see a valid reason to infer as much.

I’ll follow up on this information, and if satisfied, I’d owe a word of thanks to both of you! You’ll certainly have made my future examinations of conscience and confessions a bit easier. :thumbsup:


Trust us :slight_smile: - tis certain as the sun is shining right now and the earth is going round it.



Ok, so for example if I lied (but didn’t do it for any harm), and lied like that more than once … I don’t have to include the amount?

And, if I lied maybe two times (as an example) about something I feel was a worse lie, and I just explained both of those lies , is that fine?

Also, would be it be ok if I said ‘I lied more than once?’

I usually just explain the sins I am most ashamed of, rather than include the amount of times.


If one examines ones conscience and judges that one committed lies that were venial sins - one does not need to give any number. “I accuse myself of lying” …or one could add “a number of times” or “many times” “various times”.

If one judges it was a mortal sin - then one is to give the number.

Venial sins - no number needed.

Mortal sins - number is needed.


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