Confession question

I have been struggling for a while with a serious sin… however each time I approach confession I struggle because I am known to the priests in the parish and have no hope of anonymity. I need advice…

When the priest says the words of absolution and then says ‘and for all the sins of your life’ does this include even those not said verbally?

thanks for input.

Sorry for your struggle. Let’s take things step by step.

a) If you intentionally withhold a sin during confession, the entire confession is invalid and no absolution occurs.

b) If you truly forget then absolution binds however you should confess the forgetten yet forgiven sin at your next confession.

c) Is there no privacy screen? I believe all the faithful have the right to confession behind the screen.

d) Can you travel any distance to another parish for confession with a priest unknown to you?

e) If you can’t do © or (d), trust. Trust that the Priest has heard every sin before. Trust the seal of the confessional. Trust that to have the sin on your soul is far worse than anything you can imagine will happen. Trust that Jesus wants you in the confessional and Satan wants you out. Trust that your Priest is there not as a judge but as a conduit of Jesus’ love and forgiveness. Trust that your Priest is human with his own sins he confesses so he knows how you feel but only wants to bring you healing and forgiveness.

I’ll pray that your situation works out.

No! If you do not confess all your mortal sins your confessions is invalid and none of your sins is forgiven. You must confess all the mortal sins and how many times you sinned. Of course that has to be done to the best of your knowledge, and if you miss count or skip a sin because in all honesty your forgot it then it is a different story. However, if you forget to confess a mortal sin, the next time you go to confession you have an obligation to confess it even if your previous absolution was valid.

You need to confess mortal sins. If you forget one – honestly forget, not just avoid saying it – it would be forgiven anyway. If you remember it later you can confess it.

If there’s a sin you need to confess but you don’t feel comfortable going to a priest you know, then go someplace else. If you need to go to the next parish down the road, go there. If you need to go 50 miles away to make sure you won’t encounter anyone you could possibly know, then go 50 miles away.

The point is to confess your sins.

There is nothing wrong with going to confession with a priest who doesn’t know you, so take that option if it is open to you.

I tend to believe that the Holy Spirit confers a kind of amnesia on priests when they hear confession so they don’t remember who said what. I know they try not to remember. I also know they will never bring up anything for discussion that you have confessed in the confessional.

Occasionally during spiritual direction my priest will give me absolution at the end because of something we have discussed. This is not only to absolve me of a sin I have mentioned but to put the subject under the seal of the confessional which I believe he does as much or more for himself as for me.

The important thing to know, however, is that you don’t have to go 50 miles away. The seal of the confessional is so absolute that you are completely protected. Under pain of excommunication the priest may not:
*]speak of the sin to others
*]speak of the sin to you without your express permission
*]use the information from your confession against you in any way
*]treat you any differently after your confession
For example, if you confessed embezzling funds from your employer and you were under consideration for an appointment to the parish finance council, the priest could not do anything to prevent your appointment. Neither could he look at you knowingly at the finance council meetings as if to say, “I’m watching for you to steal, so don’t even think about it.”

I had a confessor once who was so careful of the seal that it almost seemed silly. Once during confession, he had suggested a book to me that would help with one of my sins. He mentioned that I could borrow his copy. But he told me I had to ask him for it outside of confession so he didn’t break the seal by giving me the book. And it was a pretty ordinary book!

That’s how priests are about the seal - it’s one of the most serious things about their vocation, and they don’t mess with it.

Yeah, but what are they thinking about me now? Right? First, they are glad you confessed, so you can be absolved of the sin. Second, they admire your courage and honesty. Third, they forget it. Some priests have a special grace to forget what they hear; all of them are so busy that it fades into the background immediately and gets confused with all the other sins they heard that week so they are not able to connect a sin with a sinner.

Just go to your parish priest. It will be fine! It’s so much better to do that than to invalidate your confession because of embarrassment. I remember a picture in my grade school catechism showing a little boy going in to confession with three boxes, each representing a mortal sin. He told two of the sins and concealed the third. The next picture showed him coming out of the confessional with four boxes - the original three sins plus one more for sacrilege. Don’t let this happen to you! :slight_smile:


a) If you intentionally withhold a mortalsin during confession, the entire confession is invalid and no absolution occurs. and one can thus commit a further mortal sin…

Yes, you need to say it. The Holy Spirit has had you remember it for a reason.

I’ve confessed serious things to priests I know well, and I have never encountered anything other than mercy and kindness. No gasps. No clutching of the chest. No “you did WHAT?” reactions.

Face to face. Behind a screen. Your parish. A parish 50 miles away. Makes no difference. You are whispering into the ear of Jesus. Just do it!


Thanks for adding that BC. I had assumed the sin the OP was referring to was mortal, but the clarification just makes it clear what I was talking about. :thumbsup:

I would add that for a mortal sin to have been committed and the absolution invalidated the person would have had to know the consequences of withholding the sin. Full knowledge is required to commit mortal sin.

Regarding it being “another mortal sin”

Yes…but they will still “need” to mention it due to the fact that it will be a needed context of the confession…the why of it…

If it was not another mortal sin…they of course would say that…that they did not have a clue etc…

But regarding “invalidating it” …by willfully withholding a certain mortal sin…well it would seem to me that it would almost always invalidate it …if not always…unless perhaps it was a child or something…someone who really did not understand it was required to confess all mortal sins…then it would seem to be…like a “forgotten mortal sin”…

Hi, Lynette,

When I was making my first confession after 20 years away from the Lord, I had some of the same struggles you are having, so I can relate. I thought very seriously about traveling to some other parish to avoid confessing to my priest for fear of what he might think of me. And, in fact, I had a deacon tell me that this is what he does – so, nothing wrong with it!

But in the end I decided to just bite the bullet and confess to my own priest in my own parish. As others have said, they have heard everything there is to hear and nothing can surprise them. And I took it as a good opportunity to practice some badly needed humility. :slight_smile: So I sat face to face and didn’t use the screen – but other times I have used it. The important thing is just to ask the Lord to help you through it, and soon it will all be behind you.


Catholic poet

many people here may not agree with this, but i struggle the same way you do. what i do is go to confession in another parish.

also here in our diocese we have confession services every advent and lent. there are a number of priests that would go around every parish and their names are posted in each line. i intentionally avoid our parish priest

in a way that tells me how ashamed am i of my sins

No it does not include those mortal sins deliberately withheld because of embarrasment (which is entirely needless btw) or any other reason. In fact if you deliberately withhold a mortal sin in your confession you receive no valid absolution and no sacrament. Please share the difficulties you are having with your priest so he can do what he is trained, and has been gifted by the Holy Spirit through his ordination to do, provide the pastoral help you need. To refuse his help is to refuse the grace of Christ being offered through this sacrament. If you are one who has battled with scrupulosity please take these concerns to the one reliable priest to whom you always confess. In this case the priest knowing you and your needs is of definite spiritual advantage.

Thanks all for your advice and prayer support.

This lunchtime I went to Mass and todays reading was the woman who touched the hem of Our Lord’s garment. The priest then went on to say link that with the sacrament of confession and how we too receive healing when we approach the sacrament with our brokenness. WOW!

I took this as a sign from Our Lord that I was to bite the bullet and go, which I did and I shared all that was in my heart and the priest was fantastic. I was really blessed.

thanks again

Isn’t it amazing how the Holy Spirit works!


I particularly relate to the women in the gospels. Love those stories.

One thing that I have long struggled with is seeing my own sins. In the past few weeks, I’ve prayed the Rosary with that intention. Amazing the graces the Blessed Mother can obtain for us! I sat down in the adoration chapel a week ago, and the list just flowed. I took notes. I went to confession with it on Saturday, and after I struggled through my list, my priest had just one word - wonderful.

Isn’t it an AMAZING sacrament?

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