Confession


#1

I went to confession today under the impression that if you "remember sins from your past" it is necessary that you mention them in your next confession or they are redundantly confessed.

However the priest said that these remembered sins had already been forgiven (before i could say them) when i had been to confession many times before. he said that it is "bad spirituality" to hold onto past sins and think of things that you have done wrong in the past in order to re-confess them. he said that rather than having to confess these remembered sins, i should just move on knowing that God has already forgiven me. (which to me makes a lot of sense so i'm just wondering what the church teaches about this)

And I was going to confess lust (which i struggle with) and said that i wanted to confess it (but i wasn't able to say number of times, and i guess the kind is lust but not explicitly stated). am i boud to re-confess this again because he didnt allow for me to do it or should i just move on knowing my sins have been forgiven?

He absolved me.

Do i need to mention this next time or has my sin been forgiven? (because i work under the impression that God's a kind of "forgive and forgotten" type of God that we dont need to keep holding on and remembering sins that we have asked for forgiveness for but have "improperly confessed them" rather moving forward not backward)

I sometimes get the feeling the church is TOO legalistic when it comes to confession and the forgiveness of sins. People came to jesus and said forgive me and didn't say what they had necessarily done but just asked for forgiveness and he gave it. WE have to state How many times, the kind otherwise we aren't forgiven...seems a little wierd to me since the priest is effectively Christ according to perso*na christ*i :S

I may be a little scrupulous at times but i would like peoples opinions and suggestions on what i should do, and good things to keep in mind when going to confession.

Thanks in advanced :)


#2

Hello
Sorry you are struggling with the concepts of confession as such but please, just trust your Priest :) on this and let him be your guide, not 'us'. If you want to talk more with him about the confession or various problems you have then ask him for a seperate appointment and talk things through with him. Priests can be very good listeners and will guide us. They are very gentle listeners and often we find the gentlest of guidence harder to handle, we are hard on ourselves. But please just simply try to trust your Priest for they really do know whats best for us because they do know we are often hard on ourselves. You may get mixed answers on here, meaning well but confuse you all the more. So far simpler to trust your Priest. Yep, I keep saying it because I mean it.


#3

[quote="james_neville, post:1, topic:289874"]
I went to confession today under the impression that if you "remember sins from your past" it is necessary that you mention them in your next confession or they are redundantly confessed.

This is correct. Although sins we did not mention because we forgot them are forgiven, we are required, if remembered, to mention them at the next confession.

However the priest said that these remembered sins had already been forgiven (before i could say them) when i had been to confession many times before. he said that it is "bad spirituality" to hold onto past sins and think of things that you have done wrong in the past in order to re-confess them. he said that rather than having to confess these remembered sins, i should just move on knowing that God has already forgiven me. (which to me makes a lot of sense so i'm just wondering what the church teaches about this)

The church teaches exactly what you said in your first paragraph.

And I was going to confess lust (which i struggle with) and said that i wanted to confess it (but i wasn't able to say number of times, and i guess the kind is lust but not explicitly stated). am i boud to re-confess this again because he didnt allow for me to do it or should i just move on knowing my sins have been forgiven?

You did your best to confess the sin. If anyone is at fault here, it is the priest.

He absolved me.

Do i need to mention this next time or has my sin been forgiven? (because i work under the impression that God's a kind of "forgive and forgotten" type of God that we dont need to keep holding on and remembering sins that we have asked for forgiveness for but have "improperly confessed them" rather moving forward not backward)

No you don't need to mention it the next time. It had been forgiven in the confession where you forgot it (it would not have been forgiven if you had deliberately not confessed it - as you probably know, none of the sins confessed would have been forgiven then and you would have added the sin of sacrilege!).

I sometimes get the feeling the church is TOO legalistic when it comes to confession and the forgiveness of sins. People came to jesus and said forgive me and didn't say what they had necessarily done but just asked for forgiveness and he gave it. WE have to state How many times, the kind otherwise we aren't forgiven...seems a little wierd to me since the priest is effectively Christ according to persona christi :S

The church is not being legalistic at all. Jesus is God. He knows everything we do, and whether we are, in fact, repentant. He gave priests the authority to hear confessions and to either absolve or to refuse to absolve. To do this, the priest needs to know exactly what our sins are, how many times we committed the mortal ones, etc., so as to know our souls. Then he will be able to determine what he should do. This is neither weird nor legalistic. Priests, while acting in persona Christi, are still human beings and must use their human intelligence to handle confessions. They cannot see into our souls without us disclosing them to them by confessing honestly and sincerely. God only gives supernatural powers to very few priests - such as Padre Pio, who was able to know when penitents were hiding sins. This is very rare. All other priests must go by what they are told by the penitents. Of course, that means that if someone deceives them by withholding mortal sin(s), and the priest absolves them, their sins are not, in fact, absolved. We cannot deceive God!

I may be a little scrupulous at times but i would like peoples opinions and suggestions on what i should do, and good things to keep in mind when going to confession.

Thanks in advanced :)

[/quote]


#4

Mortal sins are to be confessed in number and kind (and if something would change the kind like it was your brother that you murdered or the chalice from Church that you stole).

If one forgets a mortal sin or forgets to give the number one is confess them in the next confession (if they are remembered).

Sometimes those who are scrupulous will seek to confess or re-confess all sorts of things that need not be confessed. And they can have other difficulties with confession. They can be in a very different boat than others due to the scruples. They need to have a regular confessor who can guide them.

Venial sins – do not have to be confessed and if they are (which is very good to do --see CCC) they do not have be in kind etc. If forgotten – no need to confess them.

If one out of devotion mentions a past confessed and absolved mortal sin again in confession --one does not need to get too specific and need not give number (for it was already confessed in number and kind before and absolved). This is often not to be recommended to those with scruples unless it is simply in general at the end of the confession perhaps.

Some links from Jimmy Akin senior apologist of of Catholic Answers:

jimmyakin.com/2006/09/a_reader_writes_1.html

jimmyakin.com/2005/03/confession_vali-2.html

Yes Confession has a juridical nature to it along with the other aspects of its nature – but that is part of its nature. The mortal sins do need to be confessed (outside some exceptions) in number and kind -we need to accuse ourselves of them in the Sacrament (better than having to go to the Judgment with them…). Jesus knew that at least in grave sins --more was needed in his Church than simply prayer. He gave us this Sacrament for our life – true life.


#5

How are you supposed to do that?

Does this mean if you mention the sin but not the amount (as you cannot remember) you are still in mortal sin even after confession?


#6

[quote="Nelka, post:5, topic:289874"]
How are you supposed to do that? *If you are confession soon after you committed the mortal sin(s), it is very easy - you will surely know how many times you committed each sin, so you say (for example) I stole $100 three times from my employer; I committed fornication twice - each time with a different man.....

*

Does this mean if you mention the sin but not the amount (as you cannot remember) you are still in mortal sin even after confession?

*If, however, you are confessing sins committed over years, you may have to say - I stole amounts around $100 many times - about once per week for about 10 years; I lived with my boyfriend for three years and committed the sin of fornication about 3 times a week over that time period. You just do the best you can. If the priest needs to know more, he will ask. *

[/quote]


#7

The Church isn’t too legalistic about this, people are. All the Church requires is that you confess your mortal sins and try to remember how many times you committed them. This is so you can see if you are developing or have developed a habit of mortally sinning, as well as seeking forgiveness for the sin. Mortal sin is very grave and is deliberate, so it really is hard to believe people can’t remember the times they have committed one unless they have been repeatedly doing it over a period of time.

But people add all sorts of unnecessary things. They become scrupulous and legalistic. They refuse to believe they are forgiven. They question their absolution. They insist on reconfessing sins that have been forgiven. All this does is show that the person does not really trust in the Lord or in the Church. I realize this can be an illness, a form of OCD, but it is not always and needs addressed, and it should never be encouraged in any way shape or form by other Catholics. Many times, except in a mental illness, scrupulosity is a tool used by the enemy to cause a person to lose faith and trust and bring on despair.

So as usual, it is not the Church that is at fault, it is people themselves who put unnecessary burdens on themselves and others. The best thing to remember when going to Confession is to keep it simple, direct and truthful, and then fully accept the forgiveness and absolution without question. Then go on with your life, asking God for the grace to avoid sinning again.


#8

so does that mean if the priest pretty much made it impossible to confess the remembered sins but i had the intention of confessing them that they are forgiven and i dont need to mention them next time?

similarly the priest made it hard for me to confess the lust (new sin) properly, does this mean i deliberately withheld the information if i intended to confess it but because of the way the conversation went i couldn't?

thanks for your other replies just something i need clarification on


#9

[quote="Nelka, post:5, topic:289874"]
How are you supposed to do that?

Does this mean if you mention the sin but not the amount (as you cannot remember) you are still in mortal sin even after confession?

[/quote]

One is obliged to confess Mortal sins yes in number. One examines ones conscience and counts them -- Murder 3x, fornication 2x etc.

Now we are not Spock and we may not know them perfectly. Or we may know them.

If one does not in ones examination know how many --one may approximate them according to what one knows.

So if one knows it was around 8-10x one says that. If one can only say it was 2-3 times a month for the last 5 years one says that. etc. Sometimes one only can say "many times" or few times.

One approximates (without scrupling) according to what one examines and knows.

If one hides a mortal sin -- one is still in mortal sin after confession...and have yet another mortal sin to confess.

But if one needs to approximate --that is fine.

Remember this is regarding mortal sins not venial sins.

Now lets say a person honestly did not realize --had no clue they had to confess the numbers of mortal sins......

Does that make their confession invalid for that reason? No I would not say so. For they where seeking to make a good confession and simply where in error (innocently) (like forgetting a mortal sin --the others can be indirectly absolved).

When they later realize this -- well they correct it in the next confession (and if they need to approximate --again they can do so as I noted above).

(PS: those who are scrupulous -- see your regular confessor...)


#10

[quote="james_neville, post:8, topic:289874"]
so does that mean if the priest pretty much made it impossible to confess the remembered sins but i had the intention of confessing them that they are forgiven and i dont need to mention them next time?

similarly the priest made it hard for me to confess the lust (new sin) properly, does this mean i deliberately withheld the information if i intended to confess it but because of the way the conversation went i couldn't?

thanks for your other replies just something i need clarification on

[/quote]

See the links above from Jimmy Akin they can be helpful perhaps.


#11

[quote="james_neville, post:8, topic:289874"]
so does that mean if the priest pretty much made it impossible to confess the remembered sins but i had the intention of confessing them that they are forgiven and i dont need to mention them next time?

similarly the priest made it hard for me to confess the lust (new sin) properly, does this mean i deliberately withheld the information if i intended to confess it but because of the way the conversation went i couldn't?

thanks for your other replies just something i need clarification on

[/quote]

Perhaps you need to prepare your confession a little better so the priest knows when you have finished. It may have been more the Priest thought you had done rather than not letting you finish. Its where confessional boxes make it harder because to identify when the penitent has finsihed especially if there is no paper in front you and you are doing it from memory. I always read mine so that I get to read it fairly plainly as I can and stop at the end so the priest knows I have reached the end as he gets used to my style. I have no idea what others do. Just do what I have always done because saves me from getting flustered etc.


#12

So I now have to think back 20 years and try to work out how many times I masturbated as a teenager and go back to confession to confess sins that I have already confessed as it is only now that I know I have to state how many times I committed the sin?

I remember stealing some sweets as a child, I confessed it but now I have to try and think how many sweets I actually took?

I have a hard time remembering sins I have committed anyway let alone how many times I may have committed them.

Do I need to buy a diary and start jotting down all the sins I commit and tick them everytime I add another?

And is this for all sins or just mortal?

:(


#13

I went to confession yesterday if the first time in years. I had never done an examination of conscience so I had a lengthy list of sins. After hearing that I had absolution I felt a wave of relief. Although I knew I would be forgiven but getting out of my own way and confessing the sins was hard. To celebrate I will take my baby girl to mass without any self conscious feelings.


#14

[quote="Nelka, post:12, topic:289874"]
So I now have to think back 20 years and try to work out how many times I masturbated as a teenager and go back to confession to confess sins that I have already confessed as it is only now that I know I have to state how many times I committed the sin?

I remember stealing some sweets as a child, I confessed it but now I have to try and think how many sweets I actually took?

I have a hard time remembering sins I have committed anyway let alone how many times I may have committed them.

Do I need to buy a diary and start jotting down all the sins I commit and tick them everytime I add another?

And is this for all sins or just mortal?

:(

[/quote]

No, you do not have to do this. First of all, you confessed it, and so it is forgiven. Move on.

Secondly, the purpose of confessing the sin in "number" is so the priest has an idea of the circumstances. Is this the first time for this sin? Is this sin an habit? etc. But the Church does not desire us to be scrupulous about it. Just give the priest some indication. Whether something was done 15 times vs 25 times is trivial and has no bearing. More helpful is whether something was done "often during my growing up years" vs "a few times". If the priest needs to know more specifically, he will ask.


#15

[quote="Nelka, post:12, topic:289874"]
So I now have to think back 20 years and try to work out how many times I masturbated as a teenager and go back to confession to confess sins that I have already confessed as it is only now that I know I have to state how many times I committed the sin?

I remember stealing some sweets as a child, I confessed it but now I have to try and think how many sweets I actually took?

I have a hard time remembering sins I have committed anyway let alone how many times I may have committed them.

Do I need to buy a diary and start jotting down all the sins I commit and tick them everytime I add another?

And is this for all sins or just mortal?

:(

[/quote]

Once again, you do not need to confess sins that have already been confessed and absolved, and venial sins do not have to be confessed, esp if you've already done it. I think you need to see a priest about your scrupulosity and follow his instructions. You seem to be having a problem with it, and you are also not comprehending what people have been telling you. You need to talk to a priest about this confusion. God bless you. Confession is not meant to be this difficult--it's a healing Sacrament, meant to assure you of God's forgiveness and love, not a source of such anxiety.


#16

[quote="Nelka, post:12, topic:289874"]
So I now have to think back 20 years and try to work out how many times I ... as a teenager and go back to confession to confess sins that I have already confessed as it is only now that I know I have to state how many times I committed the sin?

[/quote]

If one simply said the name of the mortal sin and they were committed mortal sins (see my next post...) then one --being the case that one is not going to likely remember how many actually -- the person will confess according to what they know --something like "around 2-3x a month around 10 years when I was a teenager --but not sure how many" or some may need to say "it was "many times" when I was a teenager".... etc

[quote="Nelka, post:12, topic:289874"]
I remember stealing some sweets as a child, I confessed it but now I have to try and think how many sweets I actually took?

[/quote]

Such is usually going to fall into the venial sin area --so no number is needed.

[quote="Nelka, post:12, topic:289874"]
I have a hard time remembering sins I have committed anyway let alone how many times I may have committed them.

[/quote]

All that need to be confessed in number -- are mortal sins.

[quote="Nelka, post:12, topic:289874"]
Do I need to buy a diary and start jotting down all the sins I commit and tick them everytime I add another?

[/quote]

Again one does not need to give any number for venial sins when one chooses to confess them (it is very recommended to confess venial sins --but know that they can also be forgiven in various other ways)

(


#17

[quote="Nelka, post:12, topic:289874"]

And is this for all sins or just mortal?

:(

[/quote]

Mortal sins only.

And when do we commit a mortal sin?

Compendium issued by Pop Benedict XVI gives a nice summary:

  1. When does one commit a mortal sin?

1855-1861
1874

One commits a mortal sin when there are simultaneously present: grave matter, full knowledge, and deliberate consent. This sin destroys charity in us, deprives us of sanctifying grace, and, if unrepented, leads us to the eternal death of hell. It can be forgiven in the ordinary way by means of the sacraments of Baptism and of Penance or Reconciliation.

  1. When does one commit a venial sin?

1862-1864
1875

One commits a venial sin, which is essentially different from a mortal sin, when the matter involved is less serious or, even if it is grave, when full knowledge or complete consent are absent. Venial sin does not break the covenant with God but it weakens charity and manifests a disordered affection for created goods. It impedes the progress of a soul in the exercise of the virtues and in the practice of moral good. It merits temporal punishment which purifies.


#18

[quote="jpjd, post:14, topic:289874"]
No, you do not have to do this. First of all, you confessed it, and so it is forgiven. Move on.

Secondly, the purpose of confessing the sin in "number" is so the priest has an idea of the circumstances. Is this the first time for this sin? Is this sin an habit? etc. But the Church does not desire us to be scrupulous about it. Just give the priest some indication. Whether something was done 15 times vs 25 times is trivial and has no bearing. More helpful is whether something was done "often during my growing up years" vs "a few times". If the priest needs to know more specifically, he will ask.

[/quote]

One is obliged to give the number for mortal sins-- it is a juridical aspect an very much part of the nature of the confession. It is not simply to give the Priest an idea of the circumstances or if it is a habit etc etc...it is not simply to give the Priest some indication. We are obliged to give the number of mortal sins.

Whether something was done 15- 25 times is not trivial and does indeed have bearing. It is not optional or unimportant aspect but part of the Sacrament. And remember it is "confession" not "interrogation" --it is our obligation to confess all moral sins in number and kind (and that which changes the kind). Yes a Priest may ask for more --but he can not read our minds and it falls to us to confess.

Now of course -- it can happen that one simply does not know how many times --or one makes an honest error, not remember something etc -- one can yes if one does not know the number after ones examine etc --one can give an approximation according to what one does know -- such as 2-3 times a month for the last 3 years or 7-10x or around such and such or even if need be many times or few times. For we are not Spock and can not always remember -- especially if it has been years and one is returning to the Church.

(those who are scrupulous -- see your regular confessor)


#19

[quote="Bookcat, post:16, topic:289874"]
If one simply said the name of the mortal sin and they were committed mortal sins

[/quote]

The above post beginning thus

takes into account this post forums.catholic.com/showpost.php?p=9470913&postcount=9

A person who honestly did not say have a clue they ought to give numbers of mortal sins...is a different matter than one who hid the number of mortal sins...


#20

I will add a note that those who are scrupulous can start trying to confess all sorts of un-needful things or unneeded details ..or re-confess over and over in scrupulous manner. Or fear they did not make a good confession when they did or try to find numbers beyond what is reasonable -or often possible at all-- to do. They can fear without foundation that they did not confess things properly etc etc.

Persons with this difficult need to have a* regular confessor to guide them for they can be in a different boat than others. He can direct them and give them principles (such as for example he may tell a particular penitent --only confess things from the past that one is 1. *certain they where mortal and 2. certain they were not confessed as they ought to be.) Some principles or directions which would be such that others would not follow or those who are not scrupulous etc...this is for their particular good.


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