confession


#1

I have a question….I am very scrupulous, so I don’t know if this is simply me being scrupulous, or what, but…

I went to confession yesterday, and I confessed all of my sins on the list I had prepared. After I told the priest my sins, I then said an act of contrition expressing sorrow for my sins. However, I was very, very nervous, and when I said the act of contrition, I was very distracted by my nervousness. Looking back on it, it seems, due to this distraction, as if I was merely saying the words. I did not make a conscious act of the will of contrition, and a conscious act of repentance (It wasn’t simply that I didn’t “feel” anything; it was the fact that I didn’t even make a conscious act of the will, again, because I was so very nervous and distracted). I don’t remember making such a conscious act of the will of sorrow and repentance any time during the confession (or even beforehand while in preparation for confession when doing an examination of conscience and so forth).

Don’t get me wrong. I was implicitly sorry for my sins and implicitly repentant. If I had not been distracted by my nervousness and had therefore concentrated on what I was saying, I would certainly have made a conscious act of the will to be sorry and repentant. But as it was, I was distracted (like I often am when praying) and seemed to be only saying the words. I was only implicitly sorry and implicitly repentant for my sins (in the sense I described above).

It wasn’t until later in the day that I reflected on that and realized what had happened, and it has me so nervous. Do I need to repeat that entire confession? Or is this simply my scrupulosity? I really, really do not wish to have to repeat that confession if I do not have to (since it was very difficult for me the first time as it was, due to my scrupulosity). Please help me (and any prayers would also be appreciated). Thank-you.


#2

You are just fine. Do not repeat your confession. It sometimes happens that it all is a blur because you are nervous.:slight_smile:

Perhaps you might enjoy the practice of praying right before you go into the confessional. At that time I recite the act of contrition, the same one I will say in the confessional in a few minutes time.

Of course, I will pray as you have asked.


#3

Saying an Act of Contrition isn’t even a required element of confession - only your admission of sins and the priest’s absolution are necessary. I have known priests, especially if there’s a lineup, omit the Act of Contrition altogether.

If you’re concerned, next time you can say the Act privately before the confession or perhaps after. I’m sure you were more than sufficiently contrite for a valid confession in any event.


#4

Thanks for your answers and prayers…

Saying an Act of Contrition isn’t even a required element of confession - only your admission of sins and the priest’s absolution are necessary. I have known priests, especially if there’s a lineup, omit the Act of Contrition altogether

I guess what I am trying to say was that at no point during the confession (or even before my confession at any time) did I consciously will even in my mind to be sorry and repentant, due to being distracted by my nervousness. Again, during the confession, I did say an act of contrition, but I was distracted by my nervousness.(It wasn’t simply a matter of me not “feeling” anything), so I wasn’t consencrating on what I was saying.

If I had not been distracted by my nervousness (resulting in me seemingly only saying the words), I would definitely have made a conscious act of the will, both before and during the confession itself, to be sorry and repentant, but I was distracted. So I was implicitly sorry and repentant, I believe.

That would be good enough, right? I don’t have to worry about repeating my confession, right? It is simply a matter of my scrupulosity?


#5

Yes it is simply a matter of your scrupulosity :smiley:

Presumably, like most who attend confession, you were sorry and repentant at some point after you became aware of your sin - after all, you wouldn’t have decided to confess unless this were so, right? :yup:

So your repentance was real for sure, even though you were nervous and distracted during the confession. You were genuinely sorry for your sins, and knew that what you had done was wrong. It’s not like you were confessing because your mother forced you to go, or anything. That’s what matters.


#6

Presumably, like most who attend confession, you were sorry and repentant at some point after you became aware of your sin - after all, you wouldn’t have decided to confess unless this were so, right?

Well, I don’t think I made a conscious act of the will to be sorry and repentant, though, either before or during the confession for these sins.

Basically, what happened is yesterday I decided to go to confession. I prepared a list of what I needed to confess, and then simply made an appointment to see the priest. In the confession, I told my sins and then when it came to make the act of contrition, I stated it, but due to my distractions from being so nervous, I wasn’t really concentrating on it. If I had concentrated on it, I certainly would have made a concious act of the will to be sorry and repentant (hence why I believe I was implicitly sorry and repentant). But I didn’t make a conscious act of the will. Nor do I remember doing so at any point since committing the sins, for that matter.

Does this “implicit” sorrow and repentance (i.e., I would have made a conscious act of the will to be sorry and repentant if I had not been distracted) suffice? I don’t need to worry about reconfessing, right? Thanks.

I should state most of these sins were ones that I had simply forgotten to state in past confessions and had simply mentally recorded them until I made my list yesterday to make sure I confessed them in this confession. I had figured they were already forgiven though I needed to confess them (though now I’m afraid my past confessions, at least some of them, suffered from the same problem as this one). But I did not make a “conscious” act of the will to be sorry and repentant for them at the time I remembered them (nor do I remember doing so in the past) any more than I make a “conscious” act of the will not to murder anybody today. I figured I would make such a conscious act of the will to be sorry and repentant for these already forgiven yet unconfessed sins when I went to confession, like I did yesterday. In the meantime, however, I did not wish to dwell on them, because it seems to make my scrupulosity worse. But, unfortunately, I was distracted in the confessional when the time came to make a conscious act of the will.

Moreover, looking back on it now, I’m afraid this same problem might have affected many if not all of my confessions of the past as well, and that really concerns me.

So does this “implicit” contrition suffice? Do I need to worry about reconfessing sins (from this or past confessions), even if I did not make a conscious act of the will to be sorry and repentant for them at any point before or during the confession, due to being distracted in the confessional by nervousness (when I planned to make such conscious acts of will), though I would have had I not been so distracted? What about past confessions? I am afraid those confessions (or at least some of them)might have been messed up by the same problem (I don’t know), and I would end up having to make a general confession of all the sins since my baptism .I am very nervous about this, so I apologize for these long questions…


#7

Is this the first time you have felt this trouble that pehaps all your previous confessions weren’t good enough? I suspect it isn’t. You need to tell your confessor about how you get troubled by those thoughts. The best remedy for those types of thoughts is to tell him and do exactly what he says. He will tell you how to confess or what to do with regard to your type of thoughts. If you have already told your confessor about these problems, follow whatever directions he gave you about it. This is the best road to peace of mind.

Asking us here on the forum probably won’t help if this is a regular problem for you. Not to say you can’t ask!:slight_smile: Just, the most reliable course for the scrupulous is following the advice of the confessor. You tried to cooperate with confession that day. It was only later in the day that you started to feel all tied up in knots about whether or not you did everything. This sounds to me like scrupulosity, or maybe the devil trying to upset you from your peace.

That said,

Why did you go to confession?


#8

Is this the first time you have felt this trouble that pehaps all your previous confessions weren’t good enough

Before, I usually felt my confessions were good enough in the sense that I tried to make good confessions and that they were valid and my sins were forgiven…(though I always felt I forgot to confess like a million sins, especially from my past, or not in sufficient detail for the ones I did confess, etc., and so I felt I needed to confess those in my next confession all the time, even though they were forgiven).

It was only after this particular confession that I started feeling that perhaps this one and those other confessions were messed up because I might not have made a conscious act of the will to be sorry and repentant, due to distractions (at least on some of my past confessions, I don’t know how many).

Just, the most reliable course for the scrupulous is following the advice of the confessor

I would try to follow the advice of my confessor…but he is not always faithful to the Magesterium. (He might have even told me some incorrect things in the confessional itself before; I don’t remember). So I don’t know if I can trust him.

Since he is the only Catholic priest in a three county area (and I have no drivers license; I rely on my parents to give me a ride to church), there is no other priest I can talk to in person. (The only other opportunity I would have to talk to another priest in person is twice a year when my parents visit Illinois where there are more priests, or a visiting priest is at my parish). My only other option for help is the Internet.

Why did you go to confession?

Quite simply, I wished to be forgiven of my sins. Like I said, I simply didn’t make a conscious act of the will to be sorry and repentant of my sins, at any time before or during confession. I’ll try to explain a little what I mean by a “conscious” verses “implicit” sorrow and repentance (for all my confessions).

Basically, before these confessions, the reason I did not make “conscious” acts of the will (all the time, though I did some times, at least for some of the sins, such as came to my mind at the time) was this: I was trying not to think about my sins any more than I had to (because that fed my scrupulosity). Once I remembered them, I simply mentally recorded them. Most of them were ones which I believed were already forgiven, since they were simply sins I had simpy forgotten to confess in previous confession, or were ones which at the time I was not sure were mortal or not, and I figured I would presume were not (since I was in doubt, and I have been told scrupulous people should assume doubtful mortal sins were not mortal), though later on when getting ready to go to confession and making a written list, I decided they were (though that might have been my scrupulosity.).

Basically, I figured it would be safe to wait till my next confession to make such a conscious act of will, and in the meantime not to take any chances feeding my scrupulosity by dwelling on them anymore than I had to. So at the time I mentally recorded them, I did not make a conscious act of the will to be sorry and repentant for them, any more than today I would make a conscious act of the will not to murder someone. (I was planning on making such a conscious act of the will to think to myself and pray to God “I am sorry and I repent” during confession). At the same time, though, to continue my analogy, just as if today I were put in a position to murder someone, I would certainly reject it, so too, before my confession, at the time I was thinking about these sins that I remembered, if I had been asked outright if I were sorry for my sins and I repented of them, I certainly would have said yes.

But, as I said, I tried not to think about them anymore than I had to after mentally recording them, so as not to feed my scrupulosity (not to mention, while not all the time, many times I would have been distracted at the time in trying to make such an act then as well). I figured I would be making an act of contrition in the confessional anyway, and so I wanted just to mentally record my sins, but then immediately afterwards try to think about something else, so a million other things didn’t pop up that were scrupulous thoughts.

However, when I have tried saying acts of contrition in the confessional, like I said, my mind was distracted by my nervousness, and I couldn’t concentrate.

(continued in another post)


#9

(continued from previous post)

I never really thought about it as problematic until last night. I guess my reasoning before in the past when I thought about this issue was this: I always assumed since I was “implicitly” sorry and repentant (that is, if I could concentrate I would definitely have made such a conscious act of the will in the confessional), that was good enough. I was certainly implicitly repentant and sorrowful for my sins in that sense. Sort of like how I always love my parents every minute of every day, even I am not making a “conscious” act of the will to love them. If, while watching a ballgame, I’m not “consciously” loving my parents, that doesn’t mean I don’t love my parents for that three hour period. It just means I’m not “consciously” doing it. So too, even if I am not “consciously” sorry and repentant for my sins, that doesn’t mean I’m not, since I would be if I could concentrate.

The thing is now, however, I just thought after this confession that it might be different in this case, because before confessions I didn’t make conscious acts of the will to be sorry and repentant at any time before my confession (again, for the reasons explained above: I tried not to think about my sins anymore than I have to after I mentally record them, so as not to feed my scrupulosity). I always figured I would do that in the confessional. But once in the confessional, due to my nervousness I don’t really concentrate that well. Certainly all of those times if I would have concentrated, I would have made such a conscious act of the will. But since I couldn’t concentrate, I didn’t make a conscious act of the will. It was only implicit sorrow and repentance.

This might not have been the case all the time, but certainly some times.

Basically, I always try to make good confessions. It’s just now these doubts about my confession yesterday as well as past confessions come up….

Is this simply my scrupulosity? Since I was implicitly sorrowful and repentant (that is, I would have made such a conscious act of the will to be sorrowful and repentant if I could have concentrated in the confessional), does that count? Do I need to worry about repeating my past sins?

I think it could be just my scrupulosity, but I don’t know…I’m sorry if I’m not explaining myself that well.

Thanks.


#10

CCC 1451: Among the penitents acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is "sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together, with the resolution not to sin again. Dear friend of Christ; rejoice, your sins were forgiven. “I was implicitly sorry for my sins and implicitly repentant.” God Bless


#11

Ah, you are limited in where you can go for help. If no one has suggested it before, you can read a newsletter for the scrupulous. I’ll give you the link to an article there, and you can read the other newsletters on the site if you like. The article is comforting. At the bottom of the article is a link to the scrupulous anonymous newsletter. I’ll do my best to answer your question.

Everything you say says to me that you indeed were sorry and that you had turned from your sins. What troubles you is that you can’t point to a moment where you informed God (or resolved to yourself) in a very conscious manner that you repudiated those specific sins. You do not need to do that. What you need to do is turn from them, which you did. Look at what you wrote, I bolded:

if I had been asked outright if I were sorry for my sins and I repented of them, I **certainly **would have said yes

So too, even if I am not “consciously” sorry and repentant for my sins, that doesn’t mean I’m not, since I would be if I could concentrate.

You were not in a way of refusing to turn from those sins nor in the way of postponing the decision. You had turned from them. If you had told me that you were deliberately withholding your consent to the action of turning from them in such a way that you really likely could have said no when asked if you were sorry, that would be different. Then you would have not yet decided if you were sorry. But you had decided and had turned, just you hadn’t make a certain type of explicit, conscious moment of it. *That *is what you postponed, not the choice about if you were sorry or not. But that is okay. The state of your heart was that of repentance at the time of the confession. And you did tell God you were sorry, willingly, you just had a rather implicit sort of will at the time, not an explicit one. You had decided you were sorry, and you continued in that sorry state, and in that state you said your act of contrition in your will to carry out confession for your salvation (to be forgiven).

You describe nothing that would have impeded the grace of the sacrament or the judicial action therein, not to my knowledge. I think it is your scrupulosity speaking. You do not need to reconfess the sins.

Maybe this is clearer. It is in the state of your will. Your will was repentant. We often choose things without making it explict. Our will just chooses. Period. Then, afterwards, it is clear to us that we have chosen. We continue in that choice, even if we don’t think about it, unless we make a new choice back the other way. You chose repentance and stayed that way.

I hope I have better responded to your posts. I think I am the one not being clear, not you. I did understand you. I delayed answering you and instead tried to get you to talk to a priest, but it is not going to help if you do not trust his orthodoxy. That is why you think I didn’t understand. But I did, afaik. You are perfectly clear.:slight_smile:


#12

Thank-you for that answer! It was very helpful!


#13

You went to confession because you were sorry for your sins and wished to be forgiven. That is sufficient. Not every act of the will has to be conscious and explicit.

The very fact that your posts on this matter tend to be wordy and worrisome is evidence of scrupulosity. I would continue to read Father Santa’s newsletters referenced above.

Probably the best thing you can do with respect to your confessions is to forget about them afterward. No post facto analyzing!


#14

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