I recently went to confession after a very long time had elapsed since I last spoke to a priest. I did try to remember and confess as much as I could, and I found it to be a good experience overall and certainly not as unpleasant as I assumed it would be. Among the confessed sins, I told the priest that I had not attended Sunday Mass on a regular basis for years (even though I did go to Mass a few times each year), did not take communion, and that at one point in my youth I had fallen away from the Church and lost much of my faith.

The problem is that shortly after I left the confessional, I realized that amongst everything I said, I forgot to tell the priest that during these years I did not fast during Lent and I sometimes consumed meat on Fridays. I am not sure if I should have mentioned this separately, or if it was implied when I told the priest that I had essentially fallen away from the faith, lost interest in the Church for a few years and had not attended mass every Sunday. I took communion after the confession, but now I am not sure if I must go back and tell the priest that I had forgotten to bring up the fact that I did not always fast at Lent.

Thanks in advance for your advice.

First of, I would think he would assume such things, it does fall under what you said, however, I’ll leave it up to some later people who know more than I do. However, according to the “rules” of the church, if you forget, you simply should confess it when you next go.

If it makes you feel better mention those forgotten items in your next confession. Then tell the priest you are also sorry for anything else you may have forgotten and then move on and start totally fresh. In any case all those sins were forgiven in that first confession as you did your best.

Exactly - God isn’t standing over you with a checklist in the confessional waiting to reject your confession as inadequate - he’s the father in the Prodigal Son story who runs up to meet you when you’re halfway home.

If you honestly forgot, you forgot, it’s covered and forgiven. The only time you need worry is if you deliberately leave something out.

Thank you all very much for your kind replies.

Under CCC 1454, it is recommended to make an examination of conscience in preparation for a good confession. This is a practical step which helps the penitent avoid most of the lapses, especially those mentioned by OP.

Thank you, Chancellare, LilyM, rwoehmke and Firefox! Some of what you wrote does, however, raise another question in my mind. This was my first time in confession after more than 10 years and I did spend some time contemplating what I would say and examining my conscience. I looked through the Ten Commandments and looked at some guides on how to prepare for reconciliation, that broke down each commandment into subcategories of mortal sins.

At confession, I mentioned each subcategory of mortal sins and also elaborated on some instances. When I left confession, however, I was wondering if I was actually supposed to specifically state the precise circumstances for each time I committed a mortal sin. For example, is it enough to say that one lied and how often, or do you have to actually explain the concrete details of each lie? The real problem is that after not participating in confession for over a decade, these instances sadly multiply and telling all the details of each instance, rather than just the sin and the approximate number of times it was committed, makes for an incredibly long confession. It’s also very difficult to remember on the spot all the individual circumstances.

The priest really had no follow up questions to ask, he just gave me some advice, said that he found it overwhelming that I came to confession after so many years. He also asked me what made me come and then absolved me. Although he was very nice about it all, I now find myself obsessing over whether or not I was actually supposed to list all the details and circumstances of each sin.

I’ll be very honest here, even at the risk of committing another mortal sin–sometimes, I just wish I was an Episcopalian, where I would probably not have to go through all of this in order to participate in communion.

You don’t need to go into elaborate detail for each occurrence of each sin - such would probably be near impossible with 10 years worth of sins anyways! Just anything you think may affect either the priest’s penance or advice, or any circumstance that is especially pertinent about the sin.

For example, saying ‘I stole’ is too little. Saying ‘I went to the shop on Wednesday, there were five customers there, I held the place up with a Colt pistol and stole $5,033.20’ is unnecessarily detailed. ‘I robbed a shop at gunpoint, terrified a few customers and stole about $5000’ is about right :slight_smile:

mackenzie, it sounds like you did a great job with your first Confession in many years. As to your very first question, the failure to observe the disciplines of Lent would surely be included in having fallen away from the practice of your faith.

And for the second question, you are certainly not expected to list or even remember the details of all your sins for so many years. And Lily has given you a good guideline for the future.

And speaking of the future, if you make it a regular habit to come to Confession (monthly is good), you will find it gets easier and easier, and that you become a better and better person. You don’t really want to be an Episcopalian, I assure you. The true Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist is worth everything!


Welcome to the forums, mackenzie!

God bless you! I am very happy for you that you are now back home!
I believe others have already answered your questions.

Going to confession regularly is really great.
Here is a link to my recent post about Confession - it contains some links to good articles too:

Then you all again for your responses!

I also went through a period time similar to yours. Lucky for me, the Parish priest asked me to have a consultation and counselling session first before I went to confession proper. He was very happy to counsel me about the nuts and bolts of confession and the rest of the business of salvation. Then when I confessed, I was able to present my cases a bit more in an organized way. After a few hours, it was a big “Whewh!”.

First of all, welcome back to the Sacrament of Confession! Remember Jesus told his followers that all of heaven rejoyces when one sinner comes to repentance.

As for forgetting to mention that you did not fast during Lent, as long as you did not deliberatly withold that information from the priest during your confession, you were forgiven for not fasting and abstaining during Lent. However, you should confess the neglect of fasting in your next confession.

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