I recorded a bunch of my sins on paper, but there got to be so many and it was so complex that I didn’t even know if I should confess all I’d written. I talked to my confessor and he said I could just use the paper as a guide and name a few sins and not read everything off of it. I never looked at the paper during the Confession, just tried to remember the general types of sins I had written. Instead of making the sins specific, I tired to combine the ones I committed into general sin groups. Now I’m worried. What if the fact that I left out certain more specific sins invalidates the absolution? Is that possible? I prayed before I went in. Should I just trust? What about the sins I wrote down on paper? I still never confessed most of them, and though my family and confessor tell me otherwise, I feel like a lot, maybe most, of them were mortal. Did the Confession count? I had a huge list of sins that I believed I had committed right in front of me and I didn’t even look at the list during Confession. I left out tons of things. I tried to remember my general ones, though, and I went through Ten Commandments. Is that sufficient? And what about the huge list I still have and the possibly mortal sins on it. Should I confess them next time? How can I when the list is so huge? Should I just forget them like my confessor tells me to and believe I’ve been forgiven?
I don’t know how old you are, but regardless of your age, why not call or go to your nearest Rectory and ask to see a priest? If one is not immediately available, make an appointment. Print out a copy of this inquirey and bring it with you. Then bring this matter up with the priest. I am sure he will put your meeting under the Seal of the Confessional if you ask him.
I think this is the only way you will get a difinative answer, not on any forum on the internet. Of course, you will have to follow the priest’s advice for it to be of any good to you.
The Father stood on the hill waiting for his son to return. He calls the Homestead to attention; His son was on the way. He rushes to greet him, hugging him and noting how gaunt he looked. As He put his arm around bruised and bony shoulders, His son in his anxiety babbles away about his travels and his failures and his loss. Is the Father listening like a lawyer jesuitically and forensically analysing every fault and failure? Or is he pleased at the sorrow and repentance expressed in the confusion of His son’s return? What Father would not forgive? If we would, think how absurd a suggestion you make that our loving Father would not. . Sometimes, we can get too scrupulous about the legalities of our religion. Did not Christ suggest pulling the animal out on the Sabbath. Leave your worries with the Priest who heard your confession. If he was concerned that he had not heard enough for absolution, he would have asked questions. In my opinion he may have a fair idea of your feelings. The Cure d’Ares was once asked what listening to the confessions of Nuns was like. He described it as being pecked to death by a pack of sparrows. Laugh a little at yourself, I am sure you are forgiven. If in doubt, make confession a weekly event and try to find a Spiritual Director in this sad Church of today.
You need help with being scrupulous. Asking strangers on the internet for help will not make it go away. You need a priest to guide you. You need to listen to your priest and your family. You can ask your parents about speaking with your doctor. Your doctor may be able to help you through a therapist as well.
May God lead you to the right people to help you in your sufferings.
Feeding your anxiety and obsessions and scrupulous behavior by searching on the internet for “relief” does the opposite. You must take all of this to your professional helper - priest, doctor, therapist.
May God give you peace.
Plus you say you spoke to your confessor who knows you and your desire. Your confessor, your priest, in the name of Jesus and His Church granted you absolution.
As RoseMary says, strangers on the internet will not make this go away. Please talk to your priest and make an appointment with a medical professional
I agree with those who advised you to talk to a priest. And when you do go to confession you do not need to go into details. You can easily say I sinned against the first commandment once (or more as the case may be). Just be careful that you have good intentions and not not think you are leaving out some sin on purpose. If you have such a fear tell the priest. He is not going to be scandalised. After all as the Bible says: There is nothing new under the sun. Finally pray to God for assistence. It is He who should be your guide.
You are being scrupulous and need to work on forming a true image of God …
Please everyone pray for me to do this, to have peace, and to trust in God’s Love.
Thank you all for the advice!
I just want to say how much I really liked this answer.
The next time you go to confession, tell the priest that last time you brought a whole list and did your best to confess everything, but that you left some things out unintentionally, including some things you believe are mortal sins. If any of those is something that would be something that can* result in automatic excommunication–such as procuring an abortion or attempting a false ordination–you need to mention that, as well. This is because while a priest can absolve a serious sin, he is not always authorized to lift excommunications that would prevent the penitent from normal access to the sacraments, including the Sacrament of Penance. I wrote “can result” because there are conditions besides the seriousness of the action that are required for something to result in automatic excommunication. At any rate, ask him if you should mention any of those things this time, or just confess the sins you committed since your last confession. Answer any questions he has as honestly as you can, then do what he says.
Remember that a mortal sin is something that you did intentionally and by an act of your free will, knowing it was seriously wrong. You cannot commit a mortal sin out of true ignorance or by complete accident, because it requires willingness to commit sin to be blameworthy. You can commit a seriously bad act, but in order to be culpable you had to commit it in the knowledge you were doing something seriously wrong.
I don’t think I did anything to excommunicate myself. I worry so much every day about sin that I doubt it’s possible. But if I did, how could they be forgiven if not with Confession? If I left out any mortal sin, am I at least forgiven until next Confession?
Please make an appointment with your parish priest an/or confessor and STOP seeking clarification from others on an internet forum.
You need to speak with someone who knows you, who you speak with face to face, and see your reactions so you can dialogue. This is lacking in an anonymous internet forum.
This will also help you in another way. As someone who has suffered from OCD and scrupulosity you need to tune “others out” and listen only to the voice of a trusted confessor who can help you to eventually discern the “voice” of your soul. Also a medical doctor would help you to discover if there is a medical explanation or reason for your constant fear and anxiety.
Remember: it is not enough that an act achieve some level of seriousness for it to be a mortal sin. The intention and the freedom to avoid the sin also has to be there. If you weren’t fully aware that you were committing a sin of mortal seriousness when you committed it, you are not in mortal sin. You don’t get into serious sin accidentally. You have to do something that you know is that serious, have the moral freedom to avoid the sin, and yet choose to do it, anyway.
If you have the firm intention to confess a mortal sin, then you don’t have to fear that it will be held against you that you did not get to confess it. You’re doing your best, you’re not presuming on God’s mercy without being willing to doing your part to renounce the sin and come forward for reconciliation. On that account, do not fear that there is a spiritual “gotcha” waiting for you. Repentance does not work like that, and true repentance and amendment are very clearly your goal.
As for the excommunication thing, I was covering my bases. To actually incur an automatic excommunication, one must know that it is an excommunicable offense at the time it was committed. These things of a nature that the priest has to go to the bishop and ascertain how to help get you, the unnamed penitent, absolved. Either he will be given the faculty, or he will be told who to send you to in order to allow you to secretly renounce this sin and be returned to communion. But no matter…the point was that if your mortal sin was in that special class, and you knew that when you committed the sin, you’d want to mention that, too. If you are not aware of having done anything that results in excommunication, then you don’t have to bring up that possibility.
Scrupulosity is a difficult trial, because it is a disorder in a necessary thing…that is, it is a disorder in one’s ability to examine oneself and repent. It is kind of like having an overactive immune system. Don’t beat yourself up about it, even as you do take steps to find an appropriate level of habitual self-examination and intention to repent and amend. Like having an immune disorder treated properly, you will suffer a lot less if you get this taken care of, and you will be more spiritually healthy, too!
I talked to my confessor again and he said to get rid of the pages of sins I had. I normally would, but I’m afraid… This priest also says that if you forget to confess a mortal sin, you shouldn’t say it at your next Confession, which I’ve heard otherwise here. Should I still obey him?
Remember the auto-immune analogy. Your confessor is the physician of your soul. By your own account, you are afflicted by scrupulosity, an auto-immune disorder of the soul, as it were, by which the person’s conscience, usually the guardian against sin, becomes overactive and attacks the very person it is meant to protect from harm. It is necessary for the good of your soul for you to accept “treatments” to turn your overactive conscience down so that it operates in a healthy region, OK?
This is why there is a limit to what medical advice and spiritual advice we can seek over the internet. There is always the danger that we will believe general advice meant for informational purposes over the diagnosis of a trained practitioner who has actually done an exam on us personally. Yes, you could get a “second opinion”, but I think that will do more harm than good. Since you know that you have an overactive conscience, if you do your best to humble yourself to the opinion of your confessor, it will be accounted to you as righteousness. It will also help you to make yourself available to the grace and peace in which you are meant to live. Accept that grace and peace in gratitude.
Your confessor absolves what he intends to absolve, and he is absolving nothing he does not have the authority to absolve. If it is his intention to absolve you of sins that you neglected to speak through no fault of your own because he can discern that your contrition for all your sins was obviously genuine, he can do that. He knows you are withholding nothing from him. You are withholding nothing from him. Accept that your contrition is sufficient and the absolution is just as complete as it was intended to be, OK?
Hang in there, this is really hard to work through, but above all, “Be not Afraid.” You are seeking God; God will not fail you!
I’m working on it, but still afraid… I have a paper of sins that are possibly mortal and the Catechism states that if you remember sins after Confession which are mortal, you should confess them next time. I feel like if I don’t use the paper, I’ll be ignoring the mortal sins! And then, my Confessions will always be invalid. I’m just very afraid. Please pray for me, all who read this…
The bar for committing a mortal sin is actually rather high. If you didn’t believe the sin to be mortal or if you did not freely chose to commit it, you did not commit a mortal sin. You had to know it was that serious, have the spiritual strength to resist doing it, and then do it, anyway. A sin cannot retroactively become a mortal sin and you cannot be coerced into committing one or commit one accidentally!
Ask your confessor if he knows a good counselor for someone who is suffering from scrupulosity. You may need someone to reassure you through the process of getting over this fear you have, so you aren’t tormented in this way. I think we’re going to have a tough time doing that, because it is too easy to convince yourself that people on the internet can’t appreciate your true situation.