Difficulty in finding "material" for confession

I wonder if anyone has this problem, of wishing to go to confession but can`t think of any sins?

I examine my conscience daily using the 10 comandments, or the beautitudes and the comandments of the church, and for the past few years since I returned to the faith I`ve had no problem finding material for monthly confession, untill recently.

As even some of the saints felt they needed confession every day, I wonder how I could look deeper at my life and be more aware of what vienal sin is.

I`d appreciate any help and ideas here, even critical.Thanks.

Maybe try a good examination of conscience:


Thanks Mary Ive printed that off to keep. Some times I wouldnt have any of those to bring to confession. I will occasionally bring an old sin that I`ve confessed before but that I see with more regret, or a new awareness .

Obviously, breaking any of the 10 commandements is need to go to Confession. But I try to approach it, has anything kept me from loving God with my whole heart, my whole mind, & my whole soul? Has anything prevented me from loving my neighbor?

Here’s a (personal) example, do you thank God for doing something in your life and then your actions show no gratitude? In my mind, that is a breaking of the commandment.

No offence, Mary, but this exam of conscience is MUCH more thorough - and really goes into the differences between venial and mortal sins to help us fine tune our understanding of sin.

If that fails - get a spouse, child, sibling or parent to help. As I’ve said elsewhere, mine are always more than happy to tell me what I’ve done wrong :rolleyes:

got this tip from a retreat master (Jesuit naturally)
in your daily examen look at your performance of the virtues, beginning with the one that gives you the most problems.
also look at areas which are, to you, a source of pride and satisfaction, because strange as it may seem, that is where unhealthy spiritual pride, uncharity, and sloth may be creeping in.
also look at your relationships with the most difficult people in your life.

I only wish I had this problem.

No offense taken. I have a couple of differnt ones bookmarked on my computer, and I’ll admit that some are better than others. I really like the ones that distinquish between mortal/veniel sins, 'cause scrupulous people like me have a difficult time distinquishing between the two at times. Thank you for the addition.

Good advice.

Is there an elephant in your living room? By this I mean, is there something really big that you’ve made peace with because it’s just too difficult to deal with? Something that’s been around for so long that you don’t see it any more? Maybe it’s time to tackle that.

Also, I find that I can determine my own sins by looking at the people around me. Whatever bothers me about someone else is likely to be a fault of my own also. I often project onto others the sins that I commit myself.

Sometimes I am in the same situation as the OP. I dig up a bunch of tiny faults, usually against charity, which make me think I’m very spiritually advanced. :rolleyes: Then, in those final, panicked moments before going into the confessional, after I’ve begged the Holy Spirit for light, He shows me some really humiliating fault to confess instead. St. Faustina, in her diary, recounts how she always chose the most humiliating things to confess from her list of faults and imperfections. That made a big impression on me.


Wonderful. Thank you all so much . Plenty of food for thought now.:slight_smile:

Laudatur Iesus Christus.

Dear Bridie:

You might consider reading “The Art of Loving,” by Erich Fromm – except the chapter on “Love of God.” This book considers the elements and skills of love as a human enterprise. This may give you insight into how love at its highest level is done. This in turn may give you fertile ideas in considering “how Christ loved us” and therefore what is meant by the New Commandment: “that you love one another, as I have loved you.” (Jn 15:12).

(One should read the chapter on “Love of God” only with great caution. Fromm was a secular sociologist. Though there is much insight in his study of human love, he was deeply mistaken in regard to God, and therefore tragically misguided in some of his most important ideas. As a work of psychology his book is useful. The section on “Love of God” can be entirely skipped without significant loss to the value of the real insights in the book.)

“All iniquity is sin.” (1 Jn 5:17). If one focuses on all variations between one’s behavior and the highest standard of love – as lived by Christ – then these iniquities are brought into relief.

Pax Christi tecum.

John Hiner

On retreat once, the priest talked about how those who frequently go to confession probably do not have any mortal sins to confess. His suggestion, to save time in the confessional when there is a long line, is to focus on one particular sin or area where you may be having difficulty.
I have begun confession with, “I am unaware of any specific sins that I may have committed since my last confession. However, I struggle in this particular area of my life (or with this sinful tendency).”

This is an excellent idea. We must remember, however, that in order for the absolution to be effective, we must confess at least one real sin, mortal or venial. So if we really cannot recall any sins at all since the last confesssion, we should renew our sorrow for some sin of the past. “I am sorry for all the sins of my past life, especially _____.”


Confession of sin is necessary in order for the Sacrament to be valid. Sometimes sin lies more in attitude than in action, as with the 7 deadly sins. We may experience a lack of charity even as we give alms or feed the hungry.
I had a priest tell me once not to bring into confession sins of the past since that can be a form of scruples. It is a denial of God’s forgiveness of those past sins. Confess only sins committed since my last confession.
Nevertheless, sometimes we face the same temptations that have led us into the sins of the past. A person who once stole may be tempted to steal again. A person who lied in the past may be tempted to be less than honest. I bring the temptations I face into the confessional recognizing that temptation in and of itself is not a sin. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a defense against future sin as well as sins already committed.
Satan reminds us of everything we did wrong in our past. God’s reply to the sinner who asked about the greatest sin he may ever have committed is “What sin? It was forgiven the moment you confessed.” I like the words of this popular song. God says, "It is not that I don’t remember. It is that I choose to forget."
When I end my confession I always ask for forgiveness of “these sins as well as any other sins I may have committed.” I cover the bases of sins forgotten.

Laudatur Iesus Christus.

Can you give the basis for these statements? They seem to be in tension with the story of David and his son with Bathsheba – the baby suffered and died, and David suffered and did penance, after forgiveness was given for his sin.

Should a distinction be made between regretting the sin and regretting or feeling sorrow for the results of the sin? After all, once one has been accepted back in the ranks of the Lord’s army, one has to regret the damage one did as a worker for the enemy. This does not mean that one’s conversion to the good side or the Lord’s forgiveness is in doubt, only that the damage done is now one’s own loss because it is the loss suffered by the Lord and His Church at one’s hands, and after reconciliation one feels the losses of the Lord and His Church as one’s own.

Pax Christi nobiscum.

John Hiner

This advice was, I am sure, appropriate for you at the time. However, one cannot make such a generalization that it applies to everyone all the time.

There is a big difference between renewing one’s sorrow for a sin that is understood to be forgiven and dragging up the same sin again and again because one cannot forgive oneself or believe that God has forgiven it.

If I come to confession with no new sins on my conscience and wish to receive the sacramental grace to help me in my temptations, there is nothing else to do *but *confess an old sin. In my case, I haven’t had to confront this issue too often! :slight_smile:


If all else fails, ask your spouse, kids, and in-laws to enumerate your faults.

But I have to agree with Wolseley–I wish I had this problem.

I agree with your statement. We are often tempted with the same things that caused us to sin in the past. There is a difference between saying “I slipped in this way before and I almost slipped again” and dragging forth an old sin. I am not afraid to bring up an old way of life during my confession as background as to why something may be a temptation for me at the present moment.
John Hiner–Yes, David was punished for his sin with Bathseba. We are all called to repentence and we may have to pay a price. If I break a window, I still need to pay for its repair even if I say I’m sorry. David paid for his sin once with the death of the child that Bathseba carried. He did not continue to pay the price over and over again. David surprised his court when he dressed and washed himself once the price had been paid. The time for mourning his sin was over.

Laudatur Iesus Christus.

Thank you for your comments.

The point I was trying to highlight is that the time to end mourning was not at the moment of forgiveness.

This creates some problem for those who say, ‘your sin is forgiven, put it behind you and forget about it.’ It also causes one pause when interpreting claims that God does not remember our sins once they are forgiven. Whatever such statements mean, it cannot be what they seem to say on their face.

Pax Christi nobiscum.

John Hiner

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