Do I need to re-confess these sins?


#1

I have a question regarding some sins that I previously confessed. For the reasons that I'll explain, I'm not sure that they were confessed properly and I'm wondering if I need to re-confess them.

I am a convert, and made my first confession as an adult. Obviously, I had many years of mortal sins to account for, including those committed as a child and teenager. My first confession was actually invalid, for reasons that I won't go into here. (It was my fault, and definitely invalid. I later re-confessed all of these sins.) In this first confession, the priest basically walked me through everything, asking me if I had committed various sins and asking me to name the number of times, etc...as necessary, because I didn't know how to make a good confession.

When we got to the sixth commandment, he first asked me if I had committed any impure acts between the ages of five and fourteen. I said that yes, I had. He did not ask me to list the number of times, or to explain the exact nature of those sins, circumstances, if others were involved, etc...He just said ok and then moved on, asking me about sins against purity from the age of 15 and on. For these sins, he asked me to be more specific - were they committed alone or with others, number of times, etc...So the sins against the sixth commandment that I committed from age 15 and on were confessed in much more detail.

I assumed that this was acceptable, and when I re-confessed these sins, I followed more or less the same pattern. I told the priest (a different one) that I had committed impure acts between the ages of five and fourteen. I think that I asked him if he needed any more details, but he didn't respond and started talking, so I assumed that the way that I had confessed those sins was fine.

I then confessed the sins committed from age 15 on in more detail, as I had done before - alone or with others, and other relevant details. However, I was fairly nervous and the priest kept asking me if I was finished, and I think that I forgot to quantify those sins. So from age 15 on, I definitely mentioned the "type" of sins against purity, but I think that I forgot to number them.

My first three questions are:

  1. Was the way that I confessed sins against purity between the ages of five and 14 acceptable, or should I re-confess, stating the type of sin more specifically and number of times? The "general" way that I confessed seemed to be acceptable to two priests, both of whom seemed fairly orthodox.

  2. Do I need to re-confess the number of times that I committed the sins against purity from age 15 on? Like I said, I think that I forgot to mention the number of times, although I'm not actually sure because it was several months ago. I think that I did not mention the number of times for many other sins in that confession, as well.

  3. Since some time has passed, I can no longer remember for which sins I confessed a number of times and for which sins I did not. At the time, I knew that it was "better" to confess number of times, but I did not know that it was obligatory. Should I make yet another general confession?

I have some additional questions that have to do with a sin against purity that I committed at either the age of 14 or 15 - I can't remember exactly when I committed it, so I mentioned it with the sins committed at age 15+. Basically, I hugged someone, and I think that I may have had some impure feelings while I did this. I'm not sure, though, since it was almost 20 years ago and I can't really remember. In fact, I had actually forgotten about it, but remembered it before I did the second general confession. So I decided to confess it to be safe. However, the priest did not allow me to get through everything on my list in the second general confession, so I had to go through the second half of my list in a third general confession. In the third general confession, I read the second half of my long list of lifelong sins, and mentioned a few new sins that I had committed recently.

I wasn't sure how to explain this sin (hugging) quickly and without going into unnecessary detail. In the second general confession, I confessed it as a "small impure act, committed as a teenager, I think two or three times." The priest (a third one) did not ask for more detail. After that, I started to worry that I had not been clear enough and I re-confessed it as something like "hugging someone with impure sentiments, two or three times." I did not mention any qualities of the other person involved. Again, the priest (a fourth one) did not ask for any more details.

My questions are as follows:

  1. Does my vague description of the sin render that entire confession invalid? Did I commit a sacrilege? Do I need to re-confess all sins mentioned in that confession?

  2. Do I need to re-confess this sin (hugging, with possible impure feelings, 2 or 3 times) and mention some qualities of the other person involved? (I obviously would just mention some general characteristics, not their name or anything like that.)

My final question has to do with some money that I stole as a young woman. I confessed stealing, but did not mention a monetary amount, mainly because it was over a decade ago and I don't remember. The priest did not ask me to elaborate on this, so I thought that it was not essential.

  1. Should I re-confess this and try to estimate how much money it could have been, mentioning that I just can't remember the exact amount?

Does anyone have any suggestions? I'm sorry for this long post!


#2

Do you have some reason to question whether this priest knows and follows Church teaching? Unless there is evidence that he deliberately leads people astray, you should be trusting his guidance, especially in matters of sacraments.


#3

If a priest wants more details he’ll ask for it. If he wants to know how many times he’ll ask You only have to confess the number of times for mortal sins and gee, I don’t know anyone who remember how many times they did something 20 years ago…RELAX, it’s forgiven!

BTW hugging is not a sin. And everyone gets fleeting impure thoughts. The sin comes when you linger on these thoughts or purposely linger on these thoughts instead of dismissing them. Even then they are probably not mortal sins.

Try not to fall into the trap of becoming scrupulous with regard to sin and confession. Accept what the priest says and don’t think about it again once you are forgiven.


#4

[quote="Joannm, post:3, topic:299295"]
BTW hugging is not a sin.

[/quote]

In my diocesan Safe Environment course, we learned that "frontal hugs" are sexual harrassment and only "side hugs" are acceptable.

community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19940128&slug=1892011


#5

Regarding the two sins:

  • You confessed the stealing. You should not agonize over remembering the amount and since the Priest didn't even ask about it (because it has been 20 years!), that is enough.

  • Hugging is not normally a sin of purity. The only way I could see hugging being a sin is if you know getting that close is either a weakness for you or someone else.

Let it go, brother or sister. God does not want us to be troubled like this.


#6

I see aspects of myself in you. I made a general confession a few years ago and there was so much to confess, I became very prone to scruples after it - did I mention the number of times, was I specific enough, etc, etc. Many times I went back to the confessional with forgotten sins - that's ok, if you genuinely forget to confess something, bring it up at the next confession. However, I also wondered had I made it clear to the priest exactly how bad my sins were, because they were very embarrassing some of them and difficult to verbalise because of that, so I ended up returning and confessing a few of them twice.

But - that was a few years ago now, and I realise now that I did go a bit OTT. The main thing is that you, as far as I can tell from your post, went to the confessional with the sincere intention of confessing all those dark deeds from your past as best you could in the desire of forgiveness and with the hope of growing in faith and holiness - yes? You didn't go in with the aim of deliberately misleading the priest about your sins, but with the honest desire to have ALL of your sins washed away. I used to be very bad with scruples, but now I try to remind myself that God knows I wanted to confess everything honestly, which I honestly tried to do. The scrupulous are generally advised not to re-confess sins - Google St. Alphonsus Liguori and scruples, and you'll see what I'm talking about - however, if you think this is the only way your conscience will settle down a bit and allow you to move forward in your faith then just go ahead and re-confess. Get it over with. Not advisable, but if you think you are totally stuck in the mud on these issues - just do it, then leave it all behind and move forward. I read a great quote on this site a while back and constantly remind myself of it:

"When you receive absolution your sins are thrown into a deep lake. On the lake there is only one sign "NO FISHING" "


#7

[quote="Elizium23, post:4, topic:299295"]
In my diocesan Safe Environment course, we learned that "frontal hugs" are sexual harrassment and *only "side hugs" are acceptable.
*

community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19940128&slug=1892011

[/quote]

Only to those afraid of abuse accusations. There is nothing wrong with a normal frontal hug.


#8

Thanks for these helpful responses - they are actually what I had hoped to hear! I feel much better.

Agnes Therese - No, I didn't have any reason to question the orthodoxy of the priests mentioned in this post. However, I didn't know any of them well, and only saw three of the four once, for one confession. I have had a couple of "un-orthodox" confession experiences, and there are a lot of priests in my area that are, unfortunately, very modernist in their approach to the sacraments. So I'm often hesitant to trust the advice of a priest that I don't know, if it seems to be in conflict with what I know to be general practise. I'm learning more and more about the sacraments, so I'm hoping that this is just a passing phase for me until I either find a very faithful priest that I can go to with any questions, or gain enough knowledge that I can trust my own judgement most of the time.

Trials - You sound a lot like me. I had the same fear that you did - I guess that I was just afraid that I was somehow not conveying the gravity of my sins, and refusing to own up to them by not confessing them "properly." I start to think that maybe, by not confessing a sin clearly enough, I was really trying to hide it. I think that the worst thing about being scrupulous is that it causes me to think only of myself and of my own sins, rather than doing something positive, such as reading the Bible, praying for others, or doing some corporal or spiritual work of mercy. It is sad to say, but I have neglected housework and spending time with my husband many times in order to spend time on the internet, searching to see if X is a mortal sin, or if doing this or that renders a confession invalid, or if I confessed X sin thoroughly. I know that this is not the lifestyle that Christ has in mind for his followers, and I know that confession is not supposed to take over our lives to the point of neglecting everything else because we are so worried about whether or not we are really forgiven!

I've heard that it is better to have only one confessor, but at this time, it's not really possible for me. I don't think that I have ever confessed to the same priest twice! The churches where I go to confession usually have multiple priests that hear confessions and you never really know who is going to be there and when. So it is not an ideal situation, but I'm certainly grateful to have access to the sacrament.


#9

[quote="IngridR80, post:1, topic:299295"]
I have a question regarding some sins that I previously confessed. For the reasons that I'll explain, I'm not sure that they were confessed properly and I'm wondering if I need to re-confess them.

I am a convert, and made my first confession as an adult. Obviously, I had many years of mortal sins to account for, including those committed as a child and teenager. My first confession was actually invalid, for reasons that I won't go into here. (It was my fault, and definitely invalid. I later re-confessed all of these sins.) In this first confession, the priest basically walked me through everything, asking me if I had committed various sins and asking me to name the number of times, etc...as necessary, because I didn't know how to make a good confession.

When we got to the sixth commandment, he first asked me if I had committed any impure acts between the ages of five and fourteen. I said that yes, I had. He did not ask me to list the number of times, or to explain the exact nature of those sins, circumstances, if others were involved, etc...He just said ok and then moved on, asking me about sins against purity from the age of 15 and on. For these sins, he asked me to be more specific - were they committed alone or with others, number of times, etc...So the sins against the sixth commandment that I committed from age 15 and on were confessed in much more detail.

I assumed that this was acceptable, and when I re-confessed these sins, I followed more or less the same pattern. I told the priest (a different one) that I had committed impure acts between the ages of five and fourteen. I think that I asked him if he needed any more details, but he didn't respond and started talking, so I assumed that the way that I had confessed those sins was fine.

I then confessed the sins committed from age 15 on in more detail, as I had done before - alone or with others, and other relevant details. However, I was fairly nervous and the priest kept asking me if I was finished, and I think that I forgot to quantify those sins. So from age 15 on, I definitely mentioned the "type" of sins against purity, but I think that I forgot to number them.

My first three questions are:

  1. Was the way that I confessed sins against purity between the ages of five and 14 acceptable, or should I re-confess, stating the type of sin more specifically and number of times? The "general" way that I confessed seemed to be acceptable to two priests, both of whom seemed fairly orthodox.

  2. Do I need to re-confess the number of times that I committed the sins against purity from age 15 on? Like I said, I think that I forgot to mention the number of times, although I'm not actually sure because it was several months ago. I think that I did not mention the number of times for many other sins in that confession, as well.

  3. Since some time has passed, I can no longer remember for which sins I confessed a number of times and for which sins I did not. At the time, I knew that it was "better" to confess number of times, but I did not know that it was obligatory. Should I make yet another general confession?

I have some additional questions that have to do with a sin against purity that I committed at either the age of 14 or 15 - I can't remember exactly when I committed it, so I mentioned it with the sins committed at age 15+. Basically, I hugged someone, and I think that I may have had some impure feelings while I did this. I'm not sure, though, since it was almost 20 years ago and I can't really remember. In fact, I had actually forgotten about it, but remembered it before I did the second general confession. So I decided to confess it to be safe. However, the priest did not allow me to get through everything on my list in the second general confession, so I had to go through the second half of my list in a third general confession. In the third general confession, I read the second half of my long list of lifelong sins, and mentioned a few new sins that I had committed recently.

I wasn't sure how to explain this sin (hugging) quickly and without going into unnecessary detail. In the second general confession, I confessed it as a "small impure act, committed as a teenager, I think two or three times." The priest (a third one) did not ask for more detail. After that, I started to worry that I had not been clear enough and I re-confessed it as something like "hugging someone with impure sentiments, two or three times." I did not mention any qualities of the other person involved. Again, the priest (a fourth one) did not ask for any more details.

My questions are as follows:

  1. Does my vague description of the sin render that entire confession invalid? Did I commit a sacrilege? Do I need to re-confess all sins mentioned in that confession?

  2. Do I need to re-confess this sin (hugging, with possible impure feelings, 2 or 3 times) and mention some qualities of the other person involved? (I obviously would just mention some general characteristics, not their name or anything like that.)

My final question has to do with some money that I stole as a young woman. I confessed stealing, but did not mention a monetary amount, mainly because it was over a decade ago and I don't remember. The priest did not ask me to elaborate on this, so I thought that it was not essential.

  1. Should I re-confess this and try to estimate how much money it could have been, mentioning that I just can't remember the exact amount?

Does anyone have any suggestions? I'm sorry for this long post!

[/quote]


#10

Good morning...first of all...welcome Home....you sound like you are going to be a devout Catholic...please note that I personally border on 'rigidity'/scrupulosity...so...listen carefully...stop beating yourself up over things you can't remember....I don't know of any priest ( I am a cradle Catholic) that has ever gone into 'that' much detail w/ respect to the details of my sins....I definitely mention the number of times and I am very accurate about the sin...I always spend a detailed amount of time in prayer thought in preparation for the sacrament of Confession (that's right, I call it Confession)...and generally end my confession w/ and Pls Father forgive me for whatever sins I can't remember at this time...I'm usually a little nervous anyway and could kick myself for forgetting things...but..lets not get toi wrapped up around the 'mental axle'....I came back to the Sacraments in 1985 and made a general confession after surviving the 70's...do you think I could honesly remember every time I woke up w/ someone I didn't know...We go from here.....PAX...and remember to Be Happy and laugh out loud sometimes....there is a beautiful picture of Christ laughing that I saw while on a retreat....


#11

[quote="maryjk, post:7, topic:299295"]
Only to those afraid of abuse accusations. There is nothing wrong with a normal frontal hug.

[/quote]

All Catholics should be deathly afraid of even the appearance of abuse!


#12

We are to confess all mortal sins in number and kind and circumstances that change the kind of the sin -like it was you Brother you murdered or the chalice you stole from the Church and not just some "gold cup" (and in terms of sins of theft too --stealing a grape is very different than stealing a car (serious)...)

Now if one makes say an honest confession (contrite etc) -- basically not having a clue that say one needs to be specific about the mortal sins (murder, lustful thoughts, bank robbery etc) or the number of the mortal sins -- such can still be a "valid confession".

(if one has been going to confession since then --mention that to the Priest for his guidance)

Now when one realizes such -- one then would "submit to the keys" in confession those accidentally omitted mortal sins and or the numbers.

So in the case where it would have still been a "valid confession" (one can discuss such with the Priest if one is not sure it was or was not) --one does not therefore need to go and re-confess all the other mortal sins that where correctly confessed. (such is different if one intentionally hides a mortal sin say....or the number...).

Furthermore -- if one in examining does not know the number--well one approximates according to what one knows "around such and such" --around 2-3 times a month for 5 years etc (sometimes we have to say even many times or few times etc). Same goes regarding an amount of theft if you judge was serious...

And we are not expected to be Mr. Spock -- we may not remember so well --especially from years ago.

(note too that some readers may struggle with scrupulosity --and can start wanting to reconfess all sorts of things that is not needed --they need a "regular confessor" to guide them).


#13

[quote="Elizium23, post:11, topic:299295"]
All Catholics should be deathly afraid of even the appearance of abuse!

[/quote]

I am sorry, but I refuse to live in fear of abuse accusations.

A frontal hug is not the appearance of abuse.


#14

OK, so it looks as per Bookcat's advice that I do need to re-confess some sins. I'm hoping to get to confession this coming week, hopefully on Monday. I'll explain the situation to the priest and see what he says.

In the meantime, it is fine for me to take Communion, right?

I'm not sure where I'm going to mass tomorrow (I usually go to one of two parishes, it depends on what my husband feels like doing), but one of the parishes usually has confessions during mass. If I do attend mass there tomorrow, am I obligated to confess then? (I haven't committed any mortal sins since my last confession, so normally it wouldn't be necessary.)

The reason that I ask is that there is usually quite a line during mass and I usually try to be as quick as possible as a courtesy to others - sometimes everyone doesn't get in before communion because there are so many people lined up. I would hate to put others (many of whom are elderly and possibly can't get out to confession easily) in the position of having to miss confession and communion simply because I took 15 or 20 minutes of the available hour.

If possible, I'd rather finally get this cleared up, calmly, on another day, when I'm not worried about a line of people trying to get in before Communion. That way I can read through my list carefully and ask questions of the priest, and make sure that everything is clear. Some of these confession problems stem from rushing or being rushed through my list of sins and not being able to get my thoughts together because I'm in such a hurry.


#15

It may be best to actually call a Priest and make an appointment for confession (which could maybe be done sooner than later...even today).

Now if a Catholic (Roman Rite) forgets a mortal sin in confession -ether by say forgetting it or say honestly did not have a clue that they needed to confess it (like a convert who innocently did not realize such) (but they intended to confess all their mortal sins and where contrite and amended against such)--do they have to run to confession sooner? No. Do they have to not go to Holy Communion until they return to confession? No. Not unless they commit another mortal sin.

Now in the case where such is realized --it is to be mention in the next confession after they realize the mistake -- otherwise one would be then "hiding mortal sin" in the next confession (unless of course it was again totally forgotten...) ...(and then the person would need to goto confession and remedy both and re-confess all mortal sins in that second confession too --and not go to Communion)

Now could it happen again that a person could in good faith omit say in the next confession the forgotten mortal sin cause they again did not realize that they had to confess it in that confession or through some other acting in good faith (such as not even knowing they ought to find out what to do or something). Yes I would think such could happen. And they could be in the same situation of someone who just realized it after their last confession.

It would be best to talk with ones Priest -- for it is difficult to answer fully on a forum or maybe understand all that took place.

A Priest can of course guide one.

jimmyakin.com/2006/09/a_reader_writes_1.html


#16

Sam becomes Catholic -- and makes his confession.

Months (and many confessions) later he realizes that he was supposed to confess his mortal sins in the number of times. He honestly had not clue back then that he had to give number for them and thought he was made a good confession. Indeed he confessed all the mortal sins he knew of and was contrite and amended...he intended to do all he was to do for confession.

He realizes this and so now intends to go go Confession the next week. Does he need to not to go Holy Communion until then? No. Such is the line of "forgotten but absolved indirectly in confession --mortal sins". He needs to reasonably examine and confess them but he need not for that reason not go to Holy Communion.

Now Jack did the exact same thing. But in his case he realizes he should confess them in the next confession but decides he does not want to --so he hides them in the next confession --he is entering into a problem for himself -making things worse --and will need to bring the whole matter to the Priest anyhow--and it would seem he hid them in a way that made it invalid --hence he is not to goto confession.

Sue is also in similar boat as Sam -- but in her case she realizes the problem but does not realize she needs to confess them right away and being new is not even sure she has to mention them at all again --so she resolves to ask the her Priest but in the mean time went has gone confession again not having a clue that she should confess the forgotten mortal sins....then she finds out that she honesty misunderstood things (did not even have a clue) and that she actually had to confess the forgotten mortal sins in the next confession after she remembered them--so she plans to go see her Priest in the next week. So it would seem that she would be still in a similar boat to Sam as to Holy Communion in the meantime. (Her Priest can advise her).

More from Jimmy Akin: jimmyakin.com/2007/03/specific_confes.html

jimmyakin.com/2005/04/confession_vali.html

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


#17

Thanks for the response. Based on what you said, I should be able to receive Communion tomorrow. My confession mistakes were definitely honest mistakes - I was trying to make good confessions and it looks like I got some things wrong, but the good intention was there.

I've never been taught how to make a good confession - or even a bad one!! - so I've been learning as I go along by reading different internet forums and websites and some books and catechisms. It's kind of a two steps forward, one step back kind of thing, but I am making progress! The first few times I went I was really overwhelmed and never knew where to begin. I didn't even know if I was supposed to name my sins or was supposed to let the priest ask me, and I was always so nervous that I could never concentrate. Sometimes I could barely talk! I never knew when I was trying to be too vague or too specific, and I ended up with a list that was about 10 pages long and I couldn't find a priest to listen to the whole thing. I read through a very long examination of conscience (longer than most that you find online) plus a few others and wrote down basically every sin on the lists - I knew that I had committed most of them at some point, even if I couldn't remember.

I finally threw that list out, after reading that a confession shouldn't take so long as to become a torture, took one old examination of conscience and made up a new list of things to confess, which was more manageable but I don't think missed any of my mortal sins.

I've made up a list based on my post, and I'll probably be going to Confession on Monday specifically in order to clear things up and re-confess what needs to be re-confessed based on the priest's advice. I'd rather just get it out of the way than leave it - on Monday I'll be able to get to the parish where they have confessionals with screens and doors. I feel completely safe confessing there - no one knows me, the priest doesn't know me and can't see me, and there is no danger of anyone hearing what's being said. If I wait until I commit a mortal sin, I might end up stuck trying to re-confess this stuff face-to-face, in some area where other people might be able to hear me, and I'll get anxious and mess it up again. (I don't like face-to-face confession and always choose the screen when it is available, but I can handle it as long as the sins that I have to confess aren't too embarrassing...)


#18

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