Do you have to confess the number of times you do something

do you have to confess the number of times you commit a particular act or is it suffcient to say… i did these things (without giving a number) and i am sorry for them. for my particular case, i did these things twice since my last confession. should i mention that or is it extra information the priest does not need?


You should try to number them…doing so is an attempt at full sincerity and a guard against hiding your sins. Say what you don’t want said. That’s a paraphrase of a good guide from a modern day Saint.

If you truly don’t remember…then be generous and say "Father, I wish I could tell God how many times I have done this, but I honestly can not remember - it might be hundreds of times. Only God truly knows. But I am deeply sorry nonetheless and I desire to be even more sorry.

Go hard early and with some cheer.

One is obliged to confess mortal sins in number and kind…(and one would mention a circumstance that changes things…like the person you murdered was your brother)

If one hides such …it is invalid and one can add another mortal sin that needs to be confessed.

If one forgets…one can be absolved …but one needs to mention it next confession.

Venial sins need not be. such can be also forgiven in other ways…

When I was going through the conversion (RCIA) process, Father said that we should always confess a) what we did and b) how many times we did it, as best as we can estimate.

He encouraged us to not give much more detail than that, saying that he would ask if he needed any more information, but indicated that that those two things were essential.

If you don’t know how many times you did something, then some indication of ‘volume’ is warranted…for example, “once or twice per week over this time period” or “about X times” or “more times than I can count.” This helps Father to know whether it’s an incidental or habitual sin, and of what magnitude. My first Confession had a lot of these vague numbers, since I was confessing many, many years of sins and errors, but since then I have usually been able to provide exact numbers.

Of course there is no need for scrupulosity or for spending hours trying to figure out an exact number. We just need to be honest about it. If you say “three times” and realize later that it was really four and you had forgotten one, the confession is still perfectly valid (as long as it wasn’t an intentional deception).

God bless you!

OP, you will be helped, and the confessor will be enlightened, to get an approximate idea of frequency if the sin is habitual (lying lying several times a week, gossiping daily – that kind of thing, and then he’ll get the picture from the time reference you have given since your last confession). Frequency is sometimes a more effective way to frame the problem.

OTOH, regarding a serious violation of a commandment –

If it’s a single occasion, that is also important, such as, “I’ve never done this before but realize how profoundly serious it is; I’m horrified I did it; I’ll never do it again.” Because even though the priest clearly hears the remorse and sorrow, it’s likely he will take that prime opportunity to build on that – not to rub it in, but to acknowledge and congratulate you for that awareness. That provides an immediate validating benefit to the penitent and reinforces the penitent’s own sorrow.

If the serious violation has happened more than once, let’s say perjury or adultery, when each was of limited but multiple occurrence, such as repeating the single perjury a second time, or cheating on one’s spouse 3 times: The priest in that case will have a different kind of opportunity to reflect on the seriousness of the fall into sin, by reminding you that one occasion made the second occasion easier. It will also help suggest the penance. Undoubtedly, a serious Commandment violation engaged in more than once will prompt a suggestion about a return to the sacrament very soon.

Sometimes (recognizing that the person most benefiting from this sacrament is not the priest or Jesus, but myself), I will try in my Examen to see patterns that are governed by my worst capital sins, and will make an umbrella of those, explaining that all the following sins were prompted by _______capital sin. Almost always, the priest speaks to that and helps me. And in that respect, I tend to somehow put the capital sin and/or its manifestations in some quantitative light (several times a day/ weekly/monthly, etc.)

Hope that helps.

I just tell the priest the sins that I’ve commited and that I want to change and he doesn’t ask me the number of times I’ve commited the sin.

If one should happen to commit mortal sins…they would need to be confessed in number and kind.

One reason for the enumeration of sins is for the purpose if spiritual guidance. One or two times may be a weakness. 40-50 times indicates a different tactic may be needed to combat it.

Even for mortal sins I don’t number them. Should I confess the next time that I go to Confession that I don’t say the number of times I’ve commited the sin? I actually was never taught in my CCD program that I had to do that. I just recently learned about that on the forums here. I always figured that since I confessed my sin and was truly repentant that my sins were forgiven.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Again, you will find that confessing either the number or the frequency will help the priest to help you, and it will also make you more aware of how often you commit the sin, when you do get ready to confess it. There are many ingredients to the efficacy of confession. One ingredient that helps promote the graces of the sacrament is knowledge. Another is sorrow. And sorrow depends on knowledge. :slight_smile:

For example, perhaps the next time you go to confession, you can say that you have been neglecting to mention the number of times, and having analyzed that, you now realize how unfortunately frequent this sin or those sins have become. Confession is supposed to help us reduce our bad habits of sin, among other things. :slight_smile:

You made your previous confessions in good faith, and your priest accepted them. You shouldn’t revisit these confessions, as to do so would be undermining the authority of your priest. Yours is a slightly different case from the one we more often consider of someone forgetting a mortal sin, which should be mentioned at the next confession.

However, as all the posters here have said, you should confess mortal sins in kind and number, so I recommend that you start doing that from now on. You will reap a spiritual benefit!

My advice would be to make then a general confession…of all ones mortal sins…as one can remember them…in number and kind. Make an appointment soon with a priest…outside the regular times (unless as may be the case…one has only a few mortal sins ) and begin by telling him that in the past you did not know that you were to confess mortal sins in number and kind…etc…

In the past when you did not know this…ones sins could be absolved due to your not knowing…for you were not intentionally doing this…but now that you know …make a general confession…and if you have the unhappy occasion to commit mortal sin in the future you will know to say number and kind (Murder 6x)

Such is not the case…

What do you mean, “Such is not the case”? what Edmundus means, by “revisiting” (in this context), is to question the validity of those particular past sacramental confessions, making the penitent concerned that perhaps it was not a “true” or “complete” confession, not efficacious, etc. What jongenaro said was that he/she ““had thought that (even if number wasn’t mentioned) his/her” sins were forgiven.” The poster’s sins have been forgiven, precisely because the pentitent was acting within the full knowledge known at the time. It’s when there’s deliberate withholding of serious sin that the sacrament is being abridged.

We are not permitted to consciously lie about anything in Confession.

The term “revisit” is used by confessors to discourage a pentitent from developing scrupulosity. We are not to return to a previous confessed moment in time with the belief that an accidental piece of information left out (such as a detail of frequency or even the unwitting omission of a serious sin) has invalidated that confession and thus “revisit” that particular confession. The way to handle it is, at the next available sacramental occasion (mortal sin cannot be committed by accident, so there’s no urgency to rush in), the penitent announces that, along with recent sin, he wishes to seek pardon for (mention) a previous sin that was forgotten. That sin has actually already been forgiven, even though it was not mentioned, as long as there was not a deliberate lie (sacrilege). This is traditional Catholic sacramental theology, and should have been a basic element of this poster’s catechesis, which unfortunately it wasn’t. It is also a basic element of any college program in essential Catholic theology.

A “general confession,” in Catholic theology, is not a retun to the confessional to update the priest on frequency of recent sins confessed. A General Confession is a life review. Often it is engaged upon when a revert is returning from a long absence from the practice of the faith. A confession and a general confession are one and the same when someone of any age has First Penance in the Church, as it is a review of all sins known to have been committed since Baptism.

A sacrilegious confession (sometimes known as “a bad confession”) does require a return to the confessional as soon as possible. It would involve an admission of a mortal sin deliberately omitted in a previous confession. Until that is revealed, that confession moment is invalid, and any communion engaged in is sacrilegious. Hopefully, that was told to jongenaro during CCD class!

The situation with jongenaro does not require a general confession or any such thing. He/she should just remember next time to provide the confessor with more details as to frequency, because such frequency makes the confession complete and allows the priest a fuller picture for counseling and suggestion of penance. The poster has not made any invalid confessions, at least in his description.

*A “general confession,” in Catholic theology, is not a retun to the confessional to update the priest on frequency of recent sins confessed. *

Actually it can be…just go read the older moral manuals…such is what they call it…

There’s no need to read “the older moral manuals.” The older moral manuals do not govern pastoral practice today, directed toward the lay person, not in religious orders and not a member of the clergy, not having returned to the faith after a long absence, not on one’s death bed. Here’s a thread on CAF, answered by a trained Catholic apologist, Fr. Vincent Serpa. In the question asked by the poster, a reference to General Confession is made, and that definition confirmed by the apologist, in this case also distinguishing it from any general “absolution” [not general “confession”] in communal reconciliation services, which is of course invalid unless an emergency or accompanied by individual confession.

Jongenaro is not being asked if he or she should return to some antiquated practice in an old moral manual, but rather what current Catholic practice is.

Tis not an antiquated practice…

And theologically the term can be applied in various ways…

The older manuals are still valuable sources…though I for one certainly recognize the renewal of Catholic Moral Theology…(and would not recommend the older manuals to those not educated in theology…) .and I love the fine theological work of Fr. Pinckaers …

But i will grant you that a “General confession” is usually meaning that one is confessing all ones mortal sins of ones life (or those one wants to mention directly from ones whole life…) It “generally” means that :smiley:

But lets not fight about terms at the moment…

The bottom line is he needs to confess as we noted…

(and a general confession in the usual is one way to fix the poster problem…him telling the priest of course what he is doing)

Actually, the “bottom line” is that

(1) His previously confessed sins have already been forgiven, even though he did not number them, because (a) he was unaware that he should have AND (b) the priest did not demand the information

(2) He should not return to the confessional with an assumption that he made a bad or sacrilegious confession. At the next regularly intended confession for new sins, he should remember to number them (or state frequency), because, as several of us have said, that will be to his spiritual advantage. Going forward, this will help him. As I indicated earlier, if in reviewing number of past committed sins, his mind is more illuminated to see how habitual a particular sin or sins may have become, that will also be to his advantage, to see this and to discuss it in confession.

(3) No “life review” (General Confession) is necessary for jongenaro regarding his jpreviously unwitting omission of frequency.

(4) There were many older practices in the Church which are not encouraged for the general faithful at this time because such superfluous practices have a tendency to lead to scrupulosity and/or to encourage the penitent to question the penitent’s own faith.

We are to confess our mortal sins in kind and number.

Don’t worry about your past Confessions - the rule is, if the priest gives you the Absolution, and you aren’t conscious of trying to deceive him on purpose, then it was a good Confession. (Confession is one of the few things in life that can be done quite badly, and still be considered “good.”)

But, from now on, just remember, kind and number. :slight_smile:

It would be a good thing for you to make a practice of frequent Confession - once a month, or even once a week - so as to avoid having to try to remember things that happened a long time ago.

Bottom line is he needs to confess the things forgotten…as I have noted.

We are obliged to confess our mortal sins in number and kind…

If they are indirectly absolved for some legit reason…the obligation still remains to submit them to the keys in the next confession.

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