Extreamly afraid to go to confession

Hello all,

New to this site but glad I found it becasue it allows me to ask this question.

I of course am Catholic, however I have not been to confession for over 16 years. I want to return to confession but its been so long I don’t know where to start or what to do when I go into the confessional. Can anyone share with me what I may have forgotten so I dont feel even worse then I already to. 16 years is a long time and I am just not sure what to expect.

I have studied my concious and have thought of the ten commandments. To me I have broken every one of them. Now when it comes to not killing…dont worry I never killed anyone in a phyisical sense however I have spoken badly and if you will killed people professionally etc. So when I go what am I expected to say.

Ok I just went on and on I guess I just need a bit of guidence. Thanks community.:slight_smile:

Worry not. Fear not. The Priest has heard everything.

(I assume your not in an invalid marriage -that would be something one would go see the Priest about first-but fear not there too -go see the Priest he is there to help you).

One needs to get perhaps a good examination of conscience (CA sells one for adults) and examine your conscience. One must confess all mortal sins (venial sins are good to confess but not required) and confess those mortal sins in “number and kind” which means how often one committed the mortal sin and what kind it was (murder, adultery, fornication, etc…one does not just give the commandment -one needs to give the kind-though it need not be the “formal name” one does need to confess what the sin was. And if the kind was changed -like the building was a Church you burned down -that would be mentioned for that changes the kind - for it is also sacrilege.) As to number -after ones examination - if one does not know that actual number one can confess according to what one knows. Such as “around 10 times”, “around 20-30 times” “2-3 times a month for the last 10 years or so” or even if need by “many times” “a few times” “alot”. It depends on what one can recall (we are not expected to be vulcans…). If one forgets a mortal sin but is repentant and contrite and intending to confess all ones mortal sins -it too is absolved with the rest - if one remembers it later one though is to confess it in the next confession after one remembers it.

I would suggest when your ready - to call and make an appointment.

Hopefully that does not make you more afraid! Fear not -confession is simple really - and Jesus loves you and wants to give you true life in confession!

Here is an example of how you can confess:


More here: catholicnewsagency.com/resources/sacraments/reconciliation/



Note especially the grace of confession!


1468 "The whole power of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship."73 Reconciliation with God is thus the purpose and effect of this sacrament. For those who receive the sacrament of Penance with contrite heart and religious disposition, reconciliation "is usually followed by peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation."74 Indeed the sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true “spiritual resurrection,” restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God.75

1469 This sacrament reconciles us with the Church. Sin damages or even breaks fraternal communion. The sacrament of Penance repairs or restores it. In this sense it does not simply heal the one restored to ecclesial communion, but has also a revitalizing effect on the life of the Church which suffered from the sin of one of her members.76 Re-established or strengthened in the communion of saints, the sinner is made stronger by the exchange of spiritual goods among all the living members of the Body of Christ, whether still on pilgrimage or already in the heavenly homeland:77

It must be recalled that . . . this reconciliation with God leads, as it were, to other reconciliations, which repair the other breaches caused by sin. The forgiven penitent is reconciled with himself in his inmost being, where he regains his innermost truth. He is reconciled with his brethren whom he has in some way offended and wounded. He is reconciled with the Church. He is reconciled with all creation.78 

1470 In this sacrament, the sinner, placing himself before the merciful judgment of God, anticipates in a certain way the judgment to which he will be subjected at the end of his earthly life. For it is now, in this life, that we are offered the choice between life and death, and it is only by the road of conversion that we can enter the Kingdom, from which one is excluded by grave sin.79 In converting to Christ through penance and faith, the sinner passes from death to life and "does not come into judgment."80

Here is the short Compendium from Pope Benedict XVI


(scroll down to confession 302 etc.)

Jesus of Nazareth is the Lamb who takes away our sins-- the Good Shepherd who gives laid down his life for us --who gives us true life!

“Jesus is called the Lamb: He is the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. Someone might think: but how can a lamb, which is so weak, a weak little lamb, how can it take away so many sins, so much wickedness? With Love. With his meekness. Jesus never ceased being a lamb: meek, good, full of love, close to the little ones, close to the poor. He was there, among the people, healing everyone, teaching, praying. Jesus, so weak, like a lamb. However, he had the strength to take all our sins upon himself, all of them. “But, Father, you don’t know my life: I have a sin that…, I can’t even carry it with a truck…”. Many times, when we examine our conscience, we find some there that are truly bad! But he carries them. He came for this: to forgive, to make peace in the world, but first in the heart. Perhaps each one of us feels troubled in his heart, perhaps he experiences darkness in his heart, perhaps he feels a little sad over a fault… He has come to take away all of this, He gives us peace, he forgives everything. “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away sin”: he takes away sin, it’s root and all! This is salvation Jesus brings about by his love and his meekness. And in listening to what John the Baptist says, who bears witness to Jesus as the Saviour, our confidence in Jesus should grow. Many times we trust a doctor: it is good, because the doctor is there to cure us; we trust in a person: brothers and sisters can help us. It is good to have this human trust among ourselves. But we forget about trust in the Lord: this is the key to success in life. Trust in the Lord, let us trust in the Lord! “Lord, look at my life: I’m in the dark, I have this struggle, I have this sin…”; everything we have: “Look at this: I trust in you!”. And this is a risk we must take: to trust in Him, and He never disappoints.”

~Pope Francis


"Jesus is the “Good Shepherd” who goes in search of lost sheep, who knows his sheep and lays down his life for them (cf. Mt 18:12-14; Lk 15:4-7; Jn 10:2-4, 11-18). He is the way, the right path that leads us to life (cf. Jn 14:6), the light that illuminates the dark valley and overcomes all our fears (cf. Jn 1:9; 8:12; 9:5; 12:46).

He is the generous host who welcomes us and rescues us from our enemies, preparing for us the table of his body and his blood (cf. Mt 26:26-29; Mk 14:22-25); Lk 22:19-20) and the definitive table of the messianic banquet in Heaven (cf. Lk 14:15ff; Rev 3:20; 19:9). He is the Royal Shepherd, king in docility and in forgiveness, enthroned on the glorious wood of the cross (cf. Jn 3:13-15; 12:32; 17:4-5)."

~Pope Benedict XVI


Bookcat explained it very well – it’s great that you are coming back to the sacrament after all this time, and the priest will think so too. Please don’t worry.

Don’t worry just go.

Last year I returned after being gone for more years than you. I made an appointment with my priest but that is not necessry. He helped me through it and he was very kind. He was so happy that I was there and told me so. I think priests are over joyed at people returning. I worried all the way to the appointment and just forced myself. I was so relieved after like I was floating on a cloud, no kidding.

My husbnd returned about a month later and he just stood in line. The priest helped him through it too and was very happy he had returned. I think it is quite a pleasure for priests when people come back to confession.

Bookcat gve you some wonderful information. I will pray for you to give you strength. I promise you will feel better when you do this :slight_smile:

At the risk of sounding condescending, I really want to say…

Afraid of going to confession? Well join the club and then get in line.

I made a 37 year confession. The priest asked if I wanted to go through the ten commandments and I said, “No, I broke 9.9 of them every single day of my life.”

Just go in, tell him how long, tell him that you are scared to death, and ask for help. That’s all. God will take it from there.


This is a message of encouragement to you, every day you delay is a day lost to the peace and relief you will experience after you have competed your confession. I went after a long time, I was so afraid that I stayed behind the screen. The priest was an angel, kindly guiding me and questioning me. I felt so foolish for having been so afraid. Don’t worry, don’t wait, just go and be forgiven. I will pray for you.

Please don’t be afraid. It is wonderful that you wish to come back to us.
I was in your situation a few years ago and totally panicked. The Priest was so gentle, kind and encouraging. Afterwards he said “All the Saints and angels in Heaven are rejoicing this day, when the love of God has brought you here”.
God bless and keep you. It will all be so much easier than you think. God loves you.:slight_smile:

Just tell the priest that it’s been the 16 years since your last confession, so you may have forgotten something. He’ll lead you through it then.

Essentially when you go in you say “Bless me father, I have sinned. It’s been ___ years since my last confession”.
Then you tell him your mortal sins - if you don’t want to spend any money for one, you can look up “examination of conscience” on Google.
Then you say, “For these and all my sins I am truly sorry”.
After he gives you your penance and absolves you you say “Amen”.

That’s it! The previous posters have told you some very helpful information. Blessings!

Ooooohhh, I’m so excited for you! What a great Gift you are about to receive from our Lord!

I hadn’t made a real confession in my adult life, not really. I had went once when my children were younger (I confessed a rather large sin from many years before, but not others), but hadn’t went again until 15 years later (last year). I get very emotional very easily, and I too was scared, nervous…what if, what if, what if…kept running through my mind, all the bad things that could happen.

But I went. I didn’t give myself much time to think about it or change my mind. I prepared myself, using, I think, Laudate (app for my smartphone; it works with Apple or Android).

You won’t regret it. I’ve never regretted it. I have regretted NOT going.

Even though it can be painful for me to go to Confession (I have a couple things I’m really struggling against), it’s so much better to go. Love it. Praise be to God for the Holy Sacraments!

Jesus has been calling you home for 16 years and you’ve finally heard Him. I was like you, only longer. Don’t wait any longer. Best if you make an appointment with a priest and tell whomever makes the appointment with him that it’s been 16 years, so you’re gonna be a while. Father will lead you through it. Don’t worry if you forget something: all your sins will be forgiven and you can just confess the ones you forgot last time. As we get closer to God, we see more of our imperfections…just keep going to Confession on a regular (weekly is good) basis. Welcome home!

I know exactly how you feel! I just made an appointment to go to confession next week. I haven’t been since I made my confirmation which was a looong time ago. I reached out to a friend from church (who is our youth minister) and asked if she could give me the names of some other priests in our diocese. I am pretty close with my pastor and did not feel comfortable going to him after this long stretch. She gave me a name of someone close by who used to be a priest at my current parish and have an appointment next week. I already feel SO much better knowing that I will be going and getting it all out.

I was petrified to even make the call to schedule confession! But I just made the call and got it done. Now I just wish I was going sooner!

Praying for you!

I see some great responses here.
To the original poster - Did you go yet? Remember, as one other said, the longer you wait the longer you are in a state of mortal sin.

And remember the reason we go to confession - Not to sound rude, but the longer we hold on to mortal unconfessed sin, the better chance we have to die in a state of grave sin - And the greater chance we have of hell. Yes, as days mount, the probability of death increases. (i.e. getting hit by a car, and accident, etc). Its simple statistics.
You DO NOT want to know you are not in a state of grace and die - Lets just say, things probably wont go well. Also, while you have these unconfessed sins you aren’t allowed to receive the Eucharist and so many years without the Eucharist is hard to deal with. As a side note - I really hope you aren’t receiving communion - This is an all too common sacrilege - When we know we have mortal sin to confess but go up to receive anyway - This is dangerous for our heathth and brings scandal to others - So if you haven’t refrained yet - Please do now and jot it down as another mortal sin (Deed and Number) to confess. This is one that I was guilty of - And it really was close to the worst of all of them.

One thing I would recommend is NOT making an appointment. This will likely (if you are like me) just make you feel like your sticking out more. Sadly, there aren’t as many times offered for the sacrament of confession mainly because there simply are less people that feel they don’t need it. This is very odd considering virtually everyone goes up for communion when confession is only offered for a half hour on a Wednesday. Saint Paul speaking of us bringing judgement upon ourselves comes to mind… but I digress.

Find a time when the priest is usually “in the box” - This will usually be on the parish website. It may also be a good idea to go to a neighboring parish to calm the nerves a bit. Remember to think about what is about to happen. You are about to be freed of the weight of sins that just minutes earlier would have damned you to hell if you died suddenly.

Be sure to get to the scheduled confession times early. By that point you would have preferably done your examination of conscience (guides for these can be found for free online). For my first confession back, I wrote everything down. It helped me see the problems glaring back at me. (Remember not to leave your name or anything on that sheet of paper!). This is the human aspect of the sacrament. Looking at and thinking about our sins help us to detest the sins and realize how pathetic we are and unworthy of God’s forgiveness.

Try to grab a pew while others are confessing and kneel down and go over your list. What you will need to do is confess the mortal sins (all of them) in an ordered fashion to the priest. He is doing work for God and the Church and it helps if he gets the sins orderly if possible.
The main thing is “Deed” and “Number of times”. This will likely be hard after 16 years, but ball-park it if possible (i.e. “I did X probably 3 times a week for 16 years”). The more you go, the easier the flow will get to where you rattle your sins off thoroughly and orderly (Deed and Number, Deed and Number, Deed and Number). Who knows, the number might even start to decrease!

If you haven’t been saying the Act of Contrition nightly (which we all should be doing) it may be a good idea to jot it down since Father will ask you to recite it at the end of confession (he should anyway). After Father gives some council about your sins he will ask for recitation of the Act of Contrition before he can grant absolution. You must be contrite for your sins - Although it sounds like you already are which is GREAT! Oftentimes the Act of Contrician is posted in the confessional, but in case it isnt you can pull yours out and read it.

Remember, after this “welcome back” confession, you wont want to be stranger to “the box”. The more you go the easier it gets. And confession is the best way to “feel out” for a Spiritual Director. Keep going as soon as you slip. Do it ASAP - Remember the reason again why we need to be forgiven, Its not to “feel all good and stuff” - This is serious stuff!

Dominus vobiscum and Welcome back!

Remember too that only mortal sins need to be confessed. If you don’t make an appointment you’ll be taking up the time from others in the line after 16 years away, so the list and only mortal sins are very important.

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