Family hates confession


I have two family members in particular who have not gone to confession in many years; my brother is one and my mother is the other. Every time I plan on going to confession I always ask both of them if they want to come. Both always respond “no.” My mother, however, is the most frustrating. She gets mad when I ask her if she wants to go to confession with me. She usually responds to my invitation with “Why do you keep on annoying me about this! Shut up!” My brother on the other hand usually just says “no” and when I ask him why he just says " I dunno." I’m really frustrated with them. Seeing how my mother dearly respects scripture, is there any scriptural support that could help me make the case that confession is a vital sacrament for Catholics?


There are many - see (the verses are referenced throughout). However, from the strong emotional reaction from your mother, it sounds like the barrier is not primarily intellectual, at least in her case. If you pursue this, while it is important to have the knowledge ready to back up your position, you may have more success if you can address why the mere mention of the sacrament makes her angry.

My own experience convincing myself to avoid confession for a few years while still trying to be and call myself a faithful Catholic was that there was a tangle of embarrassment and fear hidden behind a surface layer of rationalizations that I knew were false. Just be aware that this might be what you are dealing with, and that talking about such things can be touchy - having one’s self deceptions prodded at is not terribly fun, and a pretty common approach is to invent irrational reasons to be angry about it (once a week or once a month or whatever becomes “always,” etc.), and with a parent even more so.

Of course,all this could be completely wrong and inapplicable (your brother’s response, in particular, could mean anything from indifference to he just isn’t comfortable talking about it with you), but I mention it just to point out the possibility “why are you lecturing me” type responses if you proceed.


All you can do is ask, and set a good example by going to confession yourself.
And pray for them that they will soon have the desire to participate in this great sacrament of God’s love and mercy.


Pray for your mother and your brother, and show them the the love of Christ.

It will help much when you show love, attentiveness, peace and joy to them. Then they will want what you have.


I would suggest not asking your mother every time you go; it’s obviously annoying her, and that’s not going to make her change her mind.


continue to pray for them and set a good example but the constant asking sounds like it is being counterproductive so I would stop it because it is bordering on nagging. While it is good to be concerned about their spiritual state, ultimately they are responsible for themselves and to God not to you. Back off and let it go.


Her aversion to the Sacrament has to change from within her, and that won’t result from being (as she sees it) browbeaten about it.



Just gently remind them of all the graces there missing out on not going to Confession. Praying to the Holy Spirit to give them guidance & direction to the Sacrament.


And if the word “grace” seems a wee bit too religious for them, remind them that Penance is a sacrament of healing: not just “the soul”, but the mind (which is a facet of our soul), and, subject to the will of God, even our human bodies!

Even if someone thinks that Grace was a princess in Monaco, everybody needs to be healed!



Are they religious? If so, you might cite James 5:16, which specifically tells people to confess their sins to one another. You could also discuss John 13 with them. Washing the feet - absolving of sins - and how Jesus said that unless He did it that they could have no inheritance in Him. Both can be unpacked quite a bit.

For instance, James 5 leads up to the confession interestingly.

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, [k]anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer [l]offered in faith will [m]restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, [n]they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.

If you are generally suffering or joyous, pray to God yourself. If, however, you are sick, get the elders to pray over you. Note that in some translations, elders is kept as presbyters, which we know as priests.


have you considered telling this to the priest in your next confession?


Why do you keep asking them? You know that they will react poorly to the inquiry. Perhaps they are offended that you continue to ask. There is no precept that requires confession, except in cases of serious sin, and even then only once a year. They may not need confession, or if they do, they may choose to keep it private. In either case, I would suggest you stop asking them if they want to go with you.


It sounds like they don’t even go once a year. And without too much assumption, I find it highly unlikely anyone leads such a perfect life as to never need healing. I don’t see an issue with asking if they’d like to go if it is being done in love and kindness. Confession isn’t a throwaway sacrament that some people** need** and others don’t. We are all wounded.


What is the priest going to do? He wouldn’t be able to make them go, they have to come on their own and see their own need. Op needs to just pray for them and stop nagging.


That wasn’t her point. Her point wasn’t that they didn’t need confession or anyone else but was trying to have Op let go of bugging them. It is back firing. Someone should go because they see their own need and desire a closer walk with God. That has to come from within them and not from a family member nagging them about it when he is going. He should just go, pray for them and let it be.


I never said anything that you are saying I did here.

No one can examine the conscience of another person. There are a good many Catholics who do not have serious sins to confess. We are not required to go to confession, except in case of serious sin, and even then only once a year. If no serious sin, no requirement for confession. This does not imply perfection. It does not imply lack of woundedness. The issue of always asking is that the OP has explained how offensive his mother finds his inquiries.


Your mother’s reaction sounds more like an emotional-based aversion instead of a mentally-based reaction. Just keep cheerfully inviting them both, never nagging. When you mother asks why you keep asking her, tell her it is because you love her. If you have a relationship that is an adult one (more like peers instead of parent-child), you could also ask her what her reason is for avoiding Confession.

To your brother, it sounds like apathy and more concern for the interests of the world. A line of thought you could reach out to him is to ask him about the things that are eternal, that last forever, instead of the fleeting pleasures of this world.

God bless, and keep praying for your family, and show them love. You won’t win them over by being negative or nasty. And pray to St. Monica for intercession (she was the mother of St Augustine, and she prayed for decades for his conversion).


Some may look at going to confession as an admission of some guilt. In any case I would definitely back off.


Gee, I thought a priest was there “in persona christi” in the sacrament of reconciliation. Who better to bring these concerns to than Jesus? Confession isn’t just about confessing sins,it’s also about spiritual direction, which the Priest is better equipped to give than any of us.


No, Confession IS just about confessing sins. Spiritual direction is separate and distinct. We mustn’t confuse the two, or blur the lines. Confess your sins, and let the priest complete the confession. If you have time after the confession, that is the time for spiritual direction, IF the priest has time. If not, then schedule an appt with the priest.

We can’t just dump every problem in our lives on the priest in confession. There is a time, place, and venue for them. Just as we can’t make special prayers/devotions during Mass, there is a specific place for those outside Mass (like Adoration).

We have limited times for Confession as it is, and the priests are under burden to administer the sacrament to as many as possible. So let’s not add things to our confession that properly belong elsewhere.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit