[quote="Upbeat_Dad, post:1, topic:182735"]
I am in RCIA and am planning to be received into the Church this Easter. I am preparing to make my first confession. I am almost forty years old, and have a lot of life experience, (read: a lot of sin to confess). There are a lot of resources out there on how to make a good confession, and a lot of advice for children on how to make a good first confession. But not much for adults, at least not that I have been able to find. I know we are to confess guilt and not details, but there is a lot that I need help with and our RCIA has just scheduled our first confessions right before the Easter Vigil Mass and Confirmation in a rather assembly line fashion. I want to make a good confession, but not spend not too much time, as there will be others waiting. Still, I feel like I can't do this in 30 seconds. Any help?
(NB: I realized after my posting this that the OP was Protestant. I'll leave my post intact as help for catechumens with the same question.)
I was in a very similar position as you about 6 years ago in March. I came into the Church as unbaptized, so that leads me to my first question for you.
Are you coming into the Church as a catechumen (unbaptized or unrecognized baptism by Catholic law) or as a candidate (validly baptized person who is leaving a Protestant faith for Catholicism)?
If you are not yet baptized, the good news is that you need only let the priest know that you were recently baptized before you begin confession. That's good because a baptism is an immediate remission of all sin, including original, venial and mortal sin. You will not need to discuss any sins prior to your baptism (there's a caveat to this that I mention in a second).
For candidates, I am not sure of what is to be done, but my understanding of Catholic practice when entering confession is to consider the most serious mortal sins, but only a few of them that you may have discerned from your life, to keep the confession from going on too long (the priest will, naturally, cut you off if it takes too long). But you should note to the priest that you had recently entered the Church but were baptized previously. Most priests should understand the dilemma and grant you absolution for sins you cannot (due to time and/or volume) confess in that session.
I don't believe that it is appropriate to go back with more sins of the past to confess after that point, provided you were contrite in acknowledging your most significant lapses. Once for your 40 prior years should be sufficient, and then you can concentrate on any lapses for your next confession. Confess early, confess often! :)
My caveat in case you are getting baptized: I had a heavy sin I committed prior to my baptism that weighed heavily on me until I brought it up in confession (despite my own baptism). I found it helpful since it was such a critical sin related to future events for me, and it helped me to understand my place in things. So, while you aren't required to talk about any sins prior to being baptized, do note significant matters (not too many--there's a line behind you :) ) that are important--or arrange to bring it up at another visit.
I'm always happy to hear of a new follower into RCIA. May the Lord be with you.