I have been to confession twice in my life (for the record, I spend most of my life not religious or Protestant). The first time I don’t remember. The second time was a couple of years ago. Being a former Protestant, I struggle with this sacrament.
I decided to pull up my bootstraps and prepare for my next confession but finding a really thorough examination of conscience. Now I am freaking out. I realize priests have heard it all but I have like 12 mortal sins.
Here are my questions: 1. I doubt I could even remember all of my mortal sins when I go in, especially being all nervous and trying to remember the Act of Contrition, etc. Should I bring in a list, or can I just remember as many as possible and in my heart be repentant and sorry for all of the ones said and unsaid?
2. I have a sin that I may not realistically stop doing. My husband and I enjoy oral sex, and sometimes he does ejaculate outside of my vagina, particularly during the times we could possibly conceive (multiple reasons why we aren’t open to life right now, but we continue to pray about it). In spite of being a Catholic himself, he is not as fundamentalist in his views (in spite of the fact that he is the reason I converted!). Should I still confess that sin if I am not sure I will stop?
I sincerely hope that no one posts replies to your poll, It is nobody’s business except their own!
That said, - response to Q.1. You can bring a list, particularly since you are nervous - just remember to shred or burn the list afterwards! But, there is no reason to be nervous. Having 12 mortal sins since your last confession, because it was a couple of years ago, is not surprising! Have no fear. The priest will not be horrified!
Q.2. This is something you need to discuss with the priest. It appears, from your post, that this is your husband’s sin, with your reluctant involvement, you may not need to confess this - talk to the priest about it. This is something that is not for us to say.
Again - fear not. Confession is so wonderful. Without it we would be in dire straits!! Go and give thanks to God for providing this amazing Sacrament to us.
You can take a list, but if you are willfully co-operating in your husband’s sin, and are not willing to stop committing mortal sins (fwiw: NFP is allowed for legitimate and serious reasons, and there’s always the option to abstain from conjugal relations), you cannot be absolved from your sins. Even if the priest gives absolution, it will be invalid. If you willingly withhold a mortal sin in confession, you commit a sacrilege and invalidate the confession while adding the sin of sacrilege to your list of mortal sins.
Your should talk to a good, holy, and faithful priest about this. If you would prefer, you could do it anonomously in the confessional. Call and make an appointment with the priest and ask to meet IN the confessional to discuss something of a personal and private matter (speak to the actual priest, not a secretary.)
I too often feel quite anxious about confession, and it is very hard to remember all your sins. You don’t need to worry about remembering all your sins. Before you say your sins say “Father forgive me for the sins that I can and cannot remember” or say something like that. It is however really important that you mention all the sins that you can remember and do not be afraid of confessing your mortal sins, do not feel ashamed because everyone makes mistakes. Be open to the priest, the sins that you have done will only be heard by you, the priest and God. No one else will know and the priest is not allowed to repeat anything that has been said in confession. I also think you should talk to the priest for help.Hope this helps
I couldn’t answer the poll, probably because I’m new, but I would’ve answered having zero mortal sins is usual, but I still go to confession once a week or every two weeks. My mortal sin is usually that I was lazy and didn’t go to Mass, but that’s happening less and less frequently. I don’t mind sharing if it will help someone, even if it is no one’s business.
I did have a similar problem as yours, though, years ago. I had a mortal sin that I wasn’t willing to let go. My confessor told me (correctly) that he couldn’t absolve me if I planned on keeping that sin, but keep coming to confession anyway. He told me if I didn’t want to drop that sin (living with my boyfriend), then I should ask God for the grace to WANT to drop that sin. I did that, sincerely. I prayed to WANT to drop the sin of fornication. God answered my prayer very quickly – like within a MONTH! And it’d been a three-year relationship. It was actually almost miraculous how things worked out… Jesus said “Ask and you shall receive.”
It just proves that if you pray for something IN GOD’s WILL, He will answer your prayer.
So, I’d say go to confession, keep going to confession and tell your confessor everything. Even if he can’t absolve you, confession helps your soul. Jesus knows your heart.
There are apps to help with confession, one is called Mea Culpa. It has an examination of conscience and all the prayers.
If you intentionally leave a sin out, don’t waste your time going at all, but if you accidentally forget one, it is still forgiven because we say (at the end of listing our sins) “for all my sins I am sorry.” Then just say the forgotten sin at your next confession. God bless you.
Thanks everyone for your advice and reassurance. Last time I went to confess I just looked at this general Examination of Conscience, and so all I thought was that we just weren’t open to life. I fixed that one up (We now NFP, and although we are currently not working towards conception due to some big issues with my health, we are still willing to have a child if that is what our Lord desires). When I found this more detailed Examination of Conscience, I was shocked at how many mortal sins there were (and just how many I committed!).
I truly appreciate your non-judgmental and open responses.
I can empathize with your stressing out over your first Confession in a long time. When I went for my first valid Confession after about 25 years, I was using phrases like, “a couple hundred times,” or, “at least a thousand times,” and I had far more than a dozen separate mortal sins to confess (and that was only because I’d forgotten so many over the years). However, the priest didn’t yell at me, throw holy water on me, kick me out of the church or publish what I’d said in the bulletin, so all that that stress had been in vain. It was actually a huge relief and I now go to Confession at least once a month. For the most part, I tend to just bring up recurring venial sins, but a big reason for that is that going to Confession regularly actually helps you stop doing those things that land you in the confessional in the first place.
I’d suggest bringing in your laptop with all your sins itemised on Excel or similar. That way when you confess each one, you can just delete them…
As far as remembering sins is concerned, there’s no doubt we’ve all forgotten specific sins over the years. God sees your intention. He’s not really interested in a grocery list of specific sins, complete with dates, frequency, who with, black mark rating from 1 to 10, demerit points, and all the rest.
Repentance means literally to turn around or change direction, and that’s what He’s interested in, not an agony aunt sweating over things she can’t remember.
On the sin you detailed, you first of all need to make your minds whether you really regard it as a sin. I’ll probably get shot for this by other posters, but if you and your husband don’t agree, then you’re going to find it a somewhat frustrating experience to go to confession on the one hand, knowing full well that you’re just going to go on doing the same old thing.
Anyway that’s what I think.
If you’re a former Protestant, the priest will probably give you a fairly easy penance eg. one “Our Father” or a “Hail Mary” or whatever. If need be, he’ll lead you through it. So I wouldn’t worry about not remembering the Confiteor.
I’m a former Protestant myself, and it was somewhat embarrassing in the early stages to confess sins to another person, rather than in the privacy of your own room talking directly to God. Although I had a pretty close relationship with my old Protestant pastor, and there wasn’t much he didn’t know anyway. Except that he didn’t offer absolution, or a penance, although he did normally pray with me afterwards.
However it makes you more accountable, when you have to admit to these failings to another person in the form of a priest. And you’re right - there’s not much a priest wouldn’t hear about over the years. The film media treats them as naïve eg. “Rev.”, “Oh Father” etc. but the reality is that they’d be amongst the least naïve of people. They’d have a pretty fair idea of what goes on in people’s lives.