Having your sins forgiven


Can anyone describe for me what that feels like?

Is there even a feeling attached to it?

Or is it more of a ‘‘knowing’’, in other words, it’s something that you are aware of on an intellectual level, that you know your sins have been forgiven you.

Or is it an emotional feeling?

Or both?

If, in the course of your prayers to God, you tell Him you are truly sorry for offending Him in sin, does that have a different feeling attached to personally confessing to a Priest and receiving absolution from the Priest?

I’m asking because I can’t really imagine what that experience must feel like so any help with trying to understand would be welcome.

I’ve read a lot around the Sacrament itself so I have an understanding of the foundation, rational and theology behind it, but it was more the actual experience of it I was trying to get an insight into.

Sarah x :slight_smile:


Hey good question–

I can attest that when you have a load of sins that you just feel weighing on you and you enter the confessional, where you just unload everything, and the priest responds with, “…by the ministry of the Church I absolve you of your sins”, it DOES feel good. It feels so great. BUT. You can’t enter the confessional just because you feel bad and you want to feel better. That’s called imperfect contrition. It feels great when you let go of everything to God because you are so sorry that you offended Him, in which case you say sorry.

Now don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t feel good every time. I have had experiences where it just feels normal, and I can say that I probably entered the confessional without thinking of the levity of what I was confessing. Good feelings are not necessarily the result of a good confession, either. A heartfelt confession must be made for the glory of God every time I enter the confessional!

Now in reference to the second part of your question, sometimes it relieves the guilt slightly when I express my sorrow and regret to God in my daily prayers. But God gave us our senses, and it relieves the most guilt when we hear the words of the priest that I quoted earlier. That is also probably because it isn’t a valid confession if I just apologize in my prayers. I don’t have as true of contrition because I know that no other people one can hear me when I’m praying every evening for example. Part of the relief comes with the embarrassment that I am telling my gross sin to a priest!

I hope that helps!:thumbsup:


Doesn’t really “feel” like anything. There may or may not be a sense of relief afterward, but that’s not so much the sacrament itself. Different people have different experiences of course so ymmv.


It is a legal state, but may have a sense of joy or relief associated with it. It restores you to a state of grace before God. There may be an emotion experienced, but it is not dependent upon emotion. Suppose that you went through a criminal trial on a charge that you were indeed guilty of, but the judge had mercy and declared you not guilty. You were then legally dispensed from responsibility, and may indeed have felt relief. As well, your civil rights might also be restored. But, the sense of relief had no effect on your legal state. Suppose that you stole or damaged something. Penance is the repairing or replacing of that which you damaged or stole.


I usually start crying or feel elated… this often happens during adoration as well. I believe that this is in response to God’s role as healer. Also Luke 7:37-38.


Thank you for your interesting question. These are my opinions: others may consider it differently.

The thing with saying ‘sorry’ to God in prayer versus doing so in the context of the confessional is that it’s important to hear a voice. If we pray and ‘feel’ that God forgives us, can we really be sure that what we assume isn’t just a product of our own desires rather than that of God? Being in a confessional situation and talking to someone who has, as we believe, been given authority (that stretches back unbroken to Christ) to forgive sins allows us the tangible experience of hearing those words spoken by someone we can trust rather than potentially leaving it to our imagination.

It means I hear the priest say “I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”. I know that he is entitled to do that and therefore it allows me relief from the things which burden me and cause me shame. It represents a definitive moment of change and renewal which isn’t available to me if I just direct a prayer at the Heavens and hope I did it right.

Yes, I’m human and I’ll likely as not trip up and sin the same old sins again as time goes by, but for that immediate time after being told I’m forgiven I can experience a peace that isn’t available on my own.

So yes, it’s ‘knowing’, it’s ‘relief’, it can be emotional - especially if there’s something that’s really weighing you down. It can’t really be imagined because it requires the belief in the first place that comes with understanding what sin is and what it means to both you and God and imagining the feeling also needs to be associated with the desire to feel it. Suffice to say, for me the experience can be daunting before confession and amazing afterwards - even to the point of feeling like I’m walking on air.



Its wonderful!!!

I wish You could Join the Church and find out!! :thumbsup: :thumbsup:


Could you not prepare a confession and book it with the local Catholic Church near you and okay many of you say that you not receive the absolution part because of not being Catholic… but the rest and if the priest knows the full situation you will as good as experience what it is like confessing your sins rather than relying on us. Does one really have to be Catholic for Confession? I think an Anglican Priest may grant you full Confessional rites though I wouldn’t swear on it and whilst Catholics may say it isn’t the same… I wouldn’t like to argue the point since it all through God anyway. You got to experience it to really find out and Anglicans at least do not turn you away for not being a member or they don’t in England. Don’t know about America. They may be dubious as to your purpose, but your purpose may bear fruit if you find the sense of renewal, rewarding… You are starting again with God, if you like. But with someone listening so they can guide etc which is so important because we are left to wander sometimes and that wandering in the wilderness can blind us and that gentle nudge back is refreshing though don’t always feel it straight away.

Try the Catholic Priest in your area and see if he will help prepare you and go through it with you. :slight_smile:


[quote="englishredrose, post:9, topic:312171"]
Does one really have to be Catholic for Confession?


That's not the question. The question is: Does one have to believe in God - in Jesus Christ's doctrine? The answer of course is an absolute and unconditional YES! If there is a "yes but" than forget all the rest.
With an absolute and unconditional YES!, the rest solves itself. It "solves itself" same way, as a son/daughter who did wrong, goes to his parent and confesses - not because they have to, but they do so to feel better - which answers some other questions that arose here. This better feeling is not just a feeling, but a reality, just as love is a reality and can’t exist if there is something wrong between the two.

[quote="englishredrose, post:9, topic:312171"]
I think an Anglican Priest may grant you full Confessional rites though I wouldn't swear on it and whilst Catholics may say it isn't the same.... I wouldn't like to argue the point since it all through God anyway.


Sorry, but this is a very misleading testimony. Many religions say: "It's all through God". Of course the Christian denomination "Anglicism" is very near Catholicism - still not the same. And "All trough God" even Moslems say and misled Christians who converted to Islam.
Christianity though, is not a matter of arbitrariness, but it's been established after Jesus' salvation by God on St. Peter, and God gave us adding to this unimaginable deed, seven sacraments - one of which is the sacrament of order. Let's say you favor 5 nationalities as great. Now you pick out of these five what suits you best and then have your own nationality. OUT OF DISCUSSION. Adding the fact, that Jesus founded but ONE nationality (sorry - religion) which He founded on St. Peter. There is no choice for soft-religion and hard-core religion, but the one and only religion Jesus donated (gave us). There was but one, until some Christians formed fractions and split off into diverse denominations.

[quote="englishredrose, post:9, topic:312171"]
You got to experience it to really find out and Anglicans at least do not turn you away for not being a member


As arbitrary as choosing your kind of noodles in the store. A real "great" view of religion.

[quote="englishredrose, post:9, topic:312171"]
Don't know about America. They may be dubious as to your purpose, but your purpose may bear fruit if you find the sense of renewal, rewarding... You are starting again with God, if you like.


These thoughts deliberately disregard God's thoughts, which are absolute and never convertible. Just to think which "club" serves my needs to the best of my convenience and so choose this one, is in fact nothing but selfish and lacks all understanding .

[quote="englishredrose, post:9, topic:312171"]
But with someone listening so they can guide etc. which is so important because we are left to wander sometimes and that wandering in the wilderness can blind us and that gentle nudge back is refreshing though don't always feel it straight away.


We certainly will go astray without The Good Shepherd, as well as we can be brought back into safety if we trust Jesus. Not so however, if we just pick some He offers, and reject the other.

[quote="englishredrose, post:9, topic:312171"]
Try the Catholic Priest in your area and see if he will help prepare you and go through it with you. :)


Might be “Atheistgirl” even finds a priest who gives you what you want without any conversion from atheism to belief. It’s like asking a gallery for just a little piece of Michelangelo’s painting, or to take your diving equipment to the Mount McKinley. OK, that’s sarcastic, but just as sarcastic as writing 2.655 posts in a Catholic forum and still insisting on the disbelief of atheism. And Christianity is not a landscape of parties, where one can chose the political course one favors. There is one way – the way of Jesus Christ – all other ways are wrong and false. Joh 14,6 - Jesus Christ says: I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me.



Hello Bruno
I say to you direct because yes, in this instance Does one have to be Catholic to have Confession really is the question I was asking because on this forum there has been posts where people have stated that if you are not Catholic then the priest will not give absolution. But atheist girl, aka Sarah may be able to go through the rest and experience confession herself and that might help her to work out if there is a God and the Catholic Teaching of God.
In England, the Church of England being the State Church, does not refuse anyone though one does have to be confirmed to receive communion. But baptism is a chance to introduce people to the church. That the church don't bite. They may come back or they mayn't. But it a way of helping them to access God. By inviting Sarah to inquire about confession as I have done - even the Catholic Confession (rather than of my own church-Anglican though...) could be a way to convince Sarah there is a God. Rather than crically viewing my post as a chance to have a go at me, think what my action really might be about. Here I am, an Anglican, trying to encourage someone to go to a Catholic Confession, hoping that might change their mind. If it don't then there is nothing lost is there. But to tear strips of me as such for selling the Catholic Faith when I am not Catholic myself.... Well. I just hope you learn a bit of consideration for others when that they are trying to do their bit although not always in a right way.
peace be with you


Well, that’s a first.

I’ve had all sorts (but thankfully relatively few) of uncharitable, insulting, defamatory and rude comments hurled my way in two years here, but never once has my post count been used as the basis for such remarks :shrug:


Sarah x :slight_smile:


It’s been very interesting reading about the effect of confession on a personal experiential level.

This is what I was interested in hearing about.

There’s some wide variance in experiences as can been seen from the replies, which of course makes sense as everyone will experience things differently, and underlying this is their personal relationship with God.

To those who managed to answer the question, without judgment, thank you for taking the time out to reply.

Sarah x :slight_smile:


On behalf of many of us who post here, sorry. We should be correcting misconceptions, explaining the faith and criticizing ideas, not people.

As to your question of what it feels like, since feelings are different for everyone, try this: Did you ever do something negative that affected your family or hurt someone you loved? Can you remember thinking that “I’m a bad daughter” or “how can they forgive me” or “how can I possibly make this right”? Then, do you remember when possibly mom or dad hugged you or kissed your forehead and said “I may not like the things you do, but I will never stop loving you”. Yeah? It’s that feeling.


Such experience can be of peace and peace of conscience and strong spiritual consolation…an experience of joy

(which may or may not always involve “feelings” per se)

I came into full communion with the Church many years ago…I love confession! Tis wonderful – both when I felt all new and when feelings may not come as desired (such is the current human condition – feelings can vary). But in the order of-- Faith and Love --which goes beyond feelings – the reality is still wonderful even if at times feelings do not cooperate.


I wish I could see You come into the Church and expierence the Power yourself. It’s no small thing to feel. People get teared up all the time coming out, and going in, and when You come out its like breathing a HUGE breath of Fresh, Fresh, Crisp Air. The air is so sweet after exiting the Confessional. Everything is restored to proper order. All from the beautiful hands of a Priest. Please jump in, the Tiber is very smooth and wonderful to swim!! (Albeit, I never crossed the Tiber myself being a cradle Catholic, however, physically I would like to visit Rome one day, sorry about the rant)


Most of the time, for me it’s a mixture of both knowing my sins were forgiven and an “emotional feeling”. Almost every time after I walk out of church after confession, I can’t really keep myself from smiling, from some my inner joy, although every once in awhile, that feeling isn’t there. But I always leave the confessional knowing my sins were forgiven, so in the somewhat rare case I do not feel much joy, there is at least that for me.


So, you ask this question…why? In your opinion do our responses support the belief in no God or does it support the Catholic view?


It feels like having an enormous weight lifted off your shoulders, both emotionally and in a certain sense physically.

Afterwards, happiness, floating on air.

At least that is what my first Confession felt like. I hardly knew where I was for a time.

Every Confession is not the same, and not everyone experiences it the same way, but in general – uplifting, and the lifting of a weight off one’s shoulders.


Couple of reasons:

I’m curious and interested - in the same way I asked someone what it was like to jump out of a plane :eek:

Their response made me take up skydiving :smiley:

I wanted to see if people could put into words for me to understand the spiritual element of the exercise. I can relate to the example given where you think you’ve not been a good daughter and speak to your mum about things, and her response makes you feel cherished, loved, and ‘forgiven’ if that’s appropriate. But I wanted to see how that works on a spiritual level, given we can only experience things through our senses to a large degree so I kinda knew it would be difficult for people to get across, and I’m thankful to the people who tried.

As all this happens at a level I have no access to, I was just interested in hearing about the experience.

In your opinion do our responses support the belief in no God or does it support the Catholic view?

The responses, as I’m hearing them, don’t support a belief in no God, for those concerned.

I think the responses are what I’d expect from people who did believe in God.

And I guess also pretty much support the Catholic view of the sacrament.

But for me, I think they’re interesting in that they’re very similar, in fact, identical, to the normal human experience of forgiveness.

Sarah x :slight_smile:

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