Help with confessing thoughts


How specific does one have to be when confessing bad thoughts? Is it enough to say “I had bad/impure/violent thoughts about a certain person (or various people)”? Or do you have to say who the person is and describe the thoughts in more detail? Say if it’s your own parents or children, the president, your parish priest (to whom you’re making the confession :eek: ), or even a Saint, do you have to specify that? And how descriptive do you have to be in explaining the bad thoughts? “Impure thoughts” can mean a lot of different things. What if it’s a person of the same sex vs opposite sex? Please help.


State the thought and how many times. If the priest needs more information he will ask you to reveal more and specifics of each thought he thinks is important for him to know.


If the thought or desire crossed your mind but you do not dwell on it intentionally, then it is no sin at all. If you choose to dwell on it and know that it is wrong to do so, then it is a sin your would confess. It could be a sin if you do not avoid things that you can reasonably avoid that would lead you to sins (called the near occasion).

You should not mention specific people, and only enough detail to determine the kind of sin.

Baltimore Catechism No. 3 has this:Q. 1316. What are we commanded by the ninth Commandment?
A. We are commanded by the ninth Commandment to keep ourselves pure in thought and desire.
Q. 1317. What is forbidden by the ninth Commandment?
A. The ninth Commandment forbids unchaste thoughts, desires of another’s wife or husband, and all other unlawful impure thoughts and desires.
Q. 1318. Are impure thoughts and desires always sins?
A. Impure thoughts and desires are always sins, unless they displease us and we try to banish them.

Q. 771. What do you mean by the near occasions of sin?
A. By the near occasions of sin I mean all the persons, places and things that may easily lead us into sin.
Q. 772. Why are we bound to avoid occasions of sin?
A. We are bound to avoid occasions of sin because Our Lord has said: “He who loves the danger will perish in it”; and as we are bound to avoid the loss of our souls, so we are bound to avoid the danger of their loss. The occasion is the cause of sin, and you cannot take away the evil without removing its cause.
Q. 773. Is a person who is determined to avoid the sin, but who is unwilling to give up its near occasion when it is possible to do so, rightly disposed for confession?
A. A person who is determined to avoid the sin, but who is unwilling to give up its near occasion when it is possible to do so, is not rightly disposed for confession, and he will not be absolved if he makes known to the priest the true state of his conscience.
Q. 774. How many kinds of occasions of sin are there?
A. There are four kinds of occasions of sin:

*]Near occasions, through which we always fall;
*]Remote occasions, through which we sometimes fall;
*]Voluntary occasions or those we can avoid; and
*]Involuntary occasions or those we cannot avoid. A person who lives in a near and voluntary occasion of sin need not expect forgiveness while he continues in that state.
Q. 775. What persons, places and things are usually occasions of sin?
*]The persons who are occasions of sin are all those in whose company we sin, whether they be bad of themselves or bad only while in our company, in which case we also become occasions of sin for them;
*]The places are usually liquor saloons, low theaters, indecent dances, entertainments, amusements, exhibitions, and all immoral resorts of any kind, whether we sin in them or not;
*]The things are all bad books, indecent pictures, songs, jokes and the like, even when they are tolerated by public opinion and found in public places.


THe following is just how I understand it…

mention the nature of the thought (violent, impure, etc) and then say anything that makes it more or less grave in nature or changes the sin somehow. So for example if it’s against your parents. Or a priest. Or for that matter someone in authority. Etc. If an impure thought, that matters too, also whether it was towards someone of the same sex.

Hope that helps… you don’t have to tell a story etc. So not something like: “yesterday after coming back from school I walked past a guy I know and then remembered something and consented to an impure thought”. More like “I had an impure thought” and then if there’s something about it that changes the gravity (did you act on it? was it towards someone of the same sex? or towards someone like a holy person or a religious? etc) then you mention that part too. Keep it simple though… especially with sins against chastity… don’t turn them into stories and keep the explanations very direct and very simple. Don’t add “visuals”. Just say what you did.

Hope that helps :slight_smile:


I once asked a priest if it’s necessary to qualify if an impure thought concerns a person of the same sex. He told me it’s not strictly necessary, although it can allow the Confession to work more graces by exposing this.


I think that if the thoughts concern a parent or child, it is probably a good idea to mention that, since the relationship and frequency with which you see the person is important to the nature of the sin. To a lesser degree, a priest or employer might also be important, because of frequency of contact and the nature of the relationship.


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