How much detail should one go into in Confession?

If confessing masturbation for example, how much detail ought one to go into?

For example, if one receives an explicit picture of somebody, is this a separate sin which needs to be confessed? I am unsure of just *how much detail * to go into…

just name the sin (in confession not here, we are not priests) by its common definition in your language, and the number of times or frequency with which you committed it. Adjective, noun, verb, adverb, 4 word sentence.

Yes, go with Puzzle Annie’s advice. The priest does not need you to paint a vivid picture of each and every sin. If the priest needs more details, he’ll ask for them. But he probably won’t need more details. :wink:

I would say that looking at racy pictures is a separate sin. Again, all you do not need to go into details. Something such as “Looking at pornography X number of times” would be sufficient.

I agree with the others. :thumbsup:

I went to confession last year and started to go into detail about my sins and the priest stopped me and said he heard plenty. :o :blush: Boy o boy, was I relieved! lol!

One needs to confess the number and kind of all mortal sins. In your example that one looked at indecent materian and how many times. If this led to masterbation, then confess masterbation and how many times.

A challenge is when something like this, or illegal drug use, or some other sin is committed so often–perhaps habitually–that we’ve lost a concept of how many times it was committed. I asked a question about that in another thread and received some helpful replies.

Also, if one stopped practicing the faith for a while, or if one were not in the faith at all previously, he or she might not have been “keeping score” of their sins very well.

But one can be truly repentent and sorrowful and desiring to change, while struggling to remember the number of times something was committed. I’d be eager to hear others’ thoughts on this.

Priests (and God) understand this. Some of us have better memories than others. Approximations are fine so long as the person isn’t trying to deliberately paint a misleading picture. One might say something like “dozens/hundreds of times over the years” or “on average three to six times a week from 2008-2010, though there were some periods of time when I would go months without committing that particular sin”.

God isn’t standing over us ready to strike us down if we get our math wrong. The important thing is to reflect on and convey an accurate sense of how serious the sin was. “Twice a day most days for two years” is much different than “once every six months”.

Again, if the priest feels you haven’t been specific enough in your accounting, he’ll ask some clarifying questions.

For my 37 year confession, the priest asked me if I would like to go through the Ten Commandments or if I would like to just tell him my sins. I replied that I had nine out of ten of the commandments down cold, almost every day for the past thirty years and that I wasn’t all too sure about the tenth commandment. I figured that covered about everything.

Then I told him that I had a few things on my heart and confessed the big problems I was having, taking just a moment to tell him how long, number of times, habitual nature, etc.

It was nothing short of miraculous.


It depends on who your confessor is. I have had priests ask how many times or approximate times and I have had priests not ask that question.

I wonder if you are forgiven your sins, but then later remember another sin that is mortal, were you forgiven for it at the last absolution or not. Like if you confessed and said that you had a lifestyle of taking drugs and having sex during a period of years, and forgot that you also maybe watched pornography and forgot about it until later. does that fall under the category of just confessing your generally sinful lifestyle?

Yes, they are forgiven.
However, you need to mention the forgotten ones during the next confession.
E.g. “During the last confession, I have forgotten to mention that I this and that + frequency”

In my opinion, they’re not the same. Pornography, adultery/fornication, and drugs are different sins that need to be confessed separately.
Just my opinions.

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