How specific must we be in confession regarding how long it's been? For example, if it's been 6 days would it be wrong to say a week? Thanks!

# How specific must we be in confession?

**michaelmas**#2

Be as specific as you can. The more knowledge the confessor has the better they can serve you.

**Cristiano**#3

Just use reason, that is our obligation as Catholics, your confessor will ask for more details if he wants them. Confession it is not spiritual direction but it cannot be taken in a vacuum either, it is simply an apology to God for wronging him. Confession is really the outcome of proper examination of conscience, and the examination is what should be frequent and detailed. Your only hard obligation is to list the type and number of mortal sins to the best of your knowledge.

**Batfink**#4

How long it's been since your last confession doesn't form part of the actual 'matter' of the sacrament so it's not as important to be specific as it is in relating your sins and the amount of times you committed each mortal sin.

I guess it depends on your culture/language. If it had been 6 days, I personally would either say '6 days' or 'about a week', I wouldn't say 'a week' tout court. If, however, my last confession had been 6 months minus one day (or even one week) away, I would definitely say 'six months'.

The reason we say how long ago our last confession was is to help the priest understand how serious a problem we have with particular sins, not just for the sake of saying it. So if the time period involved doesn't affect the gravity of how frequently a sin was committed, it's better to say '2 weeks', for example, than '1 week, 6 days and 3 hours' but better to say 'about a week and a half'/'ten days' than 'a week'/'two weeks' if it's been 10 days.

Obviously don't lie, but it's not a major part of the sacrament so don't go mad over trying to count exactly when your last confession was when you really don't know.

**Joe_5859**#5

[quote="Batfink, post:4, topic:303423"]

How long it's been since your last confession doesn't form part of the actual 'matter' of the sacrament so it's not as important to be specific as it is in relating your sins and the amount of times you committed each mortal sin.

I guess it depends on your culture/language. If it had been 6 days, I personally would either say '6 days' or 'about a week', I wouldn't say 'a week' tout court. If, however, my last confession had been 6 months minus one day (or even one week) away, I would definitely say 'six months'.

The reason we say how long ago our last confession was is to help the priest understand how serious a problem we have with particular sins, not just for the sake of saying it. So if the time period involved doesn't affect the gravity of how frequently a sin was committed, it's better to say '2 weeks', for example, than '1 week, 6 days and 3 hours' but better to say 'about a week and a half'/'ten days' than 'a week'/'two weeks' if it's been 10 days.

Obviously don't lie, but it's not a major part of the sacrament so don't go mad over trying to count exactly when your last confession was when you really don't know.

[/quote]

I agree. There's no need to bust out a calendar and count off the days. An estimate is usually just fine. But if you *do* remember, there's no sense in being untruthful. I usually round off and say "about *x* weeks/months". But if it was a matter of *days*, I'd probably be more prone to being exact (just because it would be a lot easier to remember).

**ChibiViolet**#6

You must confess all your mortal sins (if any,) how many times you committed them, or at least an estimate and any details that would make the sins worse. For instance killing a family member is worse than killing a stranger.

**Bookcat**#7

One is obliged to confess all mortal sins in number and kind (and circumstance that changes the kind -- like it was your brother you murdered! or the gold cup you stole was from the Church (hence sacrilege))

Venial sins are recommended to be confessed. They can also be forgiven in many other ways.

(Now I will note that those out there who are scrupulous ....they need to a regular confessor and not scruple about confession...)

Of course after a good examination we may not ...remember everything..that is ok...we do what we can..God forgives the forgotten ones too (we need of course to be sorry for all our mortal sins...and amended)...then if we later remember one we forgot..we are to confess it in the next confession after we remember it. (this is different from if we intentionally hide a mortal sin...)

If something is doubtful one notes it is doubtful in some way. While one is not strictly obliged to confess doubtful mortal sins -- it is normally recommended to (though those with scruples may be recommended not to).

Also we may not know the numbers ...we do what can ....and if we do not know..we make an approximation according to our knowledge from our good examinination of conscience ...3-5x, 5-10 a month for the last 20 years, somewhere around 50 times, around 10x, or it was several times definately more than 10 ....it may be that one has to say: "a few times", "several times" "many times" "many many times" etc

Of course one needs contrition and a firm purpose of amendment.

Here from the Catechism:

scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s2c2a4.htm#VII

Here is a guide sold by Catholic Answers: shop.catholic.com/product.php?productid=137&cat=25&page=1

From Jimmy Akin of Catholic Answers:

jimmyakin.com/2007/03/specific_confes.html

Jesus is the *Good Shepherd* ..he loves you --in him is u* true life*

**Rainaldo**#8

[quote="veryworried6277, post:1, topic:303423"]

How specific must we be in confession regarding how long it's been? For example, if it's been 6 days would it be wrong to say a week? Thanks!

[/quote]

If you want to get mathematical about it, I suggest rounding to the nearest 20%, expressed in terms of the standard sub-unit of time.

I know that sounds complicated, but it's actually quite simple, and most people do it without realizing it. Most people in everyday life round things to the nearest 20%.

[LIST]

*]Most people will report 1-5 days as 1-5 days, because the work week is 5 days long.

*]Most people will call 6-8 days "a week", since 6-8 days are one week plus-or-minus 20% (20% of a week is about a day and a half).

*]Most people will call 9-11 days "ten days", since the phrase "ten days" is already used in everyday life, such as turnaround time on an order.

*]Most people call 12-17 days "two weeks", since 12-17 is two weeks plus-or-minus 20% (20% of two weeks is about three days)

*]18-25 days: "three weeks"

*]26-35 days: "a month"

*]Beyond that, people will round to the nearest month or month-and-a-half, up to six months. (Exception: instead of "a month and a half" most people will say "six weeks".)

*]Beyond six months, people round to the nearest month, up to 10 months.

*]Beyond 10 months, people round to the nearest year or year-and-a-half.

[/LIST]

And since you are obliged to confess at least once a year I'm stopping there.

But if you look carefully at the above numbers, you will see that in each case the range is right around plus-or-minus 20% of the stated value. This is because the human mind can handle subdivisions of one half, one third, and one quarter easily, one fifth and one sixth with moderate difficulty, and beyond that it's too hard. So if you stick with what people in general do, you will have a useful rule of thumb for estimating the time since your last confession without fretting over how precise you're being.

[quote="Batfink, post:4, topic:303423"]

How long it's been since your last confession doesn't form part of the actual 'matter' of the sacrament so it's not as important to be specific as it is in relating your sins and the amount of times you committed each mortal sin.

[/quote]

The length of time is important insofaras it helps the priest determine any hidden sins (ie: it's been 10 years since your last confession, the priest knows you haven't fulfilled your Easter duty to go to confession once a year and to receive communion worthily at least once a year during the Easter season 10 times.)

It also helps the priest determine how much of a problem something is for you (ie: Let's say you lied 50 times. It's one thing to lie 50 times in a year, and it's another thing to lie 50 times in a week.)

I wouldn't stress over indicating the length of time, but you might as well as be a specific as possible. If I usually go every week, but this week it was 6 days, I say "6 days". It takes the same amount of effort.

**Deo_Gratias42**#10

[quote="Rainaldo, post:8, topic:303423"]

If you want to get mathematical about it, I suggest rounding to the nearest 20%, expressed in terms of the standard sub-unit of time.

I know that sounds complicated, but it's actually quite simple, and most people do it without realizing it. Most people in everyday life round things to the nearest 20%.

[LIST]

*]Most people will report 1-5 days as 1-5 days, because the work week is 5 days long.

*]Most people will call 6-8 days "a week", since 6-8 days are one week plus-or-minus 20% (20% of a week is about a day and a half).

*]Most people will call 9-11 days "ten days", since the phrase "ten days" is already used in everyday life, such as turnaround time on an order.

*]Most people call 12-17 days "two weeks", since 12-17 is two weeks plus-or-minus 20% (20% of two weeks is about three days)

*]18-25 days: "three weeks"

*]26-35 days: "a month"

*]Beyond that, people will round to the nearest month or month-and-a-half, up to six months. (Exception: instead of "a month and a half" most people will say "six weeks".)

*]Beyond six months, people round to the nearest month, up to 10 months.

*]Beyond 10 months, people round to the nearest year or year-and-a-half.

[/LIST]

And since you are obliged to confess at least once a year I'm stopping there.

.

[/quote]

That's getting too complicated. The closest I get to rounding is if it's been less than 24 hours (which has only happened once).

**JimG**#11

If it's been five days, I say five days.

If its been 2 weeks and 6 days, I say, "about 3 weeks" since my last confession.

If it's been 5 months and 20 days, I say "about 6 months."

If it's been 30 years and two months, I say "about 30 years." !

**ermcma**#12

[quote="Rainaldo, post:8, topic:303423"]

If you want to get mathematical about it, I suggest rounding to the nearest 20%, expressed in terms of the standard sub-unit of time.

I know that sounds complicated, but it's actually quite simple, and most people do it without realizing it. Most people in everyday life round things to the nearest 20%.

[LIST]

*]Most people will report 1-5 days as 1-5 days, because the work week is 5 days long.

*]Most people will call 6-8 days "a week", since 6-8 days are one week plus-or-minus 20% (20% of a week is about a day and a half).

*]Most people will call 9-11 days "ten days", since the phrase "ten days" is already used in everyday life, such as turnaround time on an order.

*]Most people call 12-17 days "two weeks", since 12-17 is two weeks plus-or-minus 20% (20% of two weeks is about three days)

*]18-25 days: "three weeks"

*]26-35 days: "a month"

*]Beyond that, people will round to the nearest month or month-and-a-half, up to six months. (Exception: instead of "a month and a half" most people will say "six weeks".)

*]Beyond six months, people round to the nearest month, up to 10 months.

*]Beyond 10 months, people round to the nearest year or year-and-a-half.

[/LIST]

And since you are obliged to confess at least once a year I'm stopping there.

But if you look carefully at the above numbers, you will see that in each case the range is right around plus-or-minus 20% of the stated value. This is because the human mind can handle subdivisions of one half, one third, and one quarter easily, one fifth and one sixth with moderate difficulty, and beyond that it's too hard. So if you stick with what people in general do, you will have a useful rule of thumb for estimating the time since your last confession without fretting over how precise you're being.

[/quote]

Love that!

**ilySHJ**#13

There's an app for that. :) Several, in fact.

I'm fairly accurate: x days. Or x weeks and y days. Once of twice, I just gave the date as I mixed up the count.

**kksmom**#14

I think it's ok to estimate the length of time since your last confession. But when you are discussing whatever you did wrong, you need to be specific.