How to I help my mom prepare for her first confession after 45 years?

My mom was/is Catholic, baptized me Catholic, but when my dad died, she remarried Protestant, and did not raise us Catholic. I, after after half a lifetime, am discovering that I want to be Catholic. She has now said that she wants to return to the church. She is pre-Vatican II, and I don’t know how much she really knows of the faith. I mentioned to her that she probably should go to confession before she receives the Eucharist. She has not been to confession in 45 years. Does she have to confess every specific sin for the past 45 years? Additionally, since she is my mother, out of respect, I don’t really feel like I should tell her what to do. Also, I am just learning myself. But, I know enough to know that this act of reconciliation needs to be done right for her own good. Is there any kind of tract or reading that I could gently offer to her as a preparation for confession after 45 years?

Praise God for your return to the Church, and for your faithfulness in sharing the truths of the faith with your mom. What better way to love and honor your mother than to give her the truth. I will be praying for you both.

Your mother does need to go to confession before receiving the Holy Eucharist. But, before receiving Communion, she should discuss her current marriage situation with her priest. Presuming your mother was married outside the Church without a dispensation (permission from the bishop), her marriage is invalid (Canon 1108). This problem could be rectified by simply having their marriage “blessed in the Church” (CIC 1156-1160). Have her speak with a priest as soon as possible. He will be more than happy to help her.

Canon 1108.1 Only those marriages are valid which are contracted in the presence of the local Ordinary or parish priest or of the priest or deacon delegated by either of them, who, in the presence of two witnesses, assists, in accordance however with the rules set out in the following canons, and without prejudice to the exceptions mentioned in cann. 144, 1112.1, 1116 and 1127.2-3.

A good guide for an “examination of conscience” is here. God bless you.

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