Went to confession this morning and forgot to confess a sin which I had fully intended to confess. I remembered it during the absolution but wasn’t sure if it would have been proper to interrupt the priest at that point; so I didn’t.
Question is, would that sin be counted as a forgotten & forgiven sin left for the next confession or as an intentionally withheld sin invalidating the entire confession?
If your sin was mortal and not venial, then I would definitely mention it the next time I went to confession…but I would agree with the previous posters, your sin was absolved since it was not your intention to leave it out.
That’s where I was coming from when I asked the question. I remembered it when the confession was almost over but didn’t add it in. If I would have remembered it after I left, then I know that all of the things said here would apply but since the confession was technically not over, I’m not sure how that would play out.
So it was a mortal sin? I’m not sure whether it would invalidate the confession, but why on earth wouldn’t you tell all your mortal sins while you’re there in the confessional, regardless of whether it was ‘technically’ over or not?
Heck, if I had the door of the confessional halfway open for me to leave, and remembered a mortal sin, I’d certainly close it again and go back and confess that sin. Just like if I were at the doctor’s and halfway out of their consulting room and remembered something important, I’d be sure to mention it. Otherwise it’s really only half a confession, or half a doctor’s visit, and you’re certainly not going to get spiritually or physically healthy that way!
By the way, I don’t mean to interrupt DURING the absolution or anything, No need to be that rude. I mean mention it when he’s finished.
Be weary of being scrupulous, it is a sin in of itself. You should be attentive to your moral conscience, but once you start to question it to much, you can fall into the realm of questioning Gods remittance of our sins.
I don’t think this is a matter of scrupulosity at all, in general. Your case is different, Sir Knight, I think you’re fine, just got caught off guard as you say. It’s happened to me a few times, perhaps that’s why I’m more willing to speak up.
But in general I think someone who becomes aware of a mortal sin in the confessional but deliberately doesn’t confess it although they have the chance - even if it’s only after absolution - has some genuine pondering to do about how real their contrition for that sin is, if they truly can’t be bothered to make the teeny effort it takes to mention it after the absolution or on their way out.
Okay, The sin is the sin of presumption and I’ve always had a problem with either properly understanding this sin and/or being able to properly identify it because, at least to me, it seems that the sin of presumption would be present in differing degrees with all mortal sins.
Even though I always try to make a real good examination before I go in I always say at the end " I am truely sorry for these and all my sins that I might have forgotten" Every preist that I have ever have confessed to say 'you are forgive for these and all your sins"
Not trying to make a catch all but works for me.
Almost the same thing happened to me last time. I had done an examination and then made a little list. It was short, so I tried committing it to memory. At the end of confessing, I was pretty sure I mentioned everything, but thought maybe I should consult the list. But I was face to face this time around and I thought pulling out the list and going over it like at the end of grocery shopping would look strange, so I didn’t. Later, when I got home I looked at it, and it turned out I did forget two things. Of course, I’m still Protestant until Saturday, so its not like I have a lot of practice with this
I have to respectfully quasi disagree with you here, and you know I respect your posts so it’s nothing personal.
Normally I’d say you were right… There’s a lot of technicality here too though, Lily. For example, was the priest finishing the statement of absolution when the thought was remembered? If so, then the rite was over and the sin was absolved, remembered or not. Your example: walking out the door… post absolution, so the rite was over. Noble to mention it and ask if that changes your penance? Certainly, and I agree with that being what I would do. Necessary at that point though? No.
This is a very technical answer based on a lot of details I don’t think we’re qualified to answer here. I’m going to message the OP and Fr David to try to get them involved since a priest would be able to sort out the finer points of gravity of sin involved and appropriate timing during the sacrament…
A while back I resolved not to take part in confession threads unless the subject was strictly objective. Yet, here I am. I might later regret doing this, but I’ll share a few thoughts.
If a person sincerely forgets an other-than-serious-sin after making a sincere examination of conscience and confessing, then all the past sins are forgiven and absolved by that Confession.
Occasionally a penitent might truly forget to mention such a sin. Since an effort was made to confess it (and it’s not a serious one) that sin is forgiven & absolved. If a person remembers a sin after sayiing “…these and all my other sins” (or something similar) it might be advised to “amend” the confession by simply mentioning that sin before leaving. At the same time, it might also be a very harmful thing to do that. We have to accept the forgiveness God is offering us and the absolution His Church is offering us.
On the one extreme we have a reliance on the Grace of the Sacrament to make up for our human imperfections in remembering our sins. On the other extreme we have the possibility of scrupulosity where the penitent is not accepting the reconcilliation of the Sacrament.
If one remembers a sin in a case like this, mention it before leaving, but at the same time accept the fact that doing so is not strictly necessary (unless the sin is a serious one). Mentioning it in the next confession might be either a good thing or a bad thing depending upon the individual person, and the severity of the sin itself.
A very real concern here is that penitents will fall into the trap of not accepting the forgivenss and instead of making an act of contrition will only speak the words while in the heart trying to think of other sins that have been forgotten (this is not a good thing), or will hesitate to leave the confessional and instead will linger there continuing to make an examination of conscience rather than accepting the forgiveness which God so much wants us to accept.
If some stranger asked me this question in-person here’s how I would respond:
If this happens once, either mentioning the sin or not mentioning it would not affect the Sacrament. If one finds himself doing this (ie amending the confession) on a recurring basis, then that is a cause for serious concern because it has the potential to become a bad habit (or has already become a bad habit). It has the potential of causing (or indicating) the person to become scrupulous and reject the forgiveness. It’s one thing to forget and then remember. It’s quite another thing to try so hard to remember that one finds himself actually trying to remember sins which were omitted when mentioning the sins the first time, which should also be the only time. This is a very unhealthy pattern and causes some very very serious spiritual harm.
We cannot possibly confess all of our venial sins. The limitations of our human nature make this impossible. That’s precisely why God in His Grace has given us this Sacrament–to supply, by Grace, that which is lacking in us by nature. Accepting our sinfulness and accepting the realities of our human nature sometimes means likewise accepting the fact that we can never make a literally “perfect” confession. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that we do need to allow God to do His part by allowing that Grace to supply. Never forget that this is what Confession is all about. If we were perfect, we wouldn’t need confession. If God didn’t want to overcome our imperfections, He wouldn’t have given us the Sacrament.
Of course every penitent should follow the advice, counsel, guidance and instructions of the confessor. Remember folks whatever you read here on these threads, or whatever else you read should never never never be a substitute for that priest who is acting in persona Christi. If you find yourself backtracking and the priest-confessor tells you not do to so, trust in him. One more time, trust your confessor!!!
Dear Father Dave,
I’ve always wanted to ask this…we can follow our confessors, even if we think that they are being very lenient with us? In other words, they can never err when they are speaking “In Persona Christi”, right? We are free to trust them 100%?
To Jesus, Through Mary
First, priests aren’t perfect and do not always do what’s right in confession. But unless the priest himself is sinning, one should always trust his confessor. My point is that I very much fear someone reading my post in this forum and as a result those posts being the cause of a barrier between penitent and confessor. I’m not breaking any confidence when I say that every priest knows what that’s like from the confessor’s point-of-view.
Second, about “lenient confessors” I’d like you to think about something please. How many times did Christ say in the Gospels “your sins are forgiven?” and how often would we describe His behavior at that moment as either lenient or strict? Being *in persona Christi *doesn’t just mean having the power to forgive sins, it also means remembering that it’s Christ Himself Who is speaking, and the priest should strive to be as Christ-like as possible. Next time you think a priest is being lenient, ask yourself if Christ Himself would be more strict if you were in Jerusalem 2000 years ago and confessed to Him in person? Then ask yourself if it should be any different when you go to a priest today.
Hi Father. That reminded of the bit from the Godfather movie: “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
Anyway, Fr. David, I have a question that I hope you can shed some light upon, and help me see it correctly. This is something that I’ve wondered about for quite some time. (Sir Knight, I hope this isn’t a departure/off-topic post, if so apologies)
[quote=FrDavid96]But unless the priest himself is sinning, one should always trust his confessor.
I know that it is axiomatic that one must never obey a confessor who counsels one to do something sinful – so let’s take that off the table. My question is about a confessor counseling a penitent to do something practical, but which the penitent feels is beyond the confessor’s scope of knowledge (either general or particular). Must a penitent obey in such a circumstance?
I say must, because I wish to leave aside too whether or not it might be laudable or virtuous to obey – I’m just wondering if one should.
If the penitent is reasonable certain that the practical advice is wrong, or feels that the confessor doesn’t have all the salient facts to make a recommendation, may a penitent safely ignore the advice?
I’ve been puzzled about that. Can you give your general impressions?
Sometimes priests (like everyone else) think that they are experts in a given subject or have some knowlege to share. Sometimes they’re right, sometimes they’re wrong.
I think what this comes down to is that if the “advice” itself is spiritual, then follow the priest but if it’s a purely non-spiritual matter then one is not bound to follow it.
Here’s why: the priest is to be a spiritual counsellor, a healer. That’s his proper role. Once he steps out of that role and delves into non spiritual matters then he’s not “being” a priest.
Example (and in confession discussions I like to use absurd exaggerated caricatures because of the confidentiality element folks so bear with me).
Let’s say that a penitent confesses an obsession with garlic. The priest might offer some suggestions on avoiding falling into that sin. He might advise someone to avoid a certain restaurant. Most of the time, we could consider that culinary advice but because it’s being done for a spiritual reason, the person should follow it. On the other hand if a priest thinks to himself “well, I read a magazine article the other day that garlic isn’t healthy so I’m going to tell my penitents not to eat it” then he isn’t giving spiritual advice and it need not be followed.
Priests are a lot like doctors (much has already been said about that analogy over the centuries). Priests try to provide advice on healing and on living a spiritually healthy life. But at the same time, just like medical doctors, sometimes people would rather follow the advice of television ads and tabloid magazine articles (or internet forums!) because they think that reading those things makes them experts. Priests sometimes say “why did I waste my time studying theology for 8 years when I could have just picked up a magazine?” Much the same way that medical doctors lament the carpet-bombing of our society with advertisements for the latest (and always expensive) RX drugs. “That doctor doesn’t know what he’s talking about, I’m just like that person on the TV ad…”
The problem with saying that a person should obey the priest-confessor in spiritual matters yet need not obey him in practical matters is that this opens the door to self-diagnosis. One might find any excuse to disregard the priest by constructing a creative argument for why he shouldn’t have said it (or why the priest is wrong in his spiritual assessment). That’s not a good “precedent” and not sound advice for an internet forum that could potentially be read by anyone with an internet connection.
A penitent is always free to seek the advice of another priest; just as one may always seek a “second opinion” if he doesn’t like the diagnosis of the first medical doctor.
There’s realy no quick and objective answer to the question. But what I would say is that one is not bound to follow non-spiritual advice of the confessor. I would carefully qualify that by saying that before disregarding that advice, or dismissing it as non-spiritual the person should seek that “second opinion” of another priest because the penitent should not be engaged in self-diagnosis (self-examination by all means, but self-diagnosis no).
Of course if the penitent does feel this way, the very first step should be to discuss it with the confessor at that moment or as soon as reasonably possible and share the concern that the matter might be non-spiritual.