Invalidity or scrupulosity?


I have recently decided to return to the Church after having spent a period of my life away from Christ and the sacrament of reconciliation. I’ve been to three consecutive confessions, one of them being a General Confession.

However now I seem to be stuck in a problematic cycle of going to confession to reconfess sins which I have already confessed, always going into greater detail about the sins than I did in the previous confession/s. This is leading me to doubt the validity of my General Confession (which took me hours), because I end up doubting myself as to whether I had omitted certain details on purpose or not.

For instance, there is a particular conglomeration of sins which I confessed as different, separate, sins in my General Confession, but which I now feel should be better confessed as a whole (because it reveals an uglier nature to those sins). I am suddenly very worried that my decision to separate these related sins in my General Confession might have invalidated my entire General Confession (I know for a fact that I did not see the interlinking of these sins as clearly back then as I do now, but I also fear that I may have ‘separated’ the sins because I was reluctant to reveal the ugly nature of the conglomerated sins in question). I do not think I purposely decided not to mention any mortal sin (I also prayed a lot so that I would be as thorough as possible in the General Confession), but I’ve been gripped with this sudden fear of not having been detailed enough.

I’ve been considering whether I should go to my fourth consecutive confession to confess this as well; now I’m worried that I may have to repeat ALL the sins in a fourth confession, because the General Confession may have been invalidated due to the above.

Any suggestions? :confused:



You need help from your pastor ASAP. These are compulsive thoughts and your pastor needs to help you deal with them immediately. Make an appointment, NOT for confession but for counseling.


If one is struggling with scruples:

A regular confessor. Such is the age old practice in the Church for scruples.

We are to confess all mortal sins in number and kind and if the kind changes (like it was a chalice you stole -thus sacrilege not just theft…or it was not just fornication but fornication with a relative…or it was not just murder but the murder of ones parent …) But one need not confess all sorts of unneeded details. And if in examining our conscience we do not know the actual number we can approximate according to what we know.

A confessor can guide you.

Now what if I make a confession and am contrite and amended and I am seeking to confess all my mortal sins – but later realize oh I forgot that one or I forgot to say it was a chalice I stole …does that make it invalid? No.

I did not intentionally try to conceal a mortal sin. I meant to confess all my mortal sins. Now if I really forgot a mortal sin or a necessary detail - well such was indirectly absolved --and then I simply confess that in the next confession. I do not repeat all my mortal sins… (now if I intentionally hide that say it was adultery not fornication …that is a different story).

Bottom line: realizing later -or fearing later – that one forgot something or said something not correctly --does not invalidate that past confession. One meant to make a complete confession of ones mortal sins --one just forgot something.

A confessor can guide you.

Also note that some have “transitory scruples” at the time of ones conversion…not lasting ones.


1ke is right.

Talk to your pastor. Why are you asking internet strangers about such matters? Talk to your pastor (if he is also your confessor, all the better).


A person can experience “transitory scruples” at the time of ones conversion…and such can yes be dealt with in confession with the Priest – I am not saying making another general confession -it sounds like the person here should not do that – but such can yes be dealt with in confession. Best would be if the person returns to the Priest he made the last general confession with.


Agree. Do so immediately.




A person who has just returned to the Church -can have some transitory scruples - so while they should address such in confession with a Priest – such does not mean they are going to “be scrupulous” afterwards…or on an ongoing basis. They simply need to address their particular problem and then go on from there…

A person with say some transitory scruples at the time of conversion – need the particular assistance of a confessor -but that** does not mean** that that confessor is to give them say on going principles that he would give a person who struggles with on going scrupulosity. It would be a mistake for someone who has transitory scruples to take say some principle given by a confessor to one with scrupulosity and apply it to himself as if he were scrupulous in an ongoing way.

For such can be quite transitory.


Scruples is a religious form of OCD. Have you tried speaking to a psychologist about this?


Scruples *can *be a such. Not Is such per se necessarily.

I understand the laudable desire to assist someone…

But please people - lets not jump here.

Nor do transitory scruples at the time of conversion mean a person will not have ongoing scrupulosity. Nor that the person has OCD. Or that they need to speak to a Psychologist…


Ok. Touché. Maybe it is. Maybe it’s not. How about allowing the OP talk to a specialist, since this is a very individual matter, then? If it is, then some help might be beneficial. If it’s not, it shouldn’t hurt anything.


How about the person go to confession…and then head on down the road …and see if there is any further difficulty?

Yes it can hurt…

First stop -go see the Priest. :slight_smile:

Transitory scruples of recent converts can be cleared up …and then smooth sailing.

It can be good as I noted for him to see a regular confessor - noting that he is a recent convert. The regular confessor can then pick up on if any scruples that may be present now do not clear up. Then he can guide the penitent. And if the penitent does think or the Priest thinks there are other things to be addressed -he can seek out a good specialist (I saw this site to save to ofter to those in such need


I’m in RCIA now and we’ve been told that it’s unusual for your first confession to last more than 45 minutes. Someone said, there are only so many sins and you don’t have to walk through every minute detail of each instance.

I’m just curious how a confession could take hours.


Key is for you to go see the confessor and lay out this difficulty (even print out your post and give it to him and then tell him what the problems have been) in confession (I am not saying make another general confession) - the Priest can guide you.

Jesus does not expect us to be “Mr. Spock” …we are human and proceed in a human way.

And know that Jesus loves you. In him is true life. Even when we might struggle with various things in life.


Thanks for all the above advice. I have contacted the priest who heard my General Confession and requested an appointment to discuss these matters with him. I just hope I am able to adequately express my concerns as well as genuinely disclose with him the necessary details, without exaggerating but at the same time without being too discrete. I often struggle to explain myself :frowning:

Please spare a prayer for me if you can… This is a very difficult period for me and my return to Faith, especially after a prolonged period of spiritual sloth and laxity.


Struggle though it all may be right now…in Jesus of Nazareth is true life. Confession is not meant to be a “torture chamber” as Pope Francis has noted. It is a way to receive “true life” (a phrase from Pope Benedict XVI). It is very good you have returned! The Father rejoices and calls for the ring and the new clothes…and for the feast (see the Gospel of the prodigal son).

Receive the absolution with joy -even if not felt - known joy.


For someone like me who also struggles to adequately understand his own feelings; that phrase is very helpful :slight_smile:


Remember - we do not have a despotic (like a dictator) control over our feelings. We can have a “diplomatic” …but not a despotic control. Such is the nature of things after the fall.


I am meeting my confessor this evening. I am so blessed that he is willing to hear me out. I have a long list of things to discuss with him and sins to confess. This will be (and already has been) very difficult for me. If anybody sees this post, please spare a prayer for me.

I feel like the prodigal son who has been far away from the Father’s home for a very long time.

Please pray for me.

God bless you all.


Just remember how the father greeted his prodigal son on his return!

I will offer a prayer for you. Best wishes.

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