Is it wrong to bring a list of sins with you To Confession?

Can I bring the list with me? Or does it have to be put away when I am done examining my conscience.

One may bring a list. But make sure to destroy it.

For those with not so good memory it can be helpful…at times it can be a problem for those with scruples…for they will make endless lists…so those with this difficulty take care if you decide to use a list…

I have to write a list these days because I am so forgetful. I also am having a problem with the “deer in the headlights” when it comes to Penance because I will get nervous and my mind will go blank.

Yes, and destroy it when you are done. (or eat it! :p)

I hope not, because I sometimes bring my list with me. I often don’t look at it, but, occasionally, when Father asks, “Is there anything else?”, I uncrumble it and give it a once-over!!

Yes, you can. I think that’s how those unable to speak (deafness, disease) confess. Also, if you give it to the Priest, I’m sure he must destroy them.

Before we go to Confession I tell my children to go to their room and examine their conscience and write down the sins they have committed and when we get home we go out back and burn them in the BBQ grill… kinda like a final cleansing.


Nothing wrong with it, but I think it’s inadvisable.

The thing about lists is, the day will come where it falls out of your pocket, you leave it in the confessional, etc…

Actually, for somone who suffers from scrupulosity, having a list can be helpful in the initial stages of overcoming this affliction. It forces you to be concise instead of wandering all over the place explaining and second-guessing your motives. It also removes the possibility of forgetting to confess something–which for the scrupulous creates a lot of anxiety.

However, the scrupulous needs to work with his confessor on this one. If having the list becomes a compulsive behavior then it needs to be ditched.

I have made lists for years… I have a bad memory and when I’m nervous being in the confessional, I can’t remember my own name sometimes. :o I get so nervous I forget the Act of Contrition sometimes too… but our church has a cheat sheet.

During the Lenten season, my priest talked about confession in detail… and how we should receive confession before the Sunday of Divine Mercy. He stated that it would probably be a good idea to write down your sins and take the list with you. It made me feel better… like I wasn’t the only one that made a list.

The last time I went to confession I accidentally left my list on the kitchen counter, and unfolded my grocery list in the confessional!! Imagine my surprise… I was worried I wouldn’t remember all of my sins… and yep, I forgot a few. The good news is, ALL of my sins, even the forgotten ones, were forgiven. But yes, I will still confess those sins next time just because I am sorry about them.

I don’t know if anyone in my family read my list. It doesn’t really bother me much if they did… nothing TOO serious on there. And it might make them feel better about themselves too- that no one is perfect, not even mom (or wife if hubby read it).

So by all means, make a list! But be careful with it and don’t write your name on it. I usually threw it away after my confession, but the above poster had a great idea about giving the list to the priest to destroy.

I don’t need a list–all my sins are repetitive.

My mother used to tell stories of her elementary school years. She said that most of the kids took a list into the confessional. Once she forgot hers, so she borrowed one from another girl in line.

I don’t understand all this hoo-hah about destroying the list. [Almost] everybody sins, so I don’t think it’s anything to be embarrassed about. Unless it’s serious criminal misconduct… in which case I think a person would be more concerned over the list being evidence in a criminal prosecution… rather the source of embarrassment.

I actually have a “general confession” list. It contains almost every bad thing I’ve ever done my entire life. And I’ve been carrying it with me every day for years.

I keep it so I don’t agonize over whether I’ve already confessed something and over what specific wording I used in the confession booth. It also makes a good personalized Examination of Conscience, because the original list was created under a careful study of a couple of different Broad EoCs.

And, yes, someone has found my list before. At first, I was a little bit embarrassed, but then I remembered that this person already knew about every bad thing on the list. And that was kind of freeing in and of itself – that this person knew every bad thing I’ve ever done – and didn’t care.

No it’s quite alright.

The drawback is that not all places have adequate lighting to read them, so write large letters. One thing though, you might try to develop a sort of coded shorthand that only you could understand in case you should misplace it.


I don’t understand all this hoo-hah about destroying the list.” Me, either. I carry mine in my pocket along with When it disintegrates, I toss it! It rarely survives from one monthly confession to the next. No one else ever sees it. It serves to remind me to do my best to do and be better.

I would highly recommend lists for people new to confession. For a convert (or a cradle Catholic who has gone a long time without it) confession can be an overwhelming experience. I don’t use a list anymore, but they saved me from freezing many times when I first started going to confession.

Now if only I could memorize all the responses and the act of contrition, then I could ditch the booklet!

Yep, the main reasons I carry the booklet is for the Examination of Conscience and the Act of Contrition. I decided that 3 years was long enough to learn the Act of Contrition, so, I started reciting it every night when I did my Examination of Conscience. I’m a lousy memorizer, but, I’ve finally got it down - at home, anyway! I will go to Confession again in the very near future. I am hoping I don’t draw a blank in the Confessional!! If so, I’ll reach into my pocket - again! God, I believe, looks at the heart for contrition, not at our ability to memorize or remember the words.

Sometimes I bring a list, and other times I don’t. If I have done something outside of my usual “pet sins” that I might forget to mention, then I’m more likely to write it down so I don’t forget to confess it. Of course, if it’s something major, I won’t need to write it down because my conscience will be after me to get it off my chest! :o

One time I made a general confession, and I had a loooong list. I burned that one, simply to remind myself that those sins were dealt with once and for all. Otherwise, I just write a couple of words and I use a lot of abbreviations, and if anyone found it, they probably wouldn’t be able to decipher it, anyway.

I remember when we discussed this a couple of months ago, a poster being adamant that we weren’t allowed to, as she had actually been shouted at’ (her words I think) in the confessional for doing so.

This particular poster can usually be relied on to have sources and quotes to hand from every conceivable church document whatever the question, so probably her ‘fact’ was taken seriously to heart by many people, and been a worry.

I’m very cheered to hear that so many people do use lists if they need to, and are not criticised for doing so by the priest, as I’m one of those who forgets everything in embarassment.

The argument used by the shouting priest was that confession should be sincere and from the heart, and reading from a list would go against this. I don’t see that myself.

Yes. That’s why I sometimes find the obsession with lists a little strange. Big sins are going to stand out in your conscience–there’s no forgetting them. And venial sins don’t all need to be confessed anyway.

Well, I think if adultery was on the list, I wouldn’t want my wife to find it, and I wouldn’t want all my sins to be the topic of conversation by whoever found the list.

My confessor is on the chatty side, so if I mention one thing and we talk about it, I might be distracted enough to forget some other important thing I really wanted to bring up. I just put a few key words or even initials on a sticky note. One time, I was looking at the note and couldn’t figure out what the initials stood for - I said, right there in the confessional, “Now what the heck does THAT mean?” The priest laughed.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit