Lingering Guilt After Confession

So im having a little bit of trouble recently. Im feeling guilty about stuff ive already confessed to. Its strange cause this past Saturday I was feeling fantastic after confession and mass. I literally thought I was going to jump out of my own skin cause I was so happy. Today, totally different story. Guess it started when I started to read about purgatory and hell. It sort of feels like I didn’t confess them correctly or something. Ive been trying to get away from all my mortal sins, but I lived such a bad life style for the first 22 years of my life, I don’t know if I can remember all of them.

Ive been making positive changes in my life since I came back to God this past July. Reading the daily bible passage(if not more), praying, attending mass regularly, regular confession. It just stinks to have this lingering guilt. This feeling that I didn’t confess properly or I forgot something. I don’t want to be separated from God forever because of this. Any advice?

Sins that have been forgotten are forgiven when you go to confession. If you remember them later, then mention them. But they have been forgiven.

Second reading
From a sermon on the Song of Songs by Saint Bernard, abbot
Where sin abounded grace has overflowed
Where can the weak find a place of firm security and peace, except in the wounds of the Savior? Indeed, the more secure is my place there, the more he can do to help me. The world rages, the flesh is heavy, and the devil lays his snares, but I do not fall, for my feet are planted on firm rock. I may have sinned gravely. My conscience would be distressed, but it would not be in turmoil, for I would recall the wounds of the Lord: he was wounded for our iniquities. What sin is there so deadly that it cannot be pardoned by the death of Christ? And so if I bear in mind this strong, effective remedy, I can never again be terrified by the malignancy of sin.
Surely the man who said: My sin is too great to merit pardon, was wrong. He was speaking as though he were not a member of Christ and had no share in his merits, so that he could claim them as his own, as a member of the body can claim what belongs to the head. As for me, what can I appropriate that I lack from the heart of the Lord who abounds in mercy? They pierced his hands and feet and opened his side with a spear. Through the openings of these wounds I may drink honey from the rock and oil from the hardest stone: that is, I may taste and see that the Lord is sweet.
He was thinking thoughts of peace, and I did not know it, for who knows the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? But the piercing nail has become a key to unlock the door, that I may see the good will of the Lord. And what can I see as I look through the hole? Both the nail and the wound cry out that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. The sword pierced his soul and came close to his heart, so that he might be able to feel compassion for me in my weaknesses.
Through these sacred wounds we can see the secret of his heart, the great mystery of love, the sincerity of his mercy with which he visited us from on high. Where have your love, your mercy, your compassion shone out more luminously than in your wounds, sweet, gentle Lord of mercy? More mercy than this no one has than that he lay down his life for those who are doomed to death.
My merit comes from his mercy; for I do not lack merit so long as he does not lack pity. And if the Lord’s mercies are many, then I am rich in merits. For even if I am aware of many sins, what does it matter? Where sin abounded grace has overflowed. And if the Lord’s mercies are from all ages forever, I too will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever. Will I not sing of my own righteousness? No, Lord, I shall be mindful only of your justice. Yet that too is my own; for God has made you my righteousness.

RESPONSORY Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24
He was pierced through for our offenses,
he was crushed for our sins; upon him lies the chastisement that gives us peace;
– by his wounds we are healed.


You have no reason to worry this is generally the work of the devil. He wants to make you feel like dirt when you are made clean. God has forgiven your sins so don’t worry about them they are blotted out from all of time

I totally understand having lingering guilt. It can be caused by several things I believe. First the enormity of God’s compassion and forgiving love can be hard to process. Second, we want so very much to please God and do what is right, that we beat ourselves up when we stumble and have a harder time forgiving ourselves than God does. I have found a third reason, for me at least, to be that I have confessed the sin but not the background imperfections/venial sins behind it.

For example, lets say someone lies. The lie is a sin to be sure and is confessed. But why did that person lie? Perhaps they lied to get out of doing something they should do or to cover their backsides or to avoid telling a truth that needed to be said. So a lie could be the result of not taking responsibility for oneself, not standing up for what is right, or even simple laziness (and a million other things I assume). The person might confess to the lie and be forgiven it, but still feel guilty about lying to cover up their mistakes instead of taking responsibility for them.

I understand that feeling, my friend! When this happens to me, I resolve to do some sort of penance to ease the nerves. I also offer my penance up as a atonement for my sins. That way, I feel like I paying for my sins, and not just saying sorry. Along with doing this, I’d suggest reading up on God’s Mercy! After God has forgiven you, it is important to remember to forgive yourself! I hope you feel better soon!

  • SnowAngels

There’s a difference between “feeling guilty” and “having guilt.”

After Confession, our guilt has been removed. The sin is washed from our soul and we have been forgiven by God (HALLELUIA!).

However, that doesn’t mean we don’t, or even shouldn’t, feel guilty if we harmed ourselves or someone. This is part of regretting having ever committed the sin or being unable to really ever make amends for it.

It’s the same with forgiving. I may forgive someone truly and fully for having harmed me, perhaps grievously. But forgiveness isn’t a lobotomy, the harm did happen, and I may reasonably not want to be within two states of the person.

It’s the same with forgiving. I may forgive someone truly and fully for having harmed me, perhaps grievously. But forgiveness isn’t a lobotomy, the harm did happen, and I may reasonably not want to be within two states of the person.

Just because you forgive someone doesn’t mean you have to be their best friend.


I guess the thought of just one mortal sin from my past that I forgot could send me to hell scared me and made me think more about this.

So even sins Ive forgotten and don’t mention are forgiven?


The book Frequent Confession by Benedict Baur helps me as well as Fr. Altier’s booklet about confession.

…might also help you to read what the catechism says…might also discuss this feeling of guilt with a good, holy priest…and if you go to Adoration, you can discuss it with God, in His Real Presence…

my :twocents:

Welcome back!!!

“Who can forgive sins but God alone?’” I’m not wanting to pile on but…what about those sins of omission? Those things you should have done but didn’t. From reading your post, it sounds like you are trying to work for your forgiveness by doing all those works to keep out of Purgatory. Which is easier, for Jesus to say your forgiven when you repent, or work for your forgiveness, with going to Mass upon Mass, saying the Rosary or so many hail Mary’s, reading the daily passage. Why is there a threat of Purgatory hanging over you, maybe that’s what hinders you from receiving total forgiveness, the lingering notion that your missing some sin that you didn’t confess. I don’t understand going to a man to confess, then him telling you to do such and such…as a parent when you forgive do you make your children go do such and such? God is not like man, when He forgives, He forgives.

To paraphrase senior apologist Jimmy Akin “it’s not that you sin by forgetting, it’s that if you remember a mortal sin not confessed and do not confess it, you incur a new sin by not confessing a known mortal sin that has not been confessed.”

I getting concerned that is approaching scrupulosity. You really cannot go through life doubt Confession like this, it’s bad for your mental and spiritual health.

I think you need to mention this to a priest or your confessor.

There seems to be an emerging trend on here with folks who have gone years between confessions (Catholics are required to go at least once a year) and what happens is that you may forget some mortal sins, but just mention them at your next Confession.

The nuns taught me to always end each confession with “for these and all sins I can’t remember, I am sorry” I think that covers it.


Also the feeling of “lingering guilt” could simply be part of the temporal punishment or or the wound left by sin. Even if a wound is healed, it leaves a scar. And such guilt can be very healthy: it reminds us of who we are - sinners - and moves us to live humbly, with a penitent heart. The penitent heart is the heart of he who, having sinned, seeks God’s forgiveness. When we go to Confession, we are correct to assume and know that we have been restored in sanctifying grace, but we should still live with a penitent heart, for Confession does not turn us into sinless souls, nor does it remove the consequences and temporal punishment due to our sins.

Just don’t let it disturb you. You ought to trust in God, even when you fall, that “where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more”, and He will restore you to even higher purity of heart if you trust and surrender yourself to Him.

Senior Apologist Jimmy Akin on the Subject

The teachers of the Law were irritated when Christ said He could forgive sin. “Only God forgives sin, not men!”, they replied. Christ, knowing their thoughts, did not say that He was God or that the Messiah could do so. No, He said:

know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins

The power was given by God to the Son of man. Indeed the reply of those who believed was captured by the evangelist as follows:

when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

God had given to men the authority to forgive sin! This was unprecedented. But if some may question this, there can be no doubt when it comes to the very first words spoken by the Risen Christ to the apostles:

As the Father has sent me, so I send you…whosoever sins you forgive, they are forgiven; whosoever sins you retain, they are retained.

“Who can forgive sins but God alone?” God chose and willed to give men the power to forgive sins. He chose to forgive sins through men.

Why is there a fear of Purgatory? Because the Lord and the Apostles proclaimed its existence (see “Purgatory in Scripture”). Working for our forgiveness to go straight into heaven: is that not what the Gospels say?

And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door…”

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father”

“For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.”

“Their work will be shown for what it is…It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If someone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss. He himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”

“Run in such a way that you may win. …] work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”

The understanding of God’s forgiveness you present is not based on what the Church Fathers practiced, but on the XVI-century fiduciary faith theorized by Luther, Calvin, and others, whereby man bases his hope on an infallible conviction that God for the sake of Christ will no longer impute to us our sins, but will consider and treat us, as if we were really just and holy (“imputed righteousness”), although in our inner selves we remain the same sinners as before. Or, in Luther’s own words: “Through the obedience of Christ by faith the just are so declared and reputed, although by reason of their corrupt nature they still are and remain, sinners as long as they bear this mortal body.”

This has never made sense to me, for instead the apostolic faith teaches that sin is not hidden under the mantel of Christ’s righteousness, but is in fact truly forgiven so that the soul itself is sanctified.

The Catholic belief is that we cannot presume forgiveness, not even by asking directly the Lord, but that we must follow what He Himself established, namely the confession of our sins and forgiveness by the hands of the successors of the apostles. Otherwise, it would have made no sense at all to teach us to pray: “Our Father who art in Heaven…forgive us our sins…” and then appear to the apostles and tell them as the very first sentence: “those whose sins you forgive are forgiven, etc.”

Clearly, just like He had sent them to proclaim the Gospel and expel demons, He was now commanding them to go and either forgive or retain people’s sins. How to do that, unless the people would first go to them and confess them their sin and manifested contrition and repentance?

Fiduciary faith is beautiful, cotton-candy forgiveness, but it does not work that way. God is a just judge, and we, members of the mystical body of Christ, will keep “fulfilling in our flesh what is lacking in the tribulations of Christ for the sake of the Church” (Colossians 1:24) until the end of time, knowing that “we do not even judge ourselves, for even if we are not conscious of anything, we are not thereby acquitted, since He who judges us is the Lord” (1 Cor 4:3-4).

As Church Father Cyprian of Carthage wrote in AD 250:

confess their sins to the priests of God in a straightforward manner and in sorrow, making an open declaration of conscience. . . . I beseech you, brethren, let everyone who has sinned confess his sin while he is still in this world, while his confession is still admissible, while the satisfaction and remission made through the priests are still pleasing before the Lord…[S]inners may do penance for a set time, and according to the rules of discipline come to public confession, and by imposition of the hand of the bishop and clergy receive the right of Communion.

and concerning those who refused to confess to priests:

[But now some] with their time [of penance] still unfulfilled . . . they are admitted to Communion… and while the penitence is not yet performed, confession is not yet made, the hands of the bishop and clergy are not yet laid upon them, the Eucharist is given to them; although it is written, ‘Whosoever shall eat the bread and drink the cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord’ [1 Cor. 11:27]"

Thank you. The fear of purgatory or hell is really scary to me. I know ive done really bad stuff in the past. But ive been working to change all that.

we sometimes forget about sins, if we remember them we have to confess them later, but it they are forgiven already, they would have not been forgiven if they were not told on purpose in fact not any other of the sins would, and you’d get a new one, sacrilegium.

Do not let yourself be governed by ‘feelings’. I do love that happiness feeling just as we all do. If you base whether or not you are forgiven on how you feel then it’s going to be a rough time.

I agree that it’s the ‘stain of sin’ that leaves that feeling on us, but let’s remember that it’s temporary.

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