MERGED: Confession: remembering sins from the past/Thirty years since last confession

For some reason I’ve started remembering some sins from my past, things that happened more than 10 years ago. Some of these things I confessed at the time but others I probably didn’t because I wasn’t aware that they were sins. (I was in denial in my younger days and probably made some less than perfect confessions). Also, I tend to be quite concise when I go to confession and don’t elaborate on a specific sin unless the priest asks me about it. I wonder whether I’ve omitted things this way, by not spelling them out. For example, I confessed that I did something, but wasn’t specific about all that it encompassed.

What do I do? Should I mention these things next time I go to confession and explain the situation to the priest?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and would appreciate some thoughts.

If they are venial sins, you don’t have to reconfess, they have been forgiven in your past confessions. And also by a good Act of Contrition. If you **think **you might have remembered a mortal sin, then you **must **confess it to a priest. If you are receiving Communion, confess the mortal sins ASAP, otherwise you are just adding to the list of mortal sins. I have forgotten sins from the past and include them in confession.

You may be going through a type of purification interiorly. Definitely, bring these up in your next confession and let the confessor guide you. I would make my regular confession, then tell the priest just what you told us in your post above, about remembering some sins from the past, etc. I believe it is important for you to get the proper direction ,and it can’t hurt!


No, if you genuinely forgot a mortal sin and went to confession, it is still forgiven. Confession is after all an “all or nothing” deal. See this answer or this answer from Fr. Serpa.

Now, on the idea of confessing them, yes you should. As long as you haven’t committed a mortal sin since your last confession, you are allowed to receive communion.

curlycool89 is correct.
Also, if you didn’t realise, at the time you made your previous confession, that the thing you did was a sin, yes it was forgiven in that confession.

As to how much detail you have to give about your sins, all you have to do is make sure that the priest understands:

  1. exactly the type of sin (not just “I did something dishonest” but “I defrauded somebody”) not just “I did something impure” but “I fornicated”;
  2. How many times (estimate it approximately if you can’t remember exactly) you committed it; and
  3. anything relevant that would lessen or increase the gravity of the sin, eg if you stole something was the value of the theft say about $100, about $1000 etc, was it theft from an employer, a family member, a poor person etc. Don’t give details of how exactly you stole it or any names etc.

If the priest didn’t ask you for any further detail at the time, you have nothing to worry about as long as you honestly tried to do all the above and weren’t deliliberately concealing something that would have made your sin worse than what a reasonable person would otherwise assume from what you said. If you’re really worried, confess the sin again fully anyway, it doesn’t do any harm to confess a sin that’s already been forgiven. But do not go back and analyse everything you remember saying in past confessions, or you’ll drive yourself and your confessor nuts.

No, it doesn’t, but don’t go too extreme. You don’t want to fall into the idea of questioning the forgiveness of each and every sin. If you are scrupulous, the recommendation is to always have a single confessor that you always see (to the best of your abilities).

Thank you all.

I am not normally scrupulous but this has been bugging me. As one poster noted, i think I am going through a purification. This happened to me about a year and a half ago and made me more aware of my sins. Now I’m taken back again, obviously for a reason.
I’m going to confession on saturday and will tell the priest that I’m concerned about my previous sins and confessions and take it from there.

There are times when you do not feel like to confess an embarassing sin to a priest you know too well. What is your suggestion?

When I returned to the Church, it was of great help to me to follow this confessional Catholic guide, so that I could get all of it, over and done with in one visit.

It took me a couple of hours, (I’d been away 12 years) but I sat down and wrote out my list.

“There are times when you do not feel like to confess an embarassing sin to a priest you know too well. What is your suggestion?”

Our priest has said that it’s o.k. with him to have people say, “I sinned against the sixth commandment two times.”

Personnally, I make it part of my own penance to say what I did. It’s helped me to break compulsive habits.

I know that you asked this question to a different poster, but I would like to give you advise too, if you don’t mind…

This is the devil tempting you with pride, trying to get you to not tell all of your sins. if you are truly sorrowful for any sin that you are aware of, you must know in your heart that Jesus is in the person of the priest at that moment…you are seated in front of Christ Himself, who already knows everything!! close your eyes and picture Jesus sitting there with a warm, loving and knowing smile on his face and his tears of love dripping on his knee…and tell Him the sorrow of all your sins no matter how embarrassing. Know that the priest will not remember your sins outside of the confessional, because you did not tell him, you told Jesus! Say NO to the devil…crush his head(your pride)and go wash your sins in the merciful blood of Jesus! And go out and hold your head up high and smile at your confessor when you see him and he will smile back unknowingly!

Love you,

You are free to choose ANY priest as your confessor. He is obliged to reveal his identity to you but you always have the right to remain anonymous to him. Of course if you live in a remote area or a country with very few Catholics, there may be only one priest to whom it is practicable for you to confess. But priests have heard it all before and he will not be shocked by what you say, nor will he be scandalised if you truly are sorry for your sin, no matter how bad it is.

Our priest has said that it’s o.k. with him to have people say, “I sinned against the sixth commandment two times.”

That would cover everything from entertaining an impure thought, to raping a child. Hopefully they’re teaching future priests in our seminaries that this is OK.

I don’t want to be contradicting your priest, but all priests that I know say that it’s important to be a little more specific with every commandment broken, because the commandments are broad, but the grace of the sacrament is specific to the sinner and what he or she reveals. Thus, Thou Shall Not Kill covers excessive anger, irresponsible driving, punching someone out of aggression, and even wishing revenge on someone. But it also covers murder, so the priest needs to know even within the category of grievously breaking that commandment, what the act was, and whether it was directed at a stranger, a dependent, or person of authority, etc.

Same for the Sixth Commandment, The Fourth Commandment, etc. For the former, this is partly because of the addictive nature of some sins such as pornography and (sometimes) masturbation, as the priest can counsel as well as absolve, and counseling with regard to that firm purpose of amendment is a part of the sacrament. And if it is actual adultery, he will probably begin to ask questions and assign a different penance than he would for some other sexual sins, because injury to the marriage is involved, as well as deceit; 3 parties are involved – possibly a 4th if the person outside the penitent’s marriage is, himself or herself, married. Etc. To say you sinned against the Sixth commandment twice is much too broad to be helpful either to the penitent or to the priest, i.m.o. He’s not a mind-reader.

Thank you, Joan, for the affirmation. It makes me glad that I am a Catholic.

God bless you.

Correction::o I omitted the word “not” from my last sentence.

At times I have issues with what I feel may be unconfessed sins,but I believe it is just lucifer playing his little tricks.

When i had my first confession after 35 yrs I faced the priest in dread and also relief. He just asked me to explain my life. I did not have to go into detail about all the sexual immorality I practiced or each specific incident. He could tell I was very sorry and trying to dredge up each specific incident would have been impossible or at the very least would have taken up 24 hrs of his time.

If you did not know something was amortal sin at the time of your confession,then it was not.A priest told me you have to be fully aware. I confessed an old sin about a journal I wrote and the bad things in it,though I had no idea it was a mortal sin just a small part of another sin I already confessed. He said it was not a mortal sin then.

Absolution covers all sins even the ones erased from your memory.I have a beautiful act of contrition I found in some of my moms stuff referring to this.

Now if you deliberately left out a sin that would compound the issue.

If it’s “bugging” you, then definitely tell it in confession; no skirting. If you’re embarrassed, don’t be. It might be easier for you to go to confession in a confessional booth instead of face-to-face. But whatever it is; just tell it to the priest. He’s heard it all.
God bless you.

I have had this same situation, esp. as a convert looking back over my past life. I have done some things here and there that didn’t seem wrong by the world’s standards, but as I grew in faith and knowledge, I came to realize that they were truly sinful. So the next time I went to confession, I simply told this to the priest, that I didn’t “get it” until now that what I did was wrong, and so now that I have a better understanding, I’m confessing it.

I always say, “for these sins, any sins I may have forgotten, and all the sins of my life, I am sorry” as I finish listing my sins. That will cover the rest, as long as you aren’t making a bad confession by deliberately withholding a sin because you were embarrassed. I made that mistake once in my life, and once was enough! :o

Sometimes you do have to confess where they know you, if there aren’t other Catholic churches in your area or if their confession times don’t fit your schedule…unless you want to keep walking around in a state of mortal sin. Sure, the priest has heard it all more times than you can imagine, but it still can be embarrassing. In those instances, I offer my shame as part of my penance.

God bless.

Perfect. Indeed, that’s what I’ve had to do on many occasions in the confessional and in prayer. And ususally I am way more embarrassed by non-sexual than by sexual sins, because the Devil’s pretty good at convincing me of a false, idealized ‘self,’ and when I am confronted with how particular sins don’t match up to that phony, dressed up ‘self,’ I am ashamed at the size of the gap.

It’s a real (because it’s painful) act of humility to acknowledge to God that all you have to offer him is your sorrow and your shame. Doesn’t seem like an attractive gift to give him, but he’ll take it, because when we feel like nothing is when he can do something, without idealized (artificial) self-sufficiency standing in the way of receptivity to his grace.

I was “born catholic,” but lost my way since childhood and now I’m thinking of returning to the Church. A good place to start is confession I assume, but how do you confess to thirty years of sin? “Forgive me father for I have sinned, it’s been thirty YEARS since my last confession…” would take awhile.

I’ve been reading up on the different types of sin, but even sticking to mortal ones, considering my romp though the world’s religions (worshipping other gods), I probably have quite a list.

Is there some shorthand, some way of summarizing things?

Forgive me for sounding so naive, it’s just I have confessed to anything since I was a child…

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