My parents first confession in a long time, I am worried

My father had been diagnosed with cancer, and the doctors say he doesn’t have long left to live. Since both my parents are not-so-strong-in-their-faith Catholics, I have kindly recommended to my father that he take the last anointment. To my great joy he also says that he wants to go to confession and take the communion as well for the first time in very many years.

Because of this, my mother also wants to go to confession and take the communion for the first time in a while. While this is of course great news, I am also very worried that they will instead make things worse for them selves, especially my mother.

The thing is that their faith and morals are sometimes questionable. My father gives me the impression that he at least has an easier time accepting things. My mother worries me a lot, since I am afraid that she will intentionally leave out some sins that she is uncomfortable confessing. For example, she believes abortion should be allowed in some cases, like if a baby is to be born gravely handicapped. She argues that this would be the most merciful for the child. At the same time, she argues that she is so old that she doesn’t really need to take a stance on it since it won’t really affect her directly or indirectly.

One thing I know for a fact is that my dad left his old wife for my mother, and that they conceived me outside of marriage. I don’t know if I should inform them of this, or if I can trust that they will say this in confession. In some way I feel like a have an obligation, but I am afraid I might come off as judging them if I try to remind them of this and that it will have the opposite effect of what I am trying to achieve. I think I have told my mother about this a long time ago, but she replied that she could never regret having conceived me. I also worry that she or my dad will pull out that argument again.

I am think about giving them both an examination of conscience, but I am not sure if that will make things even worse, considering they might think of some sin they have committed in the past that they wouldn’t have thought of otherwise, but willfully leave it out in confession. I have tried to inform my mother that it is very dangerous to willfully leave out any sins that you remember, but I am not sure if she takes it seriously. She just tells me not to worry and that everything will be fine, and that I should stop nagging her about it. I am afraid that she sees confession as not that big of a deal.

I was hoping I would be able to work with my dad, and then slowly with my mom in the future. But it seems the Lord has other plans, and I can’t help to feel overwhelmed. I am not very comfortable guiding them either to be honest, since I am far from an apologist. I don’t know how I should go about these things the best way possible.

I think it is wonderful your parents are returning to the sacraments, whatever their motivation may be. God bless them.

As for what you should do: Pray for them. Tell them you are praying for them to make a good confession. Hand them an examination of conscious.

What you should not do: Lecture them.

At some point we must all accept responsibility for our sins and be truthful- - - - either in this life or in the next.

Let the priest handle this. That’s what priests are for.

I agree and they have handled situations like this before. But you might get them a few good books to read and you will find many good books on this CAF. Some that will help them understand their faith better. It will take time but as they say, Rome wasn’t biuilt in a day. They are on the right track now just gently help them along. Pray and trust the Holy Spirit, HE has brought them this far already and that’s wonderful!. Prayers for you all. God Bless. Memaw

I agree with the advice to let your priest handle the confession part, and for you to pray for your parents. I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am that your family is going through this. Your father will be in my prayers.

Agree. Also keep praying for them.

Thank you for your replies so far!

One question though; How is the priest supposed to handle this? How will he know if they are deliberately not telling sins or not? Forgive my ignorance.

After knowing they haven’t been to Church or Confession for so many years, he knows what to ask and say. Trust him, he is speaking for Christ . P.S. Don’t ask them any questions as it isn’t any of your business. That’s between the priest and the penitent. God Bless, Memaw

I pretty much agree with what’s already been said. Pray for them, give them a good EoC, and then leave it up to the priest to guide them in the Confessional, and trust in God. You can also do your best to make sure you are in a state of grace, so that you can offer up sacrifices for them.

No matter how certain you are about the things they’ve done, you shouldn’t judge the state of their souls, probe, or make assumptions about their past sins (or, for that matter, their current or future ones), nor lecture them about their beliefs. In other words, don’t try to be the Holy Spirit to them. Let the Holy Spirit do that!

Remember, the Lord knows what He’s doing, He knows your parents’ hearts WAY better than you ever could, and He loves them and wants them to be with Him in Heaven even more than you do! :wink:

Maybe stress that it is God, LOVE ITSELF, that they will be talking to, and as for the priest, he has probably heard all those sins who knows how many times before, and he will also speak in the name of GOD/LOVE… and that they can without fear of judgment be totally honest, just as honest as if they are praying silently…

Thanks again.

I read this is the catechism:

1868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:

  • by participating directly and voluntarily in them;
  • by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;
  • by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;
  • by protecting evil-doers.

Will I not be guilty of this if I remain silent?

Most of us here are not saying that you should never say anything to correct them about what’s sinful… but that you don’t need to try and cover everything at once. It’s overwhelming and will likely not be helpful in their spiritual journey. It may even hinder it at this point.

You said you’d already talked to your mother about the sinfulness of abortion. You said you already spoke to her about sex outside of marriage, as well. So on those issues, you’ve done what you’re obligated to do. If you feel you’ve been unclear, and these issues come up again, then certainly, make known the Church’s teachings. But you don’t need to bring up your own conception or pry into their past in order to do this.

You can also mention to them that in Confession, we should confess all the sins that we can remember, but again, you don’t need to imply that you think they were planning to do otherwise, or to say anything like, “make sure you confess that you _________.”

What the CCC is saying is that if someone says that something is not sinful that IS sinful (or vice versa), or is planning to do something sinful, we should speak up and tell them (lovingly) that it’s wrong and/or explain what the Church teaches. We should not give the impression that we agree or that it’s okay by remaining silent or by cooperating with their sin. (Like, don’t say to your friend, “stealing is wrong,” and then proceed to help him carry a stolen TV up his stairs to his apartment. Go call the police instead.)

It does not mean that we have to argue about it with the person over and over until they “give in” and admit they are wrong; once they know where we stand, we don’t have to keep repeating ourselves or bring it up unless they ask or offer new arguments, or if there are other people around who may be influenced by their words if we don’t say something to correct it. It also does not mean that we should tell them they need to confess a particular sin that we “know” they have committed.

See, it’s one thing to say, “The Church teaches that this behavior is sinful;” it’s quite another thing to say, “I know you have mortally sinned in this way and are going to Hell if you don’t repent of this!”

We just want you to be careful that your words and actions reflect the former, and do not imply the latter. :wink:

Thank you for clearing it up!

I gave my dad an examination of conscience and respectfully recommended him to read it (I will do the same with my mother), so he will probably make a pretty fair judgement of what he has done and not done. I will do as you and others have already said and trust the Holy Spirit and priest to take it from here, as well as keep praying for them.

Thanks again.

I’m in RCIA right now (candidate) and had my first confession today. My church handed out a pamphlet to help with the examination of conscience and that was incredibly helpful as I used it to step by step my 48 years worth of confessing.

There are many available free on the internet and this is one of them.

We went to a mock confession last week to see how it was done. That was incredibly helpful. I don’t know how many times I’ve taken the Lord’s name in vain in the past 48 years, so we were taught to say things like “often” and “frequently”. As in, “In my youth, I frequently took the Lord’s name in vain”. The sin was taking the Lord’s name in vain and the “number” was frequently. We’ve been told that God does not expect the impossible and putting a number to a sin after several, or even a few years is impossible.

It sounds like your father is willing and working to take the correct steps. As far as your mother is concerned, she is making a step. Maybe you could print something like the above off for her to be her guide. By no means will it be helpful for you to “help” your mother with the confession if she doesn’t want it. Circumstances have gotten her to the door, trust God to get her where he needs her to be… and pray!

The question is when are we obligated to say something. Maybe it depends on the relationship, on the situation. Two extreme examples: 1. a mother sees her child steal something in a store. Yes of course she is obligated to tell the child that this is wrong.
2. we see a TV show where somebody in an interview says that they sometimes steal in a store - I hardly think we would be morally obligated to try to find out their identity and call them up and tell them that it is wrong to steal? (please tell me otherwise if somebody thinks that we SHOULD do that)
There are many situations in between… sometimes hard to judge. I just yesterday had a situation that I talked to a priest abozt because I was so unsure.

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