Past Sins in Confession


#1

I am going to confess a sin to a priest tomorrow. I have never confessed this sin to this priest before but I have confessed it to another priest. I am worried the new priest will ask if I committed this sin before. However, it is my understanding that no priest can compel me to reveal my past confessions. If he asks about prior sins, can I answer "no, I have not committed this sin before?" Or should I say something along the lines of "past confessed sins do not have to be revealed." Which would be a dead giveaway that I have committed this sin before.


#2

I'm pretty sure that is breaking the seal of Confession. I've been in a similar situation before, and go to Confession every week, no priest I have Confessed to has ever asked that. You'll be fine.

I'll pray for you!


#3

[quote="Lawrence178, post:2, topic:324650"]
I'll pray for you!

[/quote]

Thanks!


#4

[quote="Lawrence178, post:2, topic:324650"]
I'm pretty sure that is breaking the seal of Confession. I've been in a similar situation before, and go to Confession every week, no priest I have Confessed to has ever asked that. You'll be fine.

I'll pray for you!

[/quote]

The seal of confession only applies to the priest. The priest cannot tell anyone else of your confessed sins. This doesn't mean that you are not allowed to tell other people of your past sins. You telling someone of your past confessed sins is not breaking the seal.

To the OP:
Telling the new priest, "I have not done this sin before" would be a lie, to a priest no less, and thus another sin. So, highly not recommended.

I do feel it unlikely that the new priest will ask if you have committed the sin before.


#5

[quote="ChristIsTheWay, post:1, topic:324650"]
I am going to confess a sin to a priest tomorrow. I have never confessed this sin to this priest before but I have confessed it to another priest. I am worried the new priest will ask if I committed this sin before. However, it is my understanding that no priest can compel me to reveal my past confessions. If he asks about prior sins, can I answer "no, I have not committed this sin before?" Or should I say something along the lines of "past confessed sins do not have to be revealed." Which would be a dead giveaway that I have committed this sin before.

[/quote]

He's not going to ask if you've committed the sin before unless you tell him or imply to him. They just listen to what you say and that's it, they don't start giving you some sort of sin third degree. Be at peace and confess your sins!

And oh by the way...If you are ashamed of having committed the same sin...Then tell the priest that you are ashamed because you've confessed this sin before and now you are repeating it. The discomfort you feel is your conscience and that's what confession helps with! Do not hide from Jesus!


#6

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:5, topic:324650"]

...
And oh by the way...If you are ashamed of having committed the same sin...Then tell the priest that you are ashamed because you've confessed this sin before and now you are repeating it. The discomfort you feel is your conscience and that's what confession helps with! Do not hide from Jesus!

[/quote]

I agree. We are not obliged to mention sins which have previously been absolved, but it can be spiritually beneficial. It even makes sense psychologically. Imagine if, at forty years old, I had never confessed getting drunk, and then I confessed it one week expecting never to do it again, and then I had to confess it the next week also. If the second time I confessed it I mentioned that this was the second time my confessor and I would be immediately alerted to a habit forming.

There is little to be gained by playing "by the rules" and omitting important information.

I would add that it does depend on the confessor and our relationship with him, however. Priests have said to me that we can choose to reveal more to some confessors than others.


#7

[quote="ChristIsTheWay, post:1, topic:324650"]
I am going to confess a sin to a priest tomorrow. I have never confessed this sin to this priest before but I have confessed it to another priest. I am worried the new priest will ask if I committed this sin before. However, it is my understanding that no priest can compel me to reveal my past confessions. If he asks about prior sins, can I answer "no, I have not committed this sin before?" Or should I say something along the lines of "past confessed sins do not have to be revealed." Which would be a dead giveaway that I have committed this sin before.

[/quote]

Saying the part in bold would be a lie, so you definitely should not say it in the confessional as it would invalidate your confession and also put your soul at greater risk because lying in the confessional is a grave mortal sin. I am almost 99% sure he wont ask you if you have committed this sin before, but if he does ask you must be honest. How can a physician heal you when you do not tell him your history of illness? In fact, pray that perhaps he does ask, since maybe it's the kick-in-the-butt you need from God to completely renounce the particular sin!

St Alphonsus says that in the confessional you must remember that it is not the man who asks questions or speaks but it is God. In his directions to people who fear confession he says something like the following: either you think the priest to be a fool incapable of understanding or giving good direction, or you do not believe the Holy Ghost is able to work through mere men as the Church promises. In either case you are guilty,so confess with confidence that even were the priest a beast of a man he will give you good direction or at the very least the direction God allows you to have!

I know this isn't what you think, but it's always good to remember. So if you get scared, remember that he is a physician acting in the person of Jesus and that all he wants to do is heal you. But never ever lie in the confessional. Don't be ashamed to tell the priest your fears or worries or how difficult it is for you to say something. Most priests think you are a hero. I remember once making a general confession to a priest. I was sweating and nervous as anything. Anyway I got through it, and after absolution he put his hand on my shoulder and just said "You're a good lad, God bless you". Just that little bit of confirmation was nice, because you realize that as a man he knows the weight of the responsibility he carries, but he also knows how hard it is for people to confess all manner of sins that are shameful. I think priests are heroic for listening to us and taking our sins on themselves (I can't remember which saint, but one of them said that every persons confession a priest hears that priest will be made accountable for the soul on judgement day). And I think priests think we're heroic for trusting in God enough to confess to his ministers.

Hope it all works out anyway! God Bless you +


#8

One cannot say "no" for that would be a lie.

I think one is to answer questions put to one by the Priest (normally I believe such is the case). But often a Priest does not really ask such.

I would think that if say I committed bank robbery the Priest can ask if I have done this in the past or how often etc - one would simply answer truthfully and clearly.

Do not be afraid. It can be helpful to the Priest to know if one has committed the sin before.

And he has heard them all.


#9

Thanks everyone for the helpful advice. I did confess the sin and repeatedly mentioned the shame I felt. I think the priest sort of felt sorry for me. He gave me a much lighter than expected penance and didn't ask to go into detail, which suited me just fine. Thanks again for the helpful advice. I'll never go to confession again afraid to confess my sins. :thumbsup:


#10

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