Possible bad confession


#1

I went to confession about two months ago (I’m 25 years old but this was my first time going in over ten years and only about the third time in my life).
Anyway, the confession didn’t go well. I intended to confess a ton of sins, but I was so nervous that my mind sort of went blank, I couldn’t recall all my sins in that moment, and I could barely even form a comprehensible sentence. So I only ended up confessing some of the stuff, but not everything.

Two weeks later I went back to confession when I wasn’t so nervous and tried explaining this to the priest, and I asked him if I should try confessing it again. He told me that as long as I had intended on confessing everything and not deliberately withheld it, that all my sins that I intended on confessing had also been forgiven.

However, I was recently looking back on this. In addition to me not recalling all my sins (which was completely unintentional), I also remember having feelings of shame (I was very nervous but also ashamed). I honestly do not know whether or not my shame had in any way contributed to my incomplete confession.

What concerns me the most is that at least one of my unconfessed sins (possibly more) was mortal, and I had subsequently received the Eucharist (under the assumption that my confession was valid and that I was no longer in a state of mortal sin).

Could someone tell me for certain whether or not my sins have been forgiven? Should I bring all this up at my next confession?

Also, since I’m new to confession, could someone tell me how specific a confession is supposed to be? I’m a little confused… do I have to say the number of times I’ve committed every sin, or just the mortal sins? And if I cannot recall the number, then what am I supposed to say? Would saying “multiple times” be specific enough? Also, what other information is necessary? If the priest does not ask for clarification then does that mean it was explained well enough?


#2

It is difficult to advise from here -- a Priest can help one (I would suggest going to a different Priest than the last one -- for while he was correct if one meant to confess all mortal sins and was contrite etc --forgotten ones are absolved at the time (indirectly) --but when one remembers forgotten mortal sins --one still is to confess them. But he may have misunderstood what was meant).

Let me go over some of the general aspects.

Venial sins do not need to be confessed -- one may omit any venial sin and may omit the numbers if one wishes. They can be forgiven in many ways (though confession of them is good --at least confessing some of them is very recommended --for there is particular grace etc with this Sacrament)

Mortal sins are to be confessed in *number *and *kind *and that which *changes *the kind (like it was your brother you murdered).

We are *obliged *to confess all mortal sins.

One gets to the actual kind: murder, fornication, adultery, abortion etc

Regarding number of mortal sins: if one examines and does not know the number --one may approximate according to what they know. 10-10x, a couple times a month for the last 5 years, or even if need be "a few times", "many times", "alot"

But one does not go into other unneeded details... (or degree of sinfulness)

(now some out there struggle with scrupulosity and can want to confess all sorts of unneeded things --they need a regular confessor to guide them.....)

If one forgets the above -- and later realizes one did --then one needs to confess just what was forgotten. Can it happen out of nervousness that one forgets a mortal sin? Sure. I imagine it happens all the time. Some may find confession more "nervousness causing" than others --especially when one is new at it. And can ones mind "go blank"? Sure. (And ones feelings of shame can increase such nervousness and ones forgetfulness)

If one hides a mortal sin --that is another story -- then one can need to re-confess the other mortal sins too --saying that he hid the other mortal sin (such can be a mortal sin to do --if done knowingly and deliberately of course). The Priest can guide a person in such a situation.

Also it seems especially since you are new at Confession that a Priest told you what he did that you "went at the time on what the Priest told you in good faith..." and regarding Holy Communion as well...

(and again I will note -if one just forgets a mortal sin -- not hides it and intends to confess ones mortal sins etc --such are absolved and one need not abstain from Holy Communion on that account)

And always remember: In order to commit a mortal sin one needs grave matter, full knowledge and deliberate consent.

A Priest can assist you in all this.

Confession is such a wonderful grace --and I am very glad you are seeking to make good confessions and to thus know "true life" in Christ!

Jimmy Akin-senior apologist at Catholic Answers:

jimmyakin.com/2007/03/specific_confes.html

jimmyakin.com/2006/09/a_reader_writes_1.html

In any case know that Jesus is the *Good Shepherd *and he loves you!


#3

When I go to confess, I keep the details pared down to 1) what the sin was 2) if it is something I have struggled with before. 3) Why I think I fell to the temptation of this sin and what I could have done instead (if I know why). 4) How this sin hurts my relationship with God/family and that I am sorry.

It will really help if you do a good examination of conscious before you go to reconciliation and pray that the Lord helps you make a good confession. There are many examins that you can find online or in Catholic book stores.

Also, practice makes perfect. Don't stop going because you had an unfulfilling experience. At my very first confession, I couldn't say anything either. I was embarrassed and ashamed for a long time after that and that kept me from going. I'd be a much better person, sooner, had I been approaching the confessional regularly instead of waiting so long to get over that first experience.

I hope that helps and prayers that you make a good confession!


#4

What do you do if you have been leading such a sinful life in the past, that there is no way you can remember the exact number of times you committed mortal sins? Is there some way for forgiveness just in the fact that you are truly sorry for and sickened by the sins of your past?


#5

[quote="SuzanneD, post:4, topic:320237"]
What do you do if you have been leading such a sinful life in the past, that there is no way you can remember the exact number of times you committed mortal sins? Is there some way for forgiveness just in the fact that you are truly sorry for and sickened by the sins of your past?

[/quote]

Then you do your best. It is the intention that makes the confession. Nobody expects the impossible. However, doing your best is an involved process. Spend time in prayer. Do thorough examinations of conscience. There are many available online. If you can not know the exact number, be as precise as you can be. For example, you may confess that you used to do a particular sin on daily basis, or it was a habitual part of your life, or more times than you can remember, or what have you.

If you pray God help you to see the wrongs you have committed, and truly do this with a penitent heart, then you will be ok. The key is to not intentionally withhold anything. :)


#6

It is important to note for clarification that one is not to withhold --mortal sins. And one needs give numbers for mortal sins only…


#7

Recently, I discovered that I have a problem with pride. I realized that I had had this problem for a very long time without realizing what it was. I basically said that this sin is something I have been doing for a very long time, and I now realize that it is wrong and unhealthy and it hurts my relationship with God and people.

I don't think it is important to be exact. God knows exactly how many times. I think it is more important to realize and admit to how damaging the sins are no matter if we do them once, or fifteen hundred times.

It is okay to use pronouns and adjectives if you don't remember the number. Many, a lot, often, occasionally, every day, etc.


#8

[quote="SuzanneD, post:4, topic:320237"]
What do you do if you have been leading such a sinful life in the past, that there is no way you can remember the exact number of times you committed mortal sins? Is there some way for forgiveness just in the fact that you are truly sorry for and sickened by the sins of your past?

[/quote]

Regarding number of mortal sins: if one examines and does not know the number --one may approximate according to what they know. 10-10x, a couple times a month for the last 5 years, or even if need be "a few times", "many times", "alot"

If one know the number of course --one must confess the actual number. So if one knows it was 7x one does not say "several times" but 7x.

Our memory concerning especially things from the more distant past --do not always serve though.


#9

I would read bookcat’s post.

A lot of times, a priest won’t ask for clarification.

Also, to paraphrase one of my religion teachers, there probably isn’t a sin out there that a priest hasn’t heard of. So, don’t be nervous about something unusual you have done.


#10

[quote="Bookcat, post:6, topic:320237"]
It is important to note for clarification that one is not to withhold --mortal sins. And one needs give numbers for mortal sins only....

[/quote]

Yes. I should have made that part clear.


#11

[quote="SuperLuigi, post:9, topic:320237"]

A lot of times, a priest won't ask for clarification.

Also, to paraphrase one of my religion teachers, there probably isn't a sin out there that a priest hasn't heard of. So, don't be nervous about something unusual you have done.

[/quote]

Yes this is true.

I would add though that sometimes some people take "unless the Priest asks it one does not need to say" to mean that they do not need to give numbers etc unless asked. That would not be the case. We need to remember that confession is -- well* confession*.

Confession not interrogation ;).

I am confessing my sins --accusing myself of them.

But we need not give unneeded details. For mortal sin one needs to give -- number and kind (that that which changes the kind --like it was your brother you murdered). And of course the Priest may ask something for more clarity of course.


#12

Thanks guys.

I will confess my old mortal sins at my next confession. Does anyone know if I could bring notes with me? I’m thinking that if I’m ashamed and nervous again (which I probably will be), then having notes would help me stay focused and not forget anything. Or is this not allowed?


#13

[quote="vlf7972, post:12, topic:320237"]
Thanks guys.

I will confess my old mortal sins at my next confession. Does anyone know if I could bring notes with me? I'm thinking that if I'm ashamed and nervous again (which I probably will be), then having notes would help me stay focused and not forget anything. Or is this not allowed?

[/quote]

Yes it is perfectly permitted (be careful to destroy them....)

(One can bring up your concerns with him)

Have a blessed Holy Week


#14

[quote="vlf7972, post:1, topic:320237"]
{The priest} told me that as long as I had intended on confessing everything and not deliberately withheld it, that all my sins that I intended on confessing had also been forgiven.

[/quote]

That is correct.

[quote="vlf7972, post:1, topic:320237"]
I also remember having feelings of shame (I was very nervous but also ashamed). I honestly do not know whether or not my shame had in any way contributed to my incomplete confession.

[/quote]

You do not need to know whether it contributed, since it does not change what the priest said above. :)

[quote="vlf7972, post:1, topic:320237"]
I had subsequently received the Eucharist (under the assumption that my confession was valid and that I was no longer in a state of mortal sin).

[/quote]

Not only did you receive in good faith, your belief was correct.

[quote="vlf7972, post:1, topic:320237"]
do I have to say the number of times I've committed every sin, or just the mortal sins? And if I cannot recall the number, then what am I supposed to say?

[/quote]

Mortal only. If you do not know the number, provide some reasonable indicator ("two or three times" is different from "several times" or "weekly").

[quote="vlf7972, post:1, topic:320237"]
Would saying "multiple times" be specific enough?

[/quote]

If that's the best indicator you can come up with for the particular sin, yes.

Another way to do it, if applicable, would be to give an indication of frequency, as I suggested above. For example, "I stopped practicing the faith for a couple of years, so I hardly ever attended Mass except with my family at Christmas" would suggest that you missed a hundred or more Masses, though not more than four hundred, without your having to remember an actual count or say something really vague like "many times" (7? 15? 1000?). A frequency answer may, in some cases, help you paint a more complete picture of the reality.

[quote="vlf7972, post:12, topic:320237"]
Does anyone know if I could bring notes with me?

[/quote]

I know some priests don't like "laundry lists," but I've certainly done it before and found it helpful. Nothing actually prohibits you. Even if the priest doesn't like it, it's allowed. :)


#15

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