Problem with Confession

Alright so I want to go to Confession but my problem is that I forget most of my sins soon after I do them. I think if I go to Confession I’ll probably end up forgetting to say TONS and tons of sins and that I’ll never be forgiven for some sins that I’ve committed simply because I’ll never remember them. If I go to Confession I won’t be forgiven for all my sins and I’ll be guaranteed to go to Hell and if I don’t go to Confession I’ll be guaranteed to go to Hell.

If you forget some sins, they are forgiven when you go to Confession. If you forget a Mortal sin, it too is forgiven, but needs to be confessed as soon as possible. Forgotten venial sins do not need to be confessed.

Do an examination of conscience before you go to confession and write down your sins, but be advised that many priests do not appreciate people coming in with long laundry lists of venial sins, some of which may not be sins at all. Be a little discerning about this.

Also, when you go to Confession, mention to the priest what you wrote here–he will guide you.

I agree with Carolyn. It makes me think of going to a doctors appointment which I think of priests as doctors of the spiritual life. When we’re there we might forget something important to ask the doctor about, so we prepare for the visit by writing a list and doctors appreciate that.

If you honestly forget you are not culpable. A good way to prevent this is to examine your conscience every night. Honestly take note of things like how patient you were (or not), did you do something that offended someone, did you speed, lose your temper, argue when it was not necessary, get jealous, give into lust etc. Make of note of this, pray for God’s help to make a good confession when you go next and then take time prior to confession to review what you have already taken note of.

Also, maybe try something like this: (My own sin) I used to always try and pass buses and got impatient when one was in front of me. My temper would flare. Then, I had an accident and realized that had I simply stayed behind the bus I would have avoided the car headed down the wrong lane that hit me. I woke up.

So say you have a bit of “road rage” like this. Ask yourself why? It is one thing to confess that you always lose patience while driving, but what is behind it? Mine was feeling trapped and wanting to be in control. So I confessed having a problem with needing to be in control, which ultimately is related to issues of trust. It made a deeper understanding of my sin and for the benefit of confession.

So look at the deeper reason behind some of your actions. Just don’t confess actions but think of the root cause of those actions. Is it jealously, pride, trust, deception, arrogance? It tends to reveal more sinful actions to you, but it also digs at the root of your spiritual weaknesses. Thus confession becomes far more purifying and beneficial and is not reduced to a list of actions only.

One chooses hell by mortal sin. Not venial sins.

Though we are to quickly repent of venial sins to. They can dispose one towards mortal when on does not keep repenting.

Though such repentance can happen prior and in other ways than confession.

It is only mortal sins that need to be confessed.

Regarding forgotten mortal sins: (Jimmy Akin of Catholic Answers):

Confession of mortal sins:


1456 Confession to a priest is an essential part of the sacrament of Penance: “All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted by them in confession, even if they are most secret and have been committed against the last two precepts of the Decalogue; for these sins sometimes wound the soul more grievously and are more dangerous than those which are committed openly.”

(One must confess all mortal sins - and confession is to take place prior to Holy Communion if one has fallen into a mortal sin) (all mortal sins…in number and kind (adultery 2x) and circumstance that changes the kind - like the building you burned down was a church and thus sacrilige. If one examines and does not know the number one can approximate according to that one does know)

Confession of venial sins:


1458 Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father’s mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful

(if one falls into mortal sin one also does not wait for the Sacrament but already starts to repent and turn towards the Lord again - seeking the grace of perfect contrition (out of love of God -see the CCC - which can mean forgiveness can begin by the grace of God prior to the Sacrament --though one still needs goto Confession and wait for Holy Communion. Also one may not have this grace of perfect contrition …but one seeks it anyhow and begins by actual grace to make the return to the Father who looks for one…one cries out to the Good Shepherd…seeking his sheep)

(and one can add that confessing sins in the Sacrament of Confession - is a kind of confessing directly to God - in his Sacrament where we encounter him and his mercy and love and true life).

Returning to venial sins by themselves.

We struggle with such “daily sins” …well ~ * daily.* Those venial sins that happen daily.

One need not (not good to wait) -wait Confession to seek forgiveness (though let us go often!). Though it is very recommended that one goes to confession frequently (see the Catechism and all good that this brings).

Venial sins are forgiven in many ways -acts of perfect or even imperfect contrition, prayer, reading Sacred Scripture, the Mass, Holy Communion, the prayerful use holy water, other sacramentals, little short prayers during the day, acts of love etc

I will add a related section of the Catechism:

From the Catechism:

1436 Eucharist and Penance. Daily conversion and penance find their source and nourishment in the Eucharist, for in it is made present the sacrifice of Christ which has reconciled us with God. Through the Eucharist those who live from the life of Christ are fed and strengthened. “It is a remedy to free us from our daily faults and to preserve us from mortal sins.”

1437 Reading Sacred Scripture, praying the Liturgy of the Hours and the Our Father - every sincere act of worship or devotion revives the spirit of conversion and repentance within us and contributes to the forgiveness of our sins.

Let us pray the Our Father as St. Augustine spoke of being prayed for such daily venial sins …“forgive us our trespasses…”

Indeed in the early Church such was often prayed three times a day. A wonderful practice that my family follows.

CCC The first communities prayed the Lord’s Prayer three times a day, in place of the “Eighteen Benedictions” customary in Jewish piety.

If we should fall into sin let us remember Jesus of Nazareth: The Lamb and the Good Shepherd (and let us think of such even daily…)

“Jesus is called the Lamb: He is the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. Someone might think: but how can a lamb, which is so weak, a weak little lamb, how can it take away so many sins, so much wickedness? With Love. With his meekness. Jesus never ceased being a lamb: meek, good, full of love, close to the little ones, close to the poor. He was there, among the people, healing everyone, teaching, praying. Jesus, so weak, like a lamb. However, he had the strength to take all our sins upon himself, all of them. “But, Father, you don’t know my life: I have a sin that…, I can’t even carry it with a truck…”. Many times, when we examine our conscience, we find some there that are truly bad! But he carries them. He came for this: to forgive, to make peace in the world, but first in the heart. Perhaps each one of us feels troubled in his heart, perhaps he experiences darkness in his heart, perhaps he feels a little sad over a fault… He has come to take away all of this, He gives us peace, he forgives everything. “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away sin”: he takes away sin, it’s root and all! This is salvation Jesus brings about by his love and his meekness. And in listening to what John the Baptist says, who bears witness to Jesus as the Saviour, our confidence in Jesus should grow. Many times we trust a doctor: it is good, because the doctor is there to cure us; we trust in a person: brothers and sisters can help us. It is good to have this human trust among ourselves. But we forget about trust in the Lord: this is the key to success in life. Trust in the Lord, let us trust in the Lord! “Lord, look at my life: I’m in the dark, I have this struggle, I have this sin…”; everything we have: “Look at this: I trust in you!”. And this is a risk we must take: to trust in Him, and He never disappoints.”

~Pope Francis

"Jesus is the “Good Shepherd” who goes in search of lost sheep, who knows his sheep and lays down his life for them (cf. Mt 18:12-14; Lk 15:4-7; Jn 10:2-4, 11-18). He is the way, the right path that leads us to life (cf. Jn 14:6), the light that illuminates the dark valley and overcomes all our fears (cf. Jn 1:9; 8:12; 9:5; 12:46).

He is the generous host who welcomes us and rescues us from our enemies, preparing for us the table of his body and his blood (cf. Mt 26:26-29; Mk 14:22-25); Lk 22:19-20) and the definitive table of the messianic banquet in Heaven (cf. Lk 14:15ff; Rev 3:20; 19:9). He is the Royal Shepherd, king in docility and in forgiveness, enthroned on the glorious wood of the cross (cf. Jn 3:13-15; 12:32; 17:4-5)."

~Pope Benedict XVI

What Carolyn said.

Eons ago when I was taught, we were to day the words “fro these and all the sins of my past life, I am sorry.”
This would cover venial sins of course. I would think it would be extremely hard to just forget a mortal sin.

I didn’t attend Mass or go to Confession for many, many years then God led me back to His Church. Slowly, I was reacquainted with Him and His Church and now I make it a point to confess my sins on a periodic basis. Not every week yet but I’m getting there. I recall one confession that I had remembered a sin that had occurred in my distant past and I mentioned it to my confessor.

We don’t remember all our sins if we don’t make it a point so you might want to keep a small note book, write down your sins after you commit them or recall them, and burn the sheet after your confession and penance.

God Bless you.

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