Problematic confession?


#1

Here's a confession... I have not been to confession for something like 6-7 years now...
I wouldn't know where to start :doh2:

It feels like im going to have to sit in that booth for three and a half months before I've confessed enough... Also I dont know if it will feel O.K since im sure i've forgotten about tons of sins. Which will never be confessed because i dont even remember them? how does this work? :shrug:

Anyone who has been in simillar situations feel free to share :rolleyes:


#2

[quote="Phalanx, post:1, topic:339757"]
Here's a confession... I have not been to confession for something like 6-7 years now...
I wouldn't know where to start :doh2:

It feels like im going to have to sit in that booth for three and a half months before I've confessed enough... Also I dont know if it will feel O.K since im sure i've forgotten about tons of sins. Which will never be confessed because i dont even remember them? how does this work? :shrug:

Anyone who has been in simillar situations feel free to share :rolleyes:

[/quote]

I was a Methodist before converting at the age of 44 so my first Confession was about 44 years of sinning (well not the few before age of reason). You simply do your best to remember what sins you have committed and if you genuinely forget some/many they are also forgiven. If you subsequently remember one you had previously forgotten then confess it next time (but that does not invalidate your previous Confession/absolution).
At the end of your Confession you should express sorrow for all your sins by saying something like "I am sorry for all the sins I have mentioned and any I may have forgotten".


#3

I got a good idea. Just look up a list of mortal sins only. That will greatly shorten it, because there is significantly less mortal sins than venial sins. The rest of them will be cleansed despite not being mentioned. Just remember, be sorry and want to make amends for what you’ve done.


#4

Yes, I had long time not going to confession and was out of practice, forgotten how!

Here's just one guideline: catholic.org/prayers/confession.php

Also, keep in mind, you don't normally have to get into specifics about each sin. You can say the category, number of times. If you don't remember, round off...5, 10...100s, thousands...for each mortal sin.

If the priest wants more detail, he'll ask. I used to do lengthy confessions. Now, I see they normally aren't necessary. I bring a paper with me, quickly go down the list. I go prepared so that I don't leave any out.

It's good to say a prayer before the examination of conscience that we be helped to see all our sins.

Then, I try to end that I am sorry for all these, and also any other sins I don't presently remember.

Now, after that, you may indeed forget some sins and recall them later. If these are mortal sins, you are forgiven for those, as well, assuming you are repentant, etc., but have an obligation to bring these other sins to the attention of the confessor next time you go to confession.

Oh, I heard one priest, think it was on Catholic Radio, once who was talking about he actually liked to see people confess who hadn't confessed in, say, 30 years! He called them "the big fish"!


#5

You won't need to be in the confessional for long. For example...first commandment...number of times...second commandment...number of times...etc....impure thoughts...number of times...impure desires, number of times...

Then, you go through things like the 7 deadly sins...number of times..

Examine....works of mercy...if we are lacking in each...number of times.

Write it down, and that way it will go remarkably quickly and won't leave anything out!


#6

[quote="Phalanx, post:1, topic:339757"]
Here's a confession... I have not been to confession for something like 6-7 years now...
I wouldn't know where to start :doh2:

It feels like im going to have to sit in that booth for three and a half months before I've confessed enough... Also I dont know if it will feel O.K since im sure i've forgotten about tons of sins. Which will never be confessed because i dont even remember them? how does this work? :shrug:

Anyone who has been in simillar situations feel free to share :rolleyes:

[/quote]

My friend, two years ago I made my first confession in about 30 years. I was more than a little like yourself--where do I even begin--even in remembering the "big ones"? What I did was to dedicate a little time--in my case only about 30 minutes--probably very insufficient, but what brought me back initially was the death of my mom and my deciding to go to communion at her funeral mass, so I was a little pushed for time---but then I began by just telling the priest the truth: "Father it's been nearly 30 years since my last confession, here's what is most on my mind right now and if you want more info or more numbers, I'll think more and return later--but this is the best I can do for now." He didn't make me return later, asked me a few questions, we talked probably 10 or 15 minutes and he gave me a "general absolution" and life went forward. Now I try to go to confession at least monthly so I remember better--but that first confession in 30 years was a doozy!!! BUT--- now here's the interesting part--about a year later, I began to wake up at night and I'd remember something perfectly awful I had done--but didn't even think enough about to remember at that first confession after 30 years. So, I'd go to confession and confess it. After I did this several times, Father apparently guessed what was going on in my mind and hit me up about it in confession--reminding me that he had given me absolution for all this in my past once already--now several times. I explained to him that he might find it hard to believe, but back when I made that initial confession, I hadn't even really thought of these things as sins--though they most certainly were. He agreed that they were sins but again pointed out that I had received absolution for them and then he said something that really hit me head on. He said--and these are not his exact words, but fairly close, that I needed to realize that when we become used to living a sinful life, we grow callouses over parts of our conscience. When we seriously come back to God, He begins to take an emery board to those callouses and we see what was under them. He said it was good that I recognized what had been wrong in my life---but for heaven's sake to STOP ALREADY confesssing and reconfessing them! LOL! You'll do fine!


#7

I lapsed in my faith from age 16 to 27. Even after coming back, it was still a few years before I could bring myself to go to confession.

After I went, I remembered more past mortal sins, and went to another confession a week later. After a while of this, my memory became jumbled, and I couldn't remember if I had confessed some things, or not.

I explained my predicament to a wise, old Dominican friar in the confessional. He said, "If you've already confessed the worst of it, that's good enough. Don't go digging through distant memories. God is not so rigid that He would hold you responsible for everything your memory may come up with years later. Be at peace."

Of course, if we are greatly troubled by a memory of a particular past mortal sin, we should confess it to bring emotional healing, and to bring forgiveness. But God doesn't expect us to scour every brain cell for sins of 25 years ago.

In the love of Christ... - Rob in Oregon


#8

One is only obliged to confess mortal sins.

One is to confess all mortal sins in number and kind (and that which changes the kind -like burning down a Catholic Church is also sacrilige -so one needs to mention that it was such-not just burned down a building).

And if one forgets --but intends to confess all of em and are contrite etc--such forgotten mortal sin is "indirectly absolved" in the confession even though forgotten (such is different than "hiding a mortal sin").

(... our memory does not always work...we proceed in a human way not a Vulcan way....)

If one later remembers a mortal sin -or that it was 2 murders not 1 --then one is to bring such to the next confession. No need to run right away.

And if one does not know the number of the mortal sin --one can approximate according to what one does know. Such as "around 20 times" "around 5" "8-10" "around 2x a month for the last year" "almost all Sundays and Holy Days for the 5 years", or even if need be things like "many x" "a few" etc

One does not need to confess all sorts of unneeded details.

Venial sins are recommended to be confessed --but do not try to "get them all" covering 6-7 years! --just intend the others your sorry for.

Examine for all mortal sins and if you like some venial sins. In addition to your thinking about your sins also get a good adult examine (Catholic Answers sells one) to help.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd and he loves you and desires to give you true life~


#9

Consider making an appointment with your priest and informing in advance that you are confessing after a long absence from the Sacraments. This way you will not feel so harried for time, not worry that you are denying others the chance to confess (which is always an injustice to them, especially where confession is hoarded like gold, relegated to a 45-minute period once a week), and this way Father will be able to help you through the confession, probing and asking questions, offering spiritual direction, etc.


#10

[quote="Bookcat, post:8, topic:339757"]
One is only obliged to confess mortal sins.

One is to confess all mortal sins in number and kind (and that which changes the kind -like burning down a Catholic Church is also sacrilige -so one needs to mention that it was such-not just burned down a building).

And if one forgets --but intends to confess all of em and are contrite etc--such forgotten mortal sin is "indirectly absolved" in the confession even though forgotten (such is different than "hiding a mortal sin").

(... our memory does not always work...we proceed in a human way not a Vulcan way....)

If one later remembers a mortal sin -or that it was 2 murders not 1 --then one is to bring such to the next confession. No need to run right away.

And if one does not know the number of the mortal sin --one can approximate according to what one does know. Such as "around 20 times" "around 5" "8-10" "around 2x a month for the last year" "almost all Sundays and Holy Days for the 5 years", or even if need be things like "many x" "a few" etc

One does not need to confess all sorts of unneeded details.

Venial sins are recommended to be confessed --but do not try to "get them all" covering 6-7 years! --just intend the others your sorry for.

Examine for all mortal sins and if you like some venial sins. In addition to your thinking about your sins also get a good adult examine (Catholic Answers sells one) to help.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd and he loves you and desires to give you true life~

[/quote]

I think some confessors are more and others are less interested in learning an exact number of times that a particular sin is committed than others. I know when I was a little girl back in the 50's and 60's, the number of times I disobeyed my parents was a big deal. In my current parish, Father doesn't seem to feel that assigning an exact number is critical, he concentrates more on the fact that you recognize various sins and that they are sins---though I agree with you that he'd see a huge difference in burning down a building and burning down the church! :thumbsup:


#11

[quote="Starrsmother, post:10, topic:339757"]
I think some confessors are more and others are less interested in learning an exact number of times that a particular sin is committed than others. I know when I was a little girl back in the 50's and 60's, the number of times I disobeyed my parents was a big deal. In my current parish, Father doesn't seem to feel that assigning an exact number is critical, he concentrates more on the fact that you recognize various sins and that they are sins---though I agree with you that he'd see a huge difference in burning down a building and burning down the church! :thumbsup:

[/quote]

Numbers are needed for the confession of* mortal sins*.

*Approximations *according to what one knows --can be used when one does not know the number.

Venial sins do not need to be confessed at all (though recommended to confess some at least) -- and *no numbers *need be given for venial sins when confessed.


#12

[quote="Phalanx, post:1, topic:339757"]
Here's a confession... I have not been to confession for something like 6-7 years now...
I wouldn't know where to start :doh2:

It feels like im going to have to sit in that booth for three and a half months before I've confessed enough... Also I dont know if it will feel O.K since im sure i've forgotten about tons of sins. Which will never be confessed because i dont even remember them? how does this work? :shrug:

Anyone who has been in simillar situations feel free to share :rolleyes:

[/quote]

Hi Phalanx,

I'm sorry to hear it's been so long since you've been to confession, but don't confuse length of time for the need for a lengthy confession. Simply go to confession, spend some time examining your conscience, confess what mortal since you can recall in kind and number, and then leave it at that.

God did not give you a perfect memory, so He will not expect you to remember every sin. You need only confess what mortals sins that you are consciously aware of at the moment of confession.

You may add at the end "I'm sorry for these and for all the sins I may have forgotten", if it helps you feel better.

If you're still struggling with this, then maybe you should call a church and explain that you haven't been to confession in a while, and you want to make an appointment with the priest since you feel the confession will take a while.


#13

If after ones examination of conscience and confession of all the mortal sins one recalls – one remembers later a mortal sin that was forgotten --one confesses it in the next confession.


#14

[quote="Phalanx, post:1, topic:339757"]
Here's a confession... I have not been to confession for something like 6-7 years now...
I wouldn't know where to start :doh2:

It feels like im going to have to sit in that booth for three and a half months before I've confessed enough... Also I dont know if it will feel O.K since im sure i've forgotten about tons of sins. Which will never be confessed because i dont even remember them? how does this work? :shrug:

Anyone who has been in simillar situations feel free to share :rolleyes:

[/quote]

So, Phalanx,
You've got two mortal sins right there - not going to confession at least yearly and all the unworthy Communions received if you have any mortal sins to confess. There's a start.
It's OK to forget some sins, as Bookcat wrote, just confess forgotten mortal sins the next time you go to confession.

I write my confession down, after doing a thorough examine every week, and I usually have a half-page written out that I bring into the confessional with me.
I did a general confession 2.5 years ago, that was 13 pages written out - made an appointment to see the priest for that one :)

I had left the church for about 8 years and came back about 8 years ago, unprepared for confession but I went anyway and explained to the priest that I hadn't been to confession in about 30 years - he helped me through it and I confessed as best I could. After that I started going to confession about bi-monthly. I worked it down to every 6 weeks, monthly, and now it's weekly. I don't recommend weekly confession to anyone else, it's a personal decision, but I do recommend to anyone who's serious about growing in their faith to go to confession monthly.

Phalanx,
I suggest you take some time to do a good examination of conscience, write down your confession so you won't worry about missing some sins (and so you won't stumble over them in the confessional) and just go to confession. Jesus, in the priest, is there to welcome you back to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He loves you and wants to heal you. His Mercy is endless.

Peace.


#15

[quote="Bookcat, post:11, topic:339757"]
Numbers are needed for the confession of* mortal sins*.

*Approximations *according to what one knows --can be used when one does not know the number.

Venial sins do not need to be confessed at all (though recommended to confess some at least) -- and *no numbers *need be given for venial sins when confessed.

[/quote]

I was kinda in the position of the person who started the thread when I first went to confession about 2 years ago. I'd been away from the church for around 30 years. I didn't even know where to start (I actually went because my mom had died and I wanted to go to communion at her funeral--wasn't even sure at the time that I'd stay back.) I remember confessing to missing mass for all those years and a couple of other things that leapt to my mind. Anyway, Father seemed to know all this and he helped me, mentioned a few sins and sort of asked if I'd committed them--but mostly focused on my falling away as the "big issue"--and we talked more about my past life in general than in any approximations of times that I'd committed any specific mortal sins. He gave me absolution--even though I'm sure that both of us realized that my confession wasn't complete since it covered such a long period of time--and even my re-conversion was as yet incomplete. After being back a little over a year, it was sort of weird--as if my conscience were re-awakening or something--and I started waking up at night at about 0300, worrying about a sin that I suddenly was aware of committing way back when sometime, and that I knew was a mortal sin, so of course, I'd march back to confession and confess it. This went on and on for a period of time, and finally when I went to confession one week, Father sort of confronted me about the matter--reminded me that it was his job to give absolution--which he had already done and done and done--and my job to accept that God had forgiven me, accept that forgiveness and to go forward living my life in a new spirit of Christianity--that that was what Jesus wanted--not a never ending list of numbers. He also mentioned words like "scrupulosity" and told me please stop already! LOL! I realize different priests have different approaches--I just wanted to get across to the thread author that if I could survive after 30 years that he'd be just fine--just tell the priest the truth as he knows it and go from there, being guided by the priest himself.:shrug:


#16

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.