My husband and I converted from Protestant to Catholic approximatly one year ago. We both made our first confessions, yet, while watching EWTN during the week of March for Life I realized we had not confessed a grave sin. We had both been in previous marriages that were annulled, our current marriage was accepted as valid. While we were Protestants, we both had children from our first marriages, when we married we didn’t want to have children of our own so my husband had a vasectomy. At that time, we did not realize the grave error of this decision, our pastor who married us in the protestant church never spoke against birth control. While protestant all forms of birth control were accepted, excluding abortion. Now that we are Catholic, after watching the truth and getting true information I grieve deeply our decision. I tell our grown children not to make the same error as we did as protestants… although it has been a year since we have converted to Catholic, should we go to confession and confess this now? Because this had not been confessed at our first confession does this make our first confession and those after it invalid?
No! Not at all. You cannot confess a sin that you did not know was a sin. Objectively, it was sinful, but subjectively, you had no knowledge that it was sinful. For any mortal sin to attach to your soul, it must be:
- Grave matter - serious sin
- You must know that it is grave matter
- You must have given full consent of your will to commit the sin.
See the missing pieces here? Simply talk to Father at your next confession. And, I have found that a good examination of conscience is an excellent guide in the moral life. The best that I have found recently, was authored by Fr. Robert Altier and should be available in most Catholic bookstores. It is all of $1.25.
You can bring it up in confession at your next opportunity, but I’m in agreement with @po18guy. You can’t invalidate a confession made in good faith by forgetting something or simply not knowing that a thing is a sin (which may even rule out or reduce the sinfulness for you).
Thank you very much for your detailed response. My Husband and I are very blessed to have been converted from protestant to Catholic. There are so many situations where I think to myself… “I wish we would have become Catholic in our youth.” Our lives and choices would have been so different, just knowing the truth. We want our children and others to know the whole truth of our Catholic Conversion… there is so much to learn still. We can’t go back in time, but, we can share with others so they can make their conversions at a young age (possibly avoiding those life altering sin choices). I am completely devastated by how many deadly sin behaviors were not only “acceptable” but, actually encouraged and perceived as “normal”. Only now to see how life altering they truly are. I pray our protestant children make a conversion to Catholic while they are still in their young adult lives. I personally wish everyone could be introduced to the Catechism and see the truth as we have. We are so very blessed.
You are very welcome. If only the entire world would hear your testimony! I edited my post for chemo-finger typos and the link now works. And sadly, yes so many of those sins are “natural” - it is just that we are burdened in this life with a fallen nature, i.e. it is essentially natural for us to sin. We incline toward sin - we are concupiscent. In non-Catholic and non-Orthodox faiths, so much of the emphasis on sin and sinfulness has been forgotten or knowingly discarded. I will grant you that this makes life so much easier, but that old adage applies: “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.” I’ll take now, thank you very much.
As to your children, your fine example will be attractive to them, as they will note that you have something which they do not. Truth is always attractive and good for us, even if somewhat uncomfortable to confront. Haven’t we all heard “Confession is good for the soul”?
Thank you for your testimony and sharing your journey.
Do more of that!! lol God bless.
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