Question on Catholic view on confession and sinning

I’m a non-Catholic who would be interested in hearing your thoughts on what just went through mind.

If evil is the anscence of good (privatio boni) then I’m a bit confused. Catholics are requiered to go to confession if they done something evil.
As far as I understand, sinning is not doing what God told you deep in your heart. Wouldn’t it be better if you just told the Priest what good you refused to do?
And I know people who are aware that they haven’t done everything right but can’t tell of exact moments when they sinned. Are Catholics supposed to know they exact moment when they sinned? Cause if one goes to confession every week then one is supposed to know the exact moment during that week when he/she sinned, right?

The Compendium of the Catechism says the following:

Sin is “a word, an act, or a desire contrary to the eternal Law” (Saint Augustine). It is an offense against God in disobedience to his love. It wounds human nature and injures human solidarity. Christ in his passion fully revealed the seriousness of sin and overcame it with his mercy.

(CCCC. 392) ( found here:

Sins can be both sins of commission, in which you choose to do something, and omission, in which you choose not to do something that you’re supposed to. If you didn’t do something, say you saw somebody have a heart attack and didn’t call an ambulance, then, yes, you’d have to confess that. Stealing, for example, could count as “not respecting private property”, which is technically an omission, but stealing is an active thing and not a passive thing, and, therefore, more accurately referred to as a commission.

You don’t have to tell the priest “I did X on Friday at 5:30”, if that’s what you mean. In the beginning of the Sacrament, you tell the priest how long it’s been since your last confession, and this suffices.

Here’s the full article from the Catechism.

Also, here is a helpful article on Reconciliation:

By the way, I am happy to see that you are interested in Catholicism! You are in my prayers.

Only “mortal sins” are to be confessed to a Priest. You usually know when you have committed one, it’s breaking one of the Commandments. I know people who write it down in their “sin diary” so they can refer to for confession and review when tempted to commit the same sin again. This sin breaks our friendship with God.

Venial sins on the other hand can be confessed directly to God. This sin does not break our friendship with God but it does injure it.

Don’t forget there are three conditions that make an act a mortal sin:

  1. An act of grave matter (broke a commandment)
  2. Committed with full knowledge and…
  3. Deliberate consent…you went ahead and did it anyway.

All three conditions must be met for it to be a mortal sin. If one condition is seriously lacking, it’s not mortal — it’s considered a venial sin.

My understanding is that you only have to confess mortal sins to a priest, but it is spiritually beneficial to confess venial sins as well, i.e. there’s nothing wrong with bringing your venial sins to confession.
Regarding the initial question, if I’m understanding it right, most examinations of conscience that I’ve seen include sins of omission as well.

That is right! It’s very beneficial to confess your venial sins in the sacrament, and you get grace to overcome those venial sins and to keep you out of mortal sin, it’s a beautiful thing. The famous line is “go to confession before you have to go to confession so you never have to go to confession.”

What about when you go to confession with no mortal sins?

I don’t attend confession if I haven’t committed a mortal sin.

You are correct in what you have written.

And, Confession for venial sins is beneficial, because of the grace given in this sacrament.

Soooo… if you’re not really hungry on any given day, do you fast? Or rather, do you take food at the usual times, since maintaining a regular schedule of meals is healthier than binge eating when you’re certain you’re ravenous? :wink:

Interesting but irrelevant to me. I only take advice from my Priest and Bishop when it comes to how I practice the faith.

Whilst CAF is interesting, I rarely take seriously what people on here post.

Do you also confess sins of thought, i.e. if you have been thinking evil thought?
Some Catholics seem to be too much into this law/rule kinda thing. I’ve seen those lists of certain actions that are bad. Then you’re supposed to checj the ones you commited. To me that is looking too much to the external part of sinning. Bassically, you sin in your heart and then act upon it or choose sin of ommission, eg just lying in in bed all day long instead of taking any responsibility. Don’t Catholic theology agree?
Also it seems that killing somebody could be done without sinning, i…e. having a psychological meltdown (I’ve seen those scary ones irl). Isn’t that what the Church is saying?

But we can also come up with one very difficult problem here. There are people with psychiatric diagnosis who may have problems with doing the exam of conscience, I’ve heard. But isn’t conscience deep down in the heart? Can it really be a psychological thing? Cause I mean, if people have a hard time knowing if their actions were commited deliberateltýor not is one thing but they should at least know if they chose God or the devil?

Has no Priest or Bishop ever told you of the spiritual benefits of confessing venial sins?

It’s not just “some Catholics” who seem to be too much into laws and rules; nevertheless, we are not called to be rule-bound and scrupulous. On the other hand, we are not to be too lax with ourselves, keeping in mind St. Paul comparing the spiritual life to an athlete’s training. I think the checklists you are referring to are various examinations of conscience. These are available to help you make a self evaluation, i.e. it is a useful tool.
You said “To me that is looking too much to the external part of sinning.” Unless I’m mistaken, a penitent must be sorry for the sins he confesses for absolution to be effective. One is not allowed to just say “I checked the boxes and read them off so all is well.”
I should preface everything I say with the fact that I am just a layperson and am certainly subject to correction. Confess sins of thought? Only if these are sinful thoughts which you welcome and harbor. I don’t know of anyone who does not have sinful thoughts flash through their minds, sometimes thoughts that seem to occur at random and have no discernible source. If you quickly banish them, even offer them up for the conversion of sinners, for the poor souls in purgatory, then I don’t believe they need to be brought to confession unless they are part of a persistent pattern and the graces you receive at confession can help you break the pattern.
Regarding people with psychiatric disorders, I think it depends on the given disorder. The different aspects of our being are intertwined, and obviously our mental condition can have an effect on our physical and spiritual conditions (and vice versa all around), as well as the formation of our conscience. Can you imagine a merciful, loving God who would punish a person for a psychological condition beyond his control? For a sin to be a mortal sin, it has to be grave matter, the person committing the sin has to have full knowledge of what he is doing and he has to have committed it with deliberate consent. It is not difficult to imagine a mental condition precluding the fulfillment of any or all of those stipulations.
Regarding your question about conscience, this may be helpful:

It’s not a requirement to confess venials to a Priest. I confess venial sins privately directly to God. My Priest is aware I do this.

Absolutely, it is definitely not a requirement to confess your venial sins in the sacrament of the confession, though you and I can both see that my question had nothing to do with that.

I was asking if no priest or bishop has ever told you of the tremendous spiritual benefit we get from confessing venial sins in the sacrament of reconciliation? It’s also not required that you confess your venial sins privately directly to God, as there are many other ways to have your venial sins forgiven, so clearly you’re already making an extra effort to overcome venial sin, that’s why I was asking :thumbsup:.

Now you are just being mischievious and nosy. You are not my spiritual advisor, if it is okay with him, it’s okay with me. I get tremendous spiritual benefit from confessing venial sins directly to God. :shrug:

Ouch. was being neither of those things, intention was to share a helpful tip that a priest once shared with me and my friends, I even stated multiple times that it’s not required. Often if somebody passes along information in a take-it-or-leave it way, I simply chose to leave it without calling them names. Have a great weekend!

You have a great weekend as well. :slight_smile: I wasn’t the topic of the OP so perhaps that’s why I got defensive. My faith is very personal. I don’t take advice on how to practice it from anyone online except the Apologists on here. My Priest/Bishop do the rest. I’m very mindful that a lot of what is suggested on this forum is “opinion” (including my own posts) regardless of how well structured or thought out the post is.

Perhaps we should all have a disclaimer at the bottom of our posts: for confirmation see your local priest, visit, or ask the resident Apologist.

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