Questions Regarding General Confession


#1

For the last year or two I have been contemplating making a general confession. The main reason I wish to do this is because I drifted away from the Church for approximately ten years before returning to the Church roughly six years ago. In the ten years I was away I committed numerous sins. When I came back to the Church I did go to confession. However, I was unsure of how to make a good confession at the time and so I fumbled through it and the priest seeing this cut me off and basically asked me if I was sorry for all of my sins and then absolved me once I said that I was sorry. Later on I realized that this priest while being a kind man was not the best priest. He got into repeated trouble for doing things like performing an invalid Mass (he actually replaced Communion hosts with cookies once! :() and to my knowledge he has since left the priesthood.

Now I know this in and of itself would not invalidate my confession since the Sacraments’ effectiveness do not depend on how worthy the priest is who performs them, but he also didn’t actually say the prayer of absolution. He said his own version of it. I know that if we forget to confess sins in the confessional they are forgiven anyway, but in this case I did not forget but rather did not know what I was doing. Afterwards as I began to frequent the Sacrament of Confession I learned how to confess my sins properly after making an examination of conscience. I have been making regular use of the Sacrament of Confession for the past six years. But I still felt like I should have confessed those past sins even though they are forgiven. In fact, recently I’ve come to understand that I **must **confess these past mortal sins (unless I am mistaken).

My questions are:

How does one go about making an appointment to make a general confession? Do you simply go to the priest or the parish secretary and set up an appointment for one?

I always make my confessions anonymously behind the screen. I would like my general confession to be anonymous too. Is this at all possible? Could I make an appointment to make a general confession without leaving my name?

Should I make any preparations beyond a more detailed examination of conscience prior to making a general confession? And may I write out my sins (since they will cover a number of years and thus be numerous) and bring in a sheet of paper to read from so I don’t lose track while in the confessional?

I appreciate any advice/insights you may be able to give me on this matter. Thank you.


#2

The first question is: are you required to make a general confession because your first confession did not include all sins, or may have had an invalid words of absolution.

My advice is to take this directly to a confessor.

I had a similar experience. I returned to confession after several years away and had many serious sins to confess. My confession was quite general, and referred to my lifestyle, rather than kinds and numbers of sin. My confessor understood and I was absolved. Several years later I asked a priest whether I should confess the specific sins omitted in that confession and he said "no". After another ten years I became concerned again about this, and asked another confessor, and again I was advised not to revisit that confession.

I also once had a priest not use the correct words - quite defiintely. I mentioned this to the next priest I confessed to, and he said that he would include all that I had confessed, without requiring me to confess again.

So, just put your questions to a priest in the confessional, to get an answer that you will trust.


#3

Yes that is correct.

One is to confess all mortal sins one is conscious of after ones good examination of conscience --and in number and kind (not general)–(though not to be confused with the “general” in “general confession”) and circumstance that change the kind --like it was a chalice from the Church you stole (sacrilege).

One who forgets a mortal sin --is** obliged** to confess it in the next confession --if and when it is remembered

(and I would “when ones conscience comes to realize” when there has been an honest error --like one had no clue that one had to do such --such is treated like a forgotten mortal sin).

Why? --it has not yet been confessed. Other sins were confessed --that one was not.

(if one “hides” mortal sins-- more needs to be done for one needs to confess the other mortal sins that were confessed too and usually that one hide mortal sins–the Priest can assist in getting things in order).

A bit more from:

Theologian Fr. John Hardon: catholicreference.net/index.cfm?id=33610

Jimmy Akin senior Apologist at Catholic Answers: jimmyakin.com/2006/09/a_reader_writes_1.html

jimmyakin.com/2007/03/specific_confes.html

etc

Sometimes even a Priest may be misinformed etc regarding this --giving a well intentioned but wrong response regarding forgotten mortal sins.

(I will note for some readers: As to those who are scrupulous or struggle to one degree or another with with* scruples – a “regular confessor” can guide them – they can be even “in a different boat” than others. They can start to want to confess all sorts of unneeded things and unneeded details and need a regular confessor to direct them–often they are they have been told to not confess any “past sin” that is remembered unless both of the following is true 1. One is certain it was mortal and 2. Certain* it was not confessed rightly. And their confessor might for example tell them not to look for past sins (being it stirs up their scruples) etc etc .Their regular confessor can guide them specifically. And for anyone --one is not obliged to confess “doubtful sins” (like doubtful it was mortal)–(though for those who are not scrupulous can be recommended to confess such --noting of course that they are doubtful)


#4

jtodisco - In your case -- examine your conscience for all mortal sins as noted above and make an appointment with the Priest (You can try to call and ask for an appointment and also ask if he can "already be in the confessional" that you wish to come and confess without him seeing you --but that would mean one would have to "kneel" during all that time so such would depend on your knees etc). If anyone "hid mortal sins" they need to mention that (I am not saying you did)

Explain briefly to the Priest why you did not mention them in the past and when you realized it etc..(as you noted above).

YES you can write it down. You may wish to abbreviate --but certainly destroy it later :)

As to number -- remember if one knows from the good examine that it was 5x say so. If you do not know -one can "approximate" according to what you know. If you know it was around 5-10x say so. If what one knows it that it was around 2-3x a year for the last 10 years say so....sometimes even one have need to approximate even more like "many times" "alot" "a few times". One is not expected to be Mr. Spock (2548.2135 times).


#5

Jesus is the Good Shepherd who loves you and gives us true life!


#6

Thank you both for your insights into this matter. And thanks for the links to more information on the subject. I'll be reading through the articles in the links soon.


#7

[quote="jtodisco, post:6, topic:311775"]
Thank you both for your insights into this matter. And thanks for the links to more information on the subject. I'll be reading through the articles in the links soon.

[/quote]

Your welcome. If you need more info regarding the obligation as I mentioned --feel free to pm me.

This is not a matter of opinion by the way but the Teaching of the Church.


#8

[quote="jtodisco, post:1, topic:311775"]
For the last year or two I have been contemplating making a general confession. The main reason I wish to do this is because I drifted away from the Church for approximately ten years before returning to the Church roughly six years ago. In the ten years I was away I committed numerous sins. When I came back to the Church I did go to confession. However, I was unsure of how to make a good confession at the time and so I fumbled through it and the priest seeing this cut me off and basically asked me if I was sorry for all of my sins and then absolved me once I said that I was sorry. Later on I realized that this priest while being a kind man was not the best priest. He got into repeated trouble for doing things like performing an invalid Mass (he actually replaced Communion hosts with cookies once! :() and to my knowledge he has since left the priesthood.

Now I know this in and of itself would not invalidate my confession since the Sacraments' effectiveness do not depend on how worthy the priest is who performs them, but he also didn't actually say the prayer of absolution. He said his own version of it. I know that if we forget to confess sins in the confessional they are forgiven anyway, but in this case I did not forget but rather did not know what I was doing. Afterwards as I began to frequent the Sacrament of Confession I learned how to confess my sins properly after making an examination of conscience. I have been making regular use of the Sacrament of Confession for the past six years. But I still felt like I should have confessed those past sins even though they are forgiven. In fact, recently I've come to understand that I **must **confess these past mortal sins (unless I am mistaken).

My questions are:

How does one go about making an appointment to make a general confession? Do you simply go to the priest or the parish secretary and set up an appointment for one?

I always make my confessions anonymously behind the screen. I would like my general confession to be anonymous too. Is this at all possible? Could I make an appointment to make a general confession without leaving my name?

Should I make any preparations beyond a more detailed examination of conscience prior to making a general confession? And may I write out my sins (since they will cover a number of years and thus be numerous) and bring in a sheet of paper to read from so I don't lose track while in the confessional?

I appreciate any advice/insights you may be able to give me on this matter. Thank you.

[/quote]


#9

[quote="St_Hilary, post:8, topic:311775"]

[/quote]

The church does not encourage General Confessions unless one is entering religious life or getting married. The reason is thiss can make you scrupulous and keep thinking did i CONFESS THIS SIN OR NOT?

the best thing to do is ask the priest to help you in making a general congfession--he is trained for this and will know what to do. Leave it in his hands.

I know he will not encouraged you to make another general confession.

Be at ppeace now.

God love myou


#10

[quote="St_Hilary, post:9, topic:311775"]
The church does not encourage General Confessions unless one is entering religious life or getting married. The reason is thiss can make you scrupulous and keep thinking did i CONFESS THIS SIN OR NOT?

the best thing to do is ask the priest to help you in making a general congfession--he is trained for this and will know what to do. Leave it in his hands.

I know he will not encouraged you to make another general confession.

Be at ppeace now.

God love myou

[/quote]

See rather my post above.


#11

One is to confess all mortal sins one is conscious of after ones good examination of conscience --and in number and kind (not general)--(though not to be confused with the "general" in "general confession") and circumstance that change the kind --like it was a chalice from the Church you stole (sacrilege).

One who forgets a mortal sin --is** obliged** to confess it in the next confession --if and when it is remembered

(and I would "when ones conscience comes to realize" when there has been an honest error --like one had no clue that one had to do such --such is treated like a forgotten mortal sin).

Why? --it has not yet been confessed. Other sins were confessed --that one was not.

(if one "hides" mortal sins-- more needs to be done for one needs to confess the other mortal sins that were confessed too and usually that one hide mortal sins--the Priest can assist in getting things in order).

A bit more from:

Theologian Fr. John Hardon: catholicreference.net/index.cfm?id=33610

Jimmy Akin senior Apologist at Catholic Answers: jimmyakin.com/2006/09/a_reader_writes_1.html

jimmyakin.com/2007/03/specific_confes.html

etc

Sometimes even a Priest may be misinformed etc regarding this --giving a well intentioned but wrong response regarding forgotten mortal sins.

(I will note for some readers: As to those who are scrupulous or struggle to one degree or another with with* scruples -- a "regular confessor" can guide them -- they can be even "in a different boat" than others. They can start to want to confess all sorts of unneeded things and unneeded details and need a regular confessor to direct them--often they are they have been told to not confess any "past sin" that is remembered unless both of the following is true 1. One is *certain it was mortal and 2.* Certain* it was not confessed rightly. And their confessor might for example tell them not to look for past sins (being it stirs up their scruples) etc etc .Their regular confessor can guide them specifically. And for anyone --one is not obliged to confess "doubtful sins" (like doubtful it was mortal)--(though for those who are not scrupulous can be recommended to confess such --noting of course that they are doubtful)


#12

[quote="St_Hilary, post:9, topic:311775"]
The church does not encourage General Confessions unless one is entering religious life or getting married. The reason is thiss can make you scrupulous and keep thinking did i CONFESS THIS SIN OR NOT?

the best thing to do is ask the priest to help you in making a general congfession--he is trained for this and will know what to do. Leave it in his hands.

I know he will not encouraged you to make another general confession.

Be at ppeace now.

God love myou

[/quote]

I understand your concerns about people being scrupulous. However, I think you are confused since you seem to be indicating that you think I have already made a general confession in my life. I have not. When I came back to the Church and made my first confession I did not know what I was doing. I thought I needed to make a general confession then, however that did not occur. Rather I began fumbling along the whole time due to embarrassment and confusion, until the priest interrupted me and just asked me if I was sorry for all of my past sins and then when I said I was he absolved me. I do not doubt that the Lord has forgiven me of my sins, I just want to be sure that I have at least explicitly confessed all the major sins I committed prior to returning to the Catholic Church. I was a lapsed Catholic for approximately ten years and committed many grave sins in that time that I have never specifically named in the confessional because of this whole mix up during my very first confession after returning to the Church roughly six years ago.

Again, I know that the Lord knows that I meant to make a good confession when I returned to the faith and I have made good confessions many times since then. But I still want to get this laundry list of grave sins off my chest and to be able to thank the Lord through the Sacrament of Confession for His great mercy. I intend to contact my parish as soon as possible to schedule an appointment to make a general confession. If the priest wishes me not to make a general confession then I won't. I'll just simply mention the biggest grave sins I can remember having committed in my next confession being sure to notify the priest that these were sins that I have since been forgiven of but had failed to mention in the Sacrament due to ignorance.

I have no intention of making repeated general confessions. If I made another general confession later in life it would likely be because I was going to get married, etc. But I do not have plans of doing this repeatedly. I am not that much of a glutton for punishment. :p


#13

Now I know this in and of itself would not invalidate my confession since the Sacraments’ effectiveness do not depend on how worthy the priest is who performs them, but he also didn’t actually say the prayer of absolution. He said his own version of it.

What “Prayer of absolution?” Isn’t saying “your sins are forgiven” enough?


#14

[quote="raikou, post:13, topic:311775"]
What "Prayer of absolution?" Isn't saying "your sins are forgiven" enough?

[/quote]

There is a formula that is used or a "prayer of absolution"

"God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

The essential words are "I absolve you from your sins". It is not enough to say "your sins are forgiven".

To the OP, these thoughts you have had for several years will go away once you make your confession. Do it and find the peace of Jesus Christ.


closed #15

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