I am making arrangements to do my first reconciliation in over 40 years. I have a laundry list of sins to confess. However I have a question. If I committed a sin that I didn’t actually know was a sin, need I confess it since it wasn’t done “willfully” with full knowledge?
Without the understanding that an action is wrong, it cannot be a sin. Therefore, you do not need to confess it. However, if, looking back, you are horrified and sorry that you did it, there is no harm in confessing it as an expression of sorrow.
My advice to you would be to pour your heart out–let it all out–if you are unsure whether it’s sin or not tell that to the priest as well, he will advise you. Tell him just what you’ve told us: “Father, it’s been 40 years since my last confession. I’m a little rusty at this…I’m not sure if some things I’ve done are sin or not. But I want to make a thorough and complete confession”…and then tell him everything that is on your heart–don’t try to keep anything back to spare yourself embarassment–if you do that you will miss the graces of this sacrament–it is so wonderful to know that you have said it all and then to hear those words from Christ, in the person of his priest: “I absolve you of your sins…”
Ask Christ to help you make a sincere, complete confession of all your sins…He will help you…
God Bless you!!!
Alexandra that is awesome. Welcome Home!
The posts are correct. Congratulations and God Bless you. I not to long ago went through what you are going through. Pour your heart out. Better safe than sorry was my idea. Much, to my delight I was afraid I would be kicked out and Father just told me. ‘You confessed allot but, I have heard sins more than yours.’ So it is his ‘job’ to give this Sacrament your job to carry out the Pennance. I’m so happy for you. God bless.
1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent."131
1860 Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense…
Warm welcome. I’m very happy for you.
Thanks be to God.
I don’t know the “official” answer, but I can tell you that when I made a “decades overdue” reconcilliation about 20 years ago upon returning to the church, I went through everything… The priest will be able to sort them out better than you can, and as long as he knows you’re confessing 40 years worth in advanced I’m fairly sure he won’t be in a hurry.
Confess what you feel offended God. That way you really can’t go wrong.
Just my opinion…
God bless and WELCOME HOME!!!
Good for you!!!
My first confession when I came into the Church three years ago covered 40+ years! Spill it all, or you may still be wondering when you leave the Confessional. The priest will help you. When you hear the words, “I absolve you…”, you want to feel like all is behind you.
Thank you for your responses. I guess I was trying to get out of having to mention it to Father as it is really sick, but I guess I really should just because it’s weighing on me. Another thing. I was diagnosed bipolar just a couple of years ago, so that explains some of my rather erratic behavior during my life. Should I mention this to Father? I don’t want to make excuses, but this is a medical reason for my poor choices in life. I’m on medication now and life is good. Very few stupid choices now.
Priests have heard it all! Be honest with Father about your medical history, but confess all sins. Father will help put things in perspective. If you are making an appointment with the understanding that it has been this long since your last Confession, I would think he will also offer some spiritual direction and counsel. Pray about it.
Prayers for you.
you need to confess everything that comes to your mind and recollection after a careful, thorough examination of conscience. Let Jesus and the priest decide what is a sin and what isn’t, and the extent of your intent or guilt. If it is on your mind best to state it for your own peace. yes do mention briefly anything you think has a bearing, such as your diagnosis. Not the backstory, just the facts. There is nothing this priest has not heard before, and Jesus is doing the forgiving and he already knows.
You really, really should make an appointment for this. That will insure that you have the time needed.
I am a new convert, but my understanding is that confession has changed a bit since your last one. Look forward to it! It is a wonderful sacrament.
When I take my daughter tomorrow for her lesson I’ll be making an appointment for next week for reconciliation. I keep going over in my mind actually telling my sin, and it makes me actually sick thinking about it. I know I won’t be able to look Father in the face after that. That’s what i’m afraid of.
It will be OK, really. Priests have heard it all. He probably will not even bat an eye. Just name it. You don’t have to go into detail. The priest who heard my sons’ first confessions says that he is humbled by people who come to him and admit difficult sins.
I truly expected the priest who heard my confession after several years away to gasp in horror, but he did not. He didn’t gasp. He didn’t fall off of his chair. He didn’t fuss. He absolved me. He enfleshed the mercy of Christ.
Be not afraid.
Fr. Larry Richards has a CD on confession, and you can also find some of his talks on Youtube. it might help you to listen to some of them.
You might also try www.cmonback.com That site was helpful to me when I was in the process of coming back.
I will pray for you. Let us know how it goes!
Actually, my priest says that he has great respect for those who come to Confession. He is ‘in person Christi’. You are confessing to Christ, who already knows. Several priests have said that one of the graces they are given is that they don’t remember all they hear in the confessional.
I have made this comparison before. Think of a woman in labor. After the pain comes a beautiful baby. Confession may seem painful. But you will have a ‘new life’ when you hear those wonderful words of absolution from the priest. May seem far-fetched, but, I hope this helps.
You are in my prayers.
Well, I have an appointment for Wednesday at 9:30am. I know I will feel wonderful afterwards, but at the moment it kind of feels like an appointment with something terrible. I’m sure part of it is having to dredge all this up after so many years. We joined another church and were baptized in it 15 years ago so I’ve gone all this time believing all this was in the past.
That is wonderful! I hope you let us know how you do feel afterwards. You have an appointment with Jesus. Pray for God to help you find the words, and be honest. The priest will help you. It will go just fine. Just think, next week, you can receive Communion! You are in my prayers.
I keep going over in my mind what I need to say, and how I will say it. I still won’t be able to take communion though because my marriage needs to be convalidated. Not sure of the timeline for that.
Just back home again. Started at 9:30 and didn’t get out till 2pm! Of course we spent a lot of time just talking. Fr. can really talk :). Nearly chickened out about some of the stuff but sucked it up and said it all. Of course after I was done and we were talking about other things, I’d suddenly remember something. A couple of times… I feel clean inside. A burden has been lifted. Father says that once we have proof of my dh’s baptism that we can get our marriage convalidated. Just waiting for the minister who baptized him to send back the paper stating that fact. Things are coming together. Thanks for all your encouragement.
I know what you are talking about, as I recently had my first confession as a 30-something yo, and I was baptized as an infant, so I had 30 years of sins to confess, add to that the fact that I was not raised in the Church, but in a Protestant congregation, so my understanding of sin was rather fuzzy. I went ahead and confessed it all after a thorough examination of conscience and plenty of preparation time through my RCIA class. Even the things I had no idea were sinful, I still confessed it, although the priest told me that such sins were not subjectively sinful in my case, even though they were objectively sins. I asked him if I could go ahead and confess everything anyway, and he said certainly, if it would help me. At the end of reading my page-long list of sins, I was weeping, and could barely say my act of contrition, but I knew I was truly repentant and I felt so free from the grip of my sins afterward. So I would encourage you to go ahead and confess them; the priest has heard it all before, I am sure, and you will feel a sense of closure and peace for having gotten it all off your chest.
I felt this way, too, but you know what? It was wonderful. The priest was so compassionate and encouraging. He was pleased that I had made such a thorough confession. He wanted my first confession to be by appointment, face to face, rather than anonymous in the confessional, because he knew I would need assistance getting through it. He gave me counsel after I finished my confession, and then assigned my penance, and sent me on my way. I see him every week before and after Mass and we always smile and shake hands and there is absolutely no embarassment. And I confessed some things that I was really really ashamed of, too! But like I said in my earlier post, your priest will have heard it all before. And I agree with the other posters that he should be made aware of your medical diagnosis, because context made a difference in how he counsels you.
Just pray, pray, pray between now and your confession. Jesus is with you in that confessional, and the Holy Spirit will guide you and prepare you. All you have to do is ask for God’s help!