Some Questions Regarding Confession


#1

My brothers and sisters in Christ,

I’d like to start by saying hello to everyone. I’m a new member here as you can tell and after a short period of lurking around this message board I’m very excited to have joined you all in discussing and thereby strengthening our faith. I have a few questions today, and I thank you all very much for any answers and advice in advance.

It’s been quite a while since I have gone to confession – roughly four years, I think. As a result, and also because of a couple of life events and the way things have gone subsequently (the details of which I won’t bore you with), I have committed many sins. Recently, a certain sin led to me feeling a lot of guilt, and I now have a great desire to go to confession very soon and ask for the Lord’s forgiveness. My questions stem from this recent event.

  1. I would rather not tell my family and wife that I’d like to go to confession. I want to keep everything between God and myself. To do so, though, I may need to tell a small lie, such as telling them that I’m going to my university to study (I’m a student). Is this okay? As I said, I want to be forgiven by the Lord and I want to keep everything private between me and Him (through the priest, of course). Can I tell such a small lie since I mean no harm to anyone by it? Or would doing so be another sin and thus undermine my intention of confession and penance?

  2. My uncertainty as to whether or not I can tell them a small lie to go to confession led me to miss an opportunity to go today, which is something I also feel guilty for now. I can go on Saturday but I wanted to go as soon as possible and I failed to do so. Do you guys think that this makes much of a difference in the Lord’s eyes? Is it sinful that I deferred my confession due to this uncertainty? Or does my firm resolution to go to confession very soon prevent this from being a sin? I don’t want to hurt my relationship with God anymore. I love Him and am truly contrite and remorseful for everything wrong I’ve done. I sincerely hope that I haven’t done even more wrong.

  3. Is there any possibility that the priest will tell me to disclose any of my sins to my wife/family/etc.? Or is this against the vow that the priest takes never to allow anything said in the confessional to become public?

I’d like to thank you all again for any advice/answers/comments and I sincerely pray that Jesus blesses each of you and rewards you all for your faith both in this life and in the next.


#2

Hi mjk,

Welcome to the forum. :slight_smile:

I will try my best to answer your questions.

No, don’t lie. You don’t want to add that to your sins.

As to your second question, I think that it is your intent that counts, meaning you have every intention of going to confession. Sometimes things happen, and we aren’t able to go and do the things that we need to do, but we still intend to take care of them as soon as we can.

As for your third question, the answer is No–what you say in confession is kept confidential between you and the priest, and doesn’t leave the confessional.


#3

Hi
Welcome
It’s great that you feel called back to the Sacrament. I appreciate your shyness or reticence about telling others you are going to Confession. I used to worry that all would wonder what I did and why I “need” to go…I go frequently now and I typically mention it to my husband afterward. You never know, this could be the opportunity they are looking for to return as well. And, if it’s been 4 years you can simply say, I want to go, it’s been too long. They aren’t going to wonder about any specific sin.
God knows your heart and you don’t want to put this off for too long but you shouldn’t feel too bad about not going today. Just find an opportunity to go as soon as possible to be reconciled you’ll be so glad you did.
And, as other poster said, the priest can’t require you to tell you wife or family what you did–not even for your penance.
Good Luck and God Bless You


#4

A couple thoughts come to mind regarding your first question.
Everything spoken must be true… Not all truths must be spoken. So, I’m thinking if you can go without saying anything GREAT but if asked you have to tell the truth.

The other thing that popped into my head is:

“If you are ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of you before my farther”

I don’t know how or even if this applies but it popped into my head so I thought I’d better share.

Prayers and best wishes on a good confession very soon!!!


#5

Welcome! :wave: I’ll answer in reverse order. :slight_smile:

In answering question #3, I will just add that, not only won’t a priest ask you to disclose your sins to another, but he cannot do so. I suppose it’s possible he could suggest it if for some reason if he thought it would help (though I’ve never had that happen to me nor heard of it happening to anyone else), but he could never obligate you to do so. Such would be a violation of the seal of the sacrament.

With regards to question #2, I would say that putting off Confession because you were uncertain about lying is better than going ahead with the lie. There is no further sin in putting it off for a few days, though we do want to go as soon as we can after we are conscious of committing mortal sin for the sake of our own souls.

For question #1, as others have said, it is not okay to lie to your wife. We can never do evil that good may come of it. That’s one of the foundational moral principles. Now, if you say you are going to study and then you actually do go study, but then simply stop at Confession on the way there, I wouldn’t call that lying.

However, and this is important, I think you need to ask yourself why you do not want your family to know. Going to Confession is a good thing. Really, all of us should be going once a month. It is not only for those who have committed terrible, grave sins. It is for all of us. So I would encourage you to consider talking with your wife about how you have been feeling the pull to go to Confession and that you want to make it a regular part of family life (presuming your wife and children are also Catholic). As fathers, our kids should see us going to Confession. That is so important. How else will they learn to go? We want to be the example for our families. We want them to view Confession as a normal, positive part of living our Catholic faith. We do not want them to view it as some scary thing that they only do when they absolutely have to do so. And then, only in complete and utter secrecy so that no one they know ever knows that they go. We need not feel ashamed that we have to make use of the sacrament. We are all sinners. And we all need to go. (It’s in Canon Law that we are required to go at least once a year.) So there need not be any presumptions that those who go have committed greater than average sins. No such presumption is warranted.

God bless you. I will say a prayer for you and your family. Please pray for me, too. I want to go to Confession on Saturday, too. :o


#6

Thank you all very much for your answers and input. You’ve all been very helpful and I greatly appreciate that!

For anyone who may be wondering why I don’t want my to tell anyone that I’m going, in truth my family (meaning my parents, brothers, and wife – I’m a newlywed and not a father just yet) hasn’t seen me go to confession in such a long time, nor have they gone themselves in such a long time, that I wonder whether or not they would question (probably not outrightly, but in their minds) what I’ve done that made me want to go. I don’t believe that anything I’ve done can’t be solved between me and Christ alone through the Sacrament. Therefore, my reason for asking that question is certainly not any embarrassment felt because of the Sacrament itself; I think confession is wonderful and I wish my family would start going regularly. It’s embarrassment at the prospect of being seen as possibly having done something suspicious when I really believe that my sins are forgivable through the Sacrament alone. Hopefully that makes sense.

I think I’m just going to hope that I can manage to go on Saturday without anyone knowing, but if asked where I’m going, I won’t lie. I’ve already got enough to be forgiven for and the remorse I’ve been dealing with is plenty in all honesty.


#7

Hello again, everyone. I really apologize for the double post, but another question came to mind and I thought it would be better for me to keep it in the same thread than to make a new one. Sorry again!

My question is: how specific do I need to be when I go to confession? Do I need to give any context to my sins/information about myself? Suppose a sin that I’ve committed is one against purity (not adultery, but a ‘lesser’ solitary sin against purity if such a name is appropriate). Does the fact that I’m married make such a sin worse than if I were single? In such a case, should I mention that I am married in order to be forgiven? Or is it sufficient to state my sins without giving background information?

The priest that I am going to is actually not the priest of my own parish, but of a nearby parish. I feel more comfortable confessing when I have some level of anonymity. Therefore, he won’t know any details about me beforehand. Should I share any information with him, or is the confession of just my sins enough in the eyes of Christ?

Sorry for all of the questions, folks. I want to do whatever will fully and completely reconcile me with Christ and I don’t want Him to be disappointed with my reconciliation in any way, shape, or form. I’ve gotta get this right and I thank you all again so much for your help.


#8

When you get in there tell your confessor you need help. He will walk you through it. Here is a link you should find helpful. God bless.

catholic.org/prayers/confession.php


#9

Ah, I see. Well, I would just say that, if they do ask, take that as a sign from the Spirit that He wants you to talk to your family about confession.

I understand the wondering about “What are they thinking?” Certainly, they very well could be wondering “What has he done?” If the subject comes up, I would simply tell them that it is a good thing for all Catholics to do and that you would like to start going regularly – starting now. Even if you’re not a father yet, you can still be an example for those around you. Too many Catholics view Confession as something that only “really bad people” have to do. We need to do our part to correct this false impression that other people have of the sacrament. Even the pope goes to Confession regularly. :wink:


#10

As Alphomega said, ask the priest for guidance when you go. You generally start by letting the priest know how long it has been since your last Confession. Then you can say that any help he can give you would be appreciated. :slight_smile:

We are obliged to confess mortal sins in both number and kind. Now, this does not mean that you need to scruple over exact figures. Estimates are fine, especially when it has been a while. So, for example, one could say something like “I committed acts of impurity with myself a few times a week for the past four years, though there were sometimes I’d go for a stretch of a few months where I was able to avoid this sin.”

In other words, you don’t have to break out your day planner and tabulate that you committed the sin 547 times. :stuck_out_tongue:

The reason the Church asks us to do this is because it makes a difference whether it is something we have done once or twice or whether it is something we do all the time.

We do try to include details when relevant. For example, “I got angry with someone” is different when you’re talking about the guy who cut you off while driving as opposed to your wife because you have a special relationship with special obligations towards your wife. So that detail changes things.

The bottom line, though, is don’t freak out. :slight_smile: Do the best you can. Follow the priest’s advice. If he needs you to elaborate further, he will ask you to do so. And I always like to end my Confession with “for all these sins and those that I cannot recall, I ask forgiveness.” Not many of us have perfect recall. We are bound to overlook some things. Just don’t deliberately withhold things and you’ll be fine. :thumbsup:


#11

Confession has drawn me much closer to God and into a deeper spirituality. Many times during the Sacrament of Confession, I have heard the Words from God. Once, I had spent some time in meditation that afternoon, trying to listen to Him, and that evening, the priest repeated the very words that I heard placed on my heart earlier in the day; it was very spiritual and not generic at all.

I know we encounter Christ each time in the Confessional, but sometimes it’s even more blunt and obvious than others.

The advice from the others here is great; I just wanted to say GREAT JOB on going to Confession, and God bless you!


#12

I hope all went well for you on Saturday, MJK! I was praying for you to have the grace of a good Confession. :slight_smile:


#13
  1. This is complicated, because you seem to be insinuating that your leading a sacramental life would somehow cause problems in your family. That is a question that would need to be addressed in more detail.

With regard to lying, the question here is whether or not lying is ever acceptable, and I am of the opinion that it is not. However, there are situations in which someone may not have the *right *to know something, and in such situations, deflection is acceptable.

For example, let’s say that someone is unemployed and they feel a certain shame about this. Well, it’s not acceptable for them to make up stories about their profession when asked about it, but it is acceptable to respond with things like actually, I’d rather not discuss that. In general, most people don’t have a *right *to know what you do or don’t do for a living, but of course, there are situations in which they do.

There are circumstances in which one spouse does have a right to know precisely where the other spouse is going. In your situation, your wife would have a right to know about confession if this knowledge would create a drastic change in her views of your marriage. But even if it wouldn’t, she might very well have a right to knowledge that you may be trying to hide from her.

  1. The sinfulness of not telling them would depend on whether or not your telling them is necessary in order to have a firm purpose of amendment. For example, if you’ve been lying to your family about something, then repenting of this must lead to your telling them the truth. Otherwise, you’d still continue to be lying to them by hiding from them things they have a right to know.

Likewise, hiding yourself from justice does not show that you truly have sorrow for your sins.

However, I think whether or not you should tell your family your sins is really a question for a spiritual director, and unless you ask the priest point blank whether he thinks you should come clean, he may not say anything about it at all.


Of course, I’ve typed all of this out, and only now have I read your second response in the thread! None of the above may be of any use…

If you’re just having a wonderful conversion experience, and don’t want to freak your wife out too much, then I would certainly recommend just being up front with her, and letting her know what’s on your heart. :slight_smile:

There’s also nothing wrong with taking things slowly at first, and of communicating with your wife once you have a more informed and developed way of expressing yourself (should you feel that to be a problem at present).


#14

Hello, all!

I actually ended up going to confession today - I just got back, in fact. It was incredible. I can’t believe I stayed so long without going. I know my absence from the Sacrament wasn’t meant in any malicious way, but now I know much better than to repeat that mistake. I hope to confess at the very least once a year as the Church recommends (and more, if, God forbid, I have any mortal sins that should be confessed).

I thank you all so much for your prayers and I ask that Christ blesses you and keeps you all and your families safe and healthy.


#15

Hi mjk,

I am so glad that you were able to go. :slight_smile: Good for you! God bless you.


#16

Praise God! I am glad that you were able to go. God is good!


#17

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