"State in life" and confession


So I was reading about confession tonight and read for the first time that you are supposed to mention if you are married etc. before confessing. This has me worried because I had only been confessing “Kind and Number”. Does this mean my confessions were invalid?


No, your confessions are valid. You do not need to say your state in life.

From Canon Law:
Canon 988 – §1. A member of the Christian faithful is obliged to confess in kind and number all serious sins committed after baptism and not yet directly remitted through the keys of the Church nor acknowledged in individual confession, for which one is conscious after diligent examination of conscience.


Thank you! One more question: If you are confessing forgotten sins do you have to state that you forgot to confess then in a previous confession? Because I had just been saying them with all of my other sins


I usually mention that I forgot to confess the sin last time, but I don’t think it really matters.


Mentioning your state in life is a way of helping your confessor give you advice and judge the gravity of your sins. Imagine the difference between a married man and a single man who confessed that they had gone on a few dates with a woman - not a sin at all for a single man, but adultery for a married one. This is not an essential or required part of the rite - in fact, it is not even necessary for the priest and penitent to understand each other’s language. The confession is still valid.


TravisandJill, From Baltimore Catechism No. 3:

Q. 789. When is our Confession entire?
A. Our Confession is entire when we tell the number and kinds of our sins and the circumstances which change their nature.

Q. 790. What do you mean by the "kinds of sin?"
A. By the “kinds of sin,” we mean the particular division or class to which the sins belong; that is, whether they be sins of blasphemy, disobedience, anger, impurity, dishonesty, etc. We can determine the kind of sin by discovering the commandment or precept of the Church we have broken or the virtue against which we have acted.

Q. 791. What do we mean by "circumstances which change the nature of sins?"
A. By “circumstances which change the nature of sins” we mean anything that makes it another kind of sin. Thus to steal is a sin, but to steal from the Church makes our theft sacrilegious. Again, impure actions are sins, but a person must say whether they were committed alone or with others, with relatives or strangers, with persons married or single, etc., because these circumstances change them from one kind of impurity to another.

Q. 792. What should we do if we cannot remember the number of our sins?
A. If we cannot remember the number of our sins, we should tell the number as nearly as possible, and say how often we may have sinned in a day, a week, or a month, and how long the habit or practice has lasted.

Q. 793. Is our Confession worthy if, without our fault, we forget to confess a mortal sin?
A. If without our fault we forget to confess a mortal sin, our Confession is worthy, and the sin is forgiven; but it must be told in Confession if it again comes to our mind.



The above information is helpful with respect to future confessions, but with respect to past confessions the only thing that matters is that your confessor absolved you. Go in peace.

(Even if your confessions had not been valid technically, so long as you did not deliberately conceal a mortal sin, you are still absolved).


I got baptised as a Infant at St Albans Garrison Church in Aldershot England. At 33 i got baptised Again at some protestant church that did not believe in Infant baptism. Both were trinity baptisms. I stopped going to any protestant Churches when i was 43 because i kept running into problems in what was being taught. I am 55 now and have not been going to any Church for the past 12years. Although i still believe in God and his Son Jesus Christ and did try to follow what i understood Jesus taught. At times when i did sin i did confess to God and forsake the Sin.

I am thinking about becoming Catholic.I understand when i come into the Catholic Church i don’t need to be baptised. When i start confession do i have to confess all sins since my baptism years ago ? If so which baptism ?

I am not sure if i can remember all especially the number.


You are making a great decision for yourself. :slight_smile:

My advice is to wait until you have decided to join the church before thinking about your first confession. Trust that when you reach that point that you will be guided and it will not be as difficult as it might seem now.

The answers to your first question is that you must confess all serious sins since your baptism as an infant, as Anglican baptisms are valid and you have not received sacramental confession since then. The answer to your second question is that you are not expected to remember all sins by kind and number, but rather to make a good examination of conscience and confess as well as you can. The phrase “kind and number” in that canon is not (always) as specific as it sounds. When confessing a lifetime the confession will take a conversational flow, such as “In my twenties I twenties I did a lot of drugs…”, “In my thirties I left the Church completely…”. Your confessor will ensure that you make a valid confession.

BTW, the requirement for sacramental confession of all sins since baptism does not negate the value of any personal repentance or confession for sin you have made in that time. The Church is not saying that these are worthless - but just that they don’t count as sacramental confession. I myself confessed as an Anglican but had to make a full confession when joining the Cahtolic church as as 21 year old. Other converts here in CAF had had similar questions. Naturally, we would prefer to confess less rather than more. :slight_smile:


One to give ones state in life. For example certain sins of a married person are different than a single person.

Now if one did not realize such - or forgot --that is forgetting or not realizing.

Bring it up with the Priest regarding the past ones if such effected the confession.


Certain sins of a married person of a particular nature are affected by if one is married or not.

As to confessing in another language – there could be exceptions where such might happen --but if one confessed any mortal sins I would say one would still need to confess them to a Priest who understands what one is confessing --when one gets back to one who does.


Under normal circumstances only a baptized Catholic can receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. However, this restriction can be lifted in the case of grave circumstances (such as imminent death of a non-Catholic Christian). For Catholics, three things are required for a valid sacramental confession. First, the Catholic must examine his conscience honestly and thoroughly and must not withhold confession of any mortal sins (CCC 1456). Second, the confessor must be contrite and repentant (CCC 1451). A contrite person will seek the Sacrament of Confession because he is sorry for his sins. Love for God is the best motivation for seeking God’s forgiveness, but even if the confessor is not perfectly contrite (and seeks forgiveness out of simple fear of hell) the Sacrament of Reconciliation will still remain valid (CCC 1453). However, if a person enters the Sacrament with the intention of committing the sin later, then this person is not sorry for his sins and the sin will not be forgiven. Finally, the confessor must complete the penance assigned to him by the priest as soon as possible (CCC 1494).

This doesn’t say it’s required. I’m so confused


It is generally what one does as part of the introduction.

The confession of a married person can be different than one who is not married or if say the person is in the state consecrated life or otherwise has vows…

Now lets say a married person confessed lustful thoughts. The fact that he is married part of that confession for it is contrary to their marriage. Or if say a person was a religious --such would be not only a sin against chastity but would be a sin against their vow and thus against the virtue of religion and since in the consecrated state (say a religious) would be a sacrilege. These are circumstances that change the kind of the grave sin.

Now if he added when he said the sin that he was married or a publicly vowed religious then that would cover such.

Now if say the person was married and all they were confessing was that they lied to their barber …or that they got too angry at the dog …well that is not going to be effected by their state in life. So forgetting to say such there is a different matter.

But ordinarily one gives one state in life which can help the confessor advise one.


Of course too one has to distinguish between forgetting – and concealing a mortal sin (or that which changes the kind --like it was ones wife one murdered…).

When one forgets such but meant to make a complete confession and was contrite etc --one brings what was forgotten to the next confession.


Thankyou for reminding us of the paragraphs from the CCC. I won’t speak for everyone, but when we discuss confession here we usually refer to the Canon Law and expert opinions. The CCC does not contradict these (of course), but it does express the issues in different words.

You have read those correctly. The CCC does not say informing the confessor of one’s state in life is required, nor does the guide to confession you referenced.

If you are still unsure about any of this then I recommend that you simply ask your confessor next time you are in confession. Confessors are always happy to answer questions about the form of the sacrament and/or any doubts about previous confessions.

That said (namely, ask your confessor), I would just add that, with respect to past confessions where you omitted the “state in life”, confessors mostly accept a penitent’s confession as it is given and will not ask questions or change the format once it has begun (by, for instance, asking your state in life) unless it will make a material difference to the validity of the confession or the advice they intend to give.

Confessors are, primarily, Christ welcoming the repentant sinner, the Father welcoming the prodigal son.


One thought just popped into my head…

Are you a regular penitent and/or known to the priest you regularly confess to?

If so, you can assume that he knows your state in life. Common sense applies here. We do not repeat information which our confessor can reasonably be assumed to know.

The only time I mention my state in life is with a confessor who doesn’t know me. Even then I might omit it for a brief “kind and number” confession.


I mention my state of life every time…he knows me well …and once when I mentioned in the past regarding that he knows me and my state…he said yes but such was the way.

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