Validity and liceity regarding non-Catholic confessions?

After reading the thread about non-Catholics and confession, I’m afraid a horrible thought has come into my head and I’m hoping someone knowledgeable about this could put me at ease. Prior to my joining the Church, I did go to confession. I was validly baptized (albeit Protestant) and had completed instruction to make my first holy Communion about 2 years prior, however I had bowed out of actually doing so when the date was set (personal reasons, had nothing to do with my religious beliefs, long story :rolleyes:)

As far as I know, I made only one such confession, mentioned it was my first but no other details, I did not think it was necessary. Now I don’t know if that confession was valid and if my sin was absolved! What’s worse is that I also confessed several times while receiving a “refresher course” prior to receiving our Lord for the first time, I am not sure if that was OK because I was actively preparing to join the Chuch or not. I was not confirmed until a year later on Pentecost, and I have been told that despite receiving our Lord in the Eucharist I was not actually a Catholic until then! That would mean that over a year’s worth of confessions, by a convert, many consumed with past and forgotten sins, including a difficult General confession, were all made as a “non Catholic.” The thought of trying to remember all those sins and repeat all those confessions when I truly acted in all innocence and with total faith in the sacrament both sickens and devastates me. I am already scrupulous and I can’t say how this just break my heart. At the very least.

I have read about validity and liceity (if I’m spelling that right) when it comes to the sacraments, is it possible I was validly absolved but the confessions were illicit? I can’t see how I could have been at fault when I did not know (my pastor did know my situation, obviously, and said nothing about me and confession) but at least I could rest easy knowing my sins really were absolved.

Thank you for ANY help you can provide and please pray for me. I am badly shaken (not my faith, just my nerves.)

Oh nevermind! This should also teach me not to panic before I google :wink: But in case anyone else has this question (or is curious):

*A valid baptism is required to validly receive the other Sacraments (but not required for baptism :wink: )

*Being Catholic is required for liceity when it comes to Reconciliation (what a weird word, liceity), so at worst I was indeed validly absolved because I met the actual requirements for validity (baptized, sin to confess, contrition, etc etc), but it was illicit because I was not supposed to be confessing until I was actually received or just about to be into the Church (which I didn’t know and nobody told me. Story of my life :o)

Now, I still am not sure if my confessions while actively preparing to join the Church (both before and after my first Communion but prior to Confirmation) would have been licit because I was properly catechized and in actual preparation to be received into full communion, although it’s true these confessions were not immediately before confirmation. It would be akin to a candidate in RCIA going to confession before RCIA was completed but after learning about the sacraments. I was pretty much the same thing, only not enrolled in the formal program (still under the priest’s direction in my instruction, however). If anyone cares to speculate on that one, I’d love to hear it, just for curiosity’s sake. There’s nothing to be done for it now and thank God I don’t have to “re-confess” all that. Talk about a horror movie scream kind of moment!

I read somewhere (Jimmy Akin? I might be wrong) words to the effect that the Church is a very generous mother who understands that her imperfect children are going to muck things up and so makes it difficult to truly make a train wreck of things :stuck_out_tongue: Thank God for that!

You were covered as you now realize.
.
Certainly, “the celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation with candidates for reception into full communion is to be carried out at a time prior to and distinct from the celebration of the rite of reception. As part of the formation of such candidates, they should be encouraged in the frequent celebration of this sacrament” See Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, n. 482; NCCB [USCCB], National Statutes on the Catechumenate, n. 36.

Apart from that, canon 844 would address certain conditions by which an exception is made for baptized non Catholics to the law requiring the recipient of certain sacraments to be Catholic.

The Church is indeed wide in its mercy.

If by that other thread, you mean this one, what is at issue there is whether or not absolution can be granted by confessing to a Protestant minister. The church teaches that only a priest can absolve you of your sins.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.