When to go to confession


I would like to go to confession because I’m in a state of mortal sin and I fear hell. But I’m not sure if I should go because I have been seriously doubting my faith in Catholicism. How do I know if I should go?

(Please don’t tell me to talk with a priest. I have never been given a straightforward answer to this question.)


here is your straightforward answer
yes, if you are a Catholic who feels you are in a state of mortal sin, you must make a good confession, no ifs, ands or buts.


As you stated, you know you’re in a state of mortal sin. That means you know you should go to Confession. As to having doubts, we all have doubts. Look at what you are having doubts about. Tell the priest when you go to Confession that you are having doubts and ask what you can do about it. There are no clear cut answers in dealing with doubts because the doubts are unique to each person.

Hope that helps.


Go to Confession without delay. Bring your doubts into the confessional. It’s true that you may not get a straight answer to those doubts because of the very personal nature of faith. Nevertheless, you may receive some guidance, a simple word that may have you thinking about the cause of those doubts. Nobody can make your decisions for you.


Dear Awake, I don’t think I have any answer for you either.
But have you ever tried to talk to God about it in your prayer?
Based on my experience, if I have doubts about anything, I will talk about all my doubts to God in my prayer. Because many times I feel that people can’t answer them or assure me.
I will pray for you.


I should clarify: it’s more than just doubts. I’m not sure if I believe in God anymore.


All the more reason to bring it into the confessional.
Some of the greatest saints went through a period of disbelief, of searching and struggling with doubts before giving their lives to Christ.
“God help my unbelief.”


But it wouldn’t seem right for me to participate in the sacrament if I’m not sure I believe God exists. Just like it’s not right for non-Catholics to go to confession.


Remember that the Sacrament is a Sacrament of healing.
It is true that a non-Catholic cannot receive the Sacrament. That does not mean he cannot enter the confessional and speak to the priest with the same type of confidentiality. There is still healing that can lead to conversion.
Again, be upfront with the priest. Tell him that you do not think that you can receive the Sacrament because of the doubts. He is the one with Holy Orders who can lead you. “Bless me Father for I have sinned. I really don’t believe I can make a valid Confession…”

When my grandson wanted to go to confession, I told him to be sure to tell the priest that he was not Catholic. When I finished my own confession, I told the priest that he wanted to speak to him, and also that he was not Catholic. Despite not receiving the Sacrament, my grandson expressed the relief that comes from confession. I realize a case involving a child is not the same thing. It’s the best that I can do to illustrate a point.


Being in a state of mortal sin isnt going to help remove those doubts either since you are cut off from Gods graces. Fix the big problem first that being if you are sincerely sorry for your sins and have the intention to not commit them again then go to confession and receive the Eucharist. Lifes battles are a lot easier to fight with those two sacraments trust me I know what its like to be in a state of mortal sin and disbelief. Of course the devil doesnt want you to believe or go to confession but God does so who cares about you more? You only need to look at a crucifix to see the answer.


No, it’s not just like a non-Catholic going to confession, you’re still a catholic, albeit one who is experiencing a spiritual crisis right now. You’ve said you would like to go. You are not going because you are entertaining these doubts you have on the existence of God. You have a choice. You can choose to entertain these doubts, remain in a state of mortal sin and grow further and further away from your faith. Or, you can choose to seek the sacrament of penance, a sacrament of healing, and help to grow your faith, and heal your doubts. Are you still praying? If not, there’s a good reason why the doubts have taken over.

Jesus calls us, but it’s up to us to heed that call. You’ve said you would like to go to confession, that’s Jesus calling you. So you can choose to hear His voice and go tell him you’re sorry and that you’re struggling, or you can choose to ignore Him and entertain these doubts instead.

When to go? Call tomorrow and make an appointment for ASAP. May God bless you.


I don’t think I’m actually sorry for all my sins. I can’t make a perfect act of contrition. I need to go to confession because I fear hell.

I’ve been going to confession every two weeks for the past 4 years. It’s not something new for me. In fact, it’s so old and predictable. But as much as I dislike going, I go because I don’t want to end up in hell for all of eternity. Now that I’m not sure I believe in God, I don’t know if I should be going anymore. I wouldn’t want to go if it wasn’t valid.


What I read from this post is a struggle with temptation, as much as doubt. The Sacraments should not be something that we dislike. It does take humility and courage to admit weakness. If confession is “old and familiar” it may be a sign of dryness. Your thirst is not being quenched. You may need a new image of God. There are other things that you can do. Start with Confession. Lay it out with the honesty, the fear of hell (rather than love).
Does your parish, or a nearby parish have a prayer group? Look for a Life in the Spirt seminar. If this seems to radical, find out about cursillo. Cursillo is a short course in Christianity started in Spain at the end of World War II. Take time for yourself. Go on retreat and get some spiritual direction from somebody much more qualified to guide and lead you than I am.


I don’t think I’m actually sorry for all my sins. I can’t make a perfect act of contrition. I need to go to confession because I fear hell.

Fearing Hell is what is known as “imperfect contrition” but is still valid contrition and in The Sacrament of Reconciliation. If you fear Hell and damnation, where does this leave your doubting that God exists? I am not questioning that doubt, rather I hope pointing out that you really are having difficulties and a thousand difficulties cannot make one doubt.

I’ve been going to confession every two weeks for the past 4 years. It’s not something new for me. In fact, it’s so old and predictable. But as much as I dislike going, I go because I don’t want to end up in hell for all of eternity. Now that I’m not sure I believe in God, I don’t know if I should be going anymore. I wouldn’t want to go if it wasn’t valid.

I think you are confused and in difficulty and this is a human state of being from time to time and we all have gone or will go through it…and if we have gone through it, then we probably will again. To go to Confession in the state of mortal sin only because I fear Hell and being damned to Hell is sufficient contrition to make a valid Confession in every way. I hope perhaps these Forums can help you, but I really think that you should try to open up to a priest…if the priesthood has failed you (in assistance) in the past 100 times, this does not necessarily mean that it is always destined to fail you. If you dont succeed at first, try try again and if you dont succeed then, keep trying and don’t give up.
Keeping you in prayer…Blessings and Peace to you…Barb


Don’t go because you “fear” hell !

Go because you are feeling shameful and sorry for having offended God and because you have not kept His Commands.

You (we) should not fear death… it is what comes after death that you (we) should fear the most.

Jesus didn’t say it would be easy… He said it would be worth it !!



Yes, he should go because he fears hell. Imperfect contrition is sometimes the best we can do.


How many of us would ever go to confession if we demanded our contrition to be perfect every time? We go to the doctor when we are ill. The doctor’s ministrations are meant to bring us to health. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is the place for spiritual healing. I never know what will happen as a result of my seeking the Sacrament. Sometimes those that seem like they will be the most trivial (sorry, I don’t have a better word) have become the most intense. Honesty and opening ourselves to the healing grace of Jesus Chris in the Sacrament is what leads to a great confession. Never underestimate the power of God and His healing grace.
Fear may be what is leading you. Remember that Love casts out fear.


Ok I agree but, like children when they do something bad… do they say sorry because they are really sorry of because they fear getting into trouble? Same thing applies here… And I would have to say that being a sinner myself I would admit that I fall and fail for many reasons and some of my intentions are imperfect and I am working on them, as we all should.

Part of perfect contrition is the resolution not to sin again. If you are not truely sorry… you are saying that you don’t have the intention to do it again. Imperfect contrition does not equal forgiveness. It is a prompting by the Holy Spirit to futher our look at sin and to eventually come to a perfect contrition.

From the Catechism taken from the Vatican website:

With special attention to ccc 1453:


1451 Among the penitent’s acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is "sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again."50

1452 When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called “perfect” (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.51

1453 The contrition called “imperfect” (or “attrition”) is also a gift of God, a prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is born of the consideration of sin’s ugliness or the fear of eternal damnation and the other penalties threatening the sinner (contrition of fear). Such a stirring of conscience can initiate an interior process which, under the prompting of grace, will be brought to completion by sacramental absolution. By itself however, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins, but it disposes one to obtain forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance.52


Once you are absolved from your sins, the doubt and disbelief will melt away. That’s what always happens to me.


Close enough!

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