When you have to (or just want to) go to confession frequently

A typical parish bulletin states “Confession: Saturday 3:30-4:30PM or by APPOINTMENT”.


This is not the current practice. In fact, I was prepared for confession using the Baltimore Catechism (the version from late 60s or early 70s) and this was not taught.

Priests do not want people to re-confess sins that were already confessed and forgiven. The vast majority of priests also do not object to someone confessing only venial sins as long as the person is not seeming to be overly scrupulous. The only time I have ever heard of a priest objecting to a confession of venial sins was when someone accused Fr. Larry Richards of yelling at him and throwing him out of the confessional for not having mortal sins. Which is definitely not the normal behavior for any priest.

I go to confession about twice a month for a required devotion. I have been doing this for several years now. I almost never have a grave-possibly-mortal sin to confess because my life is very dull and I am old. I do not have a regular confessor and probably confess to 30+ different priests a year. None of them have ever complained that I didn’t have enough mortal sins. Nor have I ever in my life re-confessed a sin from my past for which I was already absolved.

Father freely signed up for the job. It’s his fault - not yours - for any “difficulty.” Your job is to make a reasonable use of the Sacrament - it can be done out of devotion, certainly. But if you are sure you only have venial sins to confess, these can be forgiven through a good reception of the Eucharist, or an act of contrition, or a pious use of holy water and the Sign of the Cross, etc.

Re-confessing sins CAN be a good idea under certain conditions… for example, there is the practice of a “life confession” - or simply the desire to mortify oneself in a special way (but this is not always or even normally advisable) - but it would need to be made clear to the confessor that this is what you are doing.

Okay there’s a lot to unpack here. Going to confession frequently is obviously highly commendable - that said there can of course be too much of a good thing. There’s a world of difference between going every week because you’re struggling with a habitual sin, and going every week because you don’t think you’re sorry enough for some slight sin.

Similarly, while confession of venial sins is worthwhile as as sort of spiritual housecleaning, a long laundry list is less helpful than a considered reflection of where you most need God’s help.

As far as re-confessing past sins is concerned, let’s just say that the Baltimore Catechism was written before our current appreciation of mental health! Besides that, imho it also tends to detract from the effectiveness, if you will, of absolution. Once you’re absolves, that’s it - it’s as if the sin had never existed.

Whoop-de-doo for them - each person’s struggle with sin is personal to them. There are plenty of alcoholics who stay on the wagon for years and then there are others who struggle to stay sober for more than a few weeks, at that.

Personally, I prefer to use say “on request”. Still, a priest has an obligation to hear your confession at any reasonable time - make sure you hold them to it!


May add “for these and for all the sins of my past life”. It is not because a person does not trust in the mercy of God that a past sin is included.

Baltimore Catechism (No. 2)

Q. 395. Should we always try to have sorrow for all our venial sins when receiving the sacrament of Penance?
A. We should try to have sorrow for all our venial sins when receiving the sacrament of Penance, and, when we have only venial sins to confess, we must have sorrow for at least one of them or for some sin of our past life which we confess.

Q 407. What purpose of amendment must a person have if he has only venial sins to confess?
A. If a person has only venial sins to confess, he must have the purpose of avoiding at least one of them.

Now the Rite of Christian Initiation of Children is used for approximately ages 7 through 14.

Those born in 1967 or later may have been taught using the 1973 Order of Penance. Note that on the USCCB site is a summary including

CONFESSION: Confess all your sins to the priest. If you are unsure what to say, ask the priest for help. When you are finished, conclude with these or similar words: “I am sorry for these and all my sins.”

Many have been taught to say “for these and for all the sins of my past life” and still use it.

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How much time is your confession taking? Don’t think too much about the tone of the priest, but if one goes fairly regularly and it’s taking ten minutes and you are talking more than the priest then IMO one must take less time.

Don’t read too much into the tone. It’s not about having everyone feel pleasant every time. Sometimes you need to be patient with a priest who’s strength might not be confessions. I’m sure many priests know that it’s an area they need to get better at, even though the outcome (absolution) doesn’t get better.

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I know exactly what you mean. I’ve tried to stretch my Confessions out further apart and tried to remember that our venial sins are forgiven in various ways outside of Confession. I can only guess that for Priests, they want us to Confess but confess correctly. Sometimes to me a venial sin that is a “big deal” to Father doesn’t seem so big of a deal. If we repent of our sins (change) we wouldn’t be back there in the confessional so often with the same ones. To them it might seem like we aren’t progressing in our spiritual growth like we should. But we should never stop going and Confessing or gaining wise counsel from our Shepherds.

You can say “for all the sins of my past life” (this is a general statement of being sorry for sin) or “for any other sins I may have committed and forgotten” (<-----this is what I use).

Sins that have been confessed and absolved are gone. Priests want you to confess what sins you’re doing now, not stuff you were already absolved of last month or last year or whatever. Bringing up your old previously absolved sins can also be a sign of scruples.


You wrote: “Sins that have been confessed and absolved are gone”

  • They do not need to be mentioned again if the confession was valid and with absolution of their guilt for them, and they are gone, as in taken away – but all the disorders the sin has caused remain and require penance to be done. The universal sorrow for mortal sins remains.

You wrote: “Bringing up your old previously absolved sins can also be a sign of scruples.”

  • Yes is could be, but is good for the purpose mentioned.

Ahh I see. Thanks for the clarification!

Well people i’ve heard from say he’s a great confessor so maybe there’s just something wrong with me… :joy:

I don’t take a long time. usually i’m only in there just a few minutes

I’m sorry you have been having this experience with confession :frowning: I’ve never had that happen before. Have you tried confessing to a different priest or going to a different parish for confession? You should feel good after leaving confession and if confessing your venial sins helps you grow in Grace and makes you feel better than I don’t see a problem with that.

I deal with scrupulously a bit. I was asking my confessor: is this a sin? About practically everything. So if you a scrupulous you are looking into almost everything you do and questioning if it is sinful. And you’re having anxiety about it. And you think things that are not sins are sins.

Welcome to the club. I’ve done worse. Someone once wrote that in the Church there are two kinds of people: Saints and sinners who want to become saints.

Pope Pius XII recommended confessing venial sins in confession. Mortal sin is the greatest evil in the world, and then venial sin is the next greatest evil.

That’s what I do too.

Thanks for trying to be reassuring but you can’t really be a sinner who is trying to become a saint if you still have the desire to sin, in other words only an ex sinner can become a saint.

I think we all have both. Hence the need and desire to go to confession

I can’t remember who wrote that but was trying to quote the person accurately. My poor brain is running on almost empty.

There’s a danger here - you know better than your confessor. Find a regular confessor and trust them.

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