Subscribe via RSS Feed

5 Tips That Will Change the Way You Think About Confession

October 2, AD 2012 69 Comments

There are endless resources online about confession that you can find with a simple search. So because of this, I don’t need to write about the doctrine.

What I want to do, however, is to encourage you to go if you haven’t been in the last year.

October is a great month to go back to confession. School has started, the colors are changing, and the crazy rush of the Holidays are only weeks away.  If there’s ever a great time to go, it’s now.

The benefits, though, FAR outweigh the moments of nervousness. On top of just feeling better after confessing, your soul is wiped as clean as it was on the day of baptism. Not only is that a really cool thing, it means you’re properly prepared for death which can come at any moment. After all, the gate is narrow and you need to be ready at all times.

If you’re still worried about confession, keep these things in mind as you prepare to go. (If you want more moral support, connect with me on twitter and I’ll pray for you!)

1. Nobody ever regrets going to confession, no matter how tough it was. 

Ask any practicing Catholic, and they will tell you that confession is one of the highlights of being a Catholic. The peace from letting it all go, confessing the guilt, and hearing that your forgiven even for these sins is indescribable.

Remember that your sins do not define you. But they will continue to eat at you until you let Christ destroy them in confession.

2. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been since the last time you went.

The Bible, actually Jesus, says,

“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15.7).

I can assure you that no matter how long it has been, the priest is not going to accuse you and say, “Well, where have you been? Get out of here!” On the contrary, the longer it’s been since your last confession, the happier he will be to see you back.

If you’re worried about how to confess, or what exactly to confess, you can do two things:

  • Read, download, print resources that will help you prepare, like this one.
  • Go to confession, and tell the priest that you have no idea what you’re doing. He will gladly and joyfully help you through. Believe me, I did this for the first two years as a Catholic because I was too lazy to study how to actually do it right. I was never reprimanded  ever. Also, the prayers are usually taped to the kneeler or the wall to guide you through.

3. You can confess anonymously.

The Church requires the ability for anybody to confess anonymously. That means that when you go into most confessionals, you will have an option to kneel down behind the screen so the priest can’t see you, or to sit in the chair in front of him if you are comfortable talking to him face to face.

If you’re still afraid that he will recognize your voice, you can always go to confession at a different parish, although in reality, the priest really won’t care or judge you.

4. There’s nothing you can say that the priest has not heard before. 

Continuing from point 3, after years and years of confessions, you can confess just about anything and you’re not going to shock the priest with your sins. He’s heard worse.

5. The priest is not allowed to discuss your confession, EVER, even to you. 

It’s true. It’s called the “Seal of Confession”, meaning that what is said in the confessional stays in the confessional. It’s like Vegas but better. The 1983 Code of Canon law 983 §1 says,

“The sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore it is absolutely forbidden for a confessor to betray in any way a penitent in words or in any manner and for any reason.”

I want to bring this one home, because it’s important. One time I was in confession with my spiritual director. During the confession, he asked me to bring up this sin next time in spiritual direction. I said, “Father, remind me if I don’t.” He then quickly reminded me that it wasn’t an option, because he didn’t have the right to bring up anything that was discussed inside confession, even if it was to me.

The Church has this requirement for a few reasons. The best part is so that you can feel comfortable and be 100% honest in confession, with no worries that anything will be revealed outside of the box. It’s a generous gift that the Church has given, and it should be heeded.

Additional reading: Father Z. has a post about this.

Filed in: Columnists, Religion, Sacraments • Tags:

About the Author:

Ryan Eggenberger is a partner at Little Flower Strategies, LLC. He writes about travel, marketing, and his terrible parking skills. Follow him on twitter at @RyanEggenberger.

  • Pingback: TUESDAY EVENING EDITION | Big Pulpit()

  • Laura

    Sigh, i really need to go; it’s the whole anonymous thing that has prevented me to. There are no confessionals at my parish, just the priest’s office (don’t know who thought that was a good idea). I had called other churches but no one was able to give me useful information in regards to shedules or the presence of confessionals. I need to get on this soon and in the worst of cases suck it up and do it face to face (which I have never done before)Pray for me?

    • JerryS

      Laura – Go, go go! As Ryan says, you will be so joyous and relieved to be absolved! You’ll be sorry that you waited, that you worried, that you let anxieties keep you apart from the love of Jesus.

      You should be able to get confession times at neighboring parishes pretty easily. Sometimes their phone system has an option, or you can talk to the parish house secretary, or you can find out confession times on their website. Don’t worry about whether they have confessionals (they probably do – your home situation is relatively unusual). The priest there won’t know you anyway. Or go to your own priest. He’ll be happy to see you, thrilled to absolve you and send you in peace, and forgetful of ever having seen you there.

    • I believe that also has Confession times. If so, still find that specific parish’s website as the times should be posted there. ( doesn’t track schedule changes and recommends you contact the parish or visit their website for accurate information).

    • Laura, yes, please go! I PROMISE you, you will not regret it. You can’t lose!

    • Pat

      You should go. If not to the priest in your parish than to any priest. If you have to go to his office, then make an appointment with a priest from another parish. I suggest going to Mass at a different parish and watch the priest. You can tell if he is a holy priest by the way he says Mass. When you find a good priest run, don’t walk, to confession. I was away for over 20 years and terrified to go to confession. Cannot describe the relief and joy I felt walking out of the door. Went to his office. What a wonderful way to spend an hour. Will be praying for you.

  • Greenman

    The Act of Contrition is even printed in the back cover of the missallette. It is the sacrament of Confession that makes His Devine Mercy real in our lives. But it does require a strong act of the will to make one’s way to Church on a Saturday afternoon. No one in your family may want to accompany you. When you finish, it is the ‘peace that passes all understanding’ that envelopes you.

  • Pingback: 5 tips that will change the way you think about Confession... - Christian Forums()

  • Blake Helgoth

    A priest friend from Steubenville, Fr. Dave Testa, always used to say, ” You shouldn’t be worried about what the priest is going to think of you when you tell him what you did. You should be concerned with what he’s going to do to you! And what he’s going to do is stretch out his hand over you and absolve you of your sins in the name of the Church!”

  • Great list! I posted on this topic last week – 10 reasons people don’t go to confession (and why they should consider going anyway)

    • JMD

      Our “new” parish priest started to tell me about the concerns that a man had expressed in the confessional. Evidently his concerns were major as he was from out of town and not one of our parishioners. Before the priest was able to really say anything I changed the subject as I did not think the conversation was appropriate. What should I have done … called the priest on the “Seal of Confession”, or ??? Following that experience I do not feel comfortable having him hear my confession and I now got out of town to a different priest.

  • Kristi Bell

    And, the confessional, because of Jesus Christ, is very effective at exorcising demons.

  • Bill M.

    I go to confession about once and month and at the conclusion of the sacrament I thank the priest “for being here”.

    • Bill, great point. The priests need our support, as I’ve heard before that listening to confessions for hours on end is not always enjoyable.

  • Robert A. Rowl;and

    If you go to confession every month and pray the Rosary every day,the best friend you have in the world will be there to help you overcome any adversity or trial. Almighty God gives everything to you through the hands of His Blessed Mother. I recommend returning everything to God through those same hands.

  • tz

    Except some have been given overly harsh pennances (IIRC, one woman could not receive the eucharist for 3 years over an abortion) and sounded like she regretted that specific one, and if it is the priest’s first confession, or he is otherwise newly ordained he won’t have years to have “heard everything”. Not to take away from your article, but exaggeration doesn’t help.

  • DG

    I find it traumatising – I suffered from an obsessive/compulsive disorder for a few years and a bad experience at confession helped set it off. I can only force myself to go once a year as for me it’s associated with acute anxiety about remembering everything accurately and getting the formula perfectly right. I feel sick beforehand and often anxious afterwards.

  • “It’s like Vegas but better.” Ryan, that has to be the best lines I’ve ever heard regarding the Seal. If you write a book or give a presentation on Confession, that has to be your subtitle.

  • Pingback: CONFESSION !!! « Lifestyles of the Queenly and Confident()

  • I broke your rule #4 my junior year in college 🙂

    But it’s true that priests have heard just about everything: abortion, theft, abuse, pornography, stepping on the cat by accident. This (from “the bad catholic’s guide to good living”) permanently stilled my fears of confessing: “A dentist is rarely fascinated by plaque.”

  • I once heard a Franciscan Friar describe confession as whispering in the ear of God. That impressed me so much, I wrote this song using the act of contrition and that concept. Hope it can help inspire someone to grow to love the sacrament of confession, one of the best things about being Catholic, next to the Eucharist!

  • Pingback: What To Do When Confession Goes Bad : IgnitumToday()

  • Pingback: Pastoral Sharings – Prayers | St. John()

  • “Nobody ever regrets going to confession, no matter how tough it was.”

    Speak for yourself. Ten years ago, I was in and out of contemplating suicidal thoughts. I got pretty roughed up by my confessor, who did not take kindly to the appeals to dignity mentioned by the author in a subsequent column, and who ended his tirade with: “Now say your act of contrition. It may be your last.” Shortly after the incident, the consequences of years of alcoholism caught up with him, and he went on ahead of me. Keeping the cause of his death secret (or so they thought), he was virtually canonized by the local diocese at his funeral.

    I go to confession regularly, some times more often than others. I choose my confessors more carefully these days.

    • I agree, one had to pick your confessor carefully. My wife and I have gone to several parishes and finally settled on a parish where the priest follows the formula to the “T.” He doesn’t add anything, never gives counseling, or advice but I always walk out forgiven, and that’s what I go for. Sometimes a priest will try to help but their advice doesn’t always help the wounded sinner, and as you mentioned can make a person feel worse. Merton was yelled at by a priest in one of his first confessions, so I guess it happens to the best of us. 😉

      • hat

        This is sad. I have noticed many similarities between the priesthood and psychotherapy. Its seems like so many people don’t have anyone they can really confide in and see eye to eye with, hence they turn to the ‘professionals’.

        Outside of my few friends, I have given up on finding warmth and comfort in human beings. I turn to animals to find affection and company. I turn to science to find understanding.

  • Bill

    Thank you for this awesome article on Confession, I teach the RCIA program at our parish and The Sacrament of Reconcilliation and is a very important topic for the I unbaptized or even those Who are Catholic and need a little refreshing on this Sacrament. If it is ok, I would really like to use your writing in my upcoming class this year. Thank you again!!!

    Bill Bowden

    • You bet, Bill. Glad I could help! Let me know if you need anything else.

  • DG

    Ryan, I’m a little puzzled as to why you never responded to those of us who took the trouble to convey negative experiences. I would have loved an answer to my problem, but it never came.

    I’ve been left thinking that this is just propaganda, and if you don’t fit it, then you are invalidated. How does this help?

    • DG,

      I apologize for offending you if I have. That’s not my intention, brother. I responded to several of the negative points in another post called “When Confession Goes Bad.”

      Your comment initially did not leave me a question to which to respond, so I didn’t.

      However, my response to your comments is one of sympathy, because I have no idea what it’s like to have OCD. Also, for you to find confession traumatizing is also unfortunate. On the one hand I could say just go, because you have to. That would not be charitable. On the other hand, I can’t advise you to not go, as that would jeopardize your spiritual well-being.

      Two suggestions, then:
      -Find a spiritual adviser who has an expertise in psychology (many priests have more degrees than just theology. Call your diocese to ask for some assistance in locating one)
      -Always mention before the confession that you are terrified, if that is the case, and that you are vulnerable because of bad confession in the past.
      -Ask other Catholics who they confess to, and what their experiences were like.

      Hopefully this helps. I can only help as far as my experience and expertise go, which is not psychology, OCD, or being traumatized in confession. I DO have experience with counseling, as I see a counselor regularly, so I understand reaching out for help.

  • DG

    Thank you Ryan. I really appreciate your reply. I can’t tell you what it means to me. I’m going to follow your advice.

  • hat

    Wouldn’t confessing your sins in public to the world be the most honest and accurate way of seeking some form of forgiveness from a god?

    • Actually, probably not. Public performance is fraught with the temptation to show off. It also would involve a lot of care to avoid embarrassing or distressing others whose identity might be guessed from what we confess. There’s evidence public confession as you advocate was done in the earliest days of the Church, but wiser practices then developed to ensure discretion and confidentiality. The main thing, then and now, is that absolution is given, with the authority Jesus conferred directly on His apostles.

      • hat

        What about a system by which the public publicly airs their sins at once? For example, once a week you could a group of people come to the front of the church. Each person could write down beforehand their confession. Then they all place their confessions into a box. The box is shuffled around. All place their hands inside and pull out a confession and read it off. That way the congregation has some idea of what is really going on in the world without having to expose any one individual. It would be very sobering minus the showing off or embarrassment.

      • hat

        This wasn’t satire btw. It would be REALLY interesting to find out what people are really like behind closed doors. It might give us a better gauge of how we should judge ourselves and others, and how we should relate to them.

      • I think that could a very good spiritual exercise to try out within a close group who can trust each other to be completely confidential, and already have a special love and commitment to each other. You see, the few words we ever get to speak never get to the whole truth about ourselves. That’s why we need people to hear us in love and some prior knowledge. Without those, all kinds of untrue inferences can get drawn from our words – as you see with public figures and the media, including our Holy Fathers!

      • Kristen

        We also want to be careful not to cause scandal by confessing our sins to the general public. Besides, how would that help us “judge ourselves and eachother & how we relate to them?” Reading off a list of sins I think would lead to more curiosity than anything. We know people sin, we know what those sins may be & to a point, even what sins are most “popular.” Confession is about asking forgiveness from God because we have wronged Him by sinning. It isn’t about making a spectacle of yourself for penance/because you’re ashamed or about getting forgiveness from others who you may have wronged by you sin. (Although, asking those you have wronged for forgiveness may be wise, that’s not what confession specifically is about- it’s about asking God for forgiveness because it is He that we wrong most of all by all of our sins, not just those which effect other people.)

      • hat

        Well, it would give us a good idea of where we stand vis-a-vis humanity. It would give us a perspective as to how far we have fallen from our own ideals.

      • Kristen

        I think we pretty much know how far humanity has fallen from the ideal. & since when is it a good thing to compare our “badness” with others? Remember the parable about the pharisees & the tax collector in the temple, “at least I’m not like this tax collector!” It seems to me that for a lot of people in our fallen state, knowing people’s worst sins in the congregation (even if it’s anonymous) will have an effect of people saying “well, I’m not THAT bad” or “I didn’t do anything THAT bad, so I don’t have to confess.” Thats what i mean by causing scandal, making faithful people confused. As Catholics we believe that every mortal sin is just as bad as the next because you chose freely to do something of grave matter with full knowledge that it was a sin against God. So there’s not really a sliding scale of “badness” of mortal sins. I know plenty of Catholics who skip out on confession, except for the mandated once a year, because they feel they don’t sin, they don’t “do anything that bad.” It’s unfortunate they can’t adequately examine their conscience because as Proverbs says, even the righteous man sins 7 times a day. My point being that I think what you suggest would only bring more of this “relative badness” way of thinking among Catholics. Besides, Confession is about apologizing to God because you love him so much & have wronged him, and saving your soul from your sin, not about comparing yourself to others and not about gauging society as a whole based on their mistakes.

      • hat

        If ‘there’s not really a sliding scale of “badness” of mortal sins’ and all humans are born in a state of sin, what is the point of continuously asking for forgiveness? Its seems pointless and repetitive.

      • Kristen

        We wash away original sin in baptism, so that takes care of the “born in a state of sin” part. After that, we all sin in our daily lives. Let me ask you this; think about someone who you love and respect dearly. What if you wronged them in some way or let them down, disappointed them. Would you not apologize & ask for their forgiveness? Of course, you’d try your best to do better next time, but what if you wronged them again, would you not apologize & ask for their forgiveness again? Yes, it is repetitive, but when we screw up, (which screwing up is repetitive as well, at least in my life.) it’s only right to set it right, no matter how many times it takes. & if you’d do that (make amends) with a person here on Earth over & over again, then why wouldnt you with God, whom you should love (& whom loves you by the way, whether you’re a sinner or not) above all things? As Pope Francis said, “God never tires of forgiving, it is we who tire of asking for forgiveness.”

      • Isn’t this Sacrament wonderful? The interior graces after being given absolution are transforming. One is really strengthened not to sin. In the hours afterwards, I find I’m given a heightened sensitivity to His presence, and the presence of Our Lady and other saints.

      • james

        ” Of course, you’d try your best to do better next time, but what if you wronged them again, would you not apologize & ask for their forgiveness again? Yes, it is repetitive,…”
        This is a fantasy scenaario. If you wronged a friend in the
        same way more than twice – even if you apologized – they would most likely not take you at your word and if it was
        serious enough they wouldn’t be your friend anymore.
        The point is unless you resolve not to sin again – ie: you
        know this weakness will manifest itself again soon but that
        can wait for the next confession – your confession is not sincere and forgiveness is incomplete. It isn’t like washing laundry.
        And it is naive to think that there isn’t a scale of mortal sin.
        Missing mass is not the same as killing someone. This is
        what secular society sees in our church and unfortuately
        what we can’t see is how utterly inane it is.

      • But you know better than secular society: missing Mass isn’t a mortal sin, is it?

      • Kristen

        Yes it is, actually, if it’s not for serious reason.

      • james

        No, it is not necessarily, Kristen. The second condition for
        a mortal sin is totally subjective. YOU must know that it is
        seriously wrong. At least that’s what I gleaned from 12 yrs
        of parochial school. If a catholic who truly believes that to
        miss mass is a mortal sin and does so ( there are no catholics on earth who would do so BTW ) then it becomes just that. If a catholic doesn’t believe this then it is not.

      • Kristen

        While it is true that if you are truly ignorant of something being a sin or not (as John was about missing mass being a sin) then it is not mortal, however the way you said “it is subjective” and “if a Catholic doesnt believe that (the sin) is a sin then it’s not” hints towards relativism. Just because a Catholic does not THINK something is a sin does not mean that they are an acception to the rule. There are tons of Catholics who believe that contraception is not a sin, but they all know the church teaches it is a sin, so they are not excused from that mortal sin. By that logic, if I just think hard enough that murder isn’t a sin, then it isn’t for me, even though I know good & well it’s one of the 10 commandments. Check out John’s comment with excerpts of the Catichism #1859- the last sentence.

      • james

        Unfortunately, you don’t understand the word subjective
        but I thank you for taking the time to try..

      • Kristen

        I’m sorry, I understand subjective to mean that a person interprets something based on their own experiences, thoughts and feelings- which seems to fit what you were trying to say in your argument. I formed my argument based on this definition of subjective. If this is what you meant by subjective, then I still think my argument is applicable. If there is another definition of subjective you meant in your argument, i’d much rather you explain what you meant instead of being sarcastically insulting.

      • Thank you Kristen. I’m a newbie and still absorbing it all. I’ve inserted another extract from the CCC into the thread. I love your passion for truth and the Faith.

      • Kristen

        I’m a relative newbie as well- I received my first communion and confirmation only 3 years ago. I think us converts & “re-verts” have a distinct advantage though, I think it’s easier for us to understand the teachings of the Church than those taught it as a teenager. Mostly it boils down to proper catechesis, & I think a good percentage of the time adults get a chatechisis of better depth than those growing up with it.

      • I’m 5 months in, from a Pentecostal background plus a fair amount of exposure along the way (I’m now 60!) to Anglicanism here in the UK. And you?

        I agree that we come fresh to the Church, perhaps with a strong grounding in the Scriptures, and able to grasp and appreciate the beauty and completeness of the Catholic faith; but there’s a lot of reforming of mind and heart to do. A lot of conversion. I appreciate the spiritual depth so many cradle Catholics possess

      • Kristen

        Welcome to the Church! I was baptized Catholic but my parents never took me to Church. When I was in college I had a roommate who went to mass every Sunday & she (& the Holy Spirit) inspired me to come back to the Church. The following summer I had catechesis & had my first communion & confirmation. I met my husband, who is actually a former Basselin Scholar seminarian & has his papal degree in philosophy from CUA. (Yes, I’m bragging on him a bit, because without his knowledge of the faith, I probably wouldn’t know a third of what I do!) Couple that with our spiritual director who seems to know theology & Church history like the back of his hand, & who has become more like a father to us than just a priest- & well, there you have it. About 90% of my understanding of the Church, theology, her history, early heresies, ethics, logic, etc., comes from discussions between my husband & our priest. It’s like I’m back in college again & having so much interesting information to absorb. I love it! The stuff I don’t understand I have to go later & look it up, and I do some other reading on my own as well. I was kind of a blank slate before, I had my “wordly bias” of course, (such as birth control, homosexuality, abortion, etc.) but I didn’t have any frame of reference as far as religion went. I guess that would be a lot of adjusting for a Protestant to convert!
        I don’t know what the “Catholic climate” is in the UK, but here in the states it is certainly the case that a vast majority of those raised in the Church are somewhat confused about their faith, which leads them to allow their own thoughts & feelings on things ursurp Church teaching. In the US, something like 70% of Catholics don’t even believe that the Eucharist is the real body blood soul & divinity of Christ. Even a higher percentage use birth control. These controversial issues are hard to understand the full depth of why the Church believes/teaches the way they do. It took me months of lessons, prayer, research on my own, and discussion with my future husband and our priest to reconcile my beliefs with the Church’s on certain issues. I think in a typical Catholic school setting (here in the US) or a typical CCD class for confirmation, kids just don’t get to the depth they need to understand these issues & carry them with conviction throughout their lives. Of course, the exception are “cradle Catholic” families that teach their children the faith passionately at home. But, here in America, a lot of Catholic families don’t adequately teach the faith at home & thus, we end up with the sad state that the US Catholic Church is in now.

      • 2180 The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass.” “The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day.”
        1182 The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.
        2182 Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church. The faithful give witness by this to their communion in faith and charity. Together they testify to God’s holiness and their hope of salvation. They strengthen one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
        2183 “If because of lack of a sacred minister or for other grave cause participation in the celebration of the Eucharist is impossible, it is specially recommended that the faithful take part in the Liturgy of the Word if it is celebrated in the parish church or in another sacred place according to the prescriptions of the diocesan bishop, or engage in prayer for an appropriate amount of time personally or in a family or, as occasion offers, in groups of families.”
        From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

      • Kristen

        As far as the friend in this scenario goes- what did Jesus say about forgiving 70 x 7 times? Besides, it wasnt meant to be an exact analogy, of course God is better (& more forgiving & loving) than any human.
        We do resolve to sin no longer when we say the act of contrition in confession and for a good confession you must mean it, but there is a reason that confession is not a one-time-sacrament; because in our fallen state we are weak. Just because we return to confession does not mean our last confession was not sincere.
        As I understand it, the Church doesnt recognize a scale of mortal sin in regards to judgement. If you die in a state of mortal sin (not taking into account lessened culpability, which only God can judge) then that means you go to hell. Sure, there are sins, like the examples you gave, in which here on earth we find one more acceptable or repulsive than the other, but if the outcome in the next life is all the same for the unrepentant sinner, then what does it matter what our opinion is? The Church states that those who have a mortal sin (grave matter, full knowledge & free will) on their soul when they die will go to hell- both of those examples are mortal sins (excluding lessened culpability, as stated before.) so they would both be going to hell if they didn’t repent. One doesn’t get off the hook easier because they did a mortal sin that is less repulsive to us than the other.
        (If I am wrong and the Church teaches differently about a scale of mortal sin in regards to judgement, please correct me. I trust the Church & her teachings & only want to be in line with them. I do not wish the promote falsehoods and confuse others.)

      • From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
        1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”
        1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: “Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.” The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.
        1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledgeand complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

      • james

        The ” full knowlege ” clause is totally subjective and falls
        under the realm of conscience.

      • Kristen

        I apologize, it does seem my initial statement of the Church recognizing a scale of mortal sins was false based on this excerpt of the catechism. i’m sorry that i caused confusion. However that doesn’t seem to negate the conclusion made about the end judgement made. Mortal sin is mortal sin no matter the gravity, and lessened culpability notwithstanding, all mortal sin = hell if not repented of.

      • james

        You didn’t address my statement that if you KNOW you will
        committ this same sin again even as you confess it your
        forgiveness is incomplete.

      • Kristen

        Yes I did- I said “we do resolve to sin no longer when we say the act of contrition in confession, and for it to be a good confession we must mean it.” –I agree with you that if while in the confessional if you are not truly sorry or resolved to fight against future temptations, then yes, it’s not a sincere confession.

  • Pingback: A Guide for Confession - Immaculate Heart Catholic Radio()

  • Bershawn300

    I just went to my first confession. I am coming into the Church. Have to admit I am confused. The priest had me sit with him openly in the foyer of the church because they were painting a room by the confessional. I was really taken aback by this, as I thought I would have the opportunity to repent privately. But I had resolved to make confession and did not want to put it off. It was hard enough just coming to church for confession for the first time. So there in the foyer with people starting to come in for Mass, I started to confess my sins. But the Father did not have me state the number of times I had committed my sins. He said he did not need to know details. Also kind of acted like this sins (some of which were mortal) were not so bad. I feel confused now. Was this confession valid? Should I go again? I have repeatedly asked God for forgiveness privately and do not relish my sins or want to commit them again. I am confused though. (The priest eventually did move me to a side room where I finished in private confessing (too many people were coming in).) I think he was a kind priest and in some ways even this unusual confession was helpful. But I don’t know if it was valid and that is what I need to know about.

    • Be at peace, dear brother: this was perfectly valid. You are indeed absolved of all the sins you confessed, and now give thanks to God for this marvelous grace. I hope, with the worries you express now put aside, you will now be able to see that grace in action in your heart, for it is – like the seed growing unseen underground. Things you were used to bearing miraculously won’t be there any more. I know, for my first confession after conversion is a recent memory of little over a year.

      I’m sorry the circumstances of this special, first confession were a bit disorganized. Try to forgive the priest. Perhaps look for something positive: it felt embarrassing, out of your control. Those are good conditions to grow in!

      The priest will not, in my experience, press you for details. He is not an inquisitor. What’s obvious to me from your post is that you made a really sincere confession and I’m sure he saw that was the case – which meant there was little for him to say to help you along. Well done.

      One last thing to say, if I may. Over time, you will remember other things you forgot to mention, or as the Holy Spirit refines your conscience, you will see that past behaviour in a different light and will wish to say sorry. And of course you can, in your future regular confessions! That too, you will discover to be a marvelous blessing.

      My heart rejoiced to read your post, for heaven’s joy invades God’s beloved adopted children.

      • Bershawn300

        Thank you so much! This answer was a blessing.

  • rae

    In an ideal world, what you say might be true, however it’s completely inaccurate, and it’s unfair of you to lead people to believe the experience can’t go wrong. It was blogs like this one that led me to attempt my last confession, and I thoroughly regret it. It had been a while since I’d been, and Christ’s representative went berserk, railing about the parents who’d had the nerve to be angry about the sex molestation scandal at his previous parish (I hadn’t mentioned anything about that, and it hadn’t been a factor in my being away), then told me I had to go through RCIA before he’d hear my confession (I had been away for a while, but am a baptized and confirmed Catholic). I became fully apostate that day, and would never consider putting that kind of power over myself again. If God wants to send me to hell because his gatekeepers are douches, so be it. They’re never getting another shot at me.