Between-confession worries

I try to go to confession every month, sometimes it’s a little longer interval. I always come home very reassured, after the Priest states that he is absolving me of all of my sins.

But (and this is me continually overthinking everything in my life) I start to worry that I missed something, or that somehow there’s still sin that I’ve not confessed to.

Much of this concern is because I’ve only been Catholic for a few years. So there’s a lot of ugly history, some of which my memory is very spotty. If something big comes to kind that I’d forgotten I go and confess it.

At my first confession, the nice elderly Priest told me that if I walk out of confession and later start thinking that I missed something, not to worry as that is the devil trying to trick me.

Also when I start to have doubts then I worry that I’m doubting the Lord’s mercy.

Ugh this is so distressing sometimes. Is it uncommon to have these thoughts and concerns? How do you handle these?

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Advice of elderly priest sounds so wise! Plus we say for these and for all the sines of my past life i am heartily sorry. Have to rest on that.

Rather than focus on your sin, focus on Jesus and how much you love Him. Last night our family watched Episode 6; Season 2 of “The Chosen” and Mary Magdalene falls back into her previous sinful ways after being convinced by an evil spirit that she is who she used to be. The ending of this episode pretty much depicts the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Mary Magdalene felt like she would be a bother to Jesus and that she was unforgivable. Mary (the mother of our Lord) offers to take Mary Magdalene to Jesus and assured her that now, not later, was a good time to do so.

Mary Magdalene enters Jesus’ tent (kind of like entering the Confessional) and shares how sorry she is. Jesus tells her that she is Forgiven. And, though I cannot remember the exact words, that He wants her heart.

If we define ourselves by the sins of our past, are we giving Him our heart?

The byproducts of sin enslave us (addiction, hurt to others, guilt, a sense of worthlessness). He desires us to be free. When you confess your sins to Jesus (and make an act of contrition), you are no longer defined by your sins’ past. You are forgiven, loved, worthy, not because of anything that we have done, but because of grace.

Jesus wants your heart. You are not a bother to Him. And you are forgivable. He is re-presenting you a gift. It is up to you now to accept it anew.

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Thank you! I appreciate it and yes I need to focus on Him now and not who I used to be.

It can be very hard to struggle with worries about this sacrament. For many centuries, priests have known that it can be quite common for people to experience worries about their confession. (I myself have had worries about confessions I have made.) For some, such worries are an occasional thing. For others they are a more regular struggle. I’m sorry that this is causing you some agony on what seems to be a regular basis.

The advice you got from that priest is spot on. In fact, given the struggles you’re facing, it seems to me that the Holy Spirit prompted him to make that remark for your benefit.

As you were likely taught when you were preparing to become a member of the Church, the Sacrament of Reconciliation has three parts.

The “three parts of the penitent” are: contrition, confession, and satisfaction. The "part of the priest " is absolution.

What I would encourage you to remember is that the most important part of the penitent is contrition.

We are not obliged to confess sins we cannot remember… because that would be impossible.

But if we have contrition (even imperfect contrition) we have the intention to confess all our sins.

If you intentionally hide a mortal sin, that shows that you don’t have contrition. Intentionally hiding a mortal sin is not compatible with contrition.

But forgetfulness and contrition can co-exist. (I would note that your post shows suggests that you would confess sins you have forgotten if you could. This could actually be taken as evidence that you have contrition.)

You should trust that if you intended to confess any mortal sins you may have forgotten then you had the proper disposition to be absolved. And if you were absolved, then you are forgiven.

(By the way, there is no obligation to confess venial sins, even though it is a very good thing to do.)

So my advice is to not obsess about the matter, but instead to thank the Lord for his mercy that endures forever, to recall your good intention, and to commend whatever you have forgotten to the Sacred Heart of Jesus who forgives even what we forget.

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Thanks. That clarifies things too.

Appreciate it!

I had that concern, as well, but Father said not to focus on our sin but on our Hope in Christ. To focus too much on our sin to the point of worry and despair is to fall into the sin of scrupulosity. It’s helped me immensely to have that distinction.

I’ve forgotten sins too. Decades ago, I realized I was doing a poor job of Friday penance, and I intended to confess it. I was in the habit of praying all the mysteries of the rosary each day, and when the luminous mysteries were established, I decided that on Fridays I would say those. It wasn’t long before I went to confession, but I had already forgotten about confessing my poor penance, maybe because I had remedied it and it wasn’t on my conscience anymore.

My memory is no better now, and a few days ago I mentioned in confession that I probably forgot things, but if I had committed a mortal sin, it would be on my conscience and I wouldn’t forget it. The priest said he forgets things too.

And after confession this week I remembered something else: sometimes not paying attention at Mass. A few years ago a priest forgot to consecrate the wine, and I didn’t even notice. I realized I needed to pay more attention. I think I do, but remembering to confess it? I remember things that are on my conscience, even if they are not major, but I say I’m sorry for all my sins and that has to cover the things I don’t remember.

Also, I’m sure I don’t commit sins as much as I used to, but I always want to do good and not just avoid evil, so I try to pay attention to doing good and confess it if I fail (and if I remember).