From a reader:
The more I read you the more I’m intent on going to Confession again.
I’m 31, and haven’t been since I was confirmed. As you know, it just hasn’t been consistently preached that it is necessary. I just have a couple basic questions.
1) What do I say? Do I immediately say, “Father, forgive me, for I have sinned,” then list my sins?
2) I can’t find the post, but I think I remember you saying that one needs to confess ALL mortal sins committed, in order for absolution to be valid. Well, quite frankly, that’s impossible. Over the past 19 years, I’ve sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed. I neither have the memory nor the time to list all my sins. Providing I could remember all my sins, my confession could take hours. Any guidance would be MUCH appreciated.
Good for you!
It is good to follow a regular format for confession. You might prepare for your confession with a good Examination of Conscience. You can find some good things here. Fr. Finigan made a useful confession pamphlet.
You should, indeed, try to confess all your mortal sins in kind and number whenever you go to confession. However, since it has been a very long time for you, and we humans just can’t remember everything, do you best, perhaps giving an indication of frequency over some period of time (month, year) while confessing those low points you do remember clearly. Just do your best. If you do your best, ALL your sins will be forgiven, whether you could remember them all or not. Then, in the future, you can be more precise when going to confession regularly.
And you can always tell the priest it has been a long time and you could use some help.
Also, down the line, you might look at my 20 Tips.
Finally, just go! You’ll be more than fine. Do your best and God does the rest.