ASK FATHER: If I remember a sin after confessing, should I interrupt the priest and tell him?

From a reader…


If in Confession I forget a mortal sin (I do examine my conscience but my memory is bad), but then remember AFTER having told the priest that I have finished confessing, and he is talking, should I interrupt him with my sin or be quiet? If I should interrupt, does that go also for remembering during the act of contrition, or during absolution?
Basically, how late can/should I interrupt?
I always end up leaving the confessional worrying that my Confession isn’t valid and it’s quite distressing…

I’d be very grateful if you could keep this anonymous! Thank you for your help.

I always try to anonymize!

If you remember some mortal sin, and if Father hasn’t given you absolution, then I think it is okay to interrupt and say that you remembered something.

If the sin you remember is merely venial, you don’t have to.

If, after receiving absolution, you can be assured that all your sins were forgiven.

I recommend not suddenly shouting, “WAIT! THERE’S MORE!”


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. thomas tucker says:

    This questioner sounds to me as if he is troubled by a scrupulous conscience. Having suffered from that years ago, I can recognize it, and the suffering that it causes. One thing I would recommend is that he or she read and follow the Ten Commandments for the Scrupulous which can be found on the website

  2. APX says:

    As someone with a terrible memory that has a tendency to go blank, I strongly recommend writing out one’s sins. Not only will it keep you from forgetting them, but it will speed up the confession process and keep you on track lest you wander off on a tangent.

  3. I’m not so sure someone with a scrupulous conscience would wait for an answer here in this forum. I guess it is possible but scrupulously usually produces a very unholy impatience. Not one that that would wait for an answer from the Ask Father question box. This was a good clarification for something I have wondered about myself. Thanks.

  4. LarryW2LJ says:

    “I recommend not suddenly shouting, “WAIT! THERE’S MORE!””

    Yes ……. it’s NEVER a good idea to give Father a heart attack!

  5. TonyO says:

    I have had this exact experience happen, and I too wondered what is the best thing to do. Obviously if there is a pause in what Fr. is saying as advice, you have that opportunity to speak up. If you are waiting for that pause and Fr. goes straight into the absolution – and gets 2/3 of the way through before you can even collect yourself upon realizing “oops, he didn’t pause” – stopping him and saying (quietly) “Oh, I just realized, I meant to also say…” is not an easy thing. We are trained not to interrupt people, especially when they are doing something ceremonial.

    If it got left to the last thing on your mental list as “I am not sure this is a mortal sin, but it I suspect it is and I will ask Fr. about it”, but the discussion wandered before you got to that, then you are really stuck in mental confusion afterwards if you don’t stop Fr.’s saying the absolution to mention it and ask.

    And no, it’s not necessarily scrupulosity. I know people who struggled with that, so I kind of recognize it, but that’s not what is going on. It’s more like poor memory, but might well be “poor memory when you are ‘on the spot’ “, which is not really all that uncommon, is it? We have to take seriously the possibility of making a bad confession.

    [Even people with great memories and who did a good examination of conscience beforehand can have a lapse of memory. But the confessional is not the “rack” where every last thing must be wrung out of you or there will be more pain. When we do our level best, and we are sincerely sorry for our sins and intend to amend out lives, all our sins are forgiven, lapses and all.]

  6. marianne says:

    Once upon a time, after walking out of a confessional, I remembered I forgot a mortal sin so back into line I went… My 2nd confession began, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It’s been 6 minutes since my last confession…”

  7. William says:

    “Wait, there’s more!”

    I just had a mental image of Billy Mays (the TV infomercial guy) going to confession.

  8. Imrahil says:

    This may be one of my very occasional departures into scrupulosity, but if God made or allowed me to remember a mortal sin (or an at least venial sin which I really suspect could have been mortal) before the priest says “ego te absolvo” or vernacular equivalent, and if I didn’t then interrupt him to say it at once and let him pass on to absolution, I’d consider myself guilty of making a sacrilegious and invalid Confession. After all, there’s no working around the fact that in this case, I withheld a sin I needed to have and could still have Confessed; didn’t I?

    For which to avoid, I would certainly out all ceremony aside. I could even actually imagine myself to say “wait, there’s more” (or rather a German equivalent such as “halt, einen Moment noch!”) rather than allow this to happen.Michael Brinkmann Ganz ehrlich? Lasst es bitte bleiben mit der GroKo, auch wenn es Zugeständnisse seitens der Union gab. Die SPD wird als Teil einer neuen GroKo gewaltig an Glaubwürdigkeit verlieren; die Quittung wird es vom Wähler in 4 Jahren dafür geben. Eine glaubwürdige Erneuerung der SPD kann nur in der Opposition stattfinden.

    If I didn’t remember it until absolution had begun, I’d consider myself on the safe side.


    Writing one’s sins down may be quite helpful, but I hope (and assume) it’s not required to use it to avoid missing one? If you forgot one because you didn’t write down although you could have, it does not count as deliberate withholding (with dolus eventualis or so)?

    (Though… the confessionals are usually too dark to read from the prepared list.)

  9. Imrahil says:

    I’m really sorry for the inadvertent paste of something I didn’t even intentionally copy.

    (Though I don’t think it’s a mortal sin.)

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  11. aiello01 says:

    I went through a scrupulous in my late teens. During this period of time, I read the account of the lilies of the field in the gospels (see Matthew 6:25-34). I was shocked by it because it sounded like it was telling me that I should not worry about anything; and I was worried about everything thinking that I was being religious in doing that. I asked the priest in confession if I should stop worrying about all of the possible sins that I didn’t commit, but confessed anyway because I may have committed them. He gave me a lukewarm yes answer.
    I didn’t realize at the time that I had just received a primal glimpse of Biblical spirituality. I didn’t go with it because there was no teaching or validation for this in the Catholic Church; but I never forgot it. Shortly thereafter I went into agnosticism.
    In my late twenties I got into an Eastern philosophy that was very helpful at the time; but after a few years I wondered if Christianity had similar elements. I went into the Bible, and sure enough it did. In the Bible we are told to be anxious for nothing and to cast all of our care on the Lord in order to have inner peace and be exalted (see Philippians 4:6-7 and 1Peter 5:5-7). This reminded me of the glimpse that I received in my late teens. I tried it and it worked immediately. This has been my spirituality for many years now.

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