ASK FATHER: I just learned we have to confess mortal sins in kind and NUMBER. But I haven’t been doing that. I don’t want to go to Hell.

From a reader…


I have recently learned I believe several years ago then when going to confession one must confess mortal sins by kind and “x” times #. Well, I don’t think I’ve ever done that until I found out about the proper way to confess mortal sins. When I was in my 20’s I kind of fell away from my faith but after I believe a couple of years I came back to the Church. I remember I wrote down my sins in a paper (long list by the way) but I can’t really recall if I named the mortal sins by number of times. I did named the sin though. Were those sins forgiven? (even those from my childhood where I probably did not say the number of times) Please help I don’t want to go hell. Perhaps I was poorly catechize (confirmation was a disaster, learned nothing). I was born in the 80’s after Vatican II. Thanks.

The thought of Hell should be present in the mind of every mature Catholic on a regular basis.  It is a sobering corrective and great motivator.

Yes, we are required to confessed all mortal sins according to kind (what sin) and number (at least generally or an idea of the frequency).  If you can’t remember, then you can’t remember and God does not require the impossible

Don’t torture yourself over this.  Make sincere confessions and do your best with number or a general sense of frequency.   Now that you have made good confessions, do an examination of conscience each evening.  That will help you not to get lost in numbers or frequency.  It’ll also be a way of getting to know yourself, the mercy of God, and the need for the sacraments.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. The Astronomer says:

    Thank you for this timely post, Father. God bless you for it. I’ll keep you in my prayers.

  2. redneckpride4ever says:

    How specific should one get in terms of sins?

    Example: once you stole a dollar from a Walmart register because I didn’t have enough for cigarettes, once you stole a dollar from a starving homeless person because you didn’t have enough for cigarettes.

    Should you be a bit more specific than “I commited the sin of stealing twice”?

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