ASK FATHER: After being away for years, I went to confession but I forgot something.

From a reader…


I recently got over myself and went to confession after being away from the sacramental life of the church for a number of years.
I then realized that I had not confessed the fulfillment of my easter duty. However I suspect the priest would automatically know this by the number of years I had been away.
Your reminders to go to confession are a short sharp jab that’s needed.
God bless you and your work

Firstly, I like the way you put that… you “got over yourself”. That’s an underlying point about forgiveness in the Lord’s parable about the Pharisee and the Publican who went to the Temple to pray.

When making your confession, do your best. That’s all that is asked of you. Whether you have been away for 20 days or 20 years, do your best. If you don’t remember something, you can’t confess it. You’ve still done your best to confess all that you remember. In that way ALL YOUR SINS are forgive, including those which you didn’t remember or had remembered but in the moment forgot to confess.

The next time you go back to confession, which should be fairly frequently to get back into the groove, mention that you have forgotten to confess “A…B… C…”. As things surface from your past that know you haven’ confessed, mention them as things that you just remembered.

Also, something that will help diminish this is making an examination of conscience every night. That will be a very useful tool for making a good confession and seeing where your principle faults are, the things that need work the most… right now.

And never forget that there is no sin so great that our infinite and loving God can’t or won’t forgive. Forgiveness is always there for us, provided that we ask for it.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Father Z,
    Thank you so much for the advice you give to Catholics who have been away from the Church and who come back for their general confession (and subsequent confessions). There is probably a tendency among returning lapsed Catholics to be scrupulous. I came back to the Church in 2017 after 40 years away, and in the first year of my return, I found myself turning over and over in my mind, the sins (from a long time ago) which I had already confessed, to which I am no longer attached. I had to remind myself of the mercy of God and focus instead on doing exactly what you say: making a daily examination of conscience and going to confession regularly. I realized that dwelling on the past took my attention away from my present failings.

  2. Not says:

    Amen Father Z., I am a long time frequent confessioner, if that’s the correct word. My dear sister in law is dying of fourth stage lung cancer. She is spending her time in frequent confessions and Daily Tradional Mass. Her preparation has made me look back at my sins. I have prayed about it and remembered a variety of sin I have forgotten over the years. I know they have been forgiven. The Confessors have been excellent. I have told her how she has inspired me by her actions. I will greatly miss her.

  3. BeatifyStickler says:

    Awesome to hear this! Praise God!!

  4. redneckpride4ever says:

    Personally I found the best thing for me was have a general confession. There’s plenty of guides out there that will list all possible sins for each commandment. It may provide questions such as “did I look at impure images?” or “was I cruel to animals?”

    I made a list if all the sins I could remember in number and kind, providing details only when needed or asked. The whole thing was about 15 minutes, covered my entire life, and when done I simply destroyed the list.

    There’s multiple videos that cover general confessions.

    I must preface this by saying I believe that Francis is Pope, but the best video lesson was actually done by Fr. William Jenkins of the SSPV. No, I would not attend an SSPV Mass, but the lesson itself was extremely well done and I’d recommend it to anyone. It can be found via a simple YouTube search.

    In my limited opinion, a general confession is the surest way to slam the door shut in Satan’s ugly face.

  5. WallStCatholic says:

    On Saturday, I did my first confession since my first confession—2+ decades ago–as i had fallen away, then drifted slowly back. I was so poorly catechized that I didn’t even appreciate mortal sin was a bar to receiving communion. I eventually learned that rather self-obvious fact through my self-catechesis, then abstained from eucharist as I figured things out. Father Z’s ever present drumbeat of “dude, go to confession” has been rumbling through my mind for quite some time.

    I went with notes (an outline, really) but the confessional so was dark I could barely read my coded scratches, and later I realized I might not have fully emphasized one point (thinking implications were obvious) and failed to note something else. I figured this blog might have helpful practical advice: not only did it, but it was from a day or so ago. Which speaks to its reach: it’s traditionally minded but I think very mindful that some of us are at a different stage in our faith/rectifying ourselves. It’s highly practical, and I’ll be forever appreciative of that (and the food pics).

  6. Dcn PB says:


    “Dude, go to confession!” I love it.

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