Priest recommends dangerous practice of making a written list of one’s sins, prior to confession.

confessionlist

by Doug Lawrence

In a recent article, 10 Tips on How to Confess Well Fr. Ed Broom offers a number of useful tips for making a good confession – but one of the suggestions is dangerous, because it can easily lead to a violation of the “seal” of absolute confidentiality of the sacrament of reconciliation – and cause a host of other, totally unnecessary problems, as well.

According to the article, it is suggested that we should “Write down the sins so that you will not forget them once in the confessional!”

Let’s consider all the things that might happen to a written list of sins from the night before, when a complete examination of conscience might have been done – through the actual confession – and afterwards.

Unless you happen to be a hermit, living on a mountain top, or in a cave, and the priest is coming to you – and your list of sins will be dropped into a fire and be instantly destroyed – you run a substantial risk of someone – anyone – happening across your list – learning all the details of your particular sins – and violating one of the most important aspects of the sacrament.

Understanding that the seal of the confessional is binding not only on the priest, but also on any other Catholic who might inadvertently learn of your sins – by whatever means –  it’s clear that putting such things down in writing is often dangerous – and generally foolish.

If the list was misplaced or somehow misappropriated – intentionally or otherwise – and the information was subsequently disseminated to others – a number of very negative consequences might result. Here’s just a few of the many possibilities. (If you happen to be a politician, a used car salesman, or a bishop, please pay close attention):

The priest might be wrongly accused of violating the seal of the confessional.

Family or friends might come into possession of the list – before or after the confession – and discover certain things that they should not know. (Did you ever leave something in the pocket of your shirt or pants, and it ended up in the wash?)

Business associates and/or others – particularly your enemies – might come into possession of the list – in which case the possibilities for gossip and other mischief – including blackmail – are virtually without limits.

You might get arrested and subsequently carted off to jail. 

Your list might become a near occasion of grave sin – for some yet unknown individual.

You might suddenly begin attract new – and unwanted – friends and followers. 

You may find your personal list of sins “Trending Now” on the World Wide Web/Internet.

The entire parish/neighborhood might soon know all about your innermost thoughts and personal weaknesses.

There is also a very real possibility that your friends, family and others could be caught up in any ensuing scandal.

In the confessional, most priests will ask whether you are truly sorry for “these and all your sins” – and that ought to cover anything you have genuinely forgotten to confess. Should some unconfessed sin come to mind at another time, simply confess it at your earliest convenience. God isn’t looking to trip you up!

In these days of information piracy and other forms of electronic mischief – leading to identity theft and all types of related problems – the last thing you need to do is go around making written lists of all the grave sins you have committed – especially since they might somehow end up on Facebook or Twitter, before you know it.

I suggest you do your best to frequently make a good confession – by memory. Treat such information much as you would your social security number and credit card data – taking steps to make absolutely certain it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Otherwise, you risk very serious, unforeseen  and totally unnecessary consequences – which were never intended to be a part of the sacrament of reconciliation.

A handy guide to examination of conscience for your “Easter Duty” Confessions

[1] I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods before me. EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE

  • Do I give God time every day in prayer?
  • Do I seek to love Him with my whole heart?
  • Have I been involved with superstitious practices or have I been involved with the occult?
  • Do I seek to surrender myself to God’s Word as taught by the Church?
  • Have I ever received Communion in a state of mortal sin?
  • Have I ever deliberately told a lie in confession or have I withheld a mortal sin from the priest in confession?

[2] You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

  • Have I used God’s name in vain: lightly or carelessly?
  • Have I been angry with God?
  • Have I wished evil upon another person?
  • Have I insulted a sacred person or abused a sacred object?

[3] Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.

  • Have I deliberately missed Mass on Sundays or Holy Days of Obligation?
  • Have I tried to observe Sunday as a family day and a day of rest?
  • Do I do needless work on Sunday?

[4] Honor your Father and your Mother.

  • Do I honor and obey my parents?
  • Have I neglected my duties to my spouse and children?
  • Have I given my family good religious example?
  • Do I try to bring peace into my home life?
  • Do I care for my aged and infirm relatives?

Visit the site for the other six … and more

The Seven Daily Habits of Holy People


There are various ways to come to know Jesus. We are going to speak briefly about some of them in this article. You want to come to know, love and serve Jesus the same way you learn to love and stay in love with anybody: your spouse, family members, and close friends, i.e. by spending a considerable amount of time with him on a regular and, in this case, daily basis. The payoff, if you will, is the only true happiness in this life and the vision of God in the next. There are no easy substitutes. Sanctification is a work of a lifetime and it requires our determined effort to cooperate with God’s sanctifying grace coming through the sacraments.

The seven daily habits that I propose to you are the morning offering, spiritual reading (New Testament and a spiritual book suggested to you by your spiritual advisor), the Holy Rosary, Holy Mass and Communion, at least fifteen minutes of mental prayer, the recitation of the Angelus at noon, and a brief examination of conscience at night.

These are the principal means to achieve holiness. If you are a person who wants to bring Christ to others through your friendship, these are the instruments by which you store up the spiritual energy that will enable you to so. Apostolic action without the sacraments and a deep solid interior life will in the long run be ineffective. You can be sure that all the saints incorporated in one way or another all of these habits into their daily routine. Your goal is to be like them, contemplatives in the middle of the world.

Read more by Fr. McCloskey