First confession for an adult

I am in RCIA and am planning to be received into the Church this Easter. I am preparing to make my first confession. I am almost forty years old, and have a lot of life experience, (read: a lot of sin to confess). There are a lot of resources out there on how to make a good confession, and a lot of advice for children on how to make a good first confession. But not much for adults, at least not that I have been able to find. I know we are to confess guilt and not details, but there is a lot that I need help with and our RCIA has just scheduled our first confessions right before the Easter Vigil Mass and Confirmation in a rather assembly line fashion. I want to make a good confession, but not spend not too much time, as there will be others waiting. Still, I feel like I can’t do this in 30 seconds. Any help?

First of welcome to the church. This is something from a person who was away from the church and had a lot of sin to confess. I used the Ten Commandments as a way to examine my conscious and I was away for so long I could not possibly remember all of them so I actually wrote them down on a paper to take in with me. Like you said you don’t have to go into great detail…just confess the sin. It won’t take as long as you think but take as much time as you need and don’t worry I’m sure many in your RCIA have the same dilemma. If you don’t want to seem rushed maybe make sure your last in line. Where I go to confess long lines are the norm. I’m just happy others are there to confess and don’t mind waiting at all. After its over you will feel so much relief and at peace. Good luck and God Bless

(NB: I realized after my posting this that the OP was Protestant. I’ll leave my post intact as help for catechumens with the same question.)

Hi, there!

I was in a very similar position as you about 6 years ago in March. I came into the Church as unbaptized, so that leads me to my first question for you.

Are you coming into the Church as a catechumen (unbaptized or unrecognized baptism by Catholic law) or as a candidate (validly baptized person who is leaving a Protestant faith for Catholicism)?

If you are not yet baptized, the good news is that you need only let the priest know that you were recently baptized before you begin confession. That’s good because a baptism is an immediate remission of all sin, including original, venial and mortal sin. You will not need to discuss any sins prior to your baptism (there’s a caveat to this that I mention in a second).

For candidates, I am not sure of what is to be done, but my understanding of Catholic practice when entering confession is to consider the most serious mortal sins, but only a few of them that you may have discerned from your life, to keep the confession from going on too long (the priest will, naturally, cut you off if it takes too long). But you should note to the priest that you had recently entered the Church but were baptized previously. Most priests should understand the dilemma and grant you absolution for sins you cannot (due to time and/or volume) confess in that session.

I don’t believe that it is appropriate to go back with more sins of the past to confess after that point, provided you were contrite in acknowledging your most significant lapses. Once for your 40 prior years should be sufficient, and then you can concentrate on any lapses for your next confession. Confess early, confess often! :slight_smile:

My caveat in case you are getting baptized: I had a heavy sin I committed prior to my baptism that weighed heavily on me until I brought it up in confession (despite my own baptism). I found it helpful since it was such a critical sin related to future events for me, and it helped me to understand my place in things. So, while you aren’t required to talk about any sins prior to being baptized, do note significant matters (not too many–there’s a line behind you :slight_smile: ) that are important–or arrange to bring it up at another visit.

I’m always happy to hear of a new follower into RCIA. May the Lord be with you.

I second the Welcome Home

I was away from the Church for close to thirty years and so, like you, had quite a list of things to deal with. Naturally when we were kids we were taught to go in and list off our offenses but after so many years and so many offenses, large and small, that just did not seem like it was going to work.
The ten commandments is a good way to go, but that felt a bit too much like the grade school stuff.I actually took a different approach. I used the **7 deadly sins **as my basis. Maybe it is because of my background in quality control but I just felt like rather than naming off a bunch of sins, I should look for and confess to the root cause failures.

As I truly examined my conscience each of the individual sins seemed to stem from one of these deadly sins. for instance: The reason I drifted away from the Church was just plain Sloth and Sloth continued to cause me problems (still does). Lust got me into trouble early in life. Pride and Anger cost me dearly. Gluttony and envy seemed less troublesome I could still see them underlying many things wrong in my life.

Anyway, As I looked at my life and the results of my sins, I began to go through these 7 deadly sins and put together a “highlight sheet” of how each of these sins had been active in my life. I took this with me to confession and read it to father.
After confession I burned the paper and deleted it from my computer - It didn’t seem a good idea to hang on to it since God forgives and forgets.

Well - I hope that helps some. Good Luck, and praise God.


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I have a good little booklet that is caleld “On making a good confession” It’s something like this where it breaks down all the commandments. Printing this out would be a good idea!

I like to switch up my Examens from time to time so thanks for the above, Kristanl.

Presently I am using this Examination of conscience-