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Today I am taking part in a traditional Pilgrimage to the shrine which is located in my town. I will be going to confession before the Mass, and there are a few sins that I cannot remember how many TIMES I have committed that sin, offending God.

Since I can't remember how many times I have committed the sin, is it permissible that I say I have committed "______(sin) many times"?
(09-08-2012, 07:40 AM)LoyalVIews Wrote: [ -> ]Today I am taking part in a traditional Pilgrimage to the shrine which is located in my town. I will be going to confession before the Mass, and there are a few sins that I cannot remember how many TIMES I have committed that sin, offending God.

Since I can't remember how many times I have committed the sin, is it permissible that I say I have committed "______(sin) many times"?


Usually I don't mention the number in confession. I say once or several times. NEVER the priest asked me  "how many times".
(09-08-2012, 07:40 AM)LoyalVIews Wrote: [ -> ]Today I am taking part in a traditional Pilgrimage to the shrine which is located in my town. I will be going to confession before the Mass, and there are a few sins that I cannot remember how many TIMES I have committed that sin, offending God.

Since I can't remember how many times I have committed the sin, is it permissible that I say I have committed "______(sin) many times"?

If you do know the number you are suppose to say it for Mortal sins.  It makes a big difference if a person kills 1 person or 10 people or commits adultery 1 or 10 times or steals 5 dollars vs 50,000 dollars. 
(09-08-2012, 07:40 AM)LoyalVIews Wrote: [ -> ]Today I am taking part in a traditional Pilgrimage to the shrine which is located in my town. I will be going to confession before the Mass, and there are a few sins that I cannot remember how many TIMES I have committed that sin, offending God.

Since I can't remember how many times I have committed the sin, is it permissible that I say I have committed "______(sin) many times"?

You should confess the sin, without unnecessary detail but enough to identify the sin, and the number of times as best you can.

If you forget sins, or cannot remember numbers, it is not a problem. Withholding that information for mortal sins is a problem and you would not be absolved, but that is only for numbers and sins you knew.

If that happens to me, I try to give a good impression of how often it was done. If more detail is asked, then give it as best you can.
(09-08-2012, 08:52 AM)nmoerbeek Wrote: [ -> ]
(09-08-2012, 07:40 AM)LoyalVIews Wrote: [ -> ]Today I am taking part in a traditional Pilgrimage to the shrine which is located in my town. I will be going to confession before the Mass, and there are a few sins that I cannot remember how many TIMES I have committed that sin, offending God.

Since I can't remember how many times I have committed the sin, is it permissible that I say I have committed "______(sin) many times"?

If you do know the number you are suppose to say it for Mortal sins.  It makes a big difference if a person kills 1 person or 10 people or commits adultery 1 or 10 times or steals 5 dollars vs 50,000 dollars. 


Yes, of course, but how do you explain that the priests never ask the number of times you sinned.
(09-08-2012, 09:13 AM)maso Wrote: [ -> ]Yes, of course, but how do you explain that the priests never ask the number of times you sinned.

I have had priests ask questions.

Not all priests are the same.

The priest may not ask because he is sufficiently satisfied there is contrition.
When you can't remember the number, you give your best estimate and make it clear that is what it is, i.e, "I commit X sin, about this many times, as far as I can recall."

If you can't even be that exact, for example, it's a regular habit, then, you would say, "I committed X sin, daily, about Y number of times, since my last confession, which was [date], or again, [about a month ago], etc.

Helps to have a regular confessor if you are bad at keeping proper track.

You must be simple and honest about your memory and your best recollection of the approximate number, neither exagerrating or minimizing.


' The penitent must give the number of his mortal sins
so far as he can; if he knows exactly how often
he has fallen into a mortal sin, he must state that number of
times, neither increasing nor diminishing; if, despite careful ex-
amination and reflection he cannot arrive at the real number, he
must give it as near as possible, adding the words "about" or
"at least"; in so doing he fulfills his obligation, for he has done
what he could, which is sufficient to enable a judgment to be
pronounced humano modo. Should the penitent, after having
thus confessed in all good faith, discover later on a more accu-
rate number than that confessed, he is not obliged to make an-
other confession to supply this number; nor .should he disquiet
himself, for the round numbers given in the first confession in-
cluded everything; it is only when the newly discovered num-
ber is considerably greater than the vague estimate of his first
confession that he is obliged to confess again, because the num-
ber, and, in consequence, the sin, was not perfectly confessed,
since a far greater number cannot be considered as included in
his former round estimate.

The question naturally arises what the confessor is to under-
stand by a numeral qualified by "about" or "at least." As a
general rule the greater the number expressed, the greater is the
number that may be understood as implied ; for instance, "about
three times'' would mean from two to four times; "about five
times," from four to six times; "about ten times," from eight
to twelve times; "about one hundred times," at most from
ninety to one hundred and ten times. It is clear from this
general appreciation of theologians that the numbers implied
by the term "about" increase in proportion to the actual num-
ber mentioned. If the penitent discovers that he has mentioned
a number considerably less than the truth, he must remedy the
defect; if he has erred by giving too large a number, he need
not correct the mistake, because the larger number includes the
less. Moreover, it is advisable, instead of using high numbers,
to state how often the sin has been committed in the course of
a week or a month, etc., especially with regard to frequent or inte-
rior sins. Indeed with habitual sinners it suffices to state how
long they have indulged the evil habit, and that they have given
willful consent more or less daily whenever occasion offered ;
this is enough, when the actual number of sins is so doubtful
that there would always be a grave risk of a mistake in trying
to determine it. "The confessor, when he knows the period
over which the accusation extends, may easily and safely form
his opinion in the case of a penitent whose will is habitually
inclined to sin, that the penitent has sinned as often as there
were necessary interruptions to his sin."

This method in determining the number of
sins is as well founded as the other,
for in this case, too, all is done that is morally possible. Hence
the confessor should never force his penitent to give a deter-
minate number, for this is in most cases impossible. On the
other hand, the confessor should help the penitent to state
the number in the way we have indicated.

Hence a prostitute makes a sufficient statement in confessing
how often she has been accustomed to sin each day or week, at
the same time telling the species, or at least the more general
species, of the sins so far as possible; she would make a perfect
confession by an accusation such as follows : "I have spent so
many years in this state of sin, and as occasion offered I sinned
with all who came, married and unmarried, and also with those
who were bound by vow." Penitents must always give at least
the more general specific characters of their sins, and the num-
ber of times per day or week they have sinned.

A similar difficulty is presented in the case of those who have
a deeply rooted habit of sin - - those, for example, who con-
stantly entertain impure desires with regard to women whom
they chance to meet; it is very difficult in such a case to give
any number. Such people make a perfect confession by stat-
ing that they are given to this habit, adding whether they in-
dulge frequently in the day or week; besides this they should
mention at least the more general specific characters, whether
they indulge these desires with regard to married people or
relations or persons consecrated to God.'

- Theory and Practice of the Confessional

[See further if necessary the entire volume]
(09-08-2012, 09:13 AM)maso Wrote: [ -> ]Yes, of course, but how do you explain that the priests never ask the number of times you sinned.

I have had at least one priest directly ask me how many times for a certain sin. I was just sort of rattling them off without numbers and he stopped me and asked how many times for the worst couple. It depends on the priest's approach and the sinner's disposition, as others have said.
I see it as the penitent's obligation to mention the kind and number of mortal sins. It's not enough to say "I fornicated." You have to say "I fornicated x times". The fact that the priest does not ask the number of times is not your problem.

For mortal sins, you must confess the kind of sin and the number.
For venial sins, you're not required to confess them, so you don't have to give a number.
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