Catholics/past sins from childhood

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QUESTION: Dear Father,

I know I should ask this question in confession but I get so nervous I would never be able to ask this clearly.

What does one do about childhood sins.  I had a problem with habitual impurity with self, that probably started about age 5.  I think it was a response to stress.  At some point I was doing it everyday and everywhere.   No one ever corrected me appropriately or told me what I was doing or why I should stop.  I remember a couple instances of my mom telling me to stop but she never told me what I was doing why I should stop or that it was a sin.  Was I guilty of mortal sin at that age?  Was I making bad confessions and communions from the age 7 on?  Or just once I learned it was a sin?  

Anyway I don't remember when exactly I learned it was a sin.  I am guessing it was probably around age 12 when we has a CCD "sex-ed" class.  Even then I was confused because the way they described it always pertained to the boys and I was a girl, so I wasn't 100% sure and I definitely didn't have the kind of parents I could ask about this.  Anyway I don't know when I first decided to confess it.  I know I said I committed this particular sin.  I know when I did I was very embarrassed and I am sure I was not very detailed.  I know I wouldn't have told how long it was going on or any other details that about that sin that could have increased its severity.  My head keeps telling me that I was only required to confess how and  what I knew at that time.  Not how I would confess it now, it light of what I know now.  But I keep worrying that I should back and confess some more details of that sin.  And re-confess all my sins since then.

ANSWER: Dear A:

You seem to be a very devout Catholic, and you desire to grow in your love and service of God in every way that you possibly can.  As you mentioned in your description, you were not always fully aware of the sin you were committing, but came to greater knowledge later in life.  I gather that you make regular Confession; and so, it would no doubt be a great relief to your mind and spirit to just express this to the Priest in Confession in a way similar to how you describe it here.  I would hope any Priest ought to be open and compassionate towards your need to deal with this.
Just mention that there were many times, even as a young person, sometimes even daily, that you committed sins against purity as a way of dealing with the stresses of life at the time; and that you have come to realize later in life that those actions were sinful and not good for you; and that you simply want to confess them here-and-now to receive the continuing care of God's healing Grace and Forgiveness.  Confess them in a way that is compassionate and merciful to yourself, and with the full trust in God's love, mercy, compassion and healing forgiveness towards you.  Then just leave all the old memories behind in the hands of Jesus, and receive the absolution and atonement of the work of Christ's Saving Power as a wonderful and beautiful Gift to you to cherish all your life.
God loves you; May He bless you graciously and abundantly!

Fr. Timothy Johnson

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Just a quick follow up question Fr.   

I have made a couple of confessions since these things came to my mind.  I haven't mentioned these sins because I go back and forth on whether its necessary or not.  Because technically I have confessed them but maybe not as well as I should have.  Have I made invalid confessions because I didn't bring them up right away?  Or would confessing these things simply be a good idea to ease my mind?

Thanks Again

Answer
Dear A:

Confession does wonderful things for the soul.
For ease of mind, might as well just mention them since they came to mind, so that in mentioning them, you can leave them behind in the hands of Jesus and go forward.
I recommend: Don't go back-and-forth; just go forward into the light, grace, peace, and love of the Lord Jesus Christ Who is full of mercy and healing forgiveness.
God bless you!

Fr. Timothy Johnson

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