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How often should I go to confession?

I’m so sorry that your recent experience with the sacrament of Reconciliation has been so upsetting for you. You are doing just fine with the way you’ve been going about it all your life, and I see no need to change a thing.

You asked the question in the context of what was, when you were growing up, called the “Easter duty.” That referred to the reception of Communion during the Easter season. Your duty is to love God and your neighbor. It’s a privilege, not a duty, to receive your Lord in the Eucharist. That sacrament is, of course, a direct, personal encounter with the risen Christ. And so is Reconciliation, by which you should experience pardon and peace, not agitation and anxiety.

You obviously are thinking of “confession before Communion,” and you are thinking (correctly) of the Easter season as extending through Pentecost. It is not a mortal sin not to go to confession during the Easter season. Not to go to confession hardly could be sinful at any time. The purpose of confession is to unburden yourself of moral guilt and free yourself from sin. If you are not thus burdened, be grateful, not anxious.

If you have no serious sins to confess, you have no obligation to go to confession. But it is helpful to participate in the sacrament of Reconciliation with reasonable frequency, and this may be what your priest was trying to point out. These are sometimes called “devotional confessions.” Even though you may have no serious sin to confess, you always can benefit from the grace of the sacrament (by which you directly encounter the merciful, forgiving Christ). And you can receive that grace by expressing sorrow for past sins as well as your present sinfulness. By present sinfulness, I mean the inclination toward sin that all of us have — the tendency to be judgmental or unforgiving of others, the ease with which we yield to impatience, the pride that seems always to be with us, our failure at times to help those in need, our lack of faith in God’s love for us, and especially our lack of faith in God’s loving forgiveness.

You are a very good person, and the Lord loves you beyond your ability even to imagine. Try now to think of confession as a sacrament of pardon and peace. It is quite literally a sacrament of reconciliation. And it always presents you with an opportunity to express your thanks to God — something, by the way, that you can never do too often. Although I know you only through the words of your question, I’d say that you have a great deal to be thankful for, particularly for the gift of faith. So hear Jesus say to you, as He said to the woman in Matthew 9:22, “Courage, daughter, your faith has saved you;” or, as He said to another woman in Luke 7:50, “Your faith has saved you, go in peace.”









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2 comments

  1. Renee Reply

    Why should I go to confession, when my sins are forgiven every time I go to Mass, as long as they are not mortal sins? Or actually how do I explain this to my father? I love to go to confession. I feel so much better after I go and also feel stronger to resist the evil in my life.

    1. Catholic Say Staff Reply

      You do not need to go to confession for venial sins. Prayers especially the Mass and Holy Communion removes them. However you are strongly encouraged by the Church to confess them anyway since this will help you in preventing even worse sins. The grace granted by God in the sacrament of Penance is really helpful in fighting mortal sins and frequenting the confessional is really helpful.

      God bless

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