You may have been going to confessions wrong. Here’s why

Many of us Catholics are tired of hearing our separated brethren insinuate or even directly accuse us of deceiving ourselves with a promise of forgiveness every time we sin. To them, we make sin easy: sin, confess, do penance and voila: you’re free. This oversimplified notion is wrong but not dangerous to the Church until some of her members start to actually think this is truly the use of confession. Answering the notion above first: The truth is, the teachings of the Catholic Church and her Sacramental practices go on to show the Holiness of God, his bounty and the seriousness of sin. If anything, the Church’s belief in the Sacramental forgiveness of sin is more difficult to practice than the practice of praying on your own (which is part of the Sacrament of confession, when you sin, you have to ask God then receive absolution after confessing to a priest). It is easier to confess to God directly, than to look a priest in the face and say the most hideous of things you’ve done. Again to Catholics: Confession isn’t a pool you mindlessly fall into with a Joie de vivre after playing in mud with the full intention of returning later to dirt. Confession is a Sacrament you receive with a remorseful but grateful heart. You celebrate the mercy of God in all joy and humility with the full intention of making amends for the sins you have confessed. Therefore, a valid confession presupposes contrition, confession and satisfaction. Without these three conditions, your confessions might be faulty. A person who isn’t sorry doesn’t receive forgiveness, a person who keeps what he has stolen (for example), is not forgiven unless he restores them, and a person who consciously hides a sin cannot be forgiven either. You must be sorry, you must confess ALL YOU RECALL, and you must restore all you’ve damaged and make amends. So if you have always believed confession is where you go to be clean enough for more sin, sorry it isn’t. God forgives ALL SIN, but you must first confess ALL SIN and be sorry for them. Read the Catechism of the Church on confession or ask your priest for more explanation in ways you’d understand.


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  1. Amen. Psychologically, confess behind a vein is a easy feeling to a confessor. Amen. The three conditions must applied to all faithful when they go to confess with a priest.

  2. My question is, will someone, who intentionally sins, believing that after the sin that he will go to confession, will God forgive this person?

    • Julia, those three things in the article (contrition, confession, and satisfaction) are required for forgiveness. So if someone intentionally sins and goes to confession and is sorry AND does the penance the priest tells him (satisfaction,) then he will be forgiven. If any one of those things are missing, then the person isn’t going to be forgiven.
      Also, in most Act of Contrition prayers, there’s a line that’s similar to “avoiding the near occasion of sin.” Of course, we might fall again in the same way, but we have to try really hard not to. And when we’re truly sorry for the sins we’ve committed, it’s going to change our hearts, making it easier to avoid at least mortal sin because we won’t want to offend God.

  3. Two parts to this response: First, its a bit foolish to start with the position that church teaching is wrong. Its better to seek why is true than to individually start with the assumption church teaching is wrong. this does require humility and its not easy. Second, because marital relations are always to be both unitive and procreative, contraception is not a possibility. its easy enough to see that present and future intentions can be met through abstinence. For example if there are two students who want to get an A in math class, one student does all the homework and studies for the test, the other just cheats on the test. Both have achieved the future intention of getting an A, but one has not been correct in the present intention. Beyond that discernment about whether or not to have a child each cycle should be observed so that fertility awareness is not used with a contraceptive mentality.

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Written by Raphael Benedict

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