Angry/Violent Thoughts, Emotions, and Confession

My wife and I were just received into the Church at Easter after a couple years of intense preparation. I’m really glad to be a Catholic, and I really want to take this faith seriously. But…I’m having a terrible time with discerning how often to go to confession. I may be having a problem with scrupulosity, I don’t know. Normally, I would consult my parish priest (who is an excellent priest, by the way) but our parish has nearly 4,000 members and only one priest and he is extremely over-stretched, and I don’t want to waste his time by making an appointment for this quick question.

Question: at what point do thoughts of anger and lust cross the line from venial sin to mortal sin? I’ve read the catechism, but need a little help processing what it has to say. I know the three conditions (grave matter, full knowledge, full consent). But I’m learning that there is a difference between “knowing” the teaching, and discerning how that teaching applies to me in a given instance.

I’ve been going to confession about every week since the beginning of March, and I feel it has helped me with many habitual sins. Already I have made some major changes in my life, and I do believe that I have approached the Sacrament each time with the firm intention of not repeating the same sins over and over. There is palpable grace occurring in my life.

My last confession was Wednesday morning, but already today (Fri.) I feel I have lapsed back into a state of mortal sin. My problem at the moment is severe, violently angry thoughts towards others, particularly my mother, with whom I have always had a toxic relationship. In having these thoughts today, I never intended to actually hurt her, or slap her, or say mean things to her. I’m a grown up and well in control of my actions in this regard, but she drives me so crazy that I often indulge in angry thoughts about her personality and the way she has treated me in the past. I know she’s my mom, and I do love her, but she drives me nuts, and I honestly do not like being around her.

Anyway, I do not want to abuse the Sacrament of Reconciliation by going every 4-5 days, and I also don’t want to abuse the Eucharist by receiving unworthily. So my question is this: if angry/violent thoughts come and I do my best to dismiss them as soon as possible and do not act on them in any way, shape, or form, am I worthy to receive the Eucharist at tomorrow’s Vigil Mass (presuming, of course I don’t overtly sin between now and then)? I would be most grateful for your help, as I’m really trying to be a good Catholic, without falling into scrupulosity. Many thanks in advance.

Welcome to the Church; and God bless you for your sincere intentions to grow in faith and goodness.

Regular weekly confession may be a good idea for you especially at present. The Church does recommend once a month, but I went to confession every week for years, knowing it is a source of grace.

You know that for something to be a sin you must have intent and consent.

You are dealing with something complex regarding the anger you feel towards your mother, and it can take time a work to deal with the emotional reactions you feel. If you don’t act on your angry feelings…feelings aren’t sin, it’s what you do in response to feelings can be sinful., then yes you can go to Communion, and you need that grace, the loving presence of the Lord.

Lustful feelings, angry feelings…if you dwell in them or consent to them you sin, but perhaps the Catechism of the Catholic Church can best answer you:

You are aware that the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and Canon Law, are accessible online?

Regarding your mother…there is a lot of history there it would appear, and damage done between you. A priest once said: “Your enemies are often the members of your own household” and Jesus asks us to forgive, and also to pray for our enemies.

It’s not a simple thing to deal with, a toxic relationship with one who should love us dearly and vice versa, and maybe has to be dealt with in you on several levels. It’s a very real hurt and a betrayal of what should be…I have three grown sons whom I love to bits and vice versa.

Anyway, I think many of us has that person sometime or somewhere in our lives who hurts us terribly and arouses feelings we’d prefer not to have.

I thought maybe I could give you an idea of how I responded in prayer in such a situation.
If it suits you, you can substitute “I” for “we” and rewrite it or something like it to suit your needs, maybe

Lord when we cannot manage to forgive, we ask You to forgive the offender for us, however many times it takes, and we pray for our offender, that You may touch their souls, and heal them and us.

Father help us to recover where injury goes beyond ordinary forgiveness and our hearts are in some way crushed, and our lives changed and devalued. Help us to find a way to forgive when we cannot smile or encounter the offending person with warmth because they have destroyed something in us.

Father please help us to forgive when we cannot forgive…and we cannot forgive because they do not understand how badly they have hurt us, and do not seek in any real way to acknowledge or try to heal the hurt they imposed on us. And even when we tried to tell them from the bottom of our heart but they would not listen, please help us to forgive.

Father help us to forgive when those who hurt our lives do not even remember how badly they have wounded us, and go on with their lives without concern, while we remain still held in some kind of time capsule with the consequences of their unfeeling and uncaring and attack.

Father, help us to forgive when those who wounded us by ignoring our needs and requests, yet who desire us to ignore their offence, and expect us to respond to their hints or manipulations while they make no concessions or apologies.

Help us to forgive those who impose their own conditions and rules upon us, without respecting that our hurt is real and radical, while they make us feel that they only desire our capitulation without justice, apology, or generosity from them.

Father please free us, free me, in forgiveness that comes from Your Son, innocent, and murdered, but forgiving.

You’re human and have human responses to situations, and remember that, as St Paul said, Jesus was tempted in every way that we are but He never sinned. Temptation isn’t sin, only responding to temptation is sin. There is validity in your feelings, that’s the honest human truth, and we can only keep trying the best we can manage, with God’s grace.

Lord when we cannot manage to forgive, we ask You to forgive the offender for us, however many times it takes, and we pray for our offender, that You may touch their souls, and heal them and us.


Dear God, You do not merely suggest that we love and forgive each other. You command it. Yet sometimes it is difficult to love, and forgiveness seems almost a betrayal of self or loved ones where offence is terrible. I ask grace to pray for anyone who hurts my loved ones or me through misunderstanding, frailty, or malice. I ask grace not to judge anyone for real or imagined injustice or injury.

You know all judgments that I have made in my life since infancy, even those so habitual that I hardly notice. They may contribute to unloving or mistrustful attitude, and thus prevent me from living a life of love, grace and joy.

Every time anyone hurts or angers me, let Your grace remind me to acknowledge my real feelings. The matter may be trivial, but if ignored, my feelings may fester into resentment.

Grant me forgiveness that rejects negative feelings and leads to compassion and reconciliation. Heal my lack of love for myself, for any other, and for You. Let me view my flaws and others’ with humility and patience.

Our God, I forgive and bless anyone who hurts or neglects my loved ones or me. Restore and bless anyone whom I have offended or neglected. Give them grace to accept my repentance. Procure reconciliation where I am afraid to risk the other’s bitterness or rejection.

Holy Spirit please go to each person I have ever hurt, flooding him or her with God’s abundant gifts of love and healing. Allow us to experience Your love, and help us to accept Your will, Your timing and Your ways. I trust all relationships and situations into Your love.

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV)

“take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 )

Upbeat Dad, it’s wonderful that God is working so much in your life and that you are cooperating with the graces you are being given.

This issue you have is perfectly acceptable to ask about in Confession. It would take very little time to relate to the priest exactly what you have said here and get his advice. I heartily recommend asking the priest to help you form your conscience in this way and avoid scrupulosity. This would not be hashing out your whole relationship with your mother or resolving the issues, which would take a number of counseling sessions, but rather figuring out when you have sinned and when you have not. This is an appropriate thing to ask in Confession, so you know what and how to confess. You’re not limited to the “script.” :slight_smile:



Your Priest might be able to help you. :slight_smile:

One question you might ask is, “if you might be bi-polar”.?.

Praise God! This is the most important statement you have made in your whole post!

Do not get wrapped up in thinking that now you’re a Catholic, you need to remain perfect in the eyes of God. My wife and I were at a dinner with our bishop and she was so nervous about proper etiquette etc. that she never gave herself a chance to actually enjoy his company. Don’t make the same mistake with God.

All of our lives are complex, and we don’t know why God puts us in one family or another, or why one mother connects with and loves all her children, and another mother may exhibit all of the warmth of a state prison director. Your anger is undoubtedly not something created by yourself, but a reaction to some very real deficiency in her relationship with you. God knows and understands all.


There is a trick that has worked for me, when I remember it. I offer my bad thoughts to God for the conversion of sinners. The bad thoughts seem to quickly go away.

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