Confessing same sin


#1

Is there a point where the priest won't absolve you of sin if you keep confessing the same one?


#2

I can’t imagine so if you’re truly contrite. Do you feel like you can ask him? That’s what I would recommend. “Father, I struggle with X, and come back week after week with having commited the same sin. I’m at a loss, and fear that there will come a time when you won’t absolve my sin(s). What do you recommend?”

Truly it’s something that you struggle with, and I imagine are trying to overcome.

Blessings to you on this journey.


#3

I agree with jreilly, especially about mentioning it directly to your priest.

In one of my confessions I mentioned, in passing, that I felt ashamed of confessing the same things again this week. When I had finished my confession the first thing the priest said was (quite firmly) “You must never feel ashamed of confessing the same things week after week”.


#4

I understand you’re question because I’ve wondered it too, but then I heard somewhere that often we all have certain sins we are more “prone” to and need God’s graces to help us so Confession is just what we need as we are working with His help to improve…that can’t be wrong. Seems good to me:)

mlz


#5

Considering that our personalities, and hence, our strengths and weaknesses are pretty well formed by the time we reach adulthood, it isn’t at all surprising that most of us struggle with the same old, same old sins. What is necessary for absolution is confession, perfect or imperfect contrition (or sorrow) for our sins, and a firm purpose of amendment. That means we try, with God’s grace and help, to improve. We actually can’t make any long-term, lasting improvement on our own, and to think otherwise is somewhat prideful. As long as you have those elements, absolution is granted.

I was expressing my frustration with struggling with the same old sins to my spiritual director once, and he explained it to me that way. And then, somewhat humorously, he asked me if I honestly thought God would be pleased if I came up with new sins!

The whole point is that we are, by original sin, born sinners, and will die sinners. That is why we need the grace of God as administered via the sacrament of Reconciliation. Naturally, we give improvement our best shot, but we have to remember, we will continue to struggle as long as we continue to draw breath, and our “basic laundry lists” have their roots in one or more of the seven deadly sins. The surface sin might shift somewhat, but dig deep enough in an examination of conscience, and you’ll find the same root sin. That’s our vulnerable point, the part which the enemy can easily tempt us. God understands and forgives our weakness, but expects us to try. However, He expects us to try with His help and love, not on our own feeble strength, will, intellect and emotion.

If you have a regular confessor, and are dealing with something recurrent and stubborn, when you confess, ask him for some input and advice as well as asking for forgiveness. I’ve received more than a few great insights that way.


#6

[quote="DoxieMama, post:1, topic:310050"]
Is there a point where the priest won't absolve you of sin if you keep confessing the same one?

[/quote]

Yes. It's called recidivism and it deals with mortal sins.A recidivist is someone who, in spite of repeated confessions, always relapses into the same sins without making any earnest effort towards improvement.

It gets complicated in determining the sincerity of the penitent and whether or not they are sufficiently disposed the receive absolution. This is where a priest's skills, education and experience come in to play.


#7

[quote="odile53, post:5, topic:310050"]
Considering that our personalities, and hence, our strengths and weaknesses are pretty well formed by the time we reach adulthood, it isn't at all surprising that most of us struggle with the same old, same old sins. What is necessary for absolution is confession, perfect or imperfect contrition (or sorrow) for our sins, and a firm purpose of amendment. That means we try, with God's grace and help, to improve. We actually can't make any long-term, lasting improvement on our own, and to think otherwise is somewhat prideful. As long as you have those elements, absolution is granted.

I was expressing my frustration with struggling with the same old sins to my spiritual director once, and he explained it to me that way. And then, somewhat humorously, he asked me if I honestly thought God would be pleased if I came up with new sins!

The whole point is that we are, by original sin, born sinners, and will die sinners. That is why we need the grace of God as administered via the sacrament of Reconciliation. Naturally, we give improvement our best shot, but we have to remember, we will continue to struggle as long as we continue to draw breath, and our "basic laundry lists" have their roots in one or more of the seven deadly sins. The surface sin might shift somewhat, but dig deep enough in an examination of conscience, and you'll find the same root sin. That's our vulnerable point, the part which the enemy can easily tempt us. God understands and forgives our weakness, but expects us to try. However, He expects us to try with His help and love, not on our own feeble strength, will, intellect and emotion.

If you have a regular confessor, and are dealing with something recurrent and stubborn, when you confess, ask him for some input and advice as well as asking for forgiveness. I've received more than a few great insights that way.

[/quote]

Sounds like you have a good spiritual director :-)
mlz


#8

I can’t help but appreciate Odile53’s response. I think they did a great job responding. I too have thought about this and could understand that a Priest might draw a line in the sand, so to speak.

I think about the Gospel reading where Christ instructs us, (I’m paraphrasing here), that if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off! If you eye causes you to sin, pluck it out! A tough reading for sure, but a sermon that I heard on this reading basically discussed it by saying, it is up to each of us to take drastic measures to refrain from sinning.

As Odile53 stated, we are all sinners. We live in a fallen world. Thankfully we have confession.


#9

I recall Fulton Sheen speaking once of a man who mentioned to his confessor “I haven’t made any improvement”, and the confessor responded “The main thing is, you haven’t got any worse”. (sorry, these aren’t the exact words… this is just my recollection of something I heard only once).

We do become frustrated and embarrassed at confessing the same sins, but if we look at the the world around us we see that without regular confession people do actually get worse… and often very, very much worse. So, if our regular confession serves nothing more than to prevent us getting worse, then that is actually an important achievement and probably a miracle.

I don’t even have to look at the world around me - I can just recall what my life was like before I became a Catholic, and also what it was like when I fell away from confession for several years.


#10

It depends.

If you’re contrite and truly wish to amend your life, you should be forgiven.

If you’re using the sacrament as a revolving door to cover yourself until you get the opportunity to commit the same sin again, you’re on shaky ground. In doing this, we add the sin of presumption to the other habitual sin.

God is a loving Father. If he sees us struggling and trying to change, he’ll help us. It may take years, but eventually we’ll be less likely to commit that sin.

God didn’t create up in order to damn or punish us. When he sees us sincerely trying, he will help even if it takes us a while. Look at a crucifix. That is what God endured in order to forgive us, in order to show us His mercy. He’s not waiting to zap us, He is doing everything He can to get us to cooperate with the grace and mercy He so freely offers.


#11

Baltimore Catechism No. 3 included a guideline that in case the penitent has only venial sins to confess he should also tell an already confessed sin in order to facilitate contrition:

Q. 782. What should one do who has only venial sins to confess?

A. One who has only venial sins to confess should tell also some sin already confessed in his past life for which he knows he is truly sorry; because it is not easy to be truly sorry for slight sins and imperfections, and yet we must be sorry for the sins confessed that our confession may be valid – hence we add some past sin for which we are truly sorry to those for which we may not be sufficiently sorry.


#12

I like the advice of the Baltimore catechism about only having venial sins to confess. Think of it a little like taking out the trash: If you had some lettuce that was starting to go bad, you'd toss it, right? You wouldn't wait till the entire refrigerator turned into a science experiment, stunk up the house, and someone called the Board of Health!

You can't turn the sacrament into "fire insurance," just to cover yourself until you commit the same mortal sin again. You have to at least WANT to stop. If you can't muster up actually wanting to amend your life, how about praying for the grace for wanting to want to amend your life?

I think I also heard a quote attributed to Fulton Sheen that hearing nuns' confessions was like being stoned to death with popcorn! Religious Sisters, matter of fact, all consecrated religious, go to confession frequently. I'm not a betting person, but I'd be willing to bet, say, a dozen cream donuts, that the content of their confessions on the whole are probably a lot tamer than ours are. (I just can't picture a nun cussing the way I have cussed in my own life, for example!)

My spiritual director gave me that advice about not thinking that God would want me to come up with some new sins while once, during one of our direction sessions, I was telling him that sometimes I thought God was looking down on me, about to commit the same-old sin, with an attitude of, "Oh, watch this! Here she goes again! Odile, BORRRR-ING!" You can really get a lot of misconceptions cleaned up in spiritual direction if you give it a shot, or even on a really good directed retreat. I don't know if anyone has noticed, but I frequently advise people who are struggling with something, whether it's personal sins, faults, imperfections, or knotty interpersonal issues, to make a retreat if there is any possible way to do it.

That's why I'm such a fan of Ignatian spirituality. St. Ignatius designed his retreat so that it could be done in 19th Annotation format--in other words, in everyday life, without having to go anywhere or seclude oneself from the world at large for a time. The retreat in its traditional form took roughly four weeks, in the 19th Annotation format, it takes about eight months to complete, and requires that you be able to set aside about an hour a day for prayer and spiritual (usually scriptural) reading, as well as meditation. And 19th An. goes back all the way to the Saint himself--it's not a modern innovation.

I've always been a "hit the ground running" type of personality, and because the Spiritual Exercises are designed in such a way to make them so "portable" and applicable, they appealed to my personality type. Finding God in all things and trying to take Him into the world with me as I go about my daily business, or sit on my rump, as I have to right now, just seemed a better fit than some other types. But the Church has a very rich tradition of different flavors of spirituality: If you explore them, you're certain to find something that will fit you well.

It is my dream to be able to have the funds and the time off from work (when I'm healed up from surgery) to actually go to a retreat house and do a full thirty day retreat. That probably won't happen anytime soon. But it's nice to know that the 19th An. contains all of the tools you need to get started on improving your prayer life, and hence, your relationship with God.


#13

I think that confessing the same sins over and over again is a sign of mental stability. It would be a sign of mental illness if you were to commit different sins all the time.


#14

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