Confession and punishment, and attending Mass

I thought would remark about something in this thread.

I am puzzled about the role of confession, particularly that it does not remove “temporal punishment” of one’s sins (unless, of course, receives an indulgence). I usually conceptualized it “as a fresh start” so one’s can move forward and focus on the challenges of future and not be mired in past mistakes, but it seems that one retains sins that is confessed even if one is contrite.

Moreover, it is particularly difficult for me to go to Confession, and consequently I do not frequently attend Mass (I only go about once a Month). I suppose my biggest fear is that I would be lonely during Mass, especially when I do not have anyone to talk to or sympathize with afterwards that I know.

I feel that my timidity during Confession to admit to the full extent of my sins morphed into despair when I heard a conservative priest during a talk say that one must dictate the number of times of a particular mortal sin one has committed. He made the specific example recounting Don Bosco’s account of a person who in confession mentioned that he committed a particular sin “two or three times” even though that person could recollect three instances of that sin. That person was allegedly damned for not disclosing the full extent of sins. When I heard that, I became sullen, and if that were true, God would be petty if he would damn someone for merely being too timid or frustrated to show that one has not made any progress struggling against that vice, even though one abhors that sin and sincerely wants to change.

That despair then evolved in spiritual apathy and lukewarmness, even as some confidants tell me to ignore that priest and that my sincerity will suffice to please God.

I lost much of my fervor and interest in Mass, adoration, and prayer for about a year, although there are some periods where I thaw. I am ofter bored, similar to how Gregory House is bored during clinic duty, and in my mind, I often explore complex intellectual issues. If I go to adoration during some Fridays, I sometimes behave irreverently (but I am not disruptive; I just write my thoughts on notebooks) or sometimes leave the room to take a walk around the neighbor. The things that inspire sentiments reverence, joy, and courage in me are actually quite odd and sometimes banal, but I do not derive such feelings being in proximity to pious people, celebrating the sacraments or engaging in prayer with others, or being in proximity objects of sanctity.

The remedy for this is to find a Confessor who is sympathetic, and go regularly to him - at least once a month. Once you get into the routine of it, other people’s opinions of it will no longer matter to you, and you can bring any doubts or questions to him for resolution.

One rule of thumb I have always found useful is, “If the priest gave you the Absolution, then you made a good Confession” - given that you went into the Confessional without intending to deceive him in any way.

Baptism is a fresh start, and “certain temporal consequences of sin remain in the baptized”. Absolution either restores sanctifying grace (for mortal sins) or increases it (for venial sins) brings “remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains”. There is a distinction between temporal consequences and temporal punishments.

The Catechism which should help understand about the two effects of sin eternal punishment for mortal sins and temporal punishment for all sins:

VII. The Grace of Baptism 1263 By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin.66 In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam’s sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God.

1264 Yet certain temporal consequences of sin remain in the baptized, such as suffering, illness, death, and such frailties inherent in life as weaknesses of character, and so on, as well as an inclination to sin that Tradition calls concupiscence, or metaphorically, “the tinder for sin” (fomes peccati); since concupiscence "is left for us to wrestle with, it cannot harm those who do not consent but manfully resist it by the grace of Jesus Christ."67 Indeed, "an athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules."68
X. Indulgences

1472 To understand this doctrine and practice of the Church, it is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence. Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the “eternal punishment” of sin. On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the “temporal punishment” of sin. These two punishments must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin. A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain.83

1473 The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the “old man” and to put on the "new man."85

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