Confession "at the next opportunity"

I’ve recently emerged from a four month period of intense scrupulosity. Though God has given me inner peace, I haven’t been able to find a satisfying answer to this question, though now I am only considering it abstractly.

My question is this: how soon should you go to confession after having committed a mortal sin?

Most answers to the question seem to be something along the lines of “go at the next opportunity” or, “as soon as possible.” After all, you know neither the day nor the hour when you will die, and you will go to hell if you die unexpectedly. The problem I have is this, suppose you committed a sin at 2:30am: driving across town and banging down the door of the rectory at 3am groveling at the priests feet begging him to hear your confession would strike any reasonable person as pathological and obsessive, but it is “the next opportunity”. You’d do something similar if a mobster threatened to light you on fire, why wouldn’t you do it if you faced an eternal fire and you could die at any moment?

It seems like the Church wouldn’t want us to take the “bang down the door of the rectory at 3am” approach, but it still makes sense that you’d want to get to confession very quickly, because no inconvenience seems to great if eternal damnation is at stake :shrug:

Whose inconvenience are you talking about? Not yours. God is not a mobster threatening to light you on fire.

You do not have to go to confession at any special time or almost immediately. Go to Confession the next time it is offered at your parish church. Some churches have Confession on weekdays before Mass; other parishes offer it only on Saturdays. Also you could contact the parish office to schedule an appointment with the priest to go to confession.

In the meantime pray an act on contrition expressing your sorrow for offending God. God immediately forgives your sins, even mortal sins, if we also intend to confess our mortal sins in Confession. Here is an example of an act of contrition:

Act of Contrition

        O my God, I am heartily sorry for
        having offended you, and I detest
        all my sins, because of Your just
        punishments, but most of all because
        they offend You, my God, who are
        all-good and deserving of all my love.
        I firmly resolve, with the help of
        Your grace, to sin no more and to
        avoid the near occasions of sin.

I offer this disclaimer whenever I encounter a poster with scrupulous tendencies; always seek advice from a single source, such a priest or counselor. Well meaning, but conflicting advice based on not knowing your full story could cause you more distress. I’d recommend speaking to who ever guided you through your previous bought.

Generally speaking, however, scrupulosity creates a lack of trust in God’s love and mercy, because the disease makes even every minor fault appear mortal. You should trust God, and make a good faith attempt to reconcile soon. You should also work with your priest to discern whether a truly mortal sin given your circumstances occurred.

If you can come up with perfect contrition, you can make a private act of contrition prior to individual integral sacramental confession. If you are ascribed to the Latin Catholic Church then the sacramental discipline is at least annually at Easter season, but if you are ascribed eastern Catholic member then the sacramental discipline for serious sins is as soon as possible.

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