Confession, habitual sin, & priest's advice...

I am writing this to question if a Catholic is required to obey the advice of a priest, when he tells a person what they need to do to avoid a habitual sin.

Like many here, I struggle with a habitual sin, that is very hard to change. I really don’t want to obey the priest in this particular matter, and have not yet done what he told me (sternly) what I need to do. Please advise.

Also, let me know if you need further info. about my sin, I am willing to disclose, if it helps anyone else.

Thank you and God bless,

It might be helpful to know why you don’t want to follow the priest’s advice. Is it because you don’t believe it would work? If not, why? Or is it because you believe it would be difficult? If so, well, turning away from temptation is difficult sometimes.

Perhaps I’m fortunate that I’ve only ever dealt with wonderful priests, but I’ve found them, without exception, to be smart, caring, compassionate people who were genuinely concerned about their parishioners’ well-being and committed to helping. I’d follow the advice of my priest unless i had a compelling reason to do otherwise (in which case, I’d still discuss it with him and ask for alternatives).

I will explain:

My sin is lifelong chronic tardiness. I tried, but still continue with this sin.

Previous priests have advised me to “get up ealier.” I set my alarm now 2-1/2 hours before the leaving for the event, such as Mass or work, so I cannot do earlier. I allow more time than anyone I know. Unfortunately, this does NOT solve the problem. AND, I did tell this to the priest.

The priest in my last confession told me that I must stop doing anything that isn’t essential when getting ready in the morning.

Here is how the conversation went:

Priest: You must stop doing anything inessential when getting ready in the morning.

Me: I don’t do anything non-essential when getting ready.

Priest: For starters, STOP WEARING MAKE-UP. (stern voice)

I don’t want to stop wearing make-up.

I don’t feel comfortable without it in public. I feel it’s too personal of a matter, and the priest, because he is a male, does not UNDERSTAND.

I’m sorry, but if you allow yourself two and a half hours to get ready, and you still can’t be ready on time, have you considered that you might be falling prey to vanity? And that by doing so, you are putting yourself and your own needs ahead of those who are relying on you and expecting you to be on time?

I’m a woman; I allow myself just over an hour to get up, get a shower, get ready, dry and style my hair, APPLY MAKE-UP, take care of my pets, and eat breakfast, and I am usually still out the door five to ten minutes ahead of my schedule.

I think it is sound advice, and I think your not wanting to follow it is a sign that you are addicted to your sin.

I don’t believe it is vanity. I just can’t get it together. Even this priest recognized that I have “limitations.” I really tried, just can’t do it.

I wish I have your ability. When I try to be out the door faster, I find that faucets are running, doors are unlocked, heated appliances are left on, etc. I have also injured myself when trying to get out the door faster.

Additionally, I wish I had time for breakfast, but it’s NOT GONNA HAPPEN IN THIS LIFE!!!

I did tell the priest and he accepts that I have “limitations.” By speaking with this priest, I take that part of the problem is I cannot accept my limitations. And giving up makeup would part of the acceptance process.

I am addicted, as I try and keep failing.

My question: Am I morally required to quit make-up, which is morally nuetral in itself, because the priest said so.?

If I may, I think your Priest is giving you good practical advice. You also, I believe, should get some help from a therapist (a Christian one first if you can find them) to help you. Likely, if you are late for Mass, you are late for most everything else. I would be curious to know if that’s true. Are there other types of commitments you have where you are not usually late? Is it truly because you feel you must spend a lot of time to look a certain way before you are comfortable heading out? If so, I think a therapist can help you a long ways. I will pray for you.

This is correct, I’m late for everything.

No, I don’t do much makeup, but have flaws I want concealed. It’s my “clumsiness” more than anything, people that lived with me in the past perceive my as very uncoordinated.

thank you for your prayers.

Short answer, No. Unless you made some particular vow to obey this confessor, you needn’t obey his advice. You should do whatever penance he proscribes you, but you needn’t obey his every piece of advice. Whether or not you should listen to this particular bit of advice is another question (you really shouldn’t be late to Mass, but tardiness itself isn’t a sin).

To clarify, I’m not saying you definitely shouldn’t obey this priest’s advice. In fact, it might be the exact medicine you need to straighten out your life and overcome your tardiness. I’m only saying it isn’t required (on pain of sin) for Catholics to follow every piece of advice they get from every priest in the confessional (or outside it). That being said, obedience is a virtue and a sign of humility. Freely choosing to obey your confessor can be a very meritorious thing and might be the only way to get a grip on your lateness. In fact, I would recommend obeying the priest here and offering going out of the house without make-up as a small mortification for the Lord. Allow yourself to once again make use of make-up once you can get to things on time (that might be the incentive you need to actually make the necessary changes to rid yourself of this habit.) But, to answer your direct question, it is not required of Catholics to absolutely obey the advice priests give them.

Thank you, this is the answers I was looking for.

I think you should take the priest’s advice. Though it’d help to know what his advice was.

Try getting up earlier.

Here it is:

The priest in my last confession told me that I must stop doing anything that isn’t essential when getting ready in the morning.

Here is how the conversation went:

Priest: You must stop doing anything inessential when getting ready in the morning.

Me: I don’t do anything non-essential when getting ready.

Priest: For starters, STOP WEARING MAKE-UP. (stern voice)

I set my alarm 2-1/2 hours before leaving my home. I cannot do earlier, I NEED some sleep!

Shower at night. Do anything you can the night before.

Even though the priest’s advice might not be what you want to do, it’s probably important to open yourself up to solutions you haven’t thought of yet. Can we help you walk through your morning and give some suggestions? I’ve struggled with habitual lateness myself (ADHD), as I’m sure many others here have. We would love to help if we can.

Perhaps the greater sin is selfishness.
If you feel that you need excessive time for yourself, rather than making effort in your commitments, causing people to wait on you, causing distress, and possibly causing others to view you differently…and you don’t care? (Because if you cared you’d try, or seek help) then yes, I believe that vanity or selfishness, or the ME factor has overtaken you. Many people view makeup prep as a way of focusing on ourselves and not other considerations.
In this way, I believe he was trying to make you see that it’s not always about you.
Long makeup application is just a symptom, but not the root problem.
You don’t have to follow his advice about the make up. But yeah, you might want to work on this…might make a good New Year resolution: To not get so caught up in oneself daily.

This is a good suggestion.

Also, I have so many sticky notes EVERYWHERE, that my guests are totally surprised.

I have to remind myself (with notes) to lock doors, close the refrigerator, turn the water off, even brush my teeth.

So, really do try very hard to end this sin, but keep failing.

It doesn’t take me that long (10 min) to put makeup on. I don’t use that much, but have some flaws that I really don’t want to expose to the world.

If you read some of my other posts, you that I have to have sticky notes to remember the most basic things, like brushing my teeth, closing the refrigerator, turn off the faucet, turn off any heated appliance, lock doors, etc.

I need to be careful, I recently left on a heated appliance all day, which is a fire hazard. I am fortunate nothing happened.

What exactly is the sin you think you are guilty of? Is it “lifelong habitual tardiness?” Such isn’t a sin to my knowledge and certainly isn’t a mortal sin.

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