I’m aware that I need to go to confession and that I’m also in need of the advise of a priest regarding this issue. I haven’t been a Catholic for very long and hope you can answer my question. Currently it’s like I’m two persons. Half of me knows that I have strayed from God, is sorry for going in the wrong direction and longs to reconcile myself with Him, the other half enjoys itself too much, is reluctant to give it up, and is annoyed at the thought of striving for a holy life. Both impulses seem to be about equally strong, I guess the negative one is still a bit stronger, although it’s about 50/50.
I’m uncertain what to do. Should I go to confession now or wait until my contrition is more sincere? But I’m sure that if I do wait I will slide down further.
1451 Among the penitent’s acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is "sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again."50
1452 When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called “perfect” (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.51
1453 The contrition called “imperfect” (or “attrition”) is also a gift of God, a prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is born of the consideration of sin’s ugliness or the fear of eternal damnation and the other penalties threatening the sinner (contrition of fear). Such a stirring of conscience can initiate an interior process which, under the prompting of grace, will be brought to completion by sacramental absolution. By itself however, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins, but it disposes one to obtain forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance.52
of course sin is attractive…if it was not we would not sin…
such is the struggle…and one may despite your resolve…fall again…(of course we can never plan it! etc) and need the mercy of the Good Shepherd for that same sin again…he loves you and desires you to have life.
But the call is to “repent” to turn away from our sins…to choose to be instead with Jesus of Nazareth…and thus know* true life*.
And of course we can not just come with “some” of our mortal sins (if we have more than one) …one must confess all of them in number and kind (and circumstance that changes things…like it is your brother you murdered)…so you do right to want to make sure you are contrite…
but yes you can be contrite…
one can have contrition despite the attraction of the sin…despite a fear that one may fall again…(but with a firm resolution not to sin again) but one must exercise ones will…by the grace of Christ.
you can also discuss the matter with the Priest…
(I am taking about mortal sins in these posts…venial sins are somewhat different…)
I think honesty is the starting point; you are at least being honest.
For forgiveness you need to be repentant and that means the earnest desire to change the life that lead you to the sins. But the grace to be truly repentant comes from God.
I would suggest that you should go to confession as you are obviously being led there.
When there you should be honest with your priest and discuss whats causing the problem and he may be able to give you some spiritual guidance on the matters. He will at least be able to pray with you for the grace you need to help you come to a true repentance and you could pray for this regularly too.
I think you should pray for the assistance and intercession of a great early saint of the Church. Here’s what he wrote in one of his existing letters:
I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.
For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
That was St. Paul, writing to the Church in Rome.
It sounds to me like you’re suffering from attachment to sin, which exists both before and after confession. Sometimes I look back to the way I lived back in college, and I have a faint desire to still behave that way… that’s attachment to sin. For you, it sounds like you’ve got your feet stuck in a puddle of mud, and you’ve got a choice: stay stuck in that mud, or – with the grace of God – summon up your strength to pull your feet up and out, even if it means leaving a part of yourself (the boots) behind. I think that’s what attachment to sin is all about: finding the strength (from God) to leave behind a part of your life which is damaging your relationship with God.
I would say to you: go to confession, and tell the priest about the difficulty you are having being more contrite for your sins. Even a little contrition is sufficient for confession, but you should ask him to pray for you that you might be converted more fully and learn true contrition for your sins.
your instinct is absolutely right. Go to confession and express what contrition you can and ask the Holy Spirit to provide the rest.
St. Paul had the same problem and writes about it at length so you are not alone.
Thank you all for your input. What I described is not bothering me all the time but maybe every 3-6 months. Since it’s coming up repeatedly I think I should seek some advice from a priest. The problem is that a not so small part of me does not want to strive for a holy live etc. I will describe this to the priest I plan to see tomorrow in confession. I have written everything down and hope I will actually go tomorrow. I’m currently out of town and so don’t know the priest. Do you think he could deny me absolution since a part of me feels this way? The last time I had to confess this, the last bit of resistence did not leave until after the confession and absolution and afterwards I felt completely different in a very good way.
“We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” - Romans 7:14-25
Even the greatest of Saints from the earliest of times has felt the agony of the struggle which you are dealing with now. Take heart in the knowledge that God knows we are weak and has given us the Sacraments to strengthen us, particularly the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Though perfect contrition is obviously preferred, you need only have imperfect contrition in order to make a valid and fruitful confession. Do not become discouraged, know that progress in the spiritual life is often slow, but so long as we strive for Christ He will complete what is lacking in us.
As long as you are sorry on some level, then you are sorry enough to go to confession. The struggle is a part of our fallen state. We will always have an inclination towards sin and will struggle with it.
You’re not alone. I think my confessions are invalid because I lack true contrition for my past. I always get tripped up with the way the Catechism describes contrition/attrition as “sorrow” and “detestation” for the sin committed. Then people turn around and tell you it’s not a feeling but an act of will. Well, which is it? ** Sorrow** and detestation are emotions, ones that I don’t really feel about some things.