how often is to often for confession?
For an obvious mortal sin, there is no limit to the number of times you can go to confession. For those sins that are not obviously mortal or for venial sins about a week or however often your regular confessor says to go. Scrupulosity is a factor in some people who go often so they need to talk to a regular confessor to find out how often they should go.
That’s a difficult question to answer with a simple answer like “x days” or “y weeks”. Part of the answer has to do with the nature of the sins that one is committing, and this requires a solid understanding of the difference between ‘mortal’ and ‘venial’ sin. If one commits a mortal sin, he should attempt to get to confession as soon as practicable – perhaps at the next available time for confession at his parish (or a nearby parish, if convenient). If one commits venial sin, he should remember that prayer, participation at Mass, and reception of the Eucharist absolves one from venial sin. (The Church teaches that it’s also praiseworthy to seek the graces of sacramental reconciliation, even for venial sin.)
Another important consideration is one’s one approach to the sacraments. Some suffer from scrupulosity, in which the desire to confess – and the fear of improperly confessing – leads them to compulsively seek out sacramental reconciliation. The compulsions of scrupulosity, as all conditions of mental health, are something that a person’s health care providers can help address.
Certainly if one should fall into a mortal sin.
Frequent confession of venial sins is an age old and very good practice. Different persons can decide differently as to how frequent. It could be say weekly, or monthly or every other week …*(some have gone even daily --and not out of any scrupulosity–though for a person who had that difficulty such would not normally be good).
It is a wonderful and great Sacrament.
1458 Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father’s mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful (scborromeo.org/ccc/ccc_toc.htm)
One need not (not good to wait) -wait Confession to seek forgiveness (though let us go often!). Though it is very recommended that one goes to confession frequently (see the Catechism and all good that this brings).
Venial sins are forgiven in many ways -acts of perfect or even imperfect contrition, prayer, reading Sacred Scripture, the Mass, Holy Communion, the prayerful use holy water, other sacramentals, little short prayers during the day, acts of love etc
If you find yourself going, or wanting to go, more than once a week, then you might be suffering scruples or have fallen into habitual mortal sin. Speak to your confessor about this and follow his advice.
For mortal sins, as soon as possible is best.
For me personally I always get a feeling and I know I need to go to confession. I usually go every 4 to 8 weeks. For me confession is a beautiful gift from God and another example of Gods love and mercy for us.
I believe that I read somewhere that the Pope goes to confession once a week. I have read of saints who went daily. I generally go every two weeks, unless I have committed a mortal sin: then, I am compelled to make an appointment with a priest and I am totally miserable until I have sought Reconciliation with Our Lord.
So how often is too often? That can only be answered by you and your Confessor.
Going to confession on a regular basis, in my opinion, is a clear indicator that the individual is a disciple of Christ, which is an ongoing process. Most Catholics, in my opinion, don’t go often enough.
Mother Teresa on Confession
The following passages are quotations of Mother Teresa from the book “Jesus, The Word to be spoken,” compiled by Father Angelo D. Scolozzi.
- Confession makes the soul strong because a really good confession—–the confession of a child in sin coming back to the Father—–always begets humility, and humility is strength. We may go to confession as often as we want and to whom we want, but we are not encouraged to seek spiritual direction from any and every source. The confessional is not a place for useless conversation or gossip. The topic should be my sins, my sorrow, my forgiveness: how to overcome my temptations, how to practice virtue, how to increase in the love of God. (Feb 1)
2 First, confession; after that ask for spiritual direction if necessary. The reality of my sins must come first. For most of us there is the danger of forgetting that we are sinners and must go to confession as sinners. We must want the precious blood to wash away our sins. We must go to God to tell him we are sorry for all we have done which may have hurt him. (Feb 2)
One thing is necessary for us—–confession. Confession is nothing but humility in action. We call it penance, but really it is a sacrament of love, a sacrament of forgiveness. That is why confession should not be a place in which to talk for long hours about our difficulties. It is a place where I allow Jesus to take away from me everything that divides, that destroys. When there is a gap between me and Christ, when my love is divided, anything can come to fill the gap. We should be very simple and childlike in confession. “Here I am as a child going to the Father.” If a child is not yet spoiled and has not learned to tell lies, he will tell everything. This is what I mean by being childlike. Confession is a beautiful act of great love. Only in confession can we go as sinners with sin and come out as sinners without sin. (Feb 3)
You need only ask at night before you go to bed, “What did I do to Jesus today? What did I do for Jesus today? What did I do with Jesus today?” You have only to look at your hands. This is the best examination of conscience. (Feb 4)
5 And how will you find Jesus? He has made, it so easy for us. “Love one another as I loved you.” If we have gone astray, we have the beautiful sacrament of confession. We go to confession a sinner full of sin. We come from confession a sinner without sin by the greatness of the mercy of God. No need for us to despair. No need for us to commit suicide. No need for us to be discouraged—–no need, if we have understood the tenderness of God’s love. You are precious to him. He loves you, and he loves you so tenderly that he has carved you on the palm of his hand. These are God’s words written in the Scripture. You know that. Remember that when your heart feels restless, when your heart feels hurt, when your heart feels like breaking—–then remember, “I am precious to him. He loves me. He has called me by my name. I am his. He loves me. God loves me.” And to prove that love he died on the cross. (Feb 5)
Sadly, ‘Bless me Father for I have sinned; it’s been 1 day since my last confession.’ The priest always has to know what is probably coming next…talk about learning humility as a sinner.