Confessors and the Sacrament of Reconciliation

Just a little background, I would describe myself as a catholic that is faithful to the Magisterium, traditional in the sense that I am a fan of frequenting the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist. I am an imperfect person and working towards becoming the man that God wants me to be. I am a catechist so I have had some formal training in the teachings of the church and have the understanding that the more you learn the less you actually know, I am aware of what constitues a mortal sin and the three conditions that need to be met. I do not and never had a problem with scrupulosity.

In the past my confessor who happened to be our pastor had indicated to me on one occaision durring confession that because of my age that certain habits of sins would not be able to be rooted out because one is set in their ways by the time they reach their forties. Now this happened about a year ago and it is still bothering me. I thought that when you frequent the sacraments they give you the strength to weaken the incliniation to commit mortal sin and they can weaken or even break the bond of venial sin. I mean is that not one of the purposes of frequenting the sacraments?

He has been gone on administative leave and may be returning very soon for a short period until our new assigned pastor is due to start. During his leave we had other priests filling in since who I went to confession to.

Now I want to be perfectly clear my pastor is a good priest and a faithful preist as far as I know, and have experienced. It’s just that that particular comment threw me for a loop and has been on my mind since.

if something said in a confession has stayed with you to this degree it is worth taking to another priest in confession or spiritual direction for more guidance.

I definitely take exception to his statement that certain sins cannot be rooted out because of your age. Nonsense! Keep working on the problem. I believe that all Our Lord requires is that the desire for holiness remains in us. Keep trying, I am.

when it comes to behavioral science for instance, yes it definitey is harder to root out a bad habit the longer one has become entrenched in it. The priest is right as far as that goes. Since we don’t know his actual words or the context, we don’t know how much he said, or did not say, about the value of sacramental and actual grace in combatting habitual sin. There is a lot of good written about that, so perhaps someone here has a good recommend.

It is a psychological fact, but each and every of our decisions make a habit in us, and repeated actions make the habit stronger and stronger. So if someone practiced a habit from age 15 to 40, and he starts to fight this habit at age 40, then it can be considered resolved in some way at age 65 or later, depending of the strength of the faith.

It is also theological fact that the Redemption and Christ’s grace does not removes the concupiscence, the habit toward the sin. This means that with very strong effort mortal sins can be avoided, but not all venial sins.

I know it from the confessor of my youth, a Carmelite priest, who studied the life of St Theresa the Lisieux in details, that Therese hated the cats, and her superior mother forced her to take care of a cat. Until the end of life, Theresa was struggling with her dislike and for the obedience.

I agree that concupiscience is a fact of life here in this life, and we won’t even be free from temptation until we pass from this life to the next. But I may have not mentioned in my original post that I try to frequent mass during the week as available. I guess I am coming from the notion of what the CCC says in 1393-1395, and 1436. I am not going to type it here in this post but invite you to look it up. (it would take a long time for me to type and I don’t know where I could cut and paste from so please for give me) Basically frequent reception of the Eucharist preserves us from mortal sin and is a remedey to free us from our daily faults.

Now with that in mind that is where I feel that the Theological Virtue of Hope works as well.
I’m not a perfect person but I have Hope through frequent reception of the Eucharist and regular Confession all done with the proper predisposition can actually assist us in defeating temptation, help us avoid occasions of sin, and strengthen the will over intelligence to avoid some sins and even break habits that are sinful.

In each of these sacraments we recieve Grace and of course the amount of grace we receive is dependant on our predisposition. Grace being God’s life within us don’t you think that Grace counters temptation, gives us strength to be son’s and daughters of God?
and gives us a longing to please God? As I said before concupiscience is some thing we have to deal with, but recourse to the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist (one being properly disposed) is an aid to conforming ourselves to God’s will.

Personally I would like to sin less because of the offence it is to God, the effect it has on others and to avoid the los of salvation. But I know that I will fall and his Mercy is there for me, but If I can behave better I’m going to try.

While long “habit” can have its effect.

What he stated was incorrect in what you related…(though of course someone may be fighting a habit til the end…just cause one is had it for x number of years does not mean one will not overcome it)

One is able via virtue, grace, prayer and the grace of the Sacraments etc
to overcome even long habits of sin. But of course we will struggle with various venial sins if not one…then another. But still we need to seek to change etc…

Oh and keep too in mind… if any mortal sin is involved…ones purpose of amendment (to not commit it again or any mortal sin) needed for confession means that one firmly intends this. The fact that one falls again does not of course mean that one did not have such…and the fact that one fears one may fall again…is still compatible with the purpose of amendment (but one should of course not have the intent or plan etc to fall…)

I have been going to Daily Mass for some time now, and to confession as well.

As a former Protestant, I can tell you that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a wonderful gift from God. The grace that we receive in Confession, along with regular reception of the Eucharist, goes a long way in helping us to avoid the temptation of sin.

I know for myself, there are certain sins that I struggle with continuously and that frequent reception of the Eucharist, and when I fall, reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, both are invaluable in my struggle to avoid sin. Once I confessed to Father my frustration in continuously confessing the same sin over and over. He responded, “Do you think you are the only one who does this?” He reassured me that I was not and that went a long way toward allowing me to forgive myself for frequently failing in my desire to be holy.

I know that as long as I am on this earth, I will struggle with certain sins but that, with the grace received in Confession, I will be fully armed and capable of defeating Satan when he tempts me. I only wish everyone would take advantage of the frequent opportunities offered in the Daily Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.