So I think I’m done with Confession for awhile. I can’t be sure if I have enough contrition for a specific mortal sin (pre-marital sex with my now husband) so I can’t even be sure if my past few confessions have been valid ones. I don’t really regret my past. I wish I had not offended God, and if I were confronted with the same situation now I would fight against the sin, but I cannot say that I wish it had never happened because that would be untrue. I just don’t have that “detestation for the sin committed” and I have prayed for it. It’s not like it’s a sin I can repeat either So, no Confession, no Eucharist…finding it hard to even want to go to mass at this rate
It’s frustrating not being able to control something like contrition, and I’m tired of being told it’s an act of will because that is simply not true…Detestation of sin, hatred of sin, regret for the sin, etc. are all emotions that I cannot control or force upon myself. I was always told that if you go to confession and don’t commit the sin anymore (not a problem here because I’m married now) that you were o.k., but apparently this is not the case. Oh well. Too bad too, because I’ve gone to confession more in the last year than I have in the previous 20 years :rolleyes:
Hey, don’t stop going to mass, am beginning to feel lonely in there by myself!!
My take is that you should go into confession with the best attitude yo can muster towards your sins. If unable to feel detestation, apologize for that and ask for wisdom. But do not stop receiving communion (or confession) - God wants to be close to you! He adores you the way you are, with your premarital sex history and all. A bunch of people will tell you horror stories about the absoluteness of repentance you must feel for confessions to be valid. I counter that, being humans, we can only do our best and ask for forgiveness, and not get hung up on the sometimes too-human interpretations of the sacrament. Enjoy being a practicing Catholic - it is not supposed to be torture - it is a privilege.
Yeah being Catholic can be a torture for scrupulous people. I wonder if God would rather see you go to confession with imperfect contrition, or see you not go to confession, and even mass. You’re sorry you’ve broken one of God’s laws and you’re resolute to not repeat that particular sin (for obvious reasons), that’s good enough. Jesus came to set the captives free, not to put an unending mental burden on people. Hear the words spoken by the Priest In Nomine Christi and let them sink in. Peace.
Consider that Confession is even more than forgiveness. It’s a sacrament, you receive grace. It’s not just a healer it’s a strengthener.
Go in manly (or womanly). Don’t worry about “feelings” of contrition. Sometimes we’re given them, sometimes not. I think God wants your will, your desire to amend, more than He’s expecting little feelings…which He knows are fickle. Pray for more contrition.
Maybe tell God through the priest “I desire to be more contrite”.
I struggle with different issues but I know that feeling too of wondering and uncertainty. I’m not as horribly scrupulous as I used to be years ago, but sometimes I feel like a failure in living a life of real integrity. Like, I can see the goal but it’s like swimming through mud to get there. The suggestions of the other posters here have said many of the things I’ve come up with myself to deal with this.
It’s like, Lord, make me willing to be willing, or Lord, I’m a work in progress so please don’t give up on me, bring me to where You want me to be. Remember the Prodigal Son’s father ran out to meet him when he was “still a long way off.” So he helped him make part of the journey. So will our Heavenly Father if we ask and trust.
Don’t let discouragement make you bitter or hopeless. Pray asking God to take that too - just surrender it all - and give Him time to work. If you surrender your struggles to Him, try not to “take them back” to see how He’s coming along with them.
And if the Devil tries to remind you of your past, remind him of his future! :rolleyes:
Yes. Imperfect contrition is sufficient. Also, T-1, it’s perfectly acceptable to talk about this in confession – to air what you’ve aired here. This happened at my last confession. (Completely different issue!) At first I didn’t feel “sorry enough” because I didn’t have the insight at the time (while commiting the sin) to judge it to be as serious as it was. Truth was, it wasn’t just a matter of ignorance of the seirousness; it was a willful ignorance on my part, so I did not have any excuse when it came to the elements of a mortal sin. I had deliberately minimized it (rationalized it) to myself. It took the grace opportunities right there in the confessional, through the guidance of the priest, to allow me to see the gravity of it. That’s one of the benefits of confession. If you truly pray for receptivity and openness beforehand, those graces are usually available for the taking.
So, initially (like you), I “argued” with the priest, because it didn’t “feel” serious or “seem” serious. I lacked the vision. But the vision was due to my prideful moral blindness at the time of the sin occasion, not to a true inability to connect the dots, so to speak. The priest walked me through the reasoning, waited until he was sure that I was convinced, and then, right there, I was able to acknowledge and express my sorrow/regret, and “more perfect” (!) contrition.
Our minds can really play tricks with us, because we’re so affected by pride and by pleasure, by vanity and by lots of the cardinal sins. Please do not stay away from confession.
Hey! Keep on going to Mass, communion, and confession!
Of course, not everything that we enjoy is sinful, but the fact that we are attracted or attached to certain things that are sinful is because they’re also enjoyable and feel good. That’s (fallen) human nature. Contrition is, as I understand it, in the will, not necessarily in the feeling. For love of God, we don’t want to offend Him and we choose not to, even as we recall the pleasure of the sin. It’s the intention and resolution to avoid the near occasion of sin for love of God in confession that is meritorious. And if we deny ourselves the pleasure of falling back into it, that’s also a form of mortification.
Stopping going to Mass, or Confession, or Communion would be the worst possible solution right now. You should do just the opposite. Go to Mass frequently and receive the Lord. I’m sure your confession was valid. In fact, find a priest to use as a spiritual director (even outside of Confession) and schedule a time to sit down with him to discuss your concerns. Let him guide you spiritually. Just don’t give up on the sacraments. :highprayer:
If you stop going to Confession you may die in a state of mortal sin thus spend eternity in Hell.
If you confessed your sin of premarital sex then it is forgiven. Do your penance and thank God for His mercy.
You will still need to account for the sin - doing time for the crime. You can either do penance here, join the Brown Scapular, seek Indulgences, or spend time in Purgatory cleansing yourself prior to taking your place in Heaven.
Our life here is temporary. Eternity is forever. Make good choices here and your eternity will be wonderful. Premarital sex was a choice you made, so was Confessing it. Frequent Confession and striving to live a sin free life is a choice too.
Perhaps you should speak to your priest about this issue.
What makes you feel you are “not contrite enough”? Is there a certain level of contrition we should experience or feel? I believe we put too much emphasis on the wrong things, just my opinion here. Some times we just go through the motions and don’t feel things, or see things. But, and this is a very big but, sometimes obedience is all we have to get us to the Kingdom of God, quote of Sister Faustina!
If we believe what the Church teaches is full truth, then there is no exception to that truth. If we don’t believe that, then its time to go and learn why She teaches what She teaches to find where the untruth is. Is the untruth coming from Mother Church, or our not fully formed consciences? I know for a fact that my reservations in my past were totally on me. My unbelief was because of my lack of knowledge and understanding. Still there are times that I simply go through the motions, but that’s okay, because I know the Church teaches nothing but truth, so I’ll submit.
I have been married for over 23 years, and my wife and I dated 4 years before that. We’ve been together since September 23, 1983, married in June of '87. I would be untruthful to say that we didn’t partake in the same sin you mention. I have confessed those sins. I regret disobeying God. I don’t regret my wife. Do I wish we had been strong enough to wait until married? Yes, but we didn’t so it is what it is. I remember in my mind every time we were together in those four years. To say that I regret loving my girlfriend, I would say no not at all! On the other hand, I regret not loving God as I do now. Had I loved Him as much as I do now, I would have never been able to partake in fornication.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, we can’t just put portions of our lives in a box and say, “that was wrong so I must regret that it ever happened.” It’s much more complicated than that. It’s called a journey. We walk it together and we learn as we go, most often in our mistakes. We must take advantage of these events, and learn how to make our relationships better because of them; our relationships with our spouses, but most importantly with God. Confession, Eucharist and all the sacraments are just that, our relationship with God. Please don’t pass the opportunity to have relations with our Lord. He calls us; the catechism states that even before we call on Him, He has called us to conversation. He initiates the dialogue. Anything we do is in response to Him!!!
You know, the hardest thing I have ever had to do was to forgive myself. 16 years ago my wife and I made a choice in ignorance to permanently sterilize our relations. We chose surgical birth control over God’s will for our family. This was probably the most difficult thing I have ever tried to “get over”. I still have times when I try to picture what my family would look like had I not fallen into that trap. But it’s done; next step is to forgive myself! God the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, has already forgiven us, why can’t we forgive ourselves?
Sorry this is so long. I started writing and this is where I ended up. I hope it helps to let you know you are not alone, just keep searching, He has been looking for us long before we began searching for Him.
Wow, thank you all so much for the very charitable replies I have come a long way and I have tried so hard and prayed about this. I just don’t want to be making invalid confessions or taking the Eucharist unworthily. I mean, it seems I may not even have IMPERFECT contrition (some on this site have told me that it seems like I don’t).
It’s tempting not to go to mass also because I have a toddler and I spend most of the time in the vestibule with him anyway, and as far as I’m aware, I am not OBLIGATED to attend mass if I’m taking care of him. Sure, I guess I could leave him with my husband and we could go to separate masses or something, but I don’t think this is required according to the CCC, so (correct me if I’m wrong…please tell me if I have missed my obligation here?)
So this on top of feeling like my confession wasn’t valid and I’m in mortal sin anyway with no way out and I can’t take Communion just makes my will to attend mass crumble I guess I just start to despair and think “Well, I’m going to Hell anyway and there’s nothing I can do about it so why bother?”
Deacon, your post was really helpful to me. I’m sorry you regret your choice to sterilize so much (hey, on the bright side, at least you know you’re forgiven!). I must admit, I struggle with wanting to do the same if NFP fails for me after this 2nd baby, but seeing how much you regret it is definitely making me think much more about it.
deacon, thank you for this. I feel it’s almost impossible to regret my sin because it is totally tied up in the way my life has turned out (for the better!).
For example, I started dating my husband when we were 17. We were together 11 years before we got married. We had a beautiful wedding at the Vatican and I wouldn’t change that for the world. Now, if I had been REALLY serious about my chastity way back then, I would have almost certainly broken it off with my boyfriend to avoid getting too serious at such a young age. We wouldn’t be married today! So how can I say that I regret having pre-marital sex? If I hadn’t, I would probably not be married to my husband, have a beautiful son and be pregnant with one on the way! I suppose we could have gotten married at 18 in a cheap, simple ceremony at a local church, but to be honest, my wedding was one of the single best, most spiritual experiences of my life and I wouldn’t change that either! My life today is a direct result of all my previous choices, so I would be lying if I said I wish they hadn’t happened
Of course, if I had slept with a dozen random people before my husband, that would be very easy to regret, but I didn’t. I think in God’s eyes there must be a difference between having pre-marital sex with the one you know you will spend the rest of your life with (and actually end up marrying) and fornicating with a bunch of people just for physical pleasure, so it’s even hard to imagine spending an eternity in Hell for that. I suppose it’s possible if that’s what the Church teaches, but I almost see this as a mitigating factor (maybe that’s wishful thinking?)
I also didn’t realize that we had to confess EVERY sin for a confession to be valid, so while I was still cohabitating with my future husband, I made a HUGE confession (it had been 10 years) while leaving that out, so I KNOW now that one was invalid. I’m hoping against hope that my later confessions after I was married were valid and encompassed those sins (grandfather clause?) and so hopefully I don’t have to go back and confess the last 15 years of my life as well, because that confession took a lot of courage and I don’t know if I can muster it again. I’m trying so hard to do the right thing and the more I learn about the sacrament and its validity (or possible invalidity), the more I feel thwarted at every turn!
I’ve had quite similar experience. I had pre-marital sex with my now ex-girlfriend and we had a child together. At the time I was Catholic but just went through the motions since my parents required me to go. Then later I got my now wife (then girlfriend) pregnant :eek: (I’m a slow learner I guess). About 6 months ago I started actually living my Catholic faith and in doing that went to concession. I had some issues with confessing that as sinful because I thought I meant if I am sorry for the sin that means I wish I did not have my two oldest children!
Through some insightful posters here at CAF I learned/realized that this is not the case. I regret the sin but can still LOVE the results (my kids). God can always take a bad thing and use it for good!
I also had surgical sterilization after my 3rd child was born. When I was getting ready to confess this I was torn because at the time I did not regret it at all! I did not want more kids, my life was great as it was. Someone suggested confessing it anyway and worry about the feeling sorry for it later. I did and since then I’ve realized what that sterilization really meant and am slowly realizing why it was a mistake!
Point being, Offer up your sins because you know they were not pleasing to God. Let him worry about changing your heart where it is needed!
You are being totally childish. This is truly the work of the Evil One taking up residence in your heart.
You know that you are God’s child. You know that going to mass and receiving communion is the right thing to do. If you do not feel badly for engaging in premarital sex with your husband, then don’t worry about it. But, unless you are Jesus himself, I am sure that you, just like me and everyone else on this forum, have plenty of other sins to confess.
Do not try and force yourself to feel something that you don’t.
To my understanding, perfect contrition is something which allows us to be in a State of Grace in between the sin we regret expressly due to love of God, although we still need to confess before recieving Communion. Imperfect contrition (fear of Hell or something similar) is still grounds for a valid confession. The only thing you can do to invalidate your confession is to either lie (including intentionally conceling sins) or presume upon god’s mercy witth the intention to sin again after confession.
Continue going to Mass. Even though you can not receive communion because you are in a state of mortal sin, there are still abundant blessings that you recieve during Mass. Why? Because you are present at the sacrifice, the same sacrifice of Christ at Calvary. From that every good thing comes. I also suggest that you meditate on the passion of Christ(stations of the cross or any other material that makes you meditate on the suffering, crucifiction and death of Christ) that you will see what our sins did to him, that might make you feel remorse. Might I also suggest that you go and see a priest anyway and tell him your situation. Christ be with you.