Firm Purpose of Amendment Question

Are we required to have a firm purpose of amendment for sins we are not confessing (venial sins, for example) for a confession to be valid?

From the CCC:
**1456 ***Confession to a priest is an essential part of the sacrament of Penance: “All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted by them in confession, even if they are most secret and have been committed against the last two precepts of the Decalogue; for these sins sometimes wound the soul more grievously and are more dangerous than those which are committed openly.”

When Christ’s faithful strive to confess all the sins that they can remember, they undoubtedly place all of them before the divine mercy for pardon. But those who fail to do so and knowingly withhold some, place nothing before the divine goodness for remission through the mediation of the priest, "for if the sick person is too ashamed to show his wound to the doctor, the medicine cannot heal what it does not know."*

Think about your initial question: “Can I just have some of my sins forgiven, but hold on to some others?” What difference could it possibly make? If you have a sin you are more fond of than God, in what sense is your relationship with God made whole by having confessed the other sins? It is like asking if a stain remover works on selected stains on a garment if you apply it to one stain and not others. The garment comes out of the dryer unfit to wear, either way.

Be careful, for the metaphor works this way, too: the heat of the dryer can even set some stains. Likewise, any amendment from sin that knowingly holds a part of ourselves out of God’s reach can harden into a habit of preferring self-will. Avoid that. Also, it does not matter how we feel about a sin, but what our wills choose. You may feel you do not want to leave a sin behind, but that is temptation that you are feeling. If you choose to leave the sin behind in spite of how you feel about doing it or in spite of doubting your chances of success, you are still choosing to amend. You are choosing grace over sin, and God’s will over your own. That is the main thing.

Mortal sins…yes. (one should not change ones mind about past mortal sins that were already confessed…) (but you do not need to in detail think of ones from the past…)

Venial sins…no.

if one has no mortal sins needing to be confessed…one can confess one venial sin that one has a purpose of amendment for and contrition for …and it is valid.

even if one plans to go eating extra jelly donuts later…

of course one should seek to include and be sorry for all venial sins (intentionally…not number and kind)

also it is good to add :and all the sins of my life particularly for y (lust or anger or something one is really sorry and amended for)…then one has even more matter for absolution…

this means MORTAL sins.

Venial sins are never required to be confessed…they can be forgiven in other ways…

though it is recommend to confess at least some…

but do not wait for confession…for venial sins can be forgiven in many ways…prayer, contrition etc…

A lot of people talk themselves out of going to Confession, by wondering whether they really have a firm enough intention to do better. Frankly, most people should quit worrying about this. If you want to go to Confession, you mean to do better. If you wriggle out of going to Confession, that would be more of a proof that you don't want to do better. Even if you're not sure you can stop sinning a certain sin, you can go to Confession in the hope that God will help you, and give you whatever is lacking in your own will.

OTOH, if you're running around murdering people, and you're not really sorry about it and you mean to kill more people later in the day, that's when you should worry about whether you have a firm purpose of amendment.

Venial sins must be repented of, too, though, not just the mortal ones. Sins differ in gravity, but there are not “sins that must be let go of” and “sins that we may keep as pets.” So while we are not required to confess venial sins, and while we may of course doubt our ability to let go of some sins, in spite of our best intentions, we may not consciously and willfully hold back any sins from our purpose of amendment. They all have to go, eventually, every last one of them.

but this is not what he was asking.

if one does not have a firm purpose of amendment for some venial sins he did not confess…

(or even for some he confessed…though one should have such for what one confesses…though too what is required for mortal sins is different than venial…)

it does **not **invalidate the confession.

of course we have to work on repenting of all our sins…but this was not the question.

If I go to confession and confess:

I lied

and i have contrition etc and firm purpose of amendment…

even if I intentionally do not repent of eating too may jelly donuts…

this does NOT invalidate my confession.

of course i should work on moving away from the donuts…

what the CCC quote you highlighted is referring to are mortal sins…

"But those who fail to do so and knowingly withhold some, place nothing before the divine goodness for remission through the mediation of the priest, “for if the sick person is too ashamed to show his wound to the doctor, the medicine cannot heal what it does not know.”

this is about MORTAL sins…

I’m going to agree with you, but I will stick to my guns by refusing to agree that “of course we have to work on repenting of all our sins” was not actually the question. Maybe it wasn’t, it is charitable to hope it couldn’t have been, but we should not automatically assume that it wasn’t, either.

By “of course we have to work on repenting of all our sins”, then, you are not arguing that it is OK to purposefully realize that gluttony is a sin, that your habitual indulgence in those doughnuts is in fact gluttony, but to still refuse to even want to turn from your gluttony because you believe yourself to be practicing that particular vice on a venial level. You agree that this practice would be a recipe for disaster.

Does canon law say that confession with such reservations is invalid? No, you are right about that. Were a person to consent to repent from mortal sins, the mortal sins are not retained because the person refused to repent from some of his venial ones, even those he was fully aware of, and that is not a small thing.

Your point is important, because the permissiblity of canon law was put there to protect the scrupulous. It serves a good purpose, which answers my question of “what difference could it make?”

Nevertheless, refusing to repent of “small things” is no small matter. It is a very dangerous habit. Fine juridical points like this are pointedly put into canon law to protect the scrupulous from anxiety, but not to protect any from a full purpose of amendment.

We should expect ourselves “required” to do our best, and then trust God with the rest.

To answer the OP’s question, then: If you purposefully refuse to repent of some venial sins, your confession won’t be invalid, but it would be a much poorer confession for that refusal. Holding back nothing at all is always the goal of a good confession.

yes of course it is not OK…we need to repent and follow Christ…

but as the Church teaches ordinarily we can not go long without some venial sins…so while we should strive to avoid each one…we will sin venially in various ways…

but this does not mean it is ok.

and of course we need to realize the reality of our baptism …that we are ‘saints’ even if we commit venial sins :slight_smile: and on the other hand…many deliberate venial sins can make it easier to commit a mortal sin which would be a disaster…

so with humility we must work on overcoming ourselves…

[quote="EasterJoy, post:8, topic:185990"]

Your point is important, because the permissiblity of canon law was put there to protect the scrupulous. It serves a good purpose, which answers my question of "what difference could it make?"

Nevertheless, refusing to repent of "small things" is no small matter. It is a very dangerous habit. Fine juridical points like this are pointedly put into canon law to protect the scrupulous from anxiety, but not to protect any from a full purpose of amendment.

We should expect ourselves "required" to do our best, and then trust God with the rest.

To answer the OP's question, then: If you purposefully refuse to repent of some venial sins, your confession won't be invalid, but it would be a much poorer confession for that refusal. Holding back nothing at all is always the goal of a good confession.

[/quote]

and to protect other Christians too. for who does not struggle with venial sins?

and that person still makes a GOOD confession.

but yes as Jesus said: "His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[1] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much." (Matt 25:21)

one could tie in a spiritual sense here....

let us follow Christ with great love....not only seeking to avoid sins...but to follow...and with that 'excess' seen in the sermon on the mount...

I want to add that we should fight the sense that mortal sins are the “non-permissible” sins, while venial sins are the “permissible” kind. This too-common misrepresentation of our situation is not the kind of straw-splitting that was envisioned when the concepts of mortal and venial sins was introduced! A sin is a sin, an offense against the love we owe God and our neighbor. While we must particularly flee from grave sins, while we may not misuse the Sacrament of Penance by confessing and confessing instead of simply getting out there and doing battle, there is no sin we should be content to allow to alight on our souls, either.

Sin, after all, is not simply individual bad acts. It is the habit of preferring our will to God’s will. It is a state, not only an action. Therefore, it is right to cultivate a hatred for every sin, no matter how small.

Also, the question is not only about avoiding sin. The Christian life is not primarily about what we avoid doing or being, but about what we are meant to do and be. We have to cultivate virtue and seek a state of grace, or else avoiding sin will be truly a lost cause. If we struggle with a sin, then, toning up our souls by particularly seeking the opposite virtue is called for.

Finally, sometimes the devil works on us on several fronts. Winking at small acts of gluttony today can pave the way for large acts of adultery later, as the former encourages self-indulgence over self-control. This is another reason to really keep working on the “small stuff.” If it is really so hard to give up that we hold back on repenting from it, that is something to look into.

[quote="EasterJoy, post:11, topic:185990"]
I want to add that we should fight the sense that mortal sins are the "non-permissible" sins, while venial sins are the "permissible" kind. This too-common misrepresentation of our situation is not the kind of straw-splitting that was envisioned when the concepts of mortal and venial sins was introduced! A sin is a sin, an offense against the love we owe God and our neighbor. While we must particularly flee from grave sins, while we may not misuse the Sacrament of Penance by confessing and confessing instead of simply getting out there and doing battle, there is no sin we should be content to allow to alight on our souls, either.

Sin, after all, is not simply individual bad acts. It is the habit of preferring our will to God's will. It is a state, not only an action. Therefore, it is right to cultivate a hatred for every sin, no matter how small.

Also, the question is not only about avoiding sin. The Christian life is not primarily about what we avoid doing or being, but about what we are meant to do and be. We have to cultivate virtue and seek a state of grace, or else avoiding sin will be truly a lost cause. If we struggle with a sin, then, toning up our souls by particularly seeking the opposite virtue is called for.

Finally, sometimes the devil works on us on several fronts. Winking at small acts of gluttony today can pave the way for large acts of adultery later, as the former encourages self-indulgence over self-control. This is another reason to really keep working on the "small stuff." If it is really so hard to give up that we hold back on repenting from it, that is something to look into.

[/quote]

of course.

but with humility and patience too....

:)

it can be helpful to recognize

that there are:

Deliberate venial sins
Semi-deliberate venial sins
faults (sins) of surprise

etc...

one should very much work to avoid deliberate venial sins the most (after mortal) ....

the others...are less important ...though one should work to lessen them....

and the understanding that there is a chasm between what a mortal sin is an what a venial sin is...the are essentially different.. is very important....and some can run into the opposite end by taking to much to the idea that sin is sin.

it is good to remember the reality of baptism! of being saints..holy ones...for some forget this and think that cause they fall into venial sins (which the Church teaches we can not avoid entirely) they are ....'just sinners' etc....

instead we are saints...and need to more and more follow Christ in joy and love

read for instance Paul's letter to the Colossians....

I recommend these book which touch on these subjects…

scepterpublishers.org/product/index.php?FULL=161

scepterpublishers.org/product/index.php?FULL=145

scepterpublishers.org/product/index.php?FULL=614

[quote="Bookcat, post:12, topic:185990"]
of course.

but with humility and patience too....

:)

it can be helpful to recognize

that there are:

Deliberate venial sins
Semi-deliberate venial sins
faults (sins) of surprise

etc...

one should very much work to avoid deliberate venial sins the most (after mortal) ....

the others...are less important ...though one should work to lessen them....

and the understanding that there is a chasm between what a mortal sin is an what a venial sin is...the are essentially different.. is very important....and some can run into the opposite end by taking to much to the idea that sin is sin.

it is good to remember the reality of baptism! of being saints..holy ones...for some forget this and think that cause they fall into venial sins (which the Church teaches we can not avoid entirely) they are ....'just sinners' etc....

instead we are saints...and need to more and more follow Christ in joy and love

read for instance Paul's letter to the Colossians....

[/quote]

The subject of the difference between a sin and a fault is a good one, particularly in terms of avoiding discouragement. Some things in our habitual way of behaving and seeing the world are so stubborn and have such very deep roots, whether in our own history or in our upbringing, that our free will is mitigated. It is not as if we have no role to play in our own recovery, but when things have gone from being bad choices to taking on more of the character of an addiction, we have to be realistic about the road to recovery. It is typically going to be a matter of three steps forward, two steps back, and sometimes three or four steps back, then some more steps forward. A truly firm purpose of amendment is not a promise to succeed. It is an honest intention to succeed. When future failures don't take us totally by surprise, it doesn't mean we were never contrite in the first place.

I think of mortal and venial sins along the lines of physical ailments. There is a sharp dividing line between what, left untreated, is going to kill you and what won't. When it comes to risk factors for deadly diseases, though, the line of demarcation becomes much less clear. A person who struggles with grave sexual sins yet does nothing about her venial sins of gluttony is a bit like a person with deadly cardiac issues who plays fast and easy with her blood sugar. In that way, it is all of a piece. The more mortal sin is an issue, the more all sin is an issue. Besides, even though addictions themselves are at least partly faults, and not sins, they are a source of suffering. The intention to overcome them is important.

Your point is well-taken, though: *everything cannot be the most important at the same time! *There has to be a triage. In recognition of that, I would prioritize my efforts at reform based on which sins and faults have a connection to the most serious threats to my spiritual health, regardless of the seriousness of the individual bad acts if they were to be taken as if they were isolated symptoms. Does that fit what you're getting at? That takes an informed conscience, very honest self-examination, and a good confessor.

We always have to keep between the ditches of presumption and despair, and that is a humbling road, you are very right about that. Saints are not made in a day.

there are also ‘imperfections’…

that is those things that could be done better…

which are not sins…

domcentral.org/study/aumann/st/st07.htm#tsas

of course there is much more …

especially on the side of virtue (a great book is the Four Cardinal Virtues by Josef Pieper)

I would like to add that these are the elements that should always be present for confession to be Valid:

  1. True sorrow for sins
  2. Actual confession to the priest
  3. Words of absolution from the priest
  4. Performance of the penance

as to 1…i would just say ‘contrition’ and 'firm purpose of amendment as i described…otherwise some could think they have to feel it…

also the last part …

actually…the ‘acceptance’ of the penance…at least implicitly …in other words the implicit intention to do it…for the confession is valid long before one does it.

then if one would later forget too… or even later intentionally omit it …it would not make that confession invalid…though in the later case it would be a sin.

This is a very important point, too, and often wrongly understood.

Contrition is an act of the will. It has no necessary connection with sorrowful feelings or with fillings of guilt, let alone feelings of shame. A sociopath, a person who is not capable of emotionally feeling remorse, is still capable of contrition. Likewise, a person who feels very strongly that they are in love with a person who is not their spouse can still decide with a firm purpose of amendment to turn from an adulterous relationship. That this person is still tempted toward the adulterous relationship because of strong feelings does not mean the person is not contrite. You do not have to feel you’d like to give up eating jelly doughnuts in amounts contrary to health nor do you have to, in all honesty, like your chances of succeeding in order to decide you will try to keep consumption within healthy limits in the future. (After all, jelly doughnuts are not objectively sinful for most people, but only jelly doughnuts in excess.)

Love is an action, not a feeling. Contrition is a matter of choosing to love God and God’s will, rather than one’s own will, no matter what one’s emotions have to say about the decision. Perfection in contrition does not lie in perfection of our feelings (which is out of our power, to a great degree), but perfection of the purpose of amendment. Perfect amendment is aimed entirely at achieving what God deserves, while with imperfect amendment our attention is taken away from God in favor of the goal of evading what we truly deserve. Perfect amendment is all about God, while in imperfect amendment we are still intent on ourselves.

Feelings of sorrow and guilt are like a smoke alarm. They are useful in that they turn us to the business of extinguishing sin. Although many sins would burn unabated without these feelings, the feelings themselves directly do nothing to extinguish sin nor are they strictly necessary to extinguish sin. They may be turned off once the business of extinguishing the sin has begun to be attended to. The truth is, turning off feelings of guilt and especially of shame may be very important in turning our attention from ourselves and towards God.

[quote="EasterJoy, post:18, topic:185990"]
This is a very important point, too, and often wrongly understood.

Contrition is an act of the will. It has no necessary connection with sorrowful feelings or with fillings of guilt, let alone feelings of shame. A sociopath, a person who is not capable of emotionally feeling remorse, is still capable of contrition. Likewise, a person who feels very strongly that they are in love with a person who is not their spouse can still decide with a firm purpose of amendment to turn from an adulterous relationship. That this person is still tempted toward the adulterous relationship because of strong feelings does not mean the person is not contrite. You do not have to feel you'd like to give up eating jelly doughnuts in amounts contrary to health nor do you have to, in all honesty, like your chances of succeeding in order to decide you will try to keep consumption within healthy limits in the future. (After all, jelly doughnuts are not objectively sinful for most people, but only jelly doughnuts in excess.)

Love is an action, not a feeling. Contrition is a matter of choosing to love God and God's will, rather than one's own will, no matter what one's emotions have to say about the decision. Perfection in contrition does not lie in perfection of our feelings (which is out of our power, to a great degree), but perfection of the purpose of amendment. Perfect amendment is aimed entirely at achieving what God deserves, while with imperfect amendment our attention is taken away from God in favor of the goal of evading what we truly deserve. Perfect amendment is all about God, while in imperfect amendment we are still intent on ourselves.

Feelings of sorrow and guilt are like a smoke alarm. They are useful in that they turn us to the business of extinguishing sin. Although many sins would burn unabated without these feelings, the feelings themselves directly do nothing to extinguish sin nor are they strictly necessary to extinguish sin. They may be turned off once the business of extinguishing the sin has begun to be attended to. The truth is, turning off feelings of guilt and especially of shame may be very important in turning our attention from ourselves and towards God.

[/quote]

great points.

though some...i would say are not entirely the case...

for feelings CAN assist...and

even PERFECT the act ...

and feelings are important...and even the feeling of love....etc

CCC 1770 Moral perfection consists in man's being moved to the good not by his will alone, but also by his sensitive appetite, as in the words of the psalm: "My heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God."46

we need to realize the importance of this statement! :)

vatican.va/archive/catechism/p3s1c1a5.htm

Of course this does not mean that one needs feelings for any contrition...

including perfect contrition.

Isn’t love an act of the will as well, opposed to being a feeling?

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