I am a relatively new Catholic, and have been to Confession three times. I am having a bit of trouble discerning when I need to go. I know the requirement is once/year, but I agree with the idea that more often is healthy.
The issue I’m running into is I don’t think I’ve committed any mortal sins, but don’t want to be self-deluding. Maybe I have done something which needs confessing and I don’t know? Should I go confess venial sins anyway? I don’t want to be obsessive about this, but I also don’t want to unworthily partake in the Eucharist.
As to mortal sin…remember to commit a mortal sin one need grave matter, full knowledge and complete consent…
You have a grave matter like say murder…you know it and know it at the time…and then you give full consent and go ahead and do it…
So make sure you to not start down the path of scruples…(unreasonable fear of sin…seeing sin where sin is not…thinking venial sins are mortal…etc)
Compendium of the Catechism:
When does one commit a mortal sin?
One commits a mortal sin when there are simultaneously present: grave matter, full knowledge, and deliberate consent. This sin destroys charity in us, deprives us of sanctifying grace, and, if unrepented, leads us to the eternal death of hell. It can be forgiven in the ordinary way by means of the sacraments of Baptism and of Penance or Reconciliation.
When does one commit a venial sin?
One commits a venial sin, which is essentially different from a mortal sin, when the matter involved is less serious or, even if it is grave, when full knowledge or complete consent are absent. Venial sin does not break the covenant with God but it weakens charity and manifests a disordered affection for created goods. It impedes the progress of a soul in the exercise of the virtues and in the practice of moral good. It merits temporal punishment which purifies.
As for confession of venial sins this is very good! You could go …every week…or every two weeks or every month…your choice ( as a convert myself…I love confession I go each week…)
Remember though one does not need to wait til confession to be forgiven venial sins…they can be forgive in many ways…prayer of contrition…Holy Communion…even reading Scripture contributes to forgiveness of them…(I like to pray and use holy water…and ask for their forgiveness…an age old practice…)
but it is good to go to confession with at least some of them …even if they have been forgiven in otherways…
1458 Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church.59 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…
The effects of the sacrament of Penance are: reconciliation with God and therefore the forgiveness of sins; reconciliation with the Church; recovery, if it has been lost, of the state of grace; remission of the eternal punishment merited by mortal sins, and remission, at least in part, of the temporal punishment which is the consequence of sin; peace, serenity of conscience and spiritual consolation; and an increase of spiritual strength for the struggle of Christian living.
I’m also a newbie Welcome!
I had this same issue, I decided that when I go to the First Friday/First Saturday devotion that I’ll do my Confessions then (as Confession is also part of it), so I do it once a month unless I need to go sooner. When I go to Confession if I haven’t done any mortal sins, I just confess whatever venial sins I’ve done.
Welcome to the fold! :) I might recommend that you do a good examination of conscience daily. That'll get you on the right road. And I would go to Confession no less than once/month, even if it's just venial sins. Confession is a Sacrament and a source of grace! It'll strengthen you against your faults and sins, even venial ones. What happens to a soul, when they go to Confession regularly, is that they begin to defeat their habitual sins. Then, they begin to notice other sins they hadn't noticed before, like sins of omission. And through this process, they begin to become purified. The more pure a souls becomes, the more easily they see themselves in the true light of Christ. Like cleaning house, in a way. The more you clean, the more you notice other things that were dirty. :) The corners, the baseboards, the ceiling, the windows, etc. :)
Here’s a good examination of conscience by Fr. Corapi, that I can recommend:
I mentioned in another thread that one’s conscience is the best one to tell you when or how often to go to confession. If your conscience is bothering you, then go. If you are unsure if you committed a grave sin or just a venial one, go to your confessor anyway. There’s nothing more healing for your soul than confession.
It’s good you’re conscientious about going to confession, however don’t start to live in constant scrutiny of your every thought and mood. Mortal sins are what’s required to be confessed - you need 1. grave matter 2. full knowledge that the act will separate you from God and 3. full consent to do it anyway just because you want to
Finding out later that something you used to do is a mortal sin when you didn’t know before means that it wasn’t mortal before. You didn’t know the act would separate you from God. Being forced to do something also means it’s not mortal - such as being raped or held at gunpoint. You will know when you turn against God - remember, God’s grace is not easily snatched away by frivolous little mistakes. You have to TURN AWAY on PURPOSE to sin mortally. It’s a deliberate decision. Take care of yourself and don’t worry. He loves you.
I wrote such for some readers so they do not think that such is “required” for mortal sin. Certainly such can be part of mortal sin…and often will be…but
One can commit all sorts of mortal sins without ever thinking that “this will separate me from God”…such is not required for full knowledge…
they can just be thinking about the pleasure or the “benefit” such an action will give them …and simply know it is grave without reflecting on such effects…
And of course…they may not even think the way I like to put it …that it is “grave matter” …but just that this is serious…or this is a serious sin…if I do this it will be a mortal sin…or many other ways less “theological”…
But yes one needs all three grave matter…full knowledge and complete consent…for a mortal sin. And often those who are really seeking to follow Christ will be very aware that if they do such and such …it will separate them from God…which of course helps them not do so
I heard one priest describe confession as a “diaper change.” I like to think of it as taking a bath or shower. People generally take a shower every day whether they “feel” dirty or not. People don’t generally wait until they are so filthy that no one can stand to be near them. Now I certainly don’t recommend going to confession every day - that would certainly lead to Scrupulosity, and that is a matter of being so focused on yourself that you aren’t thinking of anyone or anything else, not even God. But Pope Benedict XVI goes to confession weekly, and I think that is a very good example. I personally don’t think anyone should wait longer than a month to go to confession.
We live in a completely sinful world, in many ways completely cut off from God. Therefore, we are constantly exposed to “spiritual infection” whether we realize it or not. The annoyance you feel at others, the envy you feel, the lust that comes into your mind without your wanting it - these are all spiritual diseases that could infect you. The best way to stay clear of them is by the graces given through the sacraments, and that certainly includes confession. It is true that venial sins alone will not cut you off from God. But if these “small” sins are allowed to accumulate and fester, they could easily lead to larger sins. By confessing your venial sins on a regular basis, you will have a much greater chance of avoiding mortal sins, just as if you take care of a cold, it will be much less likely to turn into pneumonia.
I think it is tragic that sin and confession are not preached from the pulpit more. I honestly cannot think of the last time I heard it preached. Remember, God is a perfect being, and cannot tolerate imperfection. That is why, through his mercy, he created purgatory so that we could be cleansed of any imperfections we may have upon our death. The goal is to die without imperfections, the definition of a saint. Regular confession is a major tool in achieving that goal.
There is also such a thing as “natural” law, which is knowing without being told that something is wrong, e.g. murder, adultery, etc. Missing Mass on Sunday would not be part of the natural law, and a person would need to be aware of the Church’s teaching on that and deliberately ignore and disobey that teaching in order to commit a mortal sin. But that is definitely not true of all sins. It drives me crazy when I hear people say that mortal sin is almost impossible to commit. If that were true, why did God even bother to create hell, why did Christ have to die on the Cross?
I don’t believe hell is created. Hell is more of a state, not a place. Remember that souls are spirits that do not exist in a physical dimension. They do not have a “here” and “there”. Hell is separation from God. I guess its impossible to explain from our perception how Hell and Heaven are different places since we cannot percieve the spirit dimension. But to put it simply, Heaven is where God is. To be in heaven is to be with God. Hell is eternal separation from God.
I say this because only God can create something out of nothing. The fallen angels couldn’t have created a hell either directly or indirectly by their rebellion.