I am pretty new here and to coming back to my faith as a middle aged woman. There is just so much to learn about my faith. I read on these forums, pray, read Scripture, and am convicted over and over of my sin. I have a whole lifetime of messes to clean up (is that ever even possible?) When I realize new sin, I just want to confess immediately (which I do personally) but how often can I go to the sacrament of confession without being obsessed with it? Also, the more sin I confess, the more I see! Also, sometimes I think I am sinning more in some ways than I did before! Could it be Satan who is not happy with my new desire to serve God? I'm not sure what exactly I am asking for - I guess any wisdom from people who have been walking this path longer than I have. I pray every day, I go to mass a few times a week if I can, and I sit before the Blessed Sacrament a few times a week. I have been to talk to a priest who was absolutely wonderful and told me the Holy Spirit is moving in my life and that this period of my life probably will not last. It feels like mountains of sin in my life and I feel so anxious and convicted at the same time. I know God loves me, I wish it was more ingrained in me. Praying the Hail Mary helps me. Sometimes I just need someone to talk to--God is the obvious answer, but I also want to connect with other older Catholics. God is so good and merciful to me and I fail so often at serving Him.
Welcome back to the faith!
What you’re going through sounds normal. It is like cleaning and renovating a house. I just cleaned the whole house on Friday, and today it needs cleaning again. I just swept the floor last night, and there are already crumbs from breakfast on the floor. Often when I paint a room, I then notice that the carpets, which had looked okay, suddenly look in need of a deep cleaning, and the furniture shows it’s starting to wear.
I think it’s normal that if we have ignored “spritual messes” and gotten used to living with sin, when we finanally start to clean up our spiritual lives, we become aware of more sins in our life. People can become scrupulous, suspecting sin in everything and everywhere. A good confessor will help you recognize if it’s that.
Again, like trying to organize a disorganized home or redecorate: sometimes it’s good to have the influence of a professional. Organizers often break items into three piles: 1) definately keep, 2) definately throw out, or 3) maybe keep or give away, depending if you have a place for it. A good confessor and good spiritual guidance will help you realize if some habits are worth keeping, need to be eliminated, or not bad but not neccesarily right for your life.
May God bless you!
I came back to the faith about 8 years ago. There were a few times when I went to confession every other week, not too many though. My suggestion is to do a really good examination of conscience (there are several good ones for adults--just google Catholic examination of conscience) and go to confession. I go monthly now and find it really helps.
May God Bless you!
Joining the parish groups will connect you with the older generation. Volunteering will. When I volunteered, I found that the folk who were carrying the load were the elderly sometimes! Imagine, at the festival, the collector's corner all 70 ish for a decade ... Now a mix. Ditto for men's efforts. We also have CHRP weekends for both men and women, besides the traditional groups one can join!
Welcome back, so nice to have people come home.
You are now, and going to be facing for a while, spiritual attack. This is a given, and to be expected. Once you have undergone the sacrament of confession and have completed your pennance, your sins are washed away, done, over with, no longer tied, applied, or inside of you. (all of them, the ones you remembered and the ones you did not at the time of confession) Done, complete, washed, finished, outta here, etc. The evil one loves to keep bringing up your past mistakes, and this is something you are contending with at present. When you face anxieties about them, repeat to yourself “I am washed in the blood of Christ”, for he has washed you, he has made you free.
When you reach a state of understanding needing to work in other areas of your life, understand them but do NOT beat yourself up over them. We all are in a state of spiritual progress, we are not completed works, and the potter is molding us continuously. We are not to condemn ourselves, we are not to loath our beings because we are not “perfect”, we are being made new and God can’t work through people that are in a state of self loathing because of their sin.
Bottom line, enjoy your freedom, enjoy the fact it’s his grace that sets you free, and that it’s not based upon what you do to earn it, it’s freely given, all one needs to do is ask.
I returned to the Church 4 years ago and experienced a lot of what you describe. I had been away for 27 years and had a lot to confess. It seemed like I saw sin everywhere in my life. It took awhile for me to settle down in my faith.
Try to go to confession with the same priest. That way he can get to know you and will be better able to advise you. As for how often to go to confession, that's a personal decision. A regular confessor can advise you on what might work best for you. I did tend to go more often when I first returned to the church than I do now.
Make sure you understand the difference between mortal and venial sin. Mortal sin needs to be confessed before you can receive Communion, venial sin does not. You can mention venial sins in confession, but you are not required to.
Thanks to you all for answering. Your replies help me more than I can say.
Another question for Anne (or anyone else if they have an answer)... I've read the catechism on definitions of mortal/venial sin trying to understand which is which. My question is, is "grave" sin the same as mortal? I think I know the answer but want to be sure. Also, how long did it take you to "settle down" in your faith, if you don't mind explaining?
Hi Anne Teresa, What a beautiful name! I too was away from the Church for 27 yrs. and came back 7 yrs. ago. I went through what you are describing also.
The first time I went to confession I didn't have a clue about sin and I finally thought of two sins to confess. The priest told me that I had made a very good confession but he added kindly that if I had any mortal sins to confess I could come back. I thought I knew what mortal sin was so I replied nicely, " Well, wouldn't I know if I had any mortal sins father?" He did not say anything. lol. I still laugh when I think back to that confession.
Anyways after that I joined the Legion of Mary and learned so much about my faith! It seemed that I was discovering new sins every week and habitual ones too. Needless to say I was in the confessional almost every week for about 4 yrs but I was not scrupulous at this time. It was because after having almost a lifetime of habitual mortal sin it took a long time to overcome it. I went to the same confessor and that was so helpful! He always told me to never ever give up!
Now after all of this I started to read all the approved Catholic books I could get my hands on and I did become scrupulous, constantly examining my conscience, worrying because I did not know whether I should confess or not. I finally got through this by telling my confessor what I was going through and he knew exactly what to do and helped me to stop.
So things are much better now. I have my life back yet I am still very zealous about my faith and so joyful about our faith. I confess once a month. I too love Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the mass! It makes me so happy every time I hear of anyone coming back to the Church! I especially love it when they are middle aged too because it seems that (at my church) there are so few my age. Most in their 30's with families or 60 plus.
About your question on grave vs. mortal sin. Grave sin is serious sin. Mortal sin has to have these 3 things to really be mortal. 1. It must be grave matter. 2. It must be done with your full consent. 3. You must have full knowledge that it is grave matter.
God bless you!
Thank you SO much for sharing your story about confession. It made me smile. It sounds like you really do relate to what I'm going through. I'll think I am free and clean and then, whammo, I'll recognize something else that is messed up. I do not feel I am condemning myself for it, but rather am kind of alarmed at how much sin there is that I didn't realize. It helps so much to know that others have gone through this.
I've been going mostly to the same priest but sometimes a different one gets in there. I just pray that God will speak through whoever is there and that I can hear what he has to tell me. I've read some things about scrupulosity and from what I can see, I have true sin, not scruples (at this point anyway). I'm so glad you are doing better now.
Thank God for his grace, wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ, and priests. Today, I am repeating this to myself: Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more (Romans 5:20)
May God bless you richly.