How to know when to go to Confession?

I’ve seen quite a few threads about Confession, and sin in general. Many of the responses are essentially “Go to Confession now…”, which is a good idea, but isn’t there more to it than that?

Shouldn’t we also be prepared to stop sinning? Even if we know we’ve messed up and don’t want to continue to sin, isn’t there a need to be sorry (not just feel bad, but to really resent what we’ve done)?

I feel like there’s a conflict going on here in those responses - even if the Church gives advice to go ASAP to Confession, that doesn’t mean go to tomorrow or even this month, right?

You need to consider perfect vs imperfect act of contrition coupled with the sacrament instituted by Our Lord. I go every week before Mass because despite my efforts, I sin in thought, word, and/or deed every week. I would advise everyone person to do the same. If you think you have not sinned on any given day, I would suggest a rigorous examination of conscious. Confession is a priority for mortal sin and should be for venial sin as well.

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Going to confession every week is not a good idea for everyone. Those who lean toward scrupulosity are often advises by priests NOT to go to confession every week. I myself was once told by a priest that “Going to confession every week is too much” And he recommended, unless I had a Mortal Sin to confess, that I go to confession once a month. He said I was thinking about sin too much and that I was not as bad as I thought that I was. Too much self examination for a scrupulous person can be harmful. Its not that we are trying to get away with anything or don’t wish to examine our conscious because we don’t think we sin everyday. On the contrary, we tend to see sin where there is no sin and see mortal sin when there is no sin, or venial sin at the most. We know we sin, but we make mountains out of molehills and it can get to the point where it becomes torture in our minds. Those with normal Conscience’s, every week may be fine but it is better for a scrupulous person to go less frequent. It depends.

To the OP I would ask your regular confessor for a recommendation.

I believe there is a healthy amount of scrupulousness. As in all things, there must be moderation. St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians:

Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence,) with fear and trembling work out your salvation. [13] For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will. [14] And do ye all things without murmurings and hesitations; [15] That you may be blameless, and sincere children of God, without reproof, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation; among whom you shine as lights in the world.

With fear and trembling I am trying to work out my salvation.

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It is/was reported that St. John Paul II went to confession every day. Who would tell the Pope he is perhaps too scrupulous?

Problem is most aren’t schooled in moral theology enough to know the difference or know if they’ve sinned at all. What’s most unfortunate is that many people IMO tend to look at communion, a pleasurable event, as a reward for committing only venial sins. As long as they can convince themselves they have done nothing seriously wrong, everything is okay. St. John Paul II certainly didn’t teach this.

When I give the advice to “go to Confession now…” I assume all that it entails - including contrition for the sin and a firm purpose of amendment - the intention to not sin again - which is required of a good Confession.

What conflict do you see here? When we advise someone to go to Confession as soon as possible it means just that - at your very next opportunity, such as this coming Saturday -or- make an appointment to see a priest for confession as soon as you can, preferably this week or next -and- definitely go to confession before receiving Communion again.

There should first be an examination of conscience, and the development of contrition. There cannot be absolution without contrition, defined by the Catechism of the Catholic Church:**1451 **Among the penitent’s acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is “sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again.” 50
The one confessing must have the proper disposition or cannot be absolved. Baltimore Catechism:Q. 727. Does the priest ever refuse absolution to a penitent?
A. The priest must and does refuse absolution to a penitent when he thinks the penitent is not rightly disposed for the Sacrament. He sometimes postpones the absolution till the next confession, either for the good of the penitent or for the sake of better preparation – especially when the person has been a long time from confession.

Q. 728. What should a person do when the priest has refused or postponed absolution?
A. When the priest has refused or postponed absolution, the penitent should humbly submit to his decision, follow his instructions, and endeavor to remove whatever prevented the giving of the absolution and return to the same confessor with the necessary dispositions and resolution of amendment.

You don’t know what the Pope was doing at confession everyday. Perhaps his confessor thought he was scrupulous but couldn’t prevent him from coming. Maybe he was in mortal sin.
As a non Catholic reading posts about confession, most posters here seem to tend toward scrupulosity. They didn’t describe in enough detail, they said it was 9 times when it was 10, they woke up from a dream with sexual thoughts or they honestly forgot a sin and took communion and now they think they were in mortal sin. I am not making fun of people for trying to be sincere about confession. When I see the minutia being discussed I can see that scrupulosity, the psychological syndrome, is very common among posters here. I feel sorry for the priests who have some of these as penitents. It must be very hard to hear the same thing week after week and saying the same thing week after week; these are not mortal sins. You guys need to pray for your priests that they have infinite patience.

Maybe but this doesn’t seem to be reflected at the communion lines where (in the English Masses anyway) virtually every one goes up for communion and very few go to confession. This is not a judgement call on my part but an observation. So in real life, which is the greater force, scrupulosity or rationalization of sin, presuming of course we are all sinners? And I don’t buy the argument that perhaps most of them go to confession right before Mass at another parish.

As do I work out my salvation with fear and trembling. I use to be a protestant and it is a big difference to go from thinking that once you are saved you are always saved and knowing that salvation is a process and that you can fall from grace by the choices we make. Yes, moderation. That is just the thing. Some scrupulous (and I don’t mean alittle, I mean VERY scrupulous) people can ONLY think about sin. They are often advised to calm down alittle. Some people are afraid to look at Crucifix’s out of fear that they will get a blasphemous though. Some think every impure thought that enters their mind is a mortal sin because they cannot distinguish from a passing thought and choosing to dwell on thought. Imagine no joy or peace because of constant worry that you have sinned for the smallest infraction. God did not intend that either. For such people, they must trust in a advisor (priest, confessor, spiritual director) to tell them when they are being TOO scrupulous. Its not something that the normal Catholic deals with often. Thus, saying that EVERYONE should go to confession every week is not accurate.

You missed my point completely. See my other post. This is why those who have been determined to be too scrupulous need to listen to a good Priest, confessor or spiritual director. Read this pamphlet for scrupulous people. It has the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur catholicpamphlets.net/pamphlets/Are%20You%20Scrupulous.pdf

Who is so infallible that he can determine whether someone is definitely too scrupulous? Maybe some are excessively obsessed about sin as seen by another, but maybe there’s a good reason for it as well. But again, judging by the communion lines, I don’t see too many over-obsessed by scrupulosity. Rationalization seems to be a bigger problem when once acknowledged grave matter now is regarded not-so-grave after all. For starters, people seem to routinely skip going to Mass on Sunday or Holy Day and it doesn’t bother them a bit. I’m sure you know such people yourself.

[quote=ProVobis] Quote:

Originally Posted by LaughingBoy1503

This is why those who have been determined to be too scrupulous need to listen to a

Who is so infallible that he can determine whether someone is definitely too scrupulous? Maybe some are excessively obsessed about sin as seen by another, but maybe there’s a good reason for it as well. But again, judging by the communion lines, I don’t see too many over-obsessed by scrupulosity. Rationalization seems to be a bigger problem when once acknowledged grave matter now is regarded not-so-grave after all. For starters, people seem to routinely skip going to Mass on Sunday or Holy Day and it doesn’t bother them a bit. I’m sure you know such people yourself.
[/quote]

It is a shame that more people don’t devote themselves more to moral theology.

@laughingboy- I’m sure there are people that exist that are scrupulous to a fault. I’ve never encountered them though. I agree with Pro, the communion lines far exceed the confession lines. It’s obvious via conversation that most human beings rationalize their behavior and some will attempt to get your blessing for their sinful actions. If people spent some time studying the faith, they would quickly realize how deep their failings are. In turn, they would seek more frequent confessions and learn to more deeply appreciate the graces and mercy of Our Lord.

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Like aTraditionalist and ProVobis, I absolutely agree that the communion lines far exceed the confession lines. I usually go weekly, and completely disagree with being called scrupulous. The fact is that most Catholics today find confession a burden, or worse still…a complete waste of time. This comes in large part because of pressure from secular society to diminish or even deny the very existence of sin. Fifty years ago, the vast majority of Catholics in this country confessed their sins regularly to a priest. But now only about 2 percent of Catholics regularly go to confession…and that’s a real pity! If they only knew the reality of what was taking place in this beautiful Sacrament. The strengthening and healing benefits alone should be reason enough to encourage one to go…and to go often. To me, when you celebrate the Sacraments you are making a statement. That you believe in Jesus and the Church that he instituted with all your heart and soul, and His redeeming love for us.

Peace, Mark

Yes, a LAX conscious is more common than a scrupulous one. But for those who truly are too scrupulous, they must trust in a regular confessor or spiritual director to tell them when they need to relax.

Well, good thing you are not a spiritual director for anyone who is too scrupulous. You cannot determine it either. There are priests who have special training in the matter who’s opinions and advice I would trust more than yours. Yes, a lax conscious is a bigger issue in The Church. I admit that. It can be 99% of The Church for all I know, but there is still that 1% that cannot be put in the same category as the rest.

If the Truth is put in Perspective for me, then what happens for me? I am able to see a clear path in front of me.
In the Book of Job, Chapter 32, verse 8, he said “But there is a spirit in man and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.”
Sometimes a struggle with sin is difficult, but what do I perceive?
Will I always struggle with this sin? Will it always be difficult?
How will I see a clear path in front of me?
The inspiration of Almighty God gives understanding to the spirit of man.

There is victory over sin in its Weaken state.
God commands us to die(to put it to death) to sin.
But it would seem that we want to hold onto the sin that is Dear to us.
In Romans, Chapter 8, verse 13, the Apostle Paul said "If we live after the Flesh(the inclinations of sinful nature) we shall die.

To continue verse 13…But if we through the Spirit Mortify the sinful deeds of our sinful nature we shall Live.
Jesus said in Luke Chapter 18, verse 1 " that men ought always to Pray and not to Faint". In Matthew 26, verse 41 He said “Watch and Pray, that Ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing but the Flesh(sinful nature) is weak”.
The spirit of man could be willing to obey Christ but his sinful nature is weak.
Sin itself could have such authority in his life that he cannot obey Christ and without the power of Grace sin will continue to have authority.
But what God is looking for is a “willing spirit” to pray to Him for the Grace to obey Him.
And that Grace He bestows upon a “willing spirit” has the authority to weaken the power of sin.
In the Second Letter of Peter Chapter 2, verse 9 Peter said “the Lord Knoweth how to Deliver the godly out of temptations”.
The Spirit of God upon Paul in Hebrews 4:16 said for us, "to come Boldly to the Throne of Grace that we may obtain Mercy and Find Grace to Help in time of Need.
In Galatians 6:9 the Apostle Paul said "And let us not be weary in Well-doing : For in Due Season we shall Reap, if we Faint(to lose courage:give up)not.
The Apostle Paul said in Romans 8:13 to Mortify sin which means to put to death sinful deeds.The dying of sin weakens by degrees within us by Prayer.
Jesus said in Matthew 26:41 "Watch and Pray that Ye enter not into Temptation.
He said “the spirit(the spirit of man) is Willing but the Flesh(the sinful nature) is weak”.
And Paul said that God advises us…instructs us with the Guidance of His Word "to come boldly to the Throne of Grace to obtain God’s Mercy and to seek that Grace that we will receive from Him to Help in time of Need.
Jesus said “that men ought always to Pray and not to Faint”.
It doesn’t mean that we pray every moment of the day.
What Jesus is saying “Watch and Pray” that Ye enter not into strong temptation.
Watch when strong temptation arises within You and no matter how difficult it is to make the effort to Pray, God said Pray and not to Faint(its means to lose heart:to give up). He said "Come Boldly(with courage) to the Throne of Grace to obtain His Mercy and Seek His Grace to Help in Time of Need.
God’s Spirit upon the Apostle Paul said "Let us not be weary in Well-doing(in praying and doing good). For in due Season we shall Reap(win the victory) if we do not faint.
No matter how difficult sin is…No matter how much authority it has in our lives…No matter how much it controls us…And we find it difficult to obey God…We must Believe when God instructs us in the Guidance of His word…the Gospel…We must Believe what Peter said in his Second Letter Chapter 2, verse 9 “the Lord Knoweth how to Deliver the godly out of temptation”.
In Romans 1:16 Paul said that the Gospel of Christ “it is the Power of God unto Salvation”.
We must Believe in that Power for Our Salvation.

The Apostle Paul said in Romans chapter 7 verse 14:
"For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
Verse 18: For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, but to do that
which is good is not.
Verse 23: but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity under
the law of sin which is in my members.
Verse 24: "who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?
Chapter 8 verse 1: There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.
Verse 2: For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the “law of sin and of death”.
(Sin is a power an authority in man that compels him to sin, but the greater the authority of sin in man
the greater is the authority of Grace bestow upon him).

IMO, one shouldn’t be going to confession to ask if he has committed a mortal sin or not. Just man up and take responsibility for your sins, whatever they are. And, of course, show contrition for them. Jesus died for ALL sins and he gave the power to forgive them to the priests. If you feel you never sin, then Christianity is of no value to you.

I have been Catholic for 3 years, & I am still confused by confession. I think part of the problem I while confession has been explained as important & we have examples like Padre Pio or the Pope saying it’s vital…it is not well taught or emphasized at the parish level. In many churches it’s only 1hr a week…priests need to lead on this…

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