Up until a couple of months ago, I was faithfully attending Mass each Sunday and quite a few weekdays, and living life as a faithful Catholic to the best of my ability. Right now, however, the last time I attended Mass, or even tried to pray was Easter. I have had struggles with despair, loss of supernatural hope, and right now, I don’t have the smallest feeling of repentance or contrition or even attrition for my actions. I have tried, however. I desperately want to feel sorry for my sins and be able to make a confession with the proper disposition.
I know that perfect contrition is only required when absolution through the confessional is not available for forgiveness of sins, and that it only attrition is required for absolution to be pronounced in the context of the confessional. My question is this: even if I don’t feel sorry for my sins, but I desperately wish to feel sorry for them, is that enough for a valid (and non-sacrilegious… I already have committed enough sins) confession? Also, any advise on how to go about awakening contrition?
Feelings are not necessary. It is a question of will rather than emotion. Do you have a firm purpose of amendment? Do you intend, with God’s help, to do better? That is what is required for a good confession.
Something that I find helpful for awakening contrition is meditating before a Crucifix. Thinking about how Jesus Christ suffered and died on my behalf helps me to put things in the right perspective.
Contrition need not be felt. Make an act of the will …
(contrition…or even faith or hope or charity …do not require feeling…)
We have to make such an act the will to be sorry for at least our mortal sins and at least firmly resolve to avoid any mortal sin…(even if a person fears falling again…they can have this resolution)…and of course as you mentioned to go to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation. Prepare yourself…and then make an appointment with a Priest…and make your confession…and perhaps he can help you with your struggles…
Know that Jesus the Good Shepherd loves you! He is waiting…Come with your burdens…
Let him take you upon his shoulders…have trust in His loving heart…
so hold fast to your Faith and your hope!
Jesus is Our Hope!
pray this or similar : Lord Jesus Christ I believe in you, I hope in you, I love you.
You should schedule a private meeting with a priest you trust completely. I firmly believe this kind of despair comes from a direct attack by Satan.
There are quite a few people (to include myself) I know who are feeling despair and hopelessness lately. I cannot specifically say why or how but I know it is an attack and I decided that, with God’s help, I will not let it control me and it hasn’t. It requires prayer and focus! I agree you should spend time in front of the Crucifix as well as look to Mary (through the Brown Scapular) for assistance. Try also daily mass. The Eucharist is a source of unlimited Grace.
The Eucharist is indeed the source of all graces, but one must partake worthily. This means receiving the Sacrament of reconciliation with a contrite heart and a firm intention of amending one’s behavior. Since this Sacrament is under attack in the OP’s case, I would first invoke the protection of Saint Michael, then pray the spiritual warfare prayer. It works. I can vouch for it. Have faith!
The Rosary is also a wonderful tool against the underworld.
I haven’t been to Mass for 7 Sundays right now, and I haven’t felt repentant about that yet. Again, I want to be, so much so that it nearly brings me to tears and drives me to distraction. I have made an appointment to talk to a priest on Thursday, and I will just explain everything as best as I can, and leave it up to him whether or not to pronounce absolution.
I have a question for po18guy and hamjeepr. Would it be a good idea to undergo an Anointing of the Sick? Since, if this is a spiritual attack (or even a spiritual illness), wouldn’t that help provide some specific graces to overcome this? Especially when combined with confession and the Eucharist and prayer? I would fast, but I am unable to do that in a non-destructive way (I have a history of an eating disorder, and the past two times that I have relapsed, it was triggered by a period of fasting). I also beseech everyone’s prayers.
Thanks to everyone who has answered and offered advise in regards to my post!
Most Saints had dry spiritual parts of there life. None of us know when God’s joy will rain down on us. There are up periods and down - look at Job, St Terese, Mother Teresa. Keep fighting and praying even if you don’t feel like it. And tell God you are upset and frustrated if you are. God is your Father, treat him like that, tell Him what you think. We will all go through dry periods if you are progressing - its a chance for growth.
I’ve been in a similar situation like you, my friend, ever since Christmas. I won’t bother you with the long, cumbersome spiritual dryness which I’ve been experiencing, but suffice it to say that I, like you, was once very devout, extremely active in my parish, and very gung-ho about all things Catholic, but now I find myself in a different yet not wholly unfamiliar spot.
I went to confession yesterday since I haven’t been in a little over a month. I try to go once a month since more or less than that actually causes me to become scrupulous and despair. I confessed my sins, including the sin of pre-marital sex, and I knew that I had been sorry for these sins, but I wasn’t so sure that I could muster the strength to really desire amendment. My relationship with Christ has been so estranged for months now that there’s not much faith, hope or love left to operate on; it’s really only by His grace that I’m capable of mustering the strength to keep reading the Bible, going to Mass and receiving the sacraments. It’s really not a question of if I commit the sin of pre-marital sex again, it’s when. And yet I know that I’ll feel sorrowful for my sins and ask for forgiveness and have to go back to confession.
It’s really only by faith that we believe our sins are forgiven. True, we have the words of Scripture and Holy Mother Church, but even those words have to be taken on faith. So, everything about the forgiveness of our sins from the “proper amount of contrition” (which I agree with Martin Luther as being a ridiculous concept) to the absolution itself has to be taken on faith. In short, if you’re ready to confess your sins and lack of contrition then it’s going to have to be on faith alone that you believe you are forgiven. No one else can actually confirm it for you, not even a priest.
Not one I personally would recommend…some things are more opinion or need further clarification and some things that could make those with scruples head south…(not to say there are not many good things there…just not one I recommend) The one from Scepter Publishers is good…and use the Catechism.
I do not think the anointing of the sick could be done here…
As for Contrition …it is NOT required to have feeling…it is an act of the WILL the very fact that you WANT so bad to have contrition and to be in with God in the life of grace and are amended to not skipping Sunday or Holy Day Masses again (etc) is a* sign *you have contrition…
The Sacrament of Anointing is a preparation for the final journey. Anointing itself is a sign of, and has become synonymous with the Holy Spirit, but the Sacrament itself is for those facing death. I think that, since contrition is a matter of the human will, your conversation with the priest will shed much light on this subject. We all experience periods of spiritual dryness, but do not drift away from the Sacraments. The attack that you are under is driving you away from God. Your reason and intellect are the saving graces which make you question what is occurring. There is only one source for such an attack. The priest will advise you if something that you are participating in, whether in the cognitive, spiritual or physical realm, might be opening the door to such an attack. The evil one uses any and all routes which are open to him, even if those routes were never intended to allow him access to you.
[quote="Bookcat]I do not think the anointing of the sick could be done here…
More specifically, the sacrament of the sick is for anyone gravely ill. I would have anonymous discuss this with his/her spiritual director to see if his/her condition is considered a grave illness. His/her spiritual director can assist him/her in determining whether he/she is beginning to be in danger of death from sickness. Please note that the catechism does not specify that the sickness need to be a physical sickness. It could also be psychological or spiritual in nature.
II. WHO RECEIVES AND WHO ADMINISTERS THIS SACRAMENT? In case of grave illness . . . 1514 The Anointing of the Sick "is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived."130
1515 If a sick person who received this anointing recovers his health, he can in the case of another grave illness receive this sacrament again. If during the same illness the person’s condition becomes more serious, the sacrament may be repeated. It is fitting to receive the Anointing of the Sick just prior to a serious operation. The same holds for the elderly whose frailty becomes more pronounced.
I cannot remember the talk, but I do remember Fr. Corapi saying that the Anointing of the Sick could be used to help someone with an addiction (drugs) and I have seen it used for someone who has severe depression. Check with your priest and see what he thinks.
I didn’t mention previously that I have relapsed with the eating disorder, about two months ago. I started making small steps around Easter, but I’ve been especially bad the past month. Average daily cals consumed is around 300-500. I have been holding off admitting it to myself, but nearly fainting every time I stand up is making it hard to ignore. Like with coming back home to Mother Church, if I could cry, I would weep at how badly I want to stop. I want to feel sorrow for everything, to come running back home like the prodigal son, but I guess it’s not all about what I want. This is a very heavy cross, but it’s my cross. One that seems almost impossible to carry, but the alternative is… well, I imagine my purgatory to be similar to my worst days of deserting Christ. My best days then don’t even come close to my worst days following and serving Christ.
Well, I guess that’s an epiphany, or as close to one I’ll get to for now. Thank you everyone for your prayers, and I ask for further prayers.
Before I start, I’ll tell you that one of the best confessions I ever had was when I confessed something that I didn’t even think was wrong, let alone feel was wrong, because the Church taught that it was wrong, and I chose to follow what the Church taught instead of my own sense of things. It felt liberating to decide that I didn’t have to wait for my feelings or my opinions before I chose what I knew to be the best choice.
I liken depression and those times when I have not felt like doing what I know I ought to do to being a pilot in a plane that’s going through heavy fog. You are flying on instruments. It doesn’t seem like it should be any different than flying when you can look out the window, the instruments tell you everything you need to know, after all. In truth, though, it is incredibly tiring, and it is incredibly difficult to keep believing those little dials instead of doing what your confused senses want you to do. There gets to be a point where you think you are never going to come out of the clouds, that there is nowhere that is out of the clouds. You start to wonder if there is anything anywhere except this never-ending dense fog. It is terrible.
Give yourself credit for what a hugely difficult thing you are doing. Do not do it alone. Find someone with skin on, someone who wants to be there for people who are flying in the fog if you can, but whoever you can get if there is no one like that. Tell them what you have told us. Repeat, repeat, repeat, and if they get tired, don’t give up. Find somebody else.
You absolutely should not be going through this alone. Even Jesus got Simon of Cyrene, and Mary got her Joseph, and neither one of those men asked to be put in the position they were. God doesn’t mean for us to carry our crosses with no help at all. Let God send you and take care of the people whom you need to help you with yours.
It is not surprising to me in light of this that you are depressed and aren’t feeling much. You probably don’t have the energy for a lot of it. The physical body can be responsible for many things we interpret as “spiritual”, and in this case it could be that addressing the physical would be the best route allow the spiritual to improve.
But the other posters are correct, one can be contrite without feeling it, or be loving without feeling it. We are not defined by our hormones and brain chemicals.
I appreciate you including the canon law on this. Since anonomous has indicated his/her problem is due to an eating disorder, it is quite possible (not necessarily probable) that his/her eating disorder could be the beginnings of danger due to sickness. With the sickness being the eating disorder.
I would encourage anonomous to contact his/her spiritual director and/or confessor about whether he/she ought to receive the sacrament of annointing.