No relief from confession

I always hear people describe this feeling of God’s grace washing over them after confession, but I almost always feel worse, like I don’t deserve the mercy or it hasn’t come to me. This feeling, justified or not, dissuades me from seeking regular confession, because the relief from the weight of the sin just never comes. I feel like I’m making a good confession, but I guess I don’t know.

What am I doing wrong?

Thanks in advance for the help/advice.

When one is absolved of guilt through the sacrament of confession, temporal punishment may still remain, and also we must make satisfaction for our sins. The Catechism states:

1473 The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the “old man” and to put on the “new man.” 84


1459 Many sins wrong our neighbor. One must do what is possible in order to repair the harm (e.g., return stolen goods, restore the reputation of someone slandered, pay compensation for injuries). Simple justice requires as much. But sin also injures and weakens the sinner himself, as well as his relationships with God and neighbor. Absolution takes away sin, but it does not remedy all the disorders sin has caused.62 Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must “make satisfaction for” or “expiate” his sins. This satisfaction is also called “penance.”

1460 The penance the confessor imposes must take into account the penitent’s personal situation and must seek his spiritual good. It must correspond as far as possible with the gravity and nature of the sins committed. It can consist of prayer, an offering, works of mercy, service of neighbor, voluntary self-denial, sacrifices, and above all the patient acceptance of the cross we must bear. Such penances help configure us to Christ, who alone expiated our sins once for all. They allow us to become co-heirs with the risen Christ, “provided we suffer with him.” 63

[INDENT]The satisfaction that we make for our sins, however, is not so much ours as though it were not done through Jesus Christ. We who can do nothing ourselves, as if just by ourselves, can do all things with the cooperation of “him who strengthens” us. Thus man has nothing of which to boast, but all our boasting is in Christ . . . in whom we make satisfaction by bringing forth “fruits that befit repentance.” These fruits have their efficacy from him, by him they are offered to the Father, and through him they are accepted by the Father. 64[/INDENT]

Do a search here on CAF for the word … scrupulous … or … scrupulosity.

There have been many posts that I have personally found helpful.

Fr. Ripperger had a talk on youtube about this very thing and it helped me quite a bit. If I have a fault that drives my loved ones crazy, it’s that I’m too hard on myself to a terrible degree. Scruples and such, perfectionism, I’m not sure, but I have a hard time forgiving myself even when I intellectually know that I’m forgiven at times. Not an uncommon problem. But here’s what shocked me, it could be a form of PRIDE. And that is very common. Yikes! I’m pretty sure the youtube video by Fr. Ripperger is titled 'Perfectionism 1" (Typo on the title). About 30 minutes into it.

You are not alone in this terrible torment. But, you do have a remedy. Be kind to yourself. Accept the gift of Grace. Self-forgiveness turn to Christ for healing.

Also, before you go to confession, pray for the priest. His special intentions and his vocation. This helps. I am not certain why, but it does.

Trust the Church and not your feelings.


Sounds like a regular confessor can be a good idea for you perhaps.

Turn your eyes away from your feelings. Feelings while they can be in step with reality - can also not be. Faith more than feelings. Yes good feelings can come - but if someone has some other difficulties that are impending such - that can yes effect ones experience.

One needs to unlearn incorrect views of things - come to know the love of Jesus - the deeper reality of the Sacrament. Also other aspects from ones life may effect ones experience in this an other matters. Seek out a good regular confessor etc.

In any case what is important is* faith more than feelings*.

Seek to turn your eyes from your sins and yourself and your feelings and towards Jesus Christ the Lord and his love for you. Towards the *reality *of what is taking place in confession. The Holy Spirit is renewing you in your “new creation” status as a son in the Son.

Let us remember Jesus of Nazareth is The Lamb and the Good Shepherd (and let us think of such even daily…)

"Jesus is called the Lamb: He is the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. Someone might think: but how can a lamb, which is so weak, a weak little lamb, how can it take away so many sins, so much wickedness? With Love. With his meekness. Jesus never ceased being a lamb: meek, good, full of love, close to the little ones, close to the poor. He was there, among the people, healing everyone, teaching, praying. Jesus, so weak, like a lamb. However, he had the strength to take all our sins upon himself, all of them.

“But, Father, you don’t know my life: I have a sin that…, I can’t even carry it with a truck…”.

Many times, when we examine our conscience, we find some there that are truly bad! But he carries them. He came for this: to forgive, to make peace in the world, but first in the heart. Perhaps each one of us feels troubled in his heart, perhaps he experiences darkness in his heart, perhaps he feels a little sad over a fault… He has come to take away all of this, He gives us peace, he forgives everything. “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away sin”: he takes away sin, it’s root and all! This is salvation Jesus brings about by his love and his meekness. And in listening to what John the Baptist says, who bears witness to Jesus as the Saviour, our confidence in Jesus should grow. Many times we trust a doctor: it is good, because the doctor is there to cure us; we trust in a person: brothers and sisters can help us. It is good to have this human trust among ourselves. But we forget about trust in the Lord: this is the key to success in life. Trust in the Lord, let us trust in the Lord! “Lord, look at my life: I’m in the dark, I have this struggle, I have this sin…”; everything we have: “Look at this: I trust in you!”. And this is a risk we must take: to trust in Him, and He never disappoints."

~Pope Francis

"Jesus is the “Good Shepherd” who goes in search of lost sheep, who knows his sheep and lays down his life for them (cf. Mt 18:12-14; Lk 15:4-7; Jn 10:2-4, 11-18). He is the way, the right path that leads us to life (cf. Jn 14:6), the light that illuminates the dark valley and overcomes all our fears (cf. Jn 1:9; 8:12; 9:5; 12:46).

He is the generous host who welcomes us and rescues us from our enemies, preparing for us the table of his body and his blood (cf. Mt 26:26-29; Mk 14:22-25); Lk 22:19-20) and the definitive table of the messianic banquet in Heaven (cf. Lk 14:15ff; Rev 3:20; 19:9). He is the Royal Shepherd, king in docility and in forgiveness, enthroned on the glorious wood of the cross (cf. Jn 3:13-15; 12:32; 17:4-5)."

~Pope Benedict XVI

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