Questionable Confessional Advice


#1

I just went to confession today and the priest gave me advice in the confessional that I am conflicted about. I know that during the Sacrament of Reconciliation the confessor is an "alter Christus" and that we should listen to his words with the same attention we would give to the Lord. However, what if the priest gives advice that from one's knowledge is contrary to the teachings of the Church?

The difficulty I ran into today is that I confessed that I committed a sin, one which the Church teaches is always mortally sinful, and yet *the priest told me that should I commit this sin again in the future that I need not worry so much about whether I can get to confession before receiving the Lord in the Holy Eucharist. He said that I should simply try to make a good act of contrition with the intention on going to confession, but if I do not make it to confession before going to Mass that I should still receive the Lord. *

This is all contrary to what the Church teaches from my understanding of what is stated in the Catechism. I do not want to obey the priest in this matter, but I also do not want to disobey the priest either and thus sin. I did not question the priest about this apparent conflict between his advice and Church teaching during confession as it seemed inappropriate for me to do so.

Basically what I'm asking is this: it seems to me that I should obey the Church over obeying one priest who may have given me poor advice in the confessional, but I do not want to sin by disobeying the priest. Am I sinning if I choose to disobey the priest's advice in the future and not receive the Holy Eucharist if I suspect/know I have committed a mortal sin?

I appreciate any insights the good people on CAF might be able to give me on this matter. Especially any priests or religious that may be on the discussion forums. Thank you.


#2

Maybe from your confession the priest did not feel your own particular sin was mortal because it lacked one or more of the following:

  1. Its subject must be a grave (or serious) matter.

  2. It must be committed with f*ull knowledge, both of the sin and of the gravity of the offense* (no one is considered ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are inborn as part of human knowledge, but these principles can be misunderstood in a particular context).

  3. It must be committed with deliberate and complete consent, enough for it to have been a personal decision to commit the sin.


#3

The Priest is not totally wrong in giving that advice. While we should make every effort to avoidsins of grave matter. I have been told and it is backed in the Catechism here that sins that occur out of habit or addiction, while consisting of grave matter, can be lessened in culpability due to the nature of addiction of habit. Still it is not meant as an excuse to repeatedly sin, because as you know in order to make a true confession you must be truly repentant with the intent of never committing that sin again.

1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God's law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart133 do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

1860 Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. **The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, **as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.

However i tend to err on the side of caution in this matter as we can commit and even graver sin against God by receiving the Eucharist unworthily.

1385 To respond to this invitation we must prepare ourselves for so great and so holy a moment. St. Paul urges us to examine our conscience: "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself."218 *Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion. *

So basically the Priest is partially right in giving that advice. But you know in your heart if you did commit a mortal sin, and it is between you and God. But like i stated above it is better to be cautious. Remember receiving the Eucharist is not a right. And we do not have to receive the Eucharist to fulfill our weekly obligation to attend Mass.


#4

not enough to go on.do not to know any more!may i ask if confessor has stated he thinks you suffer from scrupulosity?i do.and with that comes me doubting my confessor.know that means have i been honest in my confession so that he as every thing he needs to know? if so i can trust his consul. i am in the same position as you,in that been told the same as you.i too doubted the priest,well 10 priest later,DominicanOpus Dei,Franciscan,Diocesan,Benedictine, easygoing, hardline well you get the picture.do not know how similar are problems are,i came into the Church 3 years ago.prior to that i was unchurched 56 years old so i lack culpability in some areas and and along with habitation to some things there is a certain lack of consent.but this my story not yours go to some other priest and see what they say. normally i would not suggest shopping around but your not trying to get someone to affirm you in sin.


#5

[quote="jtodisco, post:1, topic:292457"]
Basically what I'm asking is this: it seems to me that I should obey the Church over obeying one priest who may have given me poor advice in the confessional, but I do not want to sin by disobeying the priest. Am I sinning if I choose to disobey the priest's advice in the future and not receive the Holy Eucharist if I suspect/know I have committed a mortal sin?

I appreciate any insights the good people on CAF might be able to give me on this matter. Especially any priests or religious that may be on the discussion forums. Thank you.

[/quote]

Here is my opinion on the matter... First, it is NOT a sin to abstain from Holy Communion if YOU believe that you are not worthy at the time Holy Communion is offered. With that in mind, you would NOT be sinning by continuing to kneel during Holy Communion and not taking part. I believe that the Priest was attempting to calm your anxiety on the matter. However, if YOUR well-formed conscience is telling you to go to Confession first, then to do otherwise may very well be a sin. Therefore, I would take Father's words on the matter as a well intentioned suggestion rather than a command that had to be followed. If you feel that you are not worthy to receive, go to Confession first.

The above advice assumes that you do not have an issue with scrupulosity. If you do or are unsure, I would seek out a good spiritual director to assist you with this problem. Please see the link below for more information on scrupulosity.
catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=3739


#6

I was browsing some websites on confession, in the last couple days, and I ran across that advice about the permissibility of receiving communion, with the intention of confessing sins at the earliest opportunity. One should also make a sincere act of contrition.

I read that.

But, then I just read para. 1415 of the Catechism that said one must NOT receive communion before receiving sacramental absolution.


I just went to confession yesterday. After confessing my (mortal) sins, the priest told me I was a new man.


#7

[quote="Crumpy, post:6, topic:292457"]
I was browsing some websites on confession, in the last couple days, and I ran across that advice about the permissibility of receiving communion, with the intention of confessing sins at the earliest opportunity. One should also make a sincere act of contrition.

I read that.

But, then I just read para. 1415 of the Catechism that said one must NOT receive communion before receiving sacramental absolution.


I just went to confession yesterday. After confessing my (mortal) sins, the priest told me I was a new man.

[/quote]

I've heard some say the same thing and have even seen people go to Holy Communion during our parish's weekday mass only to go to confession after the mass has concluded (Our Weekday mass is at 8am Mon-Fri with Confessions on Wed directly after mass and Sat before the evening mass). My understanding is unless there is grave reason (confession ALWAYS comes before Holy Communion).


#8

[quote="Tietjen, post:7, topic:292457"]
I've heard some say the same thing and have even seen people go to Holy Communion during our parish's weekday mass only to go to confession after the mass has concluded (Our Weekday mass is at 8am Mon-Fri with Confessions on Wed directly after mass and Sat before the evening mass). My understanding is unless there is grave reason (confession ALWAYS comes before Holy Communion).

[/quote]

That's not true. If they are confessing venerial sins they can do so after communion.


#9

[quote="asd72, post:8, topic:292457"]
That's not true. If they are confessing venerial sins they can do so after communion.

[/quote]

Yes, you are of course correct. :thumbsup:
Mortal sin must be confessed. Venerial sin may be confessed inside the confessional.


#10

You do mean venial sin, yes? As, venereal sin is quite mortal...


#11

Good discussion. I would always be on the side of avoiding receiving communion unworthily. Although your priest may have good intentions, I think if you are in doubt, better to not receive.

God bless,
Bryan


#12

The priest gave you advice, not a command. You are bound to follow your informed conscience first. Note I wrote informed.

God bless you.


#13

[quote="Khalid, post:10, topic:292457"]
You do mean venial sin, yes? As, venereal sin is quite mortal...

[/quote]

LOL - Okay... time for coffee. :blush: A prime example of me typing faster than I can think. ;)


#14

Is this priest your regular confessor? If so, he knows your situation much better than anyone at CAF can, and you should follow his advice.

If he is not your regular confessor -- do you have any reason, aside from this one instance, to doubt his fidelity to Church teachings? If not, again, you should follow his advice.


#15

I found myself in this same situation once, and here is how I see it. I had one priest tell me something was NOT a sin, and I shouldn't worry about it. This priest was flat out wrong. But then I had another priest who said, yes, it is a sin, but that I should not deny myself the grace that comes with receiving our Lord in the Eucharist if I couldn't get to confession...God knows my heart and whether or not I am truly sorry for what I've done. This does not mean I should not confess, only that if I can't, that I could still receive. It's a thin line, I know, but it does allow for perfect contrition.


#16

You could have discussed it politely and then he explained it to you, also you could have shown your concerns. I think the problem would have been solved if you talked with him.


#17

Out of respect for the priest and out of my own sense of shame I didn't want to get into too much detail, but I think it is necessary so that my concerns do not come off as scrupulous and also that the cause of my concern can be better understood.

The sins in particular that I committed and confessed were viewing pornography and consequently masturbating. I know that these can be (and in my case often have been) habitual sins and that a certain degree of the culpability for these sins can diminish since addiction can weaken the will.

However, when I confessed these things the priest told me (and I'm quoting as nearly as I can what was said to me only last evening): "I don't want this keeping you away from Holy Communion in the future. So let's say that you slip up later in the week. Say you watch a little porn. Well, you think to yourself 'that's it, no Communion for me till I go to confession.'. I don't think that's the way you should think about this. I think you should just say an act of contrition and try to be truly sorry. And if you can't make it to confession before you go to Mass next then you shouldn't let that prevent you from receiving Holy Communion."

I told the priest what I already mentioned above about knowing that I have an addiction and that this can reduce culpability. I also told the priest that I am fully aware that the Church teaches these sins are grave sins, and I fully knew what I was doing when I committed them. The only thing I may not have had to make it a mortal sin was full consent because of the habit formed, however I do think it is likely I fully consented and I worry about hiding behind the excuse of "oh, it's a habit" or "oh, I'm still addicted so it's not as bad."

Anyway, I hope all this helps to clarify things. I'm thankful for the advice people have given me so far. I appreciate the input and I hope to get more now that I've elaborated on things. I just don't think it would be right for me were I to view pornography to then turn around and present myself to receive the Holy Eucharist without first repenting and receiving absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Am I wrong?


#18

I'm with you, if I have committed a sin which is a grave matter I treat it as a mortal sin unless culpability is really obviously migrated ie coercion or something like that. I didn't have Holy Communion today due to this, although usually I make it to Confession before Sunday Mass.

Perhaps if you feel uncomfortable about not following the Priests advice talk to him privately and say you prefer going to Confession for these sins.

It's not unreasonable to feel uncomfortable with the advice given.


#19

If a Priest advises one in a manner contrary to the teachings of the Church is is not sinful to not follow what he advises.

It is not necessarily a sin anyhow not to follow what he advises. It depends on what that is.

Now it can happen that a Priest judges that a particular penitent is not subjectively committing a mortal sin in some particular thing....


#20

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