Redundant Forgiveness?

I’ve asked this question to a couple different priests, but each time it wasn’t really answered…

At my home parish, there is an 8:00 a.m. Mass, and right afterward, there are confessions from 9 to 10 a.m. I know that receiving the Eucharist with a contrite heart and a desire for forgiveness remits all venial sin. My question is: if you only have a few specific venial sins and planned on going to confession one Saturday, but you receive the Eucharist at Mass with a contrite heart before going to confession, would it then be redundant and unnecessary to go to confession because you are already forgiven? By this logic, would there be any reason to receive absolution in confession more than twice a year if you don’t commit mortal sin and you receive the Eucharist often?

I know this question might seen scrupulous, but there have been many times when I was very sorry for my specific sins and asked for forgiveness through the sacrament of the Eucharist, but then went to confession naming the same sins I had asked for forgiveness for at Mass. I really think we should be careful to avoid asking for forgiveness multiple times for the same sins because this assumes that God didn’t forgive you the first time. Yet at my home parish, many of those that I see at the 8 a.m. Saturday Mass go to confession immediately afterward. Is this a prudent arrangement?

In this case, confession may be a good vehicle to be counselled somewhat in how to avoid habitual venial sins.

When you confess any sin in confession, venial or mortal, you receive specific graces to avoid that particular sin in the future, in addition to the advice that the priest may give. Neither of these are available to you when you rely on the Eucharist for forgiveness of venial sins.

The benefits of frequent confession are many. Check your Catechism of the Catholic Church for some good thoughts on the subject.

Betsy

Could it be the difference between absolution and forgiveness?

I go to Mass several times a week and always receive the Eucharist. Yet I feel myself being drawn more and more often to the sacrament of Reconciliation, as well.

As Betsy said, there is grace there that is not available elsewhere. Often times there is also helpful advice and/or encouragement.

The Sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation are meant to work together! Jesus gave us the Sacrament of Reconciliation not only to wipe away our sins, but also as a special help to form our consciences. Regular confession allows us to be healed by Christ, to sin less, and to love others more than if we did not go to confession.

To confess sins already remitted by reception of the Eucharist is in no way scrupulous. It is only those exact sins we have already confessed that we should not re-confess, no matter how good we feel after doing it or whatever other benefit we imagine. That would be a misuse of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Why? It’s not recommended for scrupulants, but I don’t see any problem with it for the rest of us.

A very good priest once told me that, if you need the grace of the Sacrament (to help overcome a temptation, etc.), but have no “new” sins to confess, it is OK to confess a previously forgiven sin from your past, since at least one sin must be confessed in order for the Sacrament to be valid.

Just realize that it has already been forgiven, and that you are not doubting God’s mercy, just renewing your sorrow and your resolution to avoid the sin in the future.

I meant that you *do *confess venial sins wiped away by the Eucharist since your last confession, even though you do not confess sins which were already absolved in a previous confession. If you have a sin to confess which you honestly forgot to mention in a previous confession, I have been told that it is OK to bring that up, so long as you do so out of a need to have the sin examined by a physician of the soul, and not because you do not believe it to have been absolved. So yes, my saying “no matter what other benefit might be imagined” was going to far, but still, bringing up absolved sins should not happen often. There are always today’s fish to fry.

I didn’t mean that you don’t confess a sin you’ve had to confess in the past because you had committed it again! Very often, those recurrent sins are the most serious problems one has to confess.

It is hardly likely that an average person could possibly list every single venial transgression he or she has committed, even over the course of a week. A searching examination of consceince, if done every night, makes that clear very quickly. The first things listed, then, should be those acts and refusals to act which are most obstructing your desire and need to live the Christian life heroically, as a saint fully ready for heaven. Unfortunately, those will usually not vary a lot from one confession to the next.

Also, it should be mentioned that confession need not be used as an antidote for guilty feelings. Guilty feelings are not meritorious, per se, nor does their absence indicate a lack of contrition. Sometimes, those feelings are far more about a need we have to beat ourselves up or a resistance to admitting how totally dependent on grace we are than they are about addressing the actual damage we’ve done by the actions. We confess not to address bad feelings, but to address our actual guilt, which is there regardless of how we happen to feel about our actions. We have guilty feelings to guide us quickly to examine our consciences. Once we have done that, recognized our fault and resolved to confess the sin and make amends for it, we can drop the bad feelings in favor of good action and gratitude for the merciful correction we have received.

Using confession to treat our feelings about our past does open us to scrupulosity, since we are tempted, when the feelings have not left us after confession, to use the Sacrament in a way it is not intended to be used. Having said that, confession and the experience of telling a person in spiritual authority what we have done is very often the “permission” our psyches need to let the guilty feelings go. That’s OK.

I’m quite sure that some of the church fathers or doctors - Thomas Aquinas for sure wrote that it was efficacious to confess some sins more than one time. If you reach a new level of contrition for instance . Graces are given that assist in contrition and avoidance of sin. More temporal punishment may be remitted as well.

Of course this does not mean be scrupulous about it.

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