For various reasons, I go to confession very regularly, most weekends. One thing that concerns me is that it sometimes feels as though my confessions become “routine”, and one consequence of this is that I wonder if I’m going into it without true sorrow for sin or proper purpose of amendment. I find that after confession I am making the effort to try to avoid committing the sins again, but obviously I end up falling into them again. Is this something I should be concerned about or am I just being scrupulous?
It is important to avoid the near occasions of sin, and this must be the intention when the sin is confessed. From the Baltimore Catechism No. 3:
Q. 770. What do you mean by a firm purpose of sinning no more?
A. By a firm purpose of sinning no more I mean a fixed resolve not only to avoid all mortal sin, but also its near occasions.
Q. 771. What do you mean by the near occasions of sin?
A. By the near occasions of sin I mean all the persons, places and things that may easily lead us into sin.
Q. 772. Why are we bound to avoid occasions of sin?
A. We are bound to avoid occasions of sin because Our Lord has said: “He who loves the danger will perish in it”; and as we are bound to avoid the loss of our souls, so we are bound to avoid the danger of their loss. The occasion is the cause of sin, and you cannot take away the evil without removing its cause.
Q. 773. Is a person who is determined to avoid the sin, but who is unwilling to give up its near occasion when it is possible to do so, rightly disposed for confession?
A. A person who is determined to avoid the sin, but who is unwilling to give up its near occasion when it is possible to do so, is not rightly disposed for confession, and he will not be absolved if he makes known to the priest the true state of his conscience.
Q. 774. How many kinds of occasions of sin are there?
A. There are four kinds of occasions of sin:
*]Near occasions, through which we always fall;
*]Remote occasions, through which we sometimes fall;
*]Voluntary occasions or those we can avoid; and
*]Involuntary occasions or those we cannot avoid. A person who lives in a near and voluntary occasion of sin need not expect forgiveness while he continues in that state.
Q. 775. What persons, places and things are usually occasions of sin?
*]The persons who are occasions of sin are all those in whose company we sin, whether they be bad of themselves or bad only while in our company, in which case we also become occasions of sin for them;
*]The places are usually liquor saloons, low theaters, indecent dances, entertainments, amusements, exhibitions, and all immoral resorts of any kind, whether we sin in them or not;
*]The things are all bad books, indecent pictures, songs, jokes and the like, even when they are tolerated by public opinion and found in public places.
It’s not uncommon with habitual sins to end up falling back into sin in the same way time and time again - as St Paul put it “I do not do the thing that I want to do but instead do the thing I do not want to do”. Obviously it’s important that you do in fact want to avoid sinning in this way in future but the fact that you’re likely to stumble again (and in fact do) doesn’t in itself mean that you’re going into confession without true sorrow or purpose of amendment. If anything, the fact that you go to confession is itself an indication of your desire for amendment. Also important is your attitude when you say the act of contrition - do you really mean what you say at the time you’re saying it - are you in fact sorrow and genuinely wish to avoid committing the sins again? I would also suggest that next time you go to confession that you this concern with the priest - I think it would be helpful for both you and him.
Finally, just keep at it - I realise it’s not easy but often it’s through our struggles that we’re drawn closer to God.
I think you are doing just fine. Confession is a sacrament. We are all sinners. We all sin often.
Thanks for the replies. Must admit I did think I was perhaps being a bit over-anxious about this, that’s why I thought it would be a good idea to ask somebody else’s opinion.
God waits and also God forgives,” the Pope said. “He is the God of mercy: he does not tire of forgiving us. It is we who are tired of asking for forgiveness, but He never gets tired. Seventy times seven; go forward with forgiveness. And from a business standpoint, the balance is negative. He always loses: he loses in the balance of things, but conquers in love.”
For example, I think going to see that movie 50 shades of grey.
remember contrition need not involve any emotion. Tis more of grace and will.
And purpose of amendment for frequent venial sins is different then what is needful for mortal sin. The later involves “resolve not to commit mortal sins” the former can be such as “to commit fewer…to improve…to work on them…etc”