I’m in a vicious circle for quite a some time now, and I’m not able to escape from it in the near future. My soul now incredibly longs for the Eucharist, but I don’t dare to go to communion in this state of my soul. But when going to confession, one must sincerely promise not to sin again, but I’m compelled to do it until I get out of the vicious circle, so I could not utter that promise to the priest in good conscience. What to do at such time?
It is not a “promise”-- it is a “firm resolution”.
Discuss the question with ones Priest. He may have some particular guidance for you in your circumstances.
That depends – if you mean “I’m weak, I know I’ll be tempted again and I might fall,” then go to Confession. We’re all weak, and we all fall. God knows this, and that’s why he instituted Confession for those times when temptations finally do us in. And I think this is what you mean, given your obvious reverence for the Eucharist and desire not to commit sacrilege.
If, however, you meant “I’m going to go, lie to the priest, say I intend to do my utmost to try and stop this sin and yet do it again with a song in my heart and a smile on my lips…” that may be a problem. But I doubt that’s where you are at all. I’m fairly certain someone who would treat the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a joke probably would have no higher regard for the Eucharist.
Nice question. I was planning to ask this kind of a question.
They say to overcome a habit, one can’t do it overnight. One has to start by reducing the frequency of the habit until it gets to 0.
So how can one honestly confess a habit when the person has a plan in place to engage in the habit again but at a lesser frequency until he or she finally overcomes it???
One has to resolve not to commit * mortal sin *again. One cannot resolve to reduce the number.
The resolution in regards to Venial sin can be a somewhat different story.
It depends on whether the habit is sinful in itself, in any degree, or only sinful by degree.
For instance, drinking alcohol is not sinful in itself, but is sinful if taken in excess. So, a person who is drinking a bottle of wine a night (ie. too much) may confess this with the intention of cutting back to two glasses per night.
By contrast, a habit such as masturbation is sinful in any degree. If we confess this then we must intend to not to do it again. We may think it likely that we will do it again, and our confessor may think it likely also, however our intention must be to not do it again.
I read a priest discussing this very issue in giving advice to confessors. He said that a confessor can’t ask a penitent to merely “reduce” an intrinsically sinful habit, but he can say something like “please try to come back next week, without having committed this sin”.
BTW, this is an area where a secular counsellor or psychologist will often give advice in conflict with Catholic morality. Their advice is usually to slowly reduce whatever behaviour is troubling you. A Catholic may have to reject this, or adjust it to Catholic moral teaching.
It’s also a good question and I’ve also been pondering about it, but that’s not what my question was about.
I have difficulties with studying for exams now, and I can’t solve it in short time because there is a vicious circle involved, but I can’t tell it to my mom (because she is so overanxious that she would be physically damaged), so I have found myself in bigger and bigger lies. But I can’t tell her the truth until I get out of the vicious circle, but until that I need to keep lying to her which would be in contradiction with my firm resolution at confession. Aaaaah.
Now, why even bother going to confession when you can just pray to God to have your sins forgiven. If you don’t want to tell a priest what is going on, then don’t! Just confess your sins directly to God (yes, you can talk directly to God in prayer, what is a Saint going to do to help you?) and ask Him for help to get out of your sinning streak.
Hope this helps!
Ok, because this is what Jason Evert says in his book If You Really Loved Me:
To help you grow in discipline, set reachable goals. For example, make a commitment not to masturbate for three days, a week, a month, or whatever you feel is a reasonable time.
It’s kind of a type to have a plan to commit a sin whether it’s a mortal or venial sin. If it’s a venial sin one still can’t make a promise to God that they would not sin again when they have a plan in place to sin.
It means the only way of confessing a habit that isn’t a mortal sin, that is, confessing directly to God, is by telling God that you are sorry but without making any promises. :shrug:
Yes - I am sure that very anti-Catholic response was helpful…
Remember exactly what you say in an act of contrition: “I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.”
To start with, as others have pointed out, it is not a promise, it is the willful intent to not sin, at that moment when you say your act of contrition. If, when you say that, you do have that intention, you aren’t lying.
The most important part here, too, is that the sacrament is conferring on you God’s grace to help you in your struggles. There’s nothing at all more powerful than God’s grace. In receiving it, you are given the special fortitude to resist temptation in the future. That does not mean that you cannot or will not sin again in the future, but getting that “shot of grace,” as my confessor puts it, goes a long way.
Tell your confessor your concerns and fears about relapsing. He will offer you advice and strategies on how to overcome sinful behavoir in your life. You may ask him, too, about spiritual direction, whether he can offer it to you or if he can point you towards some resources for finding a spiritual director. Be careful, though, as you ponder and pray about your situation, that you don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your sinfulness is beyond God’s abilities. While it is not “okay” to commit sins, it will be okay in the long run if you ask for God’s forgiveness, though don’t write off the gravity of sin by telling yourself “It’s all good, I can just go confess it.”
Long story short: go to confession.
walleye, that’s unbiblical advice.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.
so it says in the Bible to confess your sins.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
so it says in the Bible that death does not separated the saints from God, and since they’re with God, they can pray to Him for us.
Yes, I understand your question is somewhat different.
The priest is acting in persona Christi, meaning that as he performs a sacrament, it is God’s direct action.
And asking the saints to pray on one’s own behalf is the same as asking one of your friends on earth to pray for you in a difficult time. The difference is, the saint is in heaven and never ceases to pray.
This is centuries-old error and it doesn’t help “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?”
We “bother” because it is God’s specific will.
Sure, you can (and must!) pray to God. Christ Himself taught us to pray to God, among other things, to “forgive us our sins”.
However, Christ did something more. If that prayer - to ask directly to God to have our sins forgiven - would have sufficed, then Christ would not have done or said any of the following immediately after the Resurrection:
As the Father has sent me, so I send you. …] Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.
So that’s why we bother…because the apostles and their valid successors received authority to forgive sins in the name of Christ ("that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name to all the nations beginning at Jerusalem"). This ongoing necessity for confession after the initial purification of Baptism was also referred to by the Washing of the Feet:
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. …] You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. …] Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."
The Sacred Tradition is solid on this, and has been solid for centuries before someone distorted it or denied it for the first time. Certainly, Deus non alligatur Sacramentis - meaning that the Almighty does not have His hands tied by His own Sacraments and may dispense forgiveness and grace to those penitents who, in invincible ignorance, do not have access to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. But He established things in a certain way, and He is well pleased with them and with us following them.
It’s not about not wanting to tell my sins to a priest, nor about my moral failure of avoiding sin (like masturbation earlier). The problem is, I got myself into a situation in which my discernment has been that in this no-win situation, lying to my mom is a lesser evil, but it is still a sin, so I can’t make a resolution in good conscience not to sin again until I get out of this horrible no-win situation, much less receiving the Holy Eucharist.
Based solely on your quote, not having read the book myself, you will note what Mr. Everett does NOT say. He does not say, “Plan to commit your sin after 3 days.” He says resolve not to sin for 3 days. There is a big difference there. The exercise is meant to build your self-restraint. You make a conscious and concerted effort to restrain yourself for at least 3 days. Then, at the end of 3 days, you make another conscious and concerted effort to go 3 more days. Should you falter in your resolve, you take your sin to confession, but you don’t PLAN on sinning again after the first 3 days. When you are absolved of the sin, you make ANOTHER effort to refrain from that sin. You are not promising never to sin again; you are promising to try not to.
I know that confession and communion confer special graces which help me to combat sin, but maybe my situation was not clarified when you finished writing your post. It’s not about a sinful habit I’m engaged in (like masturbation), but rather about a no-win situation of which I can’t come out without sinning.
That’s why I feel so desperate: it’s another kind of vicious circle.
Unless you think you are perfectly holy, it’s rather obvious that you are probably going to sin again. That’s not the point, here. The point is - as others mentioned - to keep raising and moving forward. Why do you think Christ spoke of our lives in Him as picking up our cross and following Him? Because the Way of the Cross - whose prayer I advice - was marked by falling and raising, becoming increasingly harder - an ascent, indeed. But remember the words of St. Paul: where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. He also struggled with ongoing issues - he who ranks among the greatest of all saints - and consider His dialogue with Christ:
Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me-- to keep me from exalting myself! Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Don’t, then, be discouraged by weakness, but turn to the Lord and make of every Confession not just a reconciliation, but a true new conversion! Experience the fullness of the baptismal grace being renewed in you, and know that God’s grace suffices for you not only to never sin again, but even to become a saint in this life - if only we were disposed to receive the fullness of the grace that Christ is ready to pour into our souls in the confessional! I advice reading some books like “The Spiritual Combat” by Dom Scupoli and “Story of a Soul” by St. Therese of Lisieux. They will strengthen you and give you courage,.
Also, consider this prayer of St. Augustine from the V Century, which used to be recommended after Communion in Missals. In it is shown the profound mystery of Christ’s love as a response to our weakness.
lying to my mom is a lesser evil, but it is still a sin,
When confronted with that kind of situation, it might be better to evade the issue, perhaps by telling her “It is my responsibility to keep my grades up.” And follow through by taking that responsibility for yourself. That way, you can slowly overcome your problems with taking responsibility for yourself, without complicating things by lying to mom.