Valid or invalid confession...?

I know that if someone were to go to confession and confess sins but if they do not even have imperfect contrition then the confession is invalid. I have also heard the lack of a purpose of amendment invalidates the sacrament. Also intentionally omitting unrepented mortal sins would invalidate the confession. However what if someone goes to confession and confesses their mortal sins (with contrition and purpose of amendment) but reserves a particular venial sin that they know and are unwilling to repent of. I am not talking a sin not mentioned because of it’s triviality or one forgotten but one that is frequent and the confessing person is unwilling to mention in confession because they are unrepentant of it. Would this invalidate the sacrament?

Why isn't the person repentant - because they don't think it is a sin or because they don't want to reconcile with God?

I don't know the passages word for word off hand but verses like "anyone who doesn't love me more than their own father cannot be saved" and "give your whole heart to the Lord" come to mind. We are called to love God more than anything else (First Commandment), if we hold back even a small sin then we are loving that sin more than God. I don't know that it invalidates the Confession but it's a serious situation in which intent needs throughly looked in to.

If the person is truly repentant of any sins than they should be repentant of all sins. The heart of all sin is loving something/someone/one's-self more than God. To repent is to turn away from sin and towards God. Keeping a venial sin is like turning towards God with one's hand behind one's back. "I love you God and want to be with you but just let me keep this one little thing"? Do you want to hug Jesus tightly with both arms or partially? Personally I want to throw my arms around Jesus and Him to throw His arms around me.

Hope that makes sense.
Christ's peace be with you.

I don't speak with any authority, but from what I have heard it is only witholding mortal sins that invalidates a confession (everyone I read about it, only mortal sin is mentioned) and that venial sins do not have to be confessed. However, if a venial sin is greatly prominent in one's life and noticeably strains one's relationship with God, then perhaps it ought to be confessed.

[quote="matthias, post:1, topic:188724"]
I know that if someone were to go to confession and confess sins but if they do not even have imperfect contrition then the confession is invalid. I have also heard the lack of a purpose of amendment invalidates the sacrament. Also intentionally omitting unrepented mortal sins would invalidate the confession. However what if someone goes to confession and confesses their mortal sins (with contrition and purpose of amendment) but reserves a particular venial sin that they know and are unwilling to repent of. I am not talking a sin not mentioned because of it's triviality or one forgotten but one that is frequent and the confessing person is unwilling to mention in confession because they are unrepentant of it. Would this invalidate the sacrament?

[/quote]

NO!

It will NOT be invalid for that reason...

you can be certain of this.

but the person should work on overcoming venial sins too...especially deliberate ones..for they too are not good and can be trouble...(see the Catechism)

one should seek to be sorry for all ones sins of ones life.

One is only obliged to confess mortal sins.....

venial sins...while good to confess...can be forgiven in other ways (see my other posts on this)

(I assume this is just a case study question...and that the person in the story asked this after having confessed and then wonders about it recalling that one can not hold back a mortal sin)

Let us go to Canon Law to see what the Church says about it:Can. 959 In the sacrament of penance the faithful who confess their sins to a legitimate minister, are sorry for them, and intend to reform themselves obtain from God through the absolution imparted by the same minister forgiveness for the sins they have committed after baptism and, at the same, time are reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by sinning.

Can. 987 To receive the salvific remedy of the sacrament of penance, a member of the Christian faithful must be disposed in such a way that, rejecting sins committed and having a purpose of amendment, the person is turned back to God.
You can see in Canon 959, being sorry for one’s sins is an integral part of the sacrament. Then in Canon 987, it explicitly says that one **must **be disposed in such a way that he **must **reject the sins committed and **must **have have purpose of amendment (i.e., to intend to not do them again) in order to receive absolution and reconciliation. You will note that neither Canon 959 nor Canon 987 distinguish between mortal and venial sin. (If you look, Canon 988 specifies that all grave sins must be auricularly confess grave sins by kind and number in order to be forgiven and only recommends that venial sins are auricularly confessed)

Therefore, your hypothetical situation:

However what if someone goes to confession and confesses their mortal sins (with contrition and purpose of amendment) but reserves a particular venial sin that they know and are unwilling to repent of.

clearly means that the individual about whom you speak would not receive absolution, even if the priest gives it, since there was no purpose of amendment for that venial sin. It is important to note that it is not the fact that the venial sin was not confessed, but that there was no contrition for it.

[quote="markomalley, post:5, topic:188724"]
Let us go to Canon Law to see what the Church says about it:Can. 959 In the sacrament of penance the faithful who confess their sins to a legitimate minister, are sorry for them, and intend to reform themselves obtain from God through the absolution imparted by the same minister forgiveness for the sins they have committed after baptism and, at the same, time are reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by sinning.

Can. 987 To receive the salvific remedy of the sacrament of penance, a member of the Christian faithful must be disposed in such a way that, rejecting sins committed and having a purpose of amendment, the person is turned back to God.
You can see in Canon 959, being sorry for one's sins is an integral part of the sacrament. Then in Canon 987, it explicitly says that one **must **be disposed in such a way that he **must **reject the sins committed and **must **have have purpose of amendment (i.e., to intend to not do them again) in order to receive absolution and reconciliation. You will note that neither Canon 959 nor Canon 987 distinguish between mortal and venial sin. (If you look, Canon 988 specifies that all grave sins must be auricularly confess grave sins by kind and number in order to be forgiven and only recommends that venial sins are auricularly confessed)

Therefore, your hypothetical situation:

clearly means that the individual about whom you speak would not receive absolution, even if the priest gives it, since there was no purpose of amendment for that venial sin. It is important to note that it is not the fact that the venial sin was not confessed, but that there was no contrition for it.

[/quote]

NOT the case. So long as the person is contrite etc for mortal sins...the withholding of venial sin will not invalidate the sacrament. period. it is not good to not be sorry for it etc but is does not invalidate the sacrament.

Of course one should strive to be sorry for all ones sins...and of course for any one does confess besides mortal sins....

Mortal sins are required to be confessed etc. Venial sins are not.

1456 Confession to a priest is an essential part of the sacrament of Penance: "All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted by them in confession, even if they are most secret and have been committed against the last two precepts of the Decalogue; for these sins sometimes wound the soul more grievously and are more dangerous than those which are committed openly."54

1458 Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church.59 Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit.

and the Church is very explicit that venial sins do not have to be confessed ....but may be forgiven in other ways...though She strongly recommends confession of venial sins (which does not mean by the way in practice that one would then bring all by name to the Sacrament....one can choose one or some for which one is sorry etc)

Of course we should add these words from the Catechism:

1863 Venial sin weakens charity; it manifests a disordered affection for created goods; it impedes the soul's progress in the exercise of the virtues and the practice of the moral good; it merits temporal punishment. Deliberate and unrepented venial sin disposes us little by little to commit mortal sin. However venial sin does not break the covenant with God. With God's grace it is humanly reparable. "Venial sin does not deprive the sinner of sanctifying grace, friendship with God, charity, and consequently eternal happiness."

While he is in the flesh, man cannot help but have at least some light sins. But do not despise these sins which we call "light": if you take them for light when you weigh them, tremble when you count them. A number of light objects makes a great mass; a number of drops fills a river; a number of grains makes a heap. What then is our hope? Above all, confession.

[quote="Bookcat, post:7, topic:188724"]
NOT the case. So long as the person is contrite etc for mortal sins...the withholding of venial sin will not invalidate the sacrament. period. it is not good to not be sorry for it etc but is does not invalidate the sacrament.

Of course one should strive to be sorry for all ones sins...and of course for any one does confess besides mortal sins....

Mortal sins are required to be confessed etc. Venial sins are not.

[/quote]

Actually, if you read my post again, you will find that I said, *If you look, Canon 988 specifies that all grave sins must be auricularly confess grave sins by kind and number in order to be forgiven and only recommends that venial sins are auricularly confessed. *

But you are seriously telling me that if you are aware of a sin, even a venial one, and make a clear decision that you are NOT sorry for it and full well intend to commit that venial sin again and again and again that this is OK? You are kidding, right?

No, you've got to be contrite for all of the sins you are aware of. You only have to confess the mortal ones, but you are to have sorrow for all of them, mortal or otherwise.

To repeat (again), I am not talking about confessing that venial sin. I **am **talking about feeling contrition for it and having a purpose of amendment for it.

In fact, making a deliberate decision to continue in a fault for which you are aware may, in of itself, be a sin against the first commandment of the decalogue, regardless of what the original fault was...because, in doing so, you are intentionally rejecting God,

[quote="markomalley, post:10, topic:188724"]
Actually, if you read my post again, you will find that I said, *If you look, Canon 988 specifies that all grave sins must be auricularly confess grave sins by kind and number in order to be forgiven and only recommends that venial sins are auricularly confessed. *

But you are seriously telling me that if you are aware of a sin, even a venial one, and make a clear decision that you are NOT sorry for it and full well intend to commit that venial sin again and again and again that this is OK? You are kidding, right?

No, you've got to be contrite for all of the sins you are aware of. You only have to confess the mortal ones, but you are to have sorrow for all of them, mortal or otherwise.

To repeat (again), I am not talking about confessing that venial sin. I **am **talking about feeling contrition for it and having a purpose of amendment for it.

In fact, making a deliberate decision to continue in a fault for which you are aware may, in of itself, be a sin against the first commandment of the decalogue, regardless of what the original fault was...because, in doing so, you are intentionally rejecting God,

[/quote]

Sin is never "ok" (as you will read in my other posts)...but the theoretical confession as it was proposed is valid.

It was not a question of is this it good to hold onto a venial sin.....

We are talking about a valid good confession. (there can be much more perfect confessions of course!)

Of course it is best to be able to say "and all the sins of my life"!

Of course one should be sorry for all ones sins...and should never hold onto any...:)

no sin is ok.

[quote="Bookcat, post:11, topic:188724"]
Sin is never "ok" (as you will read in my other posts)...but the theoretical confession as it was proposed is valid.

It was not a question of is this it good to hold onto a venial sin.....

For a valid confession one need only be contrite and amended for the mortal sins one confesses (and of course in the case of mortal sin...in general for all mortal sins)

or if one does not have any mortal sin...then they need to be contrite and amended (the amendment for venial sins though need not be like that for mortal) for at least one venial sin and confess it (one would be of course sorry in general at least for all mortal sins....one can not intend to hold onto or repeat a mortal sin of the past course!)

We are talking about a valid good confession.

Of course it is best to be able to say "and all the sins of my life"!

Of course one should be sorry for all ones sins...and should never hold onto any...:)

no sin is ok.

[/quote]

We are in agreement here.

But that wasn't what I was addressing from the OP's initial post. He said:

However what if someone goes to confession and confesses their mortal sins (with contrition and purpose of amendment) b*ut reserves a particular venial sin that they know and are unwilling to repent of*.

Please note the bolded text above and particularly the bolded, underlined text.

It was that attitude of lack of contrition (even for a venial sin) that I was particularly addressing with my statements. Not **the lack of **confession, but the lack of contrition.

[quote="markomalley, post:12, topic:188724"]
We are in agreement here.

But that wasn't what I was addressing from the OP's initial post. He said:

Please note the bolded text above and particularly the bolded, underlined text.

It was that attitude of lack of contrition (even for a venial sin) that I was particularly addressing with my statements. Not **the lack of **confession, but the lack of contrition.

[/quote]

but that theoretical person....can still have a very valid confession.

He needs further repentance..and change...but it is still valid.

One can say that that particular venial sin is not forgiven with the absolution. but the other sins are.

[quote="Bookcat, post:13, topic:188724"]
but that theoretical person....can still have a very valid confession.

He needs further repentance..and change...but it is still valid.

One can say that that particular venial sin is not forgiven with the absolution. but the other sins are.

[/quote]

I will trust in God's mercy for the individual who may be in this situation and pray that his heart will be fully converted.

But I would never place my soul in jeopardy like that. Read Can. 987 (posted in #5, above) once again.

There is an essential difference between mortal and venial sin.

both are sin...of course but one needs to understand that they are still essentially different.

Say Sam has a sinful habit of deliberately eating too many donuts every Saturday. A venial sin normally.

He commits a mortal sin of impure thoughts.

He repents of this and goes to confession.

He confesses and is contrite etc for the mortal sin. But still intends on the extra donuts that Saturday Evening...and every Saturday for that matter....

The absolution and confession are still valid. He is returned to a state of grace.

However...his deliberate sin of too many donuts and his intention keep to his practice is still sinful ...and is not good...and is something he needs to change etc...but he was still absolved.

This is too why we all need to remember on the one hand...if we are "in Christ" we are as Paul and Pope Benedict XVI put it 'saints'...but we also need on going conversion...to more and more "put off the old man" and put on the new....

[quote="markomalley, post:14, topic:188724"]
I will trust in God's mercy for the individual who may be in this situation and pray that his heart will be fully converted.

But I would never place my soul in jeopardy like that. Read Can. 987 (posted in #5, above) once again.

[/quote]

trust the mercy of God...and it is important to note that this has been the understanding in the Church....

Can. 987 To receive the salvific remedy of the sacrament of penance, a member of the Christian faithful must be disposed in such a way that, rejecting sins committed and having a purpose of amendment, the person is turned back to God.

This is talking about the sins that are being confessed....most particularly mortal sins... (of course hopefully one is sorry for all ones sins!)

(though of course if one is not sorry for one of the venial sins one confesses..but is sorry for other sins confessed...this confession too is valid...but not the best)

Of course too a habit of deliberate venial sins ..can more and more dispose a person towards mortal sin...

but again the question was about the validity of the theoretical confession ...not about if was good or healthy.... :)

(and of course the person if he dies in a state of grace but still this deliberate attachment to sin....will need greater purification ...greater purgation ...on the way to Heaven...)

Should we be sorry for all our sins....YES

Does the fact that one is not sorry for a particular venial sin ...invalidate the confession of other sins for which one is sorry....no.

but we should not be seeking to just have a valid confession...

we should seek to follow Christ as disciples! and thus as this season tells us

"Turn away from sin and believe the Gospel!"

I had a feeling when I posted this question that it would generate some good discussion. It seems that markomalley and Bookcat have covered both sides well. However I find that there is sufficient ambiguity in the language of both the CCC and the Code of Cannon Law quotations provided to allow for either interpretation.

For me one of the theological questions needed to understand this better is: When a person is forgiven of their sins and returns to a state of grace from not being in a state of grace are individual sins forgiven independently or is it a corporate thing.

For instance if one confesses one mortal sin with contrition and purpose of amendment but intentionally excludes another mortal sin that they do not have contrition or purpose of amendment for then the sacrament was invalid so neither sin was forgiven even the one for which the person confessed and had contrition and purpose of amendment. Do both sins remain until the person confesses and has contrition and purpose of amendment for all mortal sins (that they are aware they need to confess)?

If it is an all or nothing proposition then it is legitimate to ask if it is all sins period. Sure you need not mention a venial sin but do you need a general intention to reject all sin with contrition and purpose of amendment?

I would like to see this question referred to in some official or quasi-official/professional text. I would be surprised if I was the first to ask this question.

Does intentionally and knowingly refusing to repent of, have contrition for, or have a purpose of amendment to a venial sin invalidate an otherwise valid confession of a mortal sin. I do not see that either side has provided sufficient references to make a sound case.

Anything further?

It is a very good, nuanced question and one that is not often considered. Normally the question comes up on whether one must confess venial sins or not (not), not the impact of whether one is contrite for those venial sins that he is aware of.

Your question inspires me to go get

http://www.photoanon.com/images/t80fklfugnwnqaffd7uu.jpg

tomorrow morning from my local Catholic bookstore (I would have gotten it sooner, but my local Catholic bookstore is about 20 miles away and I didn’t have the time during the week to get there). If it has something more authoritative, I’ll pass it on.

Your question might be a good one for the AAA forum. But one thing is that in your hypothesis, you need to *stress *that the individual in question is aware of his fault (venial sin) and has no contrition for it and has no purpose of amendment regarding that fault (venial sin0, regardless of his intention to confess it or not.

A state of grace has to do with mortal sins…not venial ones.

If one has two mortal sins …confesses the one and intentionally withholds the other…none are absolved. And a further mortal sin may be added of sacrilege.

If a person has a mortal sin for which he is contrite and many venial sins …of when he is not contrite for some (venial ones)…the moral sin is absolved and the sins he was contrite for are absolved.

To argue otherwise would be not in keeping with the understanding of the Church and will open the door to all sorts of scruples.

This simply the theological understanding of the Sacrament.

Has been and will continue to be…see almost any orthodox book that goes into this sort of detail…such as Frequent Confession by Benedict Bauer or other works dealing with the sacraments.

The CCC and CIC are dealing the confession of moral sins. One must confess and be sorry for all of these. Venial sins are as the CCCC puts it simply essentially different.

From the Catechism approved for he Diocese of Rome by Pope (St) Pius X

“19 Q. Which are the effects of the sacrament of Penance?
A. The sacrament of Penance confers sanctifying grace by which are remitted the mortal sins and also the venial sins which we confess and for which we are sorry; it changes eternal punishment into temporal punishment, of which it even remits more or less according to our dispositions; it revives the merits of the good works done before committing mortal sin; it gives the soul aid in due time against falling into sin again, and it restores peace of conscience.”

Note that is says in confession…mortal sins are remitted. And that venial sins…“for which we are sorry” are remitted (implying that a venial sin which we are not sorry for will not be forgiven)…

Mortal sins must be submitted…and be contrite for…all or nothing.

Venial sins are different.

Sam commits murder and steaks a pack of gum as well.

He goes to confession and is contrite for the murder but intents to keep stealing packs of gum from time to time.

Do you really think the murder is not absolved …over the pack of gum?

The murder is absolved…the stealing is not.

Sam is back in the state of grace…but with still has the guilt of the venial sins of gum theft…which will not keep him from Communion or Heaven…(though he may have to be purified a bit in purgatory by the love of God for his gum stealing…)

Further the Catechism approved by Pope Pius X for the Diocese of Rome says:

56 Q. If one has only venial sins to confess, must he be sorry for all of them?
A. If one has only venial sins to confess it is enough to repent of some of them for his confession to be valid; but to obtain pardon of all of them it is necessary to repent of all he remembers having committed.

In addition …for a plenary indulgence one has the added requirement of being detached from all sins…even venial sins…which is a further indication that one may be attached to venial sins (not repenting is a form of attachment) and still be absolved of other sins one repents of…otherwise this would not be a special requirement for a plenary indulgence…(a person may gain many partial indulgences and still be attached to venial sins…but note…one must be in a state of grace…thus confession of mortal sins can put them in a state of grace …even if they are still attached to venial sins…) if you think about it this little side trip may help flush things out.

I will note for your assurance as well that I have degree in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville …and was praised by my professor for a perfect score on my exam in Sacraments…I am not a book or a document from the magisterium …just a bookcat…but perhaps this will help you to feel assured that I have a very good grasp of this topic…and a good understanding of the CCC as well as the CIC.

Of course again I add regarding repeated deliberate venial sins…it is not good…and can even lead to later falling into mortal sins…so the theoretical person in question should follow the words at the beginning of Lent

“Turn away from sin and believe the Gospel”!

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