Tag: confession

What’s The Deal With Catholic Guilt?

What’s The Deal With Catholic Guilt?

I think we’ve all seen or heard someone make a joke about “Catholic Guilt” at one point or another.

This article explores what Catholic Guilt really is. And if it’s actually funny. Or, on the other hand, if it a misrepresentation of something meant for our good.

What is Sin?

It’s important to get on the same page about sin before we even attempt to talk about this issue. Let’s turn to the Catechism to get our definition.

1849 Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as “an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.121

1850 Sin is an offense against God: “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight.”122 Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become “like gods,”123 knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to contempt of God.”124 In this proud self- exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.125 

(emphasis mine)

Using this definition, I often break down the idea of sin to conclude it is any time where I choose to serve myself rather than another. It’s desiring my perceived good over my actual good. It’s refusing to love. And in refusing love, I am refusing God because God is Love itself.

Sin wounds my relationship with God, because I’m actively rejecting Him. It hurts my soul. It makes me sick.

When I think about sin now, I think about any one of us, if we gave in freely to our own passions, distorted from God’s good intent, might even find ourselves on earth in our own sort of personal hell.

Sin is serious business. But, thankfully, that’s not the end of the story.

My Protestant Practice

Before becoming Catholic, I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the ways I rejected  or blocked God (Love) out of my life. Some of the churches I attended would have a moment for such reflections. But it was usually just that, a moment. And, to be honest, in those moments I most often thought “meh- I think I’m doing pretty good, comparatively speaking.” I shake my head at my past self now. And I’m still not exactly sure who I was comparing myself to… those convicted of crimes against humanity? The people in pews beside me, as some sort of holiness version of keeping up with the Joneses? Just the general sense that, in the grand scale of humanity, I was doing okay?

And then the service would move on and I would move on and I continue along my merry way. I knew I could ask God for forgiveness, but as someone who had come from a Once Saved, Always Saved tradition (for much of my life), I didn’t have an ingrained sense that my confession mattered. I had ‘invited Jesus into my heart’ as a child. And if you are Once Saved, Always Saved, then the moment you say that prayer, it’s a done deal.

Now, you can read more about how I learned that perspective didn’t fit with my actual life experience in my Coming Home Network conversion story by clicking here, but suffice it to say, I had accepted Jesus as a child, then possibly crossed over into rejecting Him as a young adult before I made my way back through the Catholic Church.

I learned through that journey that my choices do matter. They have eternal impact. And yes, everything good I do is by the grace of God, but I’m not an automaton. God can work through me to show his love and healing to this world, but He needs my yes to do it.

And so I’d better pay attention to the areas in my life where I’m letting Love in, and also to the areas in my life where I’m not.

The Value in Examining Our Conscience

I worry about the fading of the concept of confession in general as the trees of Christian separation continue to branch farther and farther away from their historical roots. And I have personally found immense value in examining my conscience on a regular basis, followed by a good Confession.

But first, what is an Examination of Conscience?

An Examination of Conscience is a beautiful exercise we do as Catholics, where we take stock of our lives and our heart. We spend time praying about and thinking about the areas where we are letting God (Love) lead the way, and the areas where we are turning from Him (Love) and choosing to serve ourselves first. We take an honest look at where we are being selfish, or prideful, or fearful, or careless, or impatient, or any number of things.

There are many ways to examine our conscience. 

But we don’t just leave it there when we’re done. We aren’t meant to just acknowledge our shortcomings and sit around feeling bad about ourselves. We know we have the ability to make a change. We can grow in virtue and holiness. We can turn our “No” to God, into a resounding “Yes.”

Once we have examined ourselves, we are ready to make a Confession.

Confession: A Healing Sacrament

It’s no secret how much I love Confession.

Confession is so many things. But one thing it is not. It is not a rote recital of our wrongs just for the sake of checking an item off a list.

It is a Healing SacramentAnd for good reason.

When we go to Confession, we sit before a Priest, who is standing in place of Jesus for us. We share with him those struggles we identified in ourselves. And we receive, not only God’s forgiveness to us, but we also receive penance, our medicine to help heal the wounds created by our sin.

We leave Confession with the Grace of God to continue to say yes to Him. And if and when we fail, we know Confession is always there, to help us right our path. To help us to learn to love others better than we could on our own. To help sanctify us, and to flood us with God’s Amazing Grace so we can effectively live as His hands and feet.

Back to Catholic Guilt

Nothing about the Catholic Church desires for us to hobble around, eternally burdened by our shortcomings. And long story short, anyone who has been haunted by Catholic Guilt in their life, has taken these beautiful practices meant for our own good, for our own healing, and for whatever reason, allowed them to become distorted.

When I’m carrying some burdens inside my heart, I might know it’s time to go to Confession. So I just set up a time and go. I know I want to let as much of God (Love) into my life as possible, and if I can be honest with myself about when I’m not doing that, then I can experience healing and let His Grace help me make different choices.

There’s a huge difference between the conviction we need to make something right, and then doing something to heal what we’ve broken, and the notion of “Catholic Guilt.” Guilt, when left to its own devices and void of the connection to healing, can turn us inward and makes us focus dangerously on ourselves. And when we focus on ourselves, we are entering a realm that is unhealthy for our souls. We are entering the realm of sin. 

So, no, Catholic Guilt isn’t funny. It’s actually probably a sign that someone has experienced pain in some form or another inside the Church, and have not yet found their way to the healing. If we know people who struggle with this, or who have left the Church because of it, it is so vital that we live Grace in our own lives. Forgiveness in our own lives. The joy of healing in our own lives.

We have the opportunity to be an example to those who misunderstand our faith, to those who are seeking, and to those who might be confused. Let us be an example of the Church’s beauty as we seek, more and more each and every day, to choose Love.

-This article was originally written and published by Lorelei Savaryn on The Catholic Family.

The Sins That I Must Confess

The Sins That I Must Confess

If we are always in sin, how can we recognize which ones to confess? Should we confess only the ones we are conscious of?

These questions are rather interesting, because normally when discussing the Sacrament of Confession, people want to know how little they can confess, not how much they should confess. So the reader is at least approaching the sacrament with the right intention.

Still, there’s something about the second question that indicates that he may be suffering from scrupulosity—that is, in the words of Fr.

John A. Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary, “The habit of imagining sin where none exists, or grave sin where the matter is venial.” When the reader asks, “Should we confess only the [sins] we are conscious of?” one might be tempted to reply, “How can you confess sins you’re not conscious of?” But that is precisely the condition that those who suffer from scrupulosity find themselves in.

MORTAL SINS

Wanting to do what is right—to make a full, complete, and contrite confession—the scrupulous person begins to wonder if perhaps he has forgotten some of his sins. Perhaps there are certain sins that he has often fallen prey to in the past, but he doesn’t remember indulging in them since his last confession. Should he confess them anyway, just to be on the safe side?

The answer is no. In the Sacrament of Confession, we are required to list all of our mortal sins by kind and frequency. If we aren’t aware of committing a mortal sin, we cannot confess such a sin without bearing false witness against ourselves.

Of course, if we go to Confession frequently, the likelihood of forgetting a mortal sin is fairly low.

VENIAL SINS

Venial sins, on the other hand, are often easier to forget, but we aren’t required to list all of our venial sins in Confession. The Church strongly recommends that we do so, because “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” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1458).

If we often fall prey to a particular venial sin, confessing it (and going to Confession frequently) may help us eradicate it. But if confessing venial sins is not technically required, then forgetting to confess one is not something we need to worry about.

Indeed, while we should avoid all sin, venial as well as mortal, scrupulosity can pose a grave danger to our spiritual growth, especially because it can lead some to avoid Confession out of fear of making a bad confession. If you find yourself worried that you have forgotten sins you should confess, you should mention that concern to your priest during your next confession. He can help set your mind at ease and give you some tips on how to avoid the danger of scrupulosity.

10 Tips from Catholic Priests for a Better Confession

10 Tips from Catholic Priests for a Better Confession

10 Tips from Catholic Priests for a Better Confession

Sacrament of Confession

 

Sometimes we leave the confessional wondering, “Did I do that right?”

I wish I could hear other people’s confessions.

Don’t worry, I’m not bugging the confessionals in the convent. I just think I would learn something from hearing how others go about it.

I’ve been partaking of the Sacrament of Penance for several years now but I still don’t feel like I know what I am doing. Sometimes I leave the confessional wondering, “Did I do that right? Should I have been more specific? Was I honest enough?”

The other day as I left confession, I thought, “I know, I will ask for some advice from the men who do hear other people’s confessions for a living!”

Here is what they said:

1. Fr. Bryan Brooks, Tulsa, OK

By doing an examination of conscience we are confronted with our sins, but when we go to confession we are confronted with God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness.

2. Fr. Sean Donovan, Pawhuska, OK:

After saying about how long it’s been since your last Confession, briefly tell the priest about yourself. (Are you single, dating, remarried, a religious sister?) If we know your situation, it helps us to counsel you.

3. Fr. Gabriel Mosher, OP, Portland, OR:

Sins are bad choices, not unpleasant emotions; so, confess your sins, not your emotional states.

4. Fr. Damian Ference, Wickliffe, Ohio

Sins committed are an offense to God, but sins confessed are a Canticle to God. So, when you confess your sins to a priest in the sacrament of reconciliation, know that you are also singing praise to God for his great mercy.

5. Fr. Matthew Gossett, Steubenville, OH

Frequent confession is edifying for your priest and good for your soul! Sins, especially deep-seated or habitual sins, require patience and persistence. Never give up, no matter how many times you’ve committed the same sin… Confession is a sacrament of healing, and just like physical wounds, spiritual wounds can take some time to fully heal.

6. Father James Martin, SJ, New York, NY

Confession is not so much about how bad you are but about how good God is.

7. Fr. Anthony Gerber, Cottleville, Missouri

The priest is like a physician: when you go to the doctor, you tell him what has been hurting you and with more or less detail so that he knows how best to heal you. And remember: he has seen many patients with the same symptoms. Trust him, listen to his counsel, and you’ll get better soon!

8. Fr. Joshua Whitfield, Dallas, TX

God works best with a simple, humble confession of sins. God doesn’t need a novel. He’s read it already. Pride and impenitence sometimes hide beneath our many words. Speaking simply and plainly, naming our sins: it’s like being stripped for the Cross, for the death of our sins and the resurrection of forgiveness.

9. Fr. Jeffrey Mickler, SSP, Youngstown, OH

Just go, no matter what. God’s love is stronger than our sins.

10. Fr. Matthew Schneider, LC, Washington DC

For many people, the biggest improvement in confession would be switching from viewing it as an obligatory, abstract listing of sins to the renewal of a relationship with God.

And a bonus!

Fr. Mark Menegatti, O.S.A.

Confession is not just a removal of sin, it’s an encounter with Christ.

Were any of these tips helpful to you?

Tip #3 helped me to rethink how I do my examination of conscience and I realized that I probably should be more specific when listing my sins (not that God needs it but because it would be helpful to me). And all of these tips renewed my love for the Sacrament of Penance and for all priests who give their lives to serve God and his people.

If you have any other advice that you have found helpful, please share it with readers in the comments!

Source: aleteia.org

If I Show Up For Confession But The Priest Isn’t There, Will My Sins Be Forgiven If I Die Immediately? 

If I Show Up For Confession But The Priest Isn’t There, Will My Sins Be Forgiven If I Die Immediately? 

Full Question
I arrived a few minutes early for confession, but the priest never showed. If I had I been hit by a bus and died, would my sins have been forgiven since I showed up for confession?
Answer
While the act of showing up for confession does not, in itself, obtain forgiveness of sins, it may be an indication of contrition—”sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with a resolution not to sin again” (CCC 1451). Contrition does forgive sins when it is perfect. The Catechism explains: “When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called ‘perfect’ (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible” (CCC 1452).

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