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AboutContrition wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Is acknowledging the heinousness of one's sins and having a desire to confess them sufficient to be considered imperfect contrition?

After having gone to Confession, I felt this was the main reason and might have not really thought about:

  • the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell, or
  • about having offended God, as much as wanting to confess in order to put my own conscience at rest and rid myself of the guilt for my sins.

  • Would the absolution have been invalidated in any way because of this?

Thank you,

AboutContrition

  { Is acknowledging the heinousness of one's sins and having a desire to confess them sufficient? }

Paul replied:

Dear AboutContrition,

I'm not sure you can separate your motive from those found in the Act of Contrition. Wanting to cleanse one's conscience by being absolved of sins is ultimately for the end of salvation and being with God for all eternity.

It is the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell that you are concerned about, perhaps without realizing it. So it seems to me that your motive is true attrition or perhaps imperfect contrition, which is a good and acceptable motive to go to Confession.

Paul

AboutContrition replied:

Paul —

Thank you for your reply. Reading the parable of the prodigal son also really helped me in realizing how great and amazing God's mercy is and how he is willing to always welcome us back.

  • On another note, is doubting that I had made a valid confession, in itself, a sin or just a case of scruples?

AboutContrition

Paul replied:

AboutContrition —

It depends. If your doubts spring from you having no sorrow for your sins or from your priest not absolving you with the Trinitarian formula, then your doubts might have some legitimacy.

If it comes from worrying about minor inconsequential details as if God is a lawyer looking for loopholes in the law to not forgive, then it sounds more like scrupulosity or a misunderstanding of God's love.

Paul

AboutContrition replied:

Thanks so much for your replies. Just two more clarifications if you would be so kind.

  1. Lets say if, the days prior to a Confession I had reflected on my sins and came to the realization that they were horrible and had offended God, but during the actual Confession I was mostly concerned with making sure I had confessed everything rather than feeling sorry for those sins, would that have made my contrition or attrition insincere?

  2. Did I invalidate the Confession by willfully holding back a sin that I was doubtful on whether it was mortal?

    More specifically, I sometimes see my family members sinning or putting themselves in the near occasion of sin, which might have been mortal sins. Nevertheless I don't feel it is up to me to determine if they were mortal sins as there might have been circumstances that I was not aware of. What I usually do is pray for them "that we may realize the error of their ways and seek to reconcile with God" but I have never confronted or admonished them, up front about those sins, mostly out of fear that this might cause our relationships to be awkward or strained. As such, I had chosen not to confess this lack of charity on my behalf, due to having doubts if my lack of charity was a mortal sin in nature.

AboutContrition

Paul replied:

AC —

  1. No, in my opinion, that would not make your contrition insincere.

  2. I don't think your action, or inaction regarding your family, would be considered serious sin by most Confessors, and your praying for them is admirable.

This is the kind of question, though, you should probably bring to the confessional with you.

Peace,

Paul

AboutContrition replied:

Thanks!

I guess what's important is that I place my trust in the Lord and be at peace with my Confession, while making sure to bring up my concerns in my next Confession.

AboutContrition

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