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Alex Anonymous wrote:

Hi, guys —

From some of my questions it's probably obvious that I'm scrupulous.

  • Because of this, I was wondering if it's ever permissible for someone with my condition to doubt their Confessor?
  • Am I mortally sinning by asking this question?

The truth is that I want a new Confessor. This is because he has said too much of monthly Confession is routine. Now he wants me to go every two weeks but this tells me he wants to continuously scale me back. I'm thinking about going to monthly Confession though not currently because I'm struggling to much but I don't want to go less frequently than once a month because devout Catholic friends are going monthly.

He also gave some interesting advice. He said that I should receive the Eucharist unless
I committed one of the three cardinal sins:

  1. apostasy
  2. heresy, and
  3. schism.

This feels a lot more broad than the typical advice given to the scrupulous.

  • Should I continue taking the counsel he gave me two weeks ago; I skipped going to Confession this week?

Anonymous

  { Is it OK for someone with scruples to doubt their Confessor and what do you think of his advice? }

Mike replied:

Dear Alex,

Thanks for the question.

You said:

  • Because of this, I was wondering if it's ever permissible for someone with my condition to doubt their Confessor?
  • Am I mortally sinning by asking this question?

First, this issue has nothing to do with mortal sin. For a sin to be mortal it has to be a grave matter and this is not a grave matter.

You said:
The truth is that I want a new Confessor. This is because he has said too much of monthly Confession is routine. Now he wants me to go every two weeks but this tells me he wants to continuously scale me back. I'm thinking about going to monthly Confession though not currently because I'm struggling to much but I don't want to go less frequently than once a month because devout Catholic friends are going monthly.

He should know this, but if he doesn't, you can tell him that the USCCB the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop are on the record saying that they recommend all Catholic families go to Confession at least once a month.

I would personally add, those:

  • in higher levels of religious responsibility within the Church, or
  • who struggle a little more with the sins of the flesh

should consider going more often, like once ever two weeks or weekly.

Blessed Pope John Paul II went to Confession on a weekly basis so if a future saint went to weekly Confession, there is no reason any of the lay faithful shouldn't. You just have to be understanding to the priest's busy vocation and occasionally may have to make an appointment to have your Confession heard. Confessions should be brief for those who go to frequent Confession.

I would usually recommend you stick with your current Confessor because the point of having a single Confessor is that he knows you and knows your overall physical, emotional, medical, and family/individual situation. The fact that he appears to be scaling back on the importance of receiving the sacrament of Confession concerns me.

That said, I am not a priest but only a lay Catholic. I would recommend you talk with other priests who know you well and get a second opinion. During the conversation you may want to ask them if they have time for spiritual counseling.

If there are no other priests you can go to in your area, ask the Lord in prayer to bring other priests into your life.

You said:
He also gave some interesting advice. He said that I should receive the Eucharist unless I committed one of the three cardinal sins:

  1. apostasy
  2. heresy, and
  3. schism.

This feels a lot more broad than the typical advice given to the scrupulous.

This is incorrect. There are many other situations as well. If one struggles with sins of the flesh, they should go to Confession before receiving the Blessed Sacrament again.

  1. Would this priest recommend that a Catholic couple that has cohabited outside the sacrament of Marriage and had children, receive the Eucharist? <I hope not.>
  2. Would he recommend a man or woman who is living an unrepentant adulterous lifestyle receive the Eucharist? <I hope not.>

In order to properly receive the Eucharist you have to be in a Common Union with the Church's teachings by word and deeds. He should know better than to say what he did.

You said:

  • Should I continue taking the counsel he gave me two weeks ago; I skipped going to Confession this week?

You should follow his advice except in the area about when you can receive the Eucharist, until you find another Confessor you feel comfortable with.

As long as you are doing the best you can Alex, you should be at peace and not worry.

Keep in mind that the Creator of our bodies told us in the Scriptures,

"The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41)

Jesus could have stayed on earth from 33 A.D. to 2013 A.D. if He wanted to, but He choose to delegate His Divine Authority to St. Peter, his Apostles, and the rest of His (broken, but divine) Body, the faithful of the Church.

He understands our struggles and is right their encouraging us to stay close to the sacraments and close to our personal prayer life.

I hope this helps,

Mike

Alex replied:

Mike,

Thanks for the reply.

Actually when it comes to priests in my area, switching would be really easy. Since I spend my week at college, the priests at my Newman Center are closer and so are more easily accessible.

I can only see my current Confessor when I come home for the weekends. I'd actually prefer going to one of them, but the fact that I struggle with scruples gave me pause.

I was trying to follow the typical advice given to the scrupulous.

Thanks again,

Alex

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