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Christopher H. wrote:

Hi, guys —

Please remember me in your prayers. The last couple of months I've lost my faith.
I have questioned the very existence of God.

  • What should I do if I would like to go to Confession but, to be honest, I don't feel contrite?

Chris

  { What should I do if I would like to go to Confession but I don't feel contrite beforehand? }

Mike replied:

Hi Chris,

Great to hear from you.

When we lack faith, we should do what the Apostles did:

Ask for an increase of faith. (Luke 17:5)

The fact that you are struggling with your faith just tells me you are normal. Some of our best saints struggled with their faith too. Pray the Rosary if you can.

Let me give you some inside tips you can add when you go to Confession.

Most of the time, when we go to Confession, as you know, the way things go, is:

Bless me Father for I have sinned . . . .

It's been (period of time) since my last Confession.

We tell the priest our sins and wait for his counsel and penance.

We say an Act of Contrition and receive absolution from Jesus through the priest.


You said:

  • What should I do if I would like to go to Confession but, to be honest, I don't feel contrite?

First, you have a great attitude, because you are bringing the one thing that is key to Confession: honesty.

When I struggle, in a similar way, after listing all my sins, like:

" . . . sin1, sin2, sin3, sin4, sin5, sin6, sin7, sin8, sin9, sin10, etc."

I finally say:

  • I've also been having a hard time being contrite for my sins before receiving Confession, or
  • I'm having a hard time making a firm purpose of amendment for my sins.

Confession should not be limited to sins we have committed. We should also bring problems or stumbling stones to making a good Confession too.

Remember the word sacrament means oath. God is swearing by the sacrament of Confession to remove all sins you mention from your soul. Any doubts you have after Confession come from that bastard, the devil. Ignore them completely!

When I sense he <the devil> is trying to come down on me hard, I take the advice of a friend and just repeat the word, Jesus!

You may find this portion of an answer I gave interesting:

A good friend of mine, Clayton Bower Jr., a fellow Catholic apologist who passed away a few months ago, gave a very good talk titled: Atheism's Weakness. I can send you the audio file if you want. Within the talk he says there are four types of Atheism:

  1. Dogmatic Atheism
  2. Philosophical Atheism or Agnosticism
  3. Psychological or Adolescent Atheism, and
  4. Practical Atheism

Dogmatic Atheism is a dogmatic declaration that there is no God. They depend on dogma to put forward the assertion that there is no God so Atheists, like Catholics, do believe in dogma!

An Atheist dogmatically believes there is no God and tries to back it up with science.

Philosophical Atheism or Agnosticism has the person honestly not finding any acceptable answers for why God would exist. This can be justified and understandable based on ones background, but it's very different than Dogmatic Atheism.

Psychological or Adolescent Atheism is based, not so much on a true cognitive belief that there is no God, but is a reaction to overbearing religious parents and teachers just to get under their skin. Adolescent Atheism is a reaction to parental or adult demands. There is no real in-depth study of whether God exists, or not. The teenager or youth rebel just to identify themselves and their own identity. They are basically saying: "I'm not like this overbearing parent."

Practical Atheism is equivalent to what you call Catholic Atheism. Why?

Practical Atheism, which a good number of Catholic Christians have fell into, says we can go about knowing there is a God, but behaving like there isn't one. Clayton said:

There's an old saying If you were arrested for being a Catholic Christian, would there be enough evidence against you?

And a bumper sticker on the car or a Rosary in the window wouldn't be enough.

Remember that the Confessional is a tribunal of mercy and healing, not of judgment. The point is not to accuse you or impose guilt; the point is to relieve guilt and apply the balm of mercy to sins so that they might be healed.

A sin is like an injury, and the priest is like a doctor.

A good habit I suggest upon leaving the Confessional is thanking the priest for his priesthood.

I hope this helps,

Mike

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