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Tom wrote:

Hi, guys —

I grew up a Catholic in Kansas. Concerning Confession, it was always a great distress to sin on Monday and have to wait until Saturday to go to Confession.

Years later, growing up and moving to Missouri, a friend, related he never had to worry all week about going to Confession. He was taught that he could use the Act of Contrition prayer to have his sins forgiven during the week, [while of course having sorrow for his sins and turning away from the sins] but I was never taught this so-called emergency plan of forgiveness.

  • Was he taught correctly?, and
  • If that is true, why go to a priest at all for Confession if all that is needed is the Act of Contrition prayer?

Thank you,

Tom

  { If all that is required is praying the Act of Contrition prayer, why go to Confession? }

Mike replied:

Dear Tom,

Thanks for the question.

You said:
I grew up a Catholic in Kansas. Concerning Confession, it was always a great distress to sin on Monday and have to wait until Saturday to go to Confession.

I think you are looking at the Lord’s justice too much while overlooking His great Mercy. The Lord is not there to clobber us at the first occasion of sin. To refer to, saying an Act of Contrition, as an emergency plan gives me that impression.

You said:

  • Was he taught correctly?, and
  • If that is true, why go to a priest at all for Confession if all that is needed is the Act of Contrition prayer?

No, your friend was not taught correctly.

While saying the Act of Contrition through the week is a fine practice, it does not replace going to sacramental Confession.

What going to Confession provides, that to saying an Act of Contrition during the week does not is:

  • It removes an mortal sins from your soul that you have committed during the week, and
  • Gives you the grace necessary to avoid both mortal and venal sins you confess to the Confessor. This is especially important for habitual sins, like sins of the flesh or any other venial sins that are of a habitual nature. The priest is a Doctor of Souls . . . a Caretaker.
  • How can a Doctor mend a patient if the patient doesn't tell them where they are hurt?
  • How can a Catholic use the [Jesus-provided/Church-provided] means to mend the soul by praying an Act of Contrition prayer in the absence of a spiritual doctor?

Jesus established the sacrament of Confession so he could work through the priest to absolve your soul of habitual sins and give you the grace to avoid those sins that you confess to the priest in the future.

Finally, mortal sin is very hard to commit.

  • It must be a grave matter (according to the Church)
  • Done with full knowledge (you knew it was wrong but willingly did it any way), and
  • Done with deliberate consent. (It was no accident.)

Remember even Jesus Himself told us:

The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41, Mark 14:38)

so He understands the nature of our daily struggles. I would recommend you make an appointment with a priest who is faithful to the Church and see if he can provide some spiritual guidance for you.

If you are unsure whether you have committed a mortal sin or not, I would refrain from receiving the Eucharist until you go to Confession.

If someone asks you, why you didn't receive Holy Communion at Mass, just tell them that you were not properly disposed or prepared to. The rest is none of their business.

As a suggestion, if you think you would feel more at peace during the week, look into the Brown Scapular — I wear one : ) You can also buy some better quality ones from Rose Scapular Company. Just tell them, Mike Humphrey from AskACatholic sent you.

Just don’t presumptively abuse the blessings of this specific sacramental. It would be an abuse of the sacramental itself. Wearing a Brown Scapular assumes the wearer has a persevering attitude toward staying away from sin. It is not a license to commit sins.

Mike

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