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Am I a “Catholic failure” because I keep confessing the same sins?

Rostislav Glinsky - Shutterstock

Katrina Fernandez - published on 09/27/16

“Here I am again” doesn’t have to be an admission of defeat; it could also be a prayer

Dear Katrina,

I hate confessing the same thing over and over every month. It gets tiresome and I’m afraid the priest isn’t going to think I’m really sorry if I keep doing the same behavior all the time. I mean obviously if I was really sorry I’d just stop, right? I know that’s what he’s probably thinking. I just get tired of the way that having to go to confession all the time makes me feel like a Catholic failure. I know is not the right attitude to have about confession but I’m having a hard time thinking of it any other way. Can you learn to like confession?    



Dear C.

Do we ever learn to like confession? It’s not supposed to fun. It’s meant to be this uncomfortable thing where we lay bare our sins and ask for God’s forgiveness. In doing so we acknowledge our human weakness and total dependency on God. That is what makes confession such a startling experience. Strength and independence are prized characteristics and the act of confessing is an open admission that we lack both.

Look at the last line of the act of contrition:

I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.”

It’s only with the help of God’s grace that we can resolve to sin no more. It doesn’t say with “Thy grace and my strong sense of self-control” I resolve to sin no more. We can’t save ourselves. It’s our pride that tells us we should be better than our sins and able to completely conquer them on our own or to “just stop” as you put it.  

You think going to confession every month shows your lack of control over a certain sinful behavior. Instead think of it as acknowledging that you need to depend on God’s forgiveness and grace to prevent that repeated sin from taking total control over you. Confession is our monthly reminder that without God and His infinite forgiveness we’d be nothing. You think this particular sin you’re battling is hard to keep in check now, well imagine how much more that sin would overrun your life if you didn’t confess it regularly because you were afraid of what your priest thought of you? I guarantee you that your confessor isn’t thinking you are weak because you come to confession every month. If anything he probably just thinks you’re a normal human being trying extraordinarily hard to live their faith. But if you want to know for certain, ask him. Make an appointment with your priest to discuss the insecurity repeated confession is causing you.  

I know it’s frustrating and disappointing to think “well, here I am again.” But “here I am again” doesn’t have to be an admission of defeat, it could also be a prayer.

Here I am again, Lord, acknowledging the necessity of you in my life. Here I am again, Lord, dependent on you. Here I am again, Lord, in need of your infinite mercy. Here I am again, Lord, in my human failings. Here I am again, Lord, thankful for your Grace.  

I applaud your resolve to make monthly confession a habit. Keep up the good work. You’re not a Catholic failure. You’re a Catholic warrior fighting a battle against sin and God is the armor you put on in the confessional.   

Read more…10 Tips from priests for a better Confession

Read more…The examination of conscience: easier than stepping on the scale each morning

[Editor’s Note: Take the Poll – Do you confess the same sins every time?]

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