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Help! Is it possible to go to confession too much?

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Katrina Fernandez - published on 02/16/17

Katrina Fernandez fixes it for a reader who fears she's trying the patience of her parish priest.

Katrina,

Is it possible to go to confession too much? I like to go once a week and my old priest had no issue with it, but he was transferred to another parish several months back and his replacement keeps telling me not to confess so much. This new priest says I don’t need to come to confession unless I’ve committed a serious mortal sin. I don’t want to abuse the sacrament but what if it’s a sin you struggle with and regular confession helps?   

Nico

————————————

Nico,

While this new priest is technically correct in that you don’t need to confess venial (non-mortal) sins, it’s not an abuse of the sacrament to confess venial sins, especially if those sins are a source of constant struggle.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says,

“Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit.” [CCC 1458]  

Read more: 7 Tips for a good confession from a saint and spiritual guide

We can view the sacrament of Reconciliation as not only healing from sin, but also as spiritual preventative care. Like regularly taking medications to stave off a serious illness, regular confession can prevent us from falling deeper into the more severe state of mortal sin. Continuing with the medical analogy, if you leave venial sins unchecked they can grow into larger cancers of the soul.

I often tell people struggling with a particular sin to find a regular confessor and look into professional guidance from a Spiritual Director. You can do a couple things here. One option would be to seek out your old confessor. Even though he’s at another parish that doesn’t mean you still can’t see him for confession — provided his new assignment is within driving distance. Another option is to meet with your new priest and explain to him your need for regular confession in this particular area of your life and see how he responds. I can’t imagine a priest discouraging anyone from seeking regular Reconciliation. I would give this new priest the benefit of the doubt for not knowing your specific situation. However, if his response is still unfavorable then I would contact your old priest and request his recommendation for a Spiritual Director. Lastly, I would recommend incorporating a daily examination of conscience into your evening routine.

Your strong desire to not become a slave to your sins is commendable. I hope you find the needed spiritual encouragement.  

[Editor’s Note: Take the Poll – Is there such a thing as too much confession?]

Tags:
AdviceCatholicismSacraments
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