On Confession too often & re Confessing

A dearest friend Convert, with some minor left over confusions of the heart, asked me about the frequency of making Confessions and receiving Absolutions within a practicing Catholic’s… “Daily”…life.

Just to recap the basics so as to have a platform, a starting point to work from:

Every Catholic knows by the 6 Laws of the Church that the Third Law states: We have “To Confess at least once a year” (That is Go to Confession to a Priest) is the bare minimum we are to confess our sins. It is a Sin not to. Once a liberal told me that going to confession too often was a sin, a cannon lawyer laughed and said that is a self-defeating concept: If going to confession too often is a sin then you would have to go even more often to confess it!
Over the years we had already discussed Confessional topics like Why Confess? ‘Because Our Lord said to in Holy Scripture: “Confess your sins to one another.” ‘And we also discussed ‘Why Confess to a Priest and not to everyone, or just privately to God? ‘Because Our Lord after the Resurrection declared to the Apostles who are His 1st Priests/Bishops- ‘He breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit, who so ever sins you forgive are forgiven in Heaven and who so ever sins you hold bound are held bound.”’ Thus conferring the ability to forgive sins to His Priests and establishing the Sacrament of Confession.

I had asked a Priest/Historian about the early Christian Church practice of telling your sins to the whole parish up on a stage and why the Church went instead to the private confessional and not even face to face confessions. For one reason ‘stage fright’ could limit a sinners ability to confess. Also, God forgives everyone who is contrite but people don’t always do that. Say a man is truly contrite for having had an affair with his neighbor’s wife. If he should say so publicly, God’s forgiveness is not the problem, but will the husband of that woman be able to forgive this sinner for the affair with his wife spoken of publicly? That is why not only does the Priest have the Authority to forgive sins in God’s name but also by virtue of his pastoral ship the Priest has the Auto Power of Attorney authority to forgive sins “in all our names” as well. Sins are never private. “All will be shouted from the mountain tops” and known by everyone else with the exception of our sins which were confessed in the Confessional which God has decreed Forgiven and forever forgotten by the Absolutions & Blessings conferred by His priests. “What God has forgiven No one has the right to hold bound!” Not even the sinners themselves. God never takes back His forgiveness & Grace because God is incapable of going against Himself. No one has the right to say: I saw them go into the Confessional but how do I know they were contrite?” We are warned by God If we hold someone else in contempt we ourselves are in danger of the fires of Hell. The oneness of those in Heaven excludes the possibility of enemies entering there.

So The Church is most wise to have private Confessional booths. To keep the confession of sins from becoming public scandals which risk other souls going to Hell should they lack Charity of Heart and Mercy towards their neighbor? The Confessional is not to be a psycho therapy session. If we should be in need of that, we should make an appointment with a solid Spiritual Advisor. Face to face is dangerous as shown mercy and sympathy can cause emotional attachments which are Dangerous to the priest and to the penitent alike. Facial expressions can be misinterpreted and cause misunderstandings, akin to the stage fright problem mentioned earlier, and others. In the Confessional it is like we are speaking directly to God and the Priest is more like God’s translator. Seeing the priest can confuse this God/Penitent relationship detracting from God Himself. I heard it said that what was missing in the Novus Order was ‘Shadows” like when coming from the darkness of sins shed in the Confessional to the Light of receiving Communion at Mass in a perfect state of Grace with a clean soul moments later. Oh what glory :)

Then the Convert asked me, why then after just going to Confession do we twice have the Confiteor in Mass with both absolutions? Well scripture tells us “Even the most righteous sins 7 times a day.” Even at best the rest of us sin at least 8 times every day :(
And we don’t just sin as individuals, we will all have to make accounts on Judgment Day as Families, Nations, Communities, and as the entire Human Race in the Final Accounting. From the Dies Irea of the Requiem Mass: “Whom to ask to intercede, When the just much mercy need?” or again from Sacred Scripture: “He who says ‘I have no sin’ is a liar There is no truth in him.”
Our minds may have wandered during Mass and judged someone next to us. Maybe it was how they dressed, or how noisy their kids are, or some past hatred from our pride…. Or some other venial sin of ours.
We may be in need of forgiveness, and the second Confiteor also covers the community’s need for forgiveness as well.
With regards to the dual forgiveness, It is that the holistic Absolution with the Sign of the Cross that the Priest makes, whether in the Confessional or up on the Altar, it is given in both God’s name and in everyone else’s names so that our souls are ready as possible to Receive Our Lord in Holy Communion, individually and as a Community as the Entire Church.

Then this sweet Convert (never letting a good bone lay) asked me about when we are sincere and are forgiven every night when praying and doing an examination of Conscience, and twice at Mass, what are we to confess? “Are we to re-confess yesterday’s sins that were already forgiven?” Well, we need to make every day a nightly examination of conscience, both because by the next day we may have forgotten that days faults and thus run the risk of an un-confessed sin but also to safe guard us should we be called to account before the morning light and have died in our sleep without a chance to ask for forgiveness. That is why to die suddenly is the most horrific thing that could happen to a soul. They die unprepared to meet their Judgments. People don’t hear enough these days that we should ‘pray for a provided for death.’ That is the ability to receive Extreme Unction, or at least to have a contrite heart and a clear conscience at the moment of crossing over. But, as far as re-confessing absolved sins goes, “What God has forgiven, No man may hold bound.” Since ‘no one can sin unless it is on purpose’ then there is first of all no fault for accidently re-confessing a sin that we had forgotten we already were forgiven of. Oppositely, we should not fall into the errors of Luther who would endlessly re-confess his already forgiven sins. That is why luther added the word ‘alone’ to the Bible. To change the meaning so as to justify his lack of belief in God’s mercy. It would be an offense against and a mistrust in God’s Mercy to discount absolutions. From the 10th Sunday after Pent. Prayer after the Gloria; “Oh God who doest cheifly manifest thy power in forbearance and mercy…” It is seen that God’s Power is “Chiefly” merciful. Justice without mercy is unjust. So too if forgiveness was retractable… especially from God… then it was never forgiveness was it? An absolute attribute of Forgiveness is that forgiveness is not retractable. So then It is true that it is wrong to not forgive ourselves after being Absolved by the divinely bestowed power of attorney of the Priest to declare sins forgiven. It is an act of faith to act on that forgiveness and continue on as a fresh start as a newly clean person, made new and holy… not to be re-defiled by sin. This belief in the Sacrament is what enables us to walk out of the confessional as “a changed man.” When we have guilt it is too easy to repeat a sin because we are already dirty of soul-weakened by the sin. When we are made clean again we have an extra ability in the restored State of Grace to remain sin free. To doubt one’s own forgiveness would be to weaken our abilities to avoid temptations. Good guilt which is a prompting of the Holy Spirit, draws us to be repentant and be reconciled with the one we have sinned against. The Bad kind of guilt whispered by satan leaves us wanting to hide in the garden like Adam & Eve did and makes us not want to be near God nor others we have sinned against. The crux is where we are looking, Is it at ourselves or is it at the ones we have hurt by our sins. We are not to look at what we have done after it has been erased. We are to look at what God has done. If we need more things to confess than either we are in need of a better examination of conscience or if loss of memory by no fault of our own is involved then it is, that we say, after we have listed our sins, in the Confessional: “I am sorry for these sins and all the sins of my past” We say this to cover all those sins, in sincerity, that we may have forgotten. We are to say those words with a sincere contrition being mindful of our daily weaknesses and muster desires to be as close to God as possible.

Then the dearest Convert just had to have one more bite of that bone they were chewing on and asked, “Then why, like at a retreat, are we asked to make ‘a General Confession of our entire life’ when no one is to hold bound already confessed sins, not even ourselves?

This is what I have learned so far: A general entire life Confession is a special circumstance situation that is for other reasons beyond that of just Absolution. It is to remind us of our weaknesses and habits of infidelity to God. It is to recognize patterns of temptations as each person has their own greatest tendency towards one of the 7 deadly Sins: Pride, Covetousness, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy, and Sloth. It allows for a concerted effort to gain and practice the opposite virtue to each of those sins: Humility, Liberality, Chastity of Heart, Meekness, Temperance, Brotherly Love, and Diligence.
And we should remember that we are allowed to go to Confession even when we have no known sins if it is to request an extra blessing if we are in danger of a future great temptation in which we are seeking extra Grace to be able to endure. Just mention this is your reason for coming to Father who can advise you in your coming temptations. Just don’t ever get graphical.

The Convert still was having trouble as she felt somehow that to confess to God again was in some way a betrayal to God’s mercy which forgave her earlier.
And the Answer is the reason why I wrote this post, so that others who felt the same may have peace:

It is like in the Kitchen or bathrooms throughout the houses we live in, we have small garbage cans we take our trash to which is like the soul and the trash of our sins being taken out by confessions to the trash cans of absolution. When these cans become full of trash then we have to take it out yet again or the cans will start to stink, but later we have to take that same garbage out yet another time to the bigger garbage cans to the sidewalk so the garbage trucks can carry it off to the fires of the incinerator. Which is symbolic here of Hell.

So it is with our sins and multiple little nightly confessions, at Mass Confiteors, and The Sacrament of Confession itself. It is not enough to be forgiven. All sins, in order to be forgiven, migrate as it were to the Sacrifice of Christ at the one Mass, they are all offered up at Mass. All Sacraments flow to the Mass and the Mass flows from the Sacraments. The Mass is a time machine to the one Sacrifice on the Cross by Christ. We also have to deal with the temporal punishment for those forgiven confessed sins. A part of the act of fostering up Contrition and a part of that penance is to ‘Take the garbage out’ which, yes is a chore, but is necessary. In the end All sins being forgiven are brought to Calvary in the Mass to be cleansed by the Body & Blood of Christ, The blood and water of the Lamb which is Christ is poured out at the Calvary of the Mass upon the Mercy Seat which is Our Blessed Mother so that the gain of Graces may be returned to us to strengthen our weaknesses. Christ merits, Mary distributes, Virtue for vise. In the Confessional we can receive a plenary indulgence to pay for all our temporal punishments if the “ under the usual conditions” are met and this can be gained once every two weeks. This is why so many good Catholics go to Confession bi-monthly so as to get a plenary indulgence, and we also go to receive Grace to be strengthened against temptations.

The frequency of Confessing is to gain more Sanctifying Grace and not just about forgiveness.
Private examinations of conscience are daily necessary but are limited as they do not have the authority to ‘make others’ unable to accuse us as the Priest has that power of attorney in everyone’s name to forgive. It is not that the Priests can make others forgive us, everyone has free will, it is that the Priest makes it so, judicially, that upon judgment day no victim of an absolved sin has any right to speak up against the absolved. It is ‘let loose in Heaven’ by the Priest that Christ has already paid that debt on behalf of the Absolved sinner. Absolved sins have no witnesses, they have no accusers! All is done by the Blood of the only Lamb which is Christ in the Mass and is distributed by Our Blessed Mother who is The Mercy Seat, She distributes those Graces which were merited by Christ to give to Her children.
By God’s designs, there is no other method by which men are to be saved in Jesus Name.

Who He is – Is what He does.

Happy Washing 

Fiat
canis ovibus- a sinner

sheepdog of the Shepherds of the Sheep of Christ

{All in submission to greater Church Doctrine of course. }

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