CD 291: Confession now I am older and have fewer temptations

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I go to Confession twice a year, at Easter and Christmas because I feel I should. My I find it difficult to know what to say as I no longer seem to be assailed by the temptations of earlier years. One priest told me rather irritably not to come to Confession if I had nothing to say.

I am sorry to hear that a priest was irritated with you. Say a prayer for him asking the Lord to give him the virtue of patience. I don’t agree with his advice. In your letter, you spoke of another priest who encouraged you to go to confession more frequently. He is on the right lines, I think. People who go to confession frequently usually remember more to confess. This is not because they are greater sinners but because their conscience becomes more sensitive to venial sins. This is not some kind of morbid “guilt” but a desire for holiness in small things. When you say that you do not have the temptations you used to have, perhaps you are thinking that the sacrament is only for mortal sins.

In fact it is also a powerful remedy for venial sins. It is the teaching of the scripture that the just man falls seven times a day (that is to say, often.) Christ calls us to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” None of us would say that we have achieved that already. The frequent use of the sacrament of penance helps us to take steps toward this goal and gives us many graces for our daily spiritual life.

Blessed John Paul went to confession weekly and this was the practice of many saints. They would think of failures in generosity in daily life - whether in prayer or in charity to others, small faults of pride, irritation, impatience, self-indulgence, insensitivity, or a lack of courage in witnessing to the faith when opportunities arose. It was precisely by living the gospel daily in these small things that they exercised the virtues in that heroic manner which the Church recognises as the mark of a saint.

Catholic Dilemmas column published originally in the Catholic Herald
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