I’ve been in the habit of going to regular confession for more than a a decade now. At different times in my life, I’ve gone every two weeks, every three weeks, once a month, and on occasion, every six weeks. I can’t remember a time where I’ve gone more than six weeks without going to confession. I know I don’t need to go so often, but I do believe it makes me a better person, and I have no intention of change my habit any time soon.
According to Church teaching, Catholics in good standing are “bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1457). So what does that mean? It means that I don’t need to confess any sin that is not considered serious, and if I’ve not committed mortal sin, I don’t need to go to confession at all. At all. Only mortal sins require confession for absolution. Venial sins can be forgiven in a variety of ways- receiving Holy Communion or another sacrament, reciting the Confiteor or the Lord’s Prayer, making an Act of Contrition, or blessing yourself with holy water.
And yet there is a precedent for frequent confession. Beyond that, there even seems to be an correlation between holiness and frequency of confession- many saints were known to confess their sins quite often! In my mind, that’s all the convincing that I need to see the value of frequent confession. If I want to be a saint, then I need to act like one, and the saints definitely took advantage of the graces offered in frequent confession!
But that’s not the only reason I go regularly. I also go regularly because I believe it makes me a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. It makes me a better woman. And there is no limit to the graces! You don’t run out of grace if you go too often. I keep a calendar that marks when I’ve gone to confession so that I know when it’ll be time to go back, but I’ve found that I usually don’t need the calendar to know when it’s time. I find that as time goes on, I get impatient with my kids just a bit quicker, frustrated more easily, less satisfied with how I’m living my life in general. And nine times out of ten, when I check my calendar, I see that it’s time to go back!
Frequent confession is not an necessity, but it is a wonderful spiritual exercise. By regularly going to confession, we can become more aware of those weaknesses that are most prevalent in our lives and work towards holiness by focusing on improving in those areas. Plus, the grace of the sacrament is real and efficacious, and so helpful when navigating the ins and outs of family life! So do you want to become a better wife and mother, a better husband and father, a better person, this Lent? Go to confession!
Mary Help of Christians, pray for us!