Monday, February 26, 2024

Is Traditional Piety Being Belittled In Your Diocese?

As a background to what I am about to relate, as well as a general reminder to all Catholics who take seriously our responsibilities to secure our own salvation, I present to you some writings about the advisability of frequent confession.

From the Baltimore Catechism:

294. Why should we go to confession frequently?
We should go to confession frequently because frequent confession greatly helps us to overcome temptation, to keep in the state of grace, and to grow in virtue.

Note that one of the Precepts of the Church is to confess our sins once a year, if we have mortal sin on our souls.  One who does this and no more is depriving him/herself of much spiritual grace to effect their eternal salvation.  I strongly suspect that there are few people who would eat only the bare minimum needed to survive.  Rather, they would nourish themselves as frequently as possible (as far as they are able).  How much more should we receive the Sacraments as frequently as possible?

One benefit that question 294 did not mention is that one of the requirements for a plenary indulgence is to go to confession within a week of performing an indulgenced act.  Bi-weekly confession suffices to fulfill that requirement for plenary indulgences.  Therefore, I strive for bi-weekly confessions for the plenary indulgences for my deceased parents and other relatives and friends who have died.

Not too long ago, I was making one of my bi-weekly confessions in a parish in the Archdiocese of Washington.  I was there quite early so there were only two of us in line.  I went first.  I began my confession by telling the priest that it was two weeks since my last confession, when he interrupts me to say that I needn't confess so frequently unless there was serious sin.  As I confessed my sins, he tried to chalk them off as mere weaknesses.  I had to contradict him to tell him that there was indeed sin involved and proceeded to confess.  He wouldn't let me pray an Act of Contrition.  Instead he asked two or three questions regarding contrition then gave absolution.  He ended by advising me not to confess unless there were serious sins.  As I didn't think it appropriate to broach that Baltimore Catechism statement, I just left the confessional.  All in all, he was quite terse and dismissive towards me. 

Obviously I found this quite odd.  In light of the lackluster signals emanating from the Vatican, many of which seem to have the goal of deemphasizing consideration of eternity and thus care for securing eternal salvation, I wonder if similar incidents are happening in the Archdiocese of Washington and other locales?  If my readers have any similar situations to relay, please let us know in the comments.  If you would, please let us know the dioceses in which this occurs.


  1. When I started attending SSPV St Hilary's in Baltimore I was surprised to learn that you cannot go to confession with only venial sins that you don't have a serious intention (sorrow) to not commit again. I just thought you go to confession with these sins. I am not saying I know what I'm talking about (I may have misunderstood), but you might want to check it out if you think it applies to you. I found this on the internet: "Is a confession valid if one still intends to venially sin afterwards? In other words: does the “intent not to sin again” only apply to the sins which one is confessing?"

    One answer: "There are so many venial sins that people habitually engage in and routinely plan to continue, that I think hardly anyone’s confession would be valid if this was the case. Personally, I never confess a venial sin unless I’m seriously committed to stopping it. But that just seems to make sense. I don’t think it would invalidate anything if I did differently. I don’t usually refer people to r/AskAPriest but this might be better asked there."
    Another answer: "You are correct on all counts. Here is a quote from the Baltimore Catechism:

    394. When is our sorrow universal?

    Our sorrow is universal when we are sorry for every mortal sin which we may have had the misfortune to commit.

    395. Should we always try to have sorrow for all our venial sins when receiving the sacrament of Penance?

    We should try to have sorrow for all our venial sins when receiving the sacrament of Penance, and, when we have only venial sins to confess, we must have sorrow for at least one of them or for some sin of our past life which we confess.

    The universal sorrow that is the minimum requirement for a valid Confession is fulfilled by one being sorry for all mortal sin. Thus not repenting of a venial sin (or failing to have sorrow for it) does not invalidate one's Confession.

    Such an attitude will, however, stunt one's spiritual growth and weaken one's love.

    God desires us to make a full surrender to Him, by His grace, letting go of all that we know is not compatible with His glory. That is true freedom. "

  2. Clergy have an obligation to move a confession along if there is a long line, in consideration of those waiting. It is bad form to waive the Act of Contrition. It is also bad form for the priest to lecture your understanding of sin. You should write a letter to the bishop, stating clearly that the priest has no right to make a travesty of the Sacrament of Confession by telling you not to recite the Act of Contrition, and that your sins are inconsequential. Clergy who conduct themselves in such manner are the reason the discipline of confession is declining.

    1. The priest was a few minutes late in arrival. He saw that there were only two of us waiting.

  3. I have always made weekly confessions at Novus Ordo Parishes. One time several years ago a Novus Orod Priest yelled at me in the confessional - screaming that "these are NOT sins!' Since then I have to tell the priests in the confessional that "I confess my sins faults, failings and imperfections. To let the priests know that it's not just mortal sins that I am confessing but lesser sins as well. This screaming priest by the way is now laicized and is a Policy Wonk in DC.

  4. No wonder so many people are abandoning confession altogether. I just listened to a wonderful podcast last night on this very subject by Fr.Isaac Mary Relyea. Well worth the 57 minutes. According to Fr. Relyea, you understood correctly that you must have a serious intention to not commit the venial sin again in order to be absolved.

  5. You should state which parish so people can avoid it. If you think your treatment was seriously bad, then wouldn't you want other people to be saved from experiencing it? No risk of gossip or detraction here.


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