Confession: Part II
Continuing with some frequently asked Questions about Confession.
Q: What are the qualities of a good confession?
A good confession is humble, sincere and complete.
- It’s humble when we accuse ourselves of our sins with a deep sorrow for having offended the Lord while imploring his loving mercy.
- It’s sincere when we tell all of our sins honestly and truthfully, without exaggerating or excusing them.
It’s complete when we confess all of our mortal sins, including the number of times we have committed each one.
Q: What is sin and what sins need to be confessed in the Sacrament of Penance?
Sin is an offense against God that ruptures our communion with Him and with His Church (CCC 1440). It is far more than “breaking the rules,” but is a failure to love God and to love others, which causes real damage in all our relationships.
There are sins totally incompatible with love for God and others (mortal sins, in which genuine love is “dead”), and ones in which love is less grievously wounded (venial or “easily forgiven”).
The Church says that all grave or mortal sins must be confessed as soon as possible (CIC 988).
Q: What is a mortal sin?
A mortal sin involves an action whose object is a grave matter that is committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.
Grave matter is generally understood to be something that violates the
- Full knowledge means that one is aware that God or the Church he founded considers the act sinful (even if one doesn’t totally understand why it is sinful).
Deliberate consent means a consent sufficiently intentional to be a personal choice (CCC 1857-1859).
Q: What are the consequences of a mortal sin?
A mortal sin “results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back” (CCC 1861).
This is why it is so important for mortal sins to be confessed to a priest as soon as possible.
Q: What is a venial sin and what are its consequences?
“One commits venial sin when, in a less serious matter, he does not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law, or when he disobeys the moral law in a grave manner, but without full knowledge or without complete consent.
Venial sin weakens charity; it manifests a disordered affection for created goods; it impedes the soul’s progress in the exercise of the virtues and the practice of the moral good; it merits temporal punishment.
Deliberate and unrepented venial sin disposes us little by little to commit mortal sin.
However venial sin does not set us in direct opposition to the will and friendship of God; it does not break the covenant with God. With God’s grace it is humanly reparable” (CCC 1862-1863).
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