"I don't have anything to confess"
"Once a month is recommended for confession! I don't have anything to confess that often." Last night, I had a great discussion about faith with several SAA parishioners. In particular, they had many questions about the Sacrament of Reconciliation. One of them asked how often we should go to Confession, and I said, ideally, it's once a month. Their response was very similar to the above comment made by one of our bloggers.
The first thing to point out is that in Confession (and all the Sacraments), we receive Sanctifying Grace which is a share in God's Life. We need this Grace in order to live a Christian life on Earth and, thus, enter the Kingdom of Heaven. So, the primary reason for going to Confession is to receive God's Grace. Even if a person is a very faithful follower of Christ and lives a life of virtue, he/she should go to this Sacrament regularly to be filled with Christ's Grace.
Secondly, I would challenge someone who says that they don't have anything to confess regularly to do a more thorough examination of conscience. For example, last night, the same person who made the comment of having little or nothing to confess was unaware that some things were sins - drunkness and gossip, for example. When we properly examine our consciences on a regular basis, we see that we commit many more sins on a daily basis than we are aware.
A good examination of conscience can help to shed light on how we have offended God or neighbor. Here are a sample of questions from "A Guide to Confession" of which I have many available copies:
Do I pray daily? Have I put faith in horoscopes? Have I received Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin? Have I used God's holy name irreverently? Have I deliberately come late or left early from (Sunday) Mass without a good reason? Do I honor and respect my parents? Have I led anyone to sin through bad example or through direct encouragement (to sin)? Have I deliberately viewed pornographic magazines, videos, or internet websites? Do I share what I have with the poor and the Church according to my means? Have I ruined the good name of others by spreading lies or maliciously revealing their faults and sins? Am I envious of the possessions, abilities, talents, beauty, or success of others?
The last question is under the 9th and 10th commandments, but it concerns one of the seven deadly sins: envy. We all struggle with these seven dangerous vices every day, to one extent or another. Examples of questions relating to the other six might be:
Pride - am I too proud or embarrassed to go to Confession?
Anger - have I been angry with God or someone else?
Sloth - have I been lazy in carrying out my responsibilities?
Gluttony - have I overindulged in food or drink?
Greed - do I have an attachment to money or possessions?
Lust - have I entertained and pursued impure sexual thoughts?