The Calling of Peter and Andrew

The Calling of Peter and Andrew
The Calling of Peter and Andrew by Domenico Ghirlandaio, (Fresco, 1481-1482, Sistine Chapel)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Go Once a Month.*

Each Friday, this blog will focus on “Men Preparing for Confession”: Practical advice for Catholic men in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

That asterisk is for all the additional things that must be said:
  •  A Catholic must go to Confession as often as he has committed a mortal sin.
  • A Catholic must go to Confession at least once a year, traditionally before Easter (the “Easter Duty”), in fulfillment of one of the Precepts of the Church.
  • A Catholic may choose to go to Confession more frequently than once a month, according to his spiritual condition and the counsel of his Confessor.  Many Catholic men do.

With those asterisks covered, let’s get back to my counsel for men about going to Confession once a month.  Why monthly?
  1. Confession once a month is frequent enough to measure your progress, and infrequent enough to give you time to make progress.  As many saints have said about the moral life, real change is typically slow change.  It’s not that God cannot act immediately, but our own souls tend to be sluggish.  Moreover, if our sin is habitual, we all know how hard it is to break a bad habit all at once.
  2. We live in a world of calendars and schedules.  This coming Monday is September 1.  Okay, so it’s a new month, time to get to Confession.  We don’t need to mull over our spiritual condition, should I go, maybe, maybe not.  Rather, it’s the start of a new month, time for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Period.
  3. A month provides enough duration to make a specific resolution, and then return to review how you’ve done in keeping that resolution.  I frequently recommend to penitents, “After you’ve prayed your Penance, give the Lord a few extra minutes back in the Church to listen prayerfully to the Holy Spirit, asking Him if He has any concrete direction for you.  Try not to leave the Church before you’ve made a clear resolution about one of the sins you’ve just confessed.”  It might be as simple as resolving not to look at your computer or cellphone after 9:00 p.m., or resolving to visit the Blessed Sacrament in a neighborhood Church each afternoon on your way home from work.  So many Catholic men are frustrated, and even despairing, that they come back to Confession again and again with the same sins.   God has a pathway to moral freedom.  Listen to Him as He shows you the next step to take.

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