“Ask a Priest: What If I’ve Never Been Sorry for My Sins?”

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Q: I have not confessed my sins for about a year since I am not sorry for my sins. I don’t think I was ever sorry for my sins in my 26 years. I have become lazy and haven’t been asking God to grant me the grace of repentance as much as I used to before. Should I confess my sins and tell the priest at the beginning or end of the confession that I am not sorry for my sins? Or should I wait till God gives me the grace to be sorry for my sins? Also, should I receive the Eucharist in this situation? Can I receive the Eucharist so that I receive graces through it to be sorry for my sins? Or would it be using the wrong means to achieve a good thing? Also, through the Internet, I have found that we cannot receive the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin except in grave situations and when a confessor is not available and then too, you have to remember the obligation to make act of perfect contrition. Can I make a spiritual communion in a state of mortal sin? – R.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It’s good that you are at least showing interest in confession. This might be a sign that the Holy Spirit is trying to nudge you closer to God.

A valid confession requires, among other things, a sense of contrition for sin and a firm resolution to change and avoid sin. Without contrition, or sorrow, a confession wouldn’t be valid. From what you mention, one wonders if any of your confessions were valid. Perhaps this was due to your having received poor instruction in the faith.

In the case when someone can’t get to confession for lack of opportunity, the person should make a good examination of conscience and make a perfect act of contrition. This kind of contrition is sorrow for sin based on love of God rather than fear of punishment.

Even a perfect act of contrition normally wouldn’t be enough to receive Communion. A person still needs to actually go to confession with a priest. What the perfect act of contrition could do is save a soul from eternal loss in the event of death.

You could, however, make a spiritual communion. You can do that at any time, in any state of grace.

The “grave situation” you saw mentioned on the Internet would be a rare incident, such as a groom who wants to receive Communion at his wedding Mass and it’s impossible to reach a priest privately. In that case a person would have to make a perfect act of contrition with the intention to confess as soon as possible. “Grave situation,” by the way, doesn’t include cases where people are embarrassed to stay in the pew at communion time in a parish Mass.

Under no circumstances could a person in mortal sin receive the Eucharist in a bid to get the grace to make a good confession. That would be a sacrilege.

The ideal, of course, is that you make a good confession as soon as possible. That will take serious preparation.

You mention about getting lazy. Sloth is a serious problem. It makes us grow indifferent toward the things of God and the spiritual life. Our Lord has a way of letting us feel the full impact of that indifference. Life can start to become stale and frustrating. We stew in our own juices.

Our Lord doesn’t do this because he wants to punish us. Rather, we sometimes have to hit bottom before we realize how much we need God.

This might be such a moment. The good news is that there is hope. Our Lord is anxious to show his mercy. But he won’t force it on you. You need to repent and seek his mercy voluntarily. The ball is in your court.

For now it might be good to try to pray to Jesus and to the Blessed Virgin Mary for assistance. Also helpful might be our Retreat Guide, “Father of Mercies.” There is no need to keep mercy waiting.

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