Need Healing Prayer?
Enter your email to enroll in our prayer society.
enter email here

10 Reasons Why

Ten things to remember when you can’t get to confession

During this time of “social distancing” we are instructed to suspend all sacramental ministries including

confession. So what are you to do if you can’t get to confession? Here are ten things to remember:

1)     First, stop and think about the very basics of confession. In confession we come to God through

the ministry of the church to repent of our sins and receive God’s pardon and peace. That’s what it is

all about, and it is based not on our sin, but on God’s justice, and God’s justice is always twinned with

his mercy. In God they are not distinct. In God justice and mercy are two sides of the same coin.

Confession is our way to participate in the justice and mercy won for us on through the sacrificial death

of Christ on the cross. So in confession we come to the foot of the cross to be bathed in the water and

blood that comes from his side. Water of baptism. Blood of the Eucharist. Blood of justice. Water of


2)     Because of Christ’s sacrifice the door of forgiveness is unlocked. The price is paid. The flood of

forgiveness begins to flow. Now we remember that “God is not willing for any to perish.” (2 Pt. 3:9) He

took this action and gave his only son in order that we might not perish. “For God did not send his Son

into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.” (Jn. 3:17) In other

words, God’s in the forgiveness business. That’s what he does. That’s his mission. Get it into your

head. God does not want to condemn you. He wants to forgive you.

3)     Remember the distinction between mortal sin and venial sin. For a sin to be mortal there are three

conditions: a. It is grave matter – that means the sin itself is a serious offense against God’s love. It is an

action which is a rejection, distortion or destruction of God’s love. We can’t have a list of mortal sins

because any sin could be mortal depending on the circumstances. b. The sinner has full knowledge that

the sin is mortal. A well formed conscience will help you determine whether a sin is mortal or not c. The

action is deliberate and has even a small measure of pre-meditation. In other words, once the person

knows that the sin is a mortal sin and acknowledges it in their mind and heart they decide to do it

anyway. For a sin to be mortal all three conditions must be met. From pastoral and personal experience I

would add a fourth practical (but not dogmatic) condition, and that is the sin must be continued in

without repentance. In other words, after the sin is committed if you justify it or say, “Oh well I’m only

human” or “Everybody does it” you are in a dangerous place because you are denying that it is a mortal

sin. However, if after the sin you repent and turn your heart back to God with a full intention of getting

to confession as soon as possible, the pain of the sin being mortal is lifted. Why? Because it is common

sense. You committed a mortal sin with full knowledge and deliberation. Now you have truly repented

with full knowledge and deliberation. The mortal sin turned your heart away from God. Your

repentance has turned you back to God, and remembering item number 2 on the list–“God is not willing

for any to perish” and “He did not send his Son to condemn the world, but that the world through him

might be saved.”

4)     What is venial sin? Venial sin is therefore not a “sin unto death”. It does not have the conditions of

mortal sin. Therefore a venial sin is something which is not grave matter. It is not fully understood and it

is not done deliberately. If you lose your temper, get tired and grumpy, use bad language in a moment or

any other sin (even if it feels serious) that you do without thinking and without deliberation it cannot be

a mortal sin. Therefore the little things where we stumble day by day or the sins that we fall into out of

bad habits or circumstances beyond our control (which inhibit our free choice) or where we don’t fully

understand the seriousness of the sin–all these things are venial sins.

5)     Venial sins are forgiven through an examination of conscience and an act of contrition. We should

examine our consciences at the end of the day and add an act of contrition to our bedtime prayers.

Venial sins are also forgiven through the confiteor at the beginning of Mass. Venial sins can also be

forgiven with any heartfelt prayer of repentance and contrition: The Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus

Christ, Son of the Living God Have Mercy on Me a Sinner” is a suitable Act of Contrition.

Remember. God is in the forgiveness business. He wants to forgive and will respond in mercy to even

the smallest action of repentance.

6)     Separate your feelings about your sin from the actual sin itself. Sin makes us feel guilty, ashamed

and afraid of being caught. These feelings can produce contrition, but not perfect contrition. How you

feel about the sin may not indicate the seriousness of the sin at all. You might feel very guilty and

ashamed for looking at pornography because it is a dirty, shameful thing and if you got caught you

would be humiliated and ruined and that makes you afraid. However, skipping Mass intentionally could

be a more serious sin even though you don’t feel guilty and ashamed about it.

7)     Look at sin through God’s eyes. St Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is a man fully alive.” The

epistle to the Romans says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Sin is therefore

anything that keeps us from the fullness of living and being God’s glory in the world. That’s why it’s

bad–not because someone in red robes in Rome made an arbitrary list of bad things to make you feel

guilty. It is a sin because through it you have fallen short of the great and bountiful glory God has in

store for you.

8)     Confession is good and it is always a good thing to go to confession–even for venial sins.

However, if you can’t get to confession you must get it out of your head that if you don’t get to

confession and step in front of a bus you will go straight to hell. This is not the teaching of the church

and it is not in the nature of God’s mercy. If you have any doubt or fear, make an act of contrition

regularly. Practice the hesychasm. Stay close to God in loving communion.

9)     Repentance is a joyful state of mind and heart. To repent of our sins is not a terrible horrible

ordeal. It is more like having a good hot bath after getting all filthy and sweaty working in the garden. It is

like taking a long run to blow away the cobwebs of a lazy and inert life. It is like a healthy meal after a diet

of junk food. It is a good and joyful thing not only to go to confession, but to live a life of repentance

and humility before God.

10)      When the confessional doors open up again, go to confession with joy and thanksgiving, but in

the meantime live a life of simple repentance and reliance on God’s mercy. Bathe in the ray’s of his

Divine Mercy and even if we cannot celebrate the Resurrection together this year, stay close to the

crucified in Holy Week and rejoice in his mercy on Easter Day.

Fr Dwight Longenecker

Need Healing Prayer?
Enter your email to enroll in our prayer society.
enter email here
Intercessors of the Trinity
PO BOX 712 Evergreen Colorado, 80437
sign up to email list