Feeling guilty after Confession

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Jesus cleanses us completely

In the Act of Contrition, we confess all of our sins.

When Jesus absolves us in Confession, He washes away all of our sins.

No mother fails to wash her baby clean when she is changing the baby's diaper--and she never puts the dirty diaper back on again after cleansing the child.

Jesus is at least as loving and attentive as a mother. He washes us completely clean. We are in Heaven with Him afterward, with nothing standing between us.

We remain weak

And yet Confession is not magic.

It does not provide a personality transplant.

It does not instantly build up good habits nor does it immediately uproot bad habits. We remain subject to concupiscence, confusion, ignorance, temptation, weakness, and disorder. We are very familiar with our character defects and personal shortcomings. We know that we will surely fall again in the moments, days, and weeks ahead.

Neither our contrition nor our purpose of amendment have to be perfect. God's love for us is perfect, and He is willing to work with whatever we give Him. We do not have to hold each one of our sins in mind in the act of contrition nor in our purpose of amendment. "The readiness is all." In our act of contrition, we promise to do our best to avoid sin and the near occasion of sin; we are not saying that we will not sin again--we are not predicting our future behavior.

Because we see so little change in ourselves from one Confession to the next, we tend to get discouraged. The Angel of Light beats us up with false reasoning: "If I really loved God, I would be a saint when I confessed my sins. I am not a saint, so what was the use of going to Confession?" Or the demon might suggest, "If God really loved me, He would convert me immediately. I am not converted, so that proves that God does not really love me."

God is a God of slow growth. Our hearts are hard to change, but hard changes endure. "One tree falling in the forest makes more noise than the whole forest growing." We grow in grace when we confess our sins. GOD adds another growth ring to our history. Our hope is in GOD's perfect love, not in our perfect contrition. Something happens in Confession. Step by step, little by small, we grow in love.

Transpose the question into other situations:

  • What good does it do to change the baby's diaper? The baby is just going to get it dirty again.
  • What good does it do to mow the lawn? The grass is just going to grow up again.
  • What good does it do to breathe?
  • What good does it do to take a shower?
  • What good does it do to exercise?
  • What good does it do to blow my nose when I have a cold?
  • What good does it do to stay in the car? We haven't reached our destination yet!

GOD is the great changer of hearts. In Confession, we let Him wash our feet and renew our troubled spirit. We allow God to kiss us and make it better. He is happy to do this for us. We must not be sad because we know we will need to be washed and cleansed and healed again.

We must forgive ourselves, too

If we hold grudges against ourselves--or shame or condemnation--that blocks the flow of God's mercy. We should not be less merciful toward ourselves than God is!

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