Conducted by Fr. JOHN SYMON
Question. Is it correct to state that the commandment of the Church about going to Confession at least once a year is not binding on anyone who is not conscious of an unconfessed mortal sin?
Discussion group, London, N.W.3.
Answer. Yes, perfectly correct. Of course most readers will recall, as I do, the old-fashioned Catechism and the duties it impressed upon us of both making an annual Holy Communion "at Easter or thereabouts" and of going to Confession at least once a year. Nevertheless it has long been a commonplace among the theologians to interpret the rule about Confession as only binding if we are conscious of unconfessed mortal sin.
Assuming this is not so and we are not conscious of serious sin, then we are already at peace with God
and of course there are all manner of other ways in which we can seek and obtain forgiveness for venial sin. We can do this by devout attendance at Mass and Holy Communion, by expressing our love of God in prayer, and the like.
It goes without saying that 'the Church is very far from suggesting that we restrict our Confessions to these emergency situations when we have something serious to confess. Besides the forgiveness of mortal sin, the sacrament of Penance can be the occasion of much else and, if properly used in a thoughtful and unhurried and imaginative fashion, it should be an opportunity for advice and spiritual direction. It should allow us to renew our resolutions and to rethink our relationship with God and our fellows.
Quite obviously, the concept of one annual compulsory Confession and Holy