Frank Collins wrote:

Hi, guys —

Although I think I understand the difference between venial and mortal sin:

  • How can I go to Confession and ask for forgiveness for a sin when I know I'm going to commit that same sin again?

It isn't like I want to be against God; It's more like I can't help it. My sin is more in the weakness of the flesh, but it is still a sin. As they say, "the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak!"

Any clarification on this point would be greatly appreciated.


F. Collins

  { How can I go to Confession when I know I'm going to commit that same sin again? }

John replied:

Hi, Frank —

Thanks for the question.

The issue is whether you intend to commit the sin again, not whether you know you are going to.

Some sins are habitual, especially some sins against chastity. We need to resolve to try and resist them even though we know our own weakness. In those cases, although the matter is grave,
we may not have full consent of the will and so the culpability for the sin is lessoned.

Nevertheless, we need to be willing to take steps to avoid the sin.

For example: If a person is struggling with an addiction to pornography, they have to resolve to avoid it. They can start by getting rid of any porn they may have in the house. They might have to block it from their internet access.

Sometimes it requires a lifestyle change. If someone is cohabitating outside of marriage,
they need to change that situation as soon as possible and, in the mean time, take steps so they don't fall into fornication.

It all boils down to whether or not you are willing to take some steps to avoid the sin in the future. God is always willing to forgive, but we don't want to take that for granted. Rather,
he wants us to be empowered by His Mercy, not only to be forgiven, but to overcome the sin. Confession gives us grace to overcome the sin if we avail ourselves of the grace given.

I hope that helps,

John DiMascio

Mike replied:

Hi, Frank —

This is a very good question.

A question that many struggle with in this sex-saturated culture.

What I do is after mentioning all known mortal sins and any venial sins, I ask in the confessional for the grace to make a better "firm purpose of amendment".

If you are still struggling, just keep asking for the grace to make a better "firm purpose of amendment" in every Confession you go to.

Perseverance and prayer are the keys.

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