How Soon Must I Go To Confession?

I committed a mortal sin and I made an act of perfect contrition. I intended to go to confession for it at a neighboring parish tonight, but the time was printed incorrectly and they were not having confessions. I am still in school which means I am not free until 3 pm. Tomorrow, my parish is having confessions in the evening but I have to work at my part-time job. I could call off without facing any real consequences, but I’d prefer not to do that. No parishes near me have scheduled confessions on Friday evenings, I could make an appointment, but that makes me uncomfortable and I have plans with a friend on Friday night. Is it okay to wait until Saturday to go? Also, I still live with my parents and if I called off work or canceled plans with my friend to go to confession, they might become worried about me as it would seem very unusual.

You should be covered by your act of perfect contrition. If you have to wait until Saturday to go to confession, so be it.

I hope I don’t offend in so saying, and nobody here needs to know exactly what you did, but I have to wonder if you might be inclined towards scrupulosity. I would raise this possibility with the priest. Mortal sin requires three conditions, (a) grave matter, (b) sufficient reflection or knowledge, and (c) full consent of the will. Many people nowadays are falling into the trap of thinking that practically all sin is “grave matter” — it is not. That is a kind of neo-Jansenism possibly arising from poor catechetics.
Again, talk to your priest.

Thanks for the advice. I do struggle with scrupulosity sometimes, but the sin I committed was very clearly and definitely grave matter. I was able to find a church about 15 minutes away that has confessions on Friday night, but I still worry that my parents would be concerned about me abruptly canceling plans with my friend to go to confession. I also haven’t been able to see my friend in weeks, and I would be sad to not be able to spend time with him. I just don’t know if those are good enough reasons to put off confession. Is it okay for me to just go on Saturday?

Do you have a good Examination of conscience? Based on our concupiscence, we possess “imperfections” which cause us to act in what might appear to be a sinful manner, but which is not. I have confessed imperfections, but without knowing. The best and handiest examination of conscience I have seen is that written by Fr. Robert Altier. It costs all of $1.95 at Catholic bookstores.

I think I’m correct in saying that you never have to manifest your conscience to anyone, except the priest in the confessional. Would changing those plans, to go to confession, call undue attention to you? Make them wonder what you had done, to have to go to confession?

I would just be at peace and go on Saturday. At this point, we’re talking one day instead of two.

God is not petty. He does not lurk around the corner waiting for you to sin so that He can strike you down. He is patient and longsuffering.

I hope I don’t scare you with my reply but I wouldn’t put it off even if you believe you have made a perfect act of contrition. I have heard it said by a few Catholic apologists and priests that trusting in yourself to have made a perfect act of contrition isn’t necessarily the best person to judge the sincerity of the prayer.

I know at times I have had tears streaming down my face saying sorry and begging for God’s forgiveness because of how much I loved Him and for helping to add to His Passion with my mortal sin at the time, but still went to Confession as soon as I could. You see I’m also a paralysed man who has nearly died 4 times in my life and I know that death can come suddenly and without warning.

I don’t say it to frighten you. In fact it’s not the risk of the fires of hell that should send us flying back to the sacrament of reconciliation, but our love for Christ (although the former will suffice), and I just don’t want you to delay in receiving Christ’s forgiveness because I know for a fact that we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. We aren’t even guaranteed the next minute.

So fly to Confession with the fear and love of God on your heart as soon as you can. There is NOTHING as important as our salvation and being in union with Christ. I know it can be embarrassing when you don’t want others to know you’ve committed a grave sin, especially when you’re younger, but it could be a lesson in humility before God and His desire for you to remain in union with Him out of deep unending love for you.

Again, I don’t trust my own judgement on whether I truly had a contrite heart so I suggest going at your earliest convenience. God bless you.

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