First let me say that
it is a good idea for persons to go to confession frequently, even if they only
have venial sins to confess...
"[I]t is an
excellent thing to go to confession often, because the sacrament of Penance,
besides taking away sin, gives the graces necessary to avoid sin in the future."
(Catechism of St. Pius X)
"A person should
not stay from confession because he thinks he has no sin to confess, for the
Sacrament of Penance, besides forgiving sin, gives an increase of sanctifying
grace, and of this we have always need, especially to resist temptation. The
Saints, who were almost without imperfection, went to confession frequently."
information about the Sacrament of Penance and confessing only venial sins,
Second, Catholics are
required to go to Confession at least once per year...
"Can. 989 After
having reached the age of discretion, each member of the faithful is obliged to
confess faithfully his or her grave sins at least once a year." (1983 Code of
obliges all to confess once a year; because she commands all to receive Holy
Communion once a year, viz. at Easter, wherefore all must go to confession
before that time." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest
theologian in the history of the Church")
"In the same
canon holy Church has defined the period within which we are especially bound to
discharge the duty of confession. It commands all the faithful to confess their
sins at least once a year. If, however, we consult our eternal interests, we
will certainly not neglect to have recourse to confession as often, at least, as
we are in danger of death, or undertake to perform any act incompatible with the
state of sin, such as to administer or receive the Sacraments. The same rule
should be strictly followed when we are apprehensive of forgetting some sin,
into which we may have fallen; for we cannot confess sins unless we remember
them, neither do we obtain pardon unless our sins are blotted out through
sacramental confession." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)
Yet an annual
confession is only a minimum standard. Even slight sins makes our souls 'dirty'
(so to speak). Would you take a bath/shower only once per year?
"We do not, of
course, believe that the soul is killed by [venial] sins; but still, they make
it ugly by covering it as if with some kind of pustules and, as it were, with
horrible scabs, which allow the soul to come only with difficulty to the embrace
of the heavenly Spouse, of whom it is written 'He prepared for Himself a Church
having neither spot nor blemish.'" (St. Caesar of Arles, c. 540 A.D.)
Third, for those
beyond the age of reason, intentionally missing Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of
Obligation would generally fall under the category of mortal sin (providing of
course, the person was not excused for some worthy reason - e.g. sickness). As
stated in the Baltimore Catechism...
"It is a mortal
sin not to hear Mass on a Sunday or a holyday of obligation unless we are
excused for a serious reason. They also commit a mortal sin who, having others
under their charge, hinder them from hearing Mass, without sufficient reason."
If missing Mass was a
matter of forgetfulness or problems with an alarm clock or something else that
was not intentional, it may not be mortally sinful, but I could not say with
certainty in any given case. In such matters, it is best to consult a priest who
could to determine whether or not it was mortally sinful. Generally speaking, if
one is able to go to Mass on a Sunday or Holy Day and the person is not
otherwise excused, it would be sinful to miss. For additional information about
the Mass obligation, try the Baltimore Catechism selections
+ + +
"How thankful, then,
should not sinners be to God for having bestowed such ample power on the priests
of His Church! Unlike the priests of the Old Law who merely declared the leper
cleansed from his leprosy, the power now given to the priests of the New Law is
not limited to declaring the sinner absolved from his sins, but, as a minister
of God, he truly absolves from sin. This is an effect of which God Himself, the
author and source of grace and justice, is the principal cause." (Catechism of
the Council of Trent)
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