Forgiveness: Courage Required.

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In my many conversations with atheists, agnostics, secularists and the rest, I find there are very few things that actually interest them about the Catholic faith: very few things besides the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The question I am most asked about my faith is “can a non-Catholic go to Confession?” We are a guilty nation; we have therapy to talk about our sins, psychoanalysis to blame our sins on our parents, postsecret to confess our sins, moral relativism to deny our sins, liberalism to promote and dignify our sins, Jersey Shore to make our sins look trivial, communication technology to apologize for our sins, rehab to get rid of our sins, and on and on and on ad infinitum, doing everything we can possibly do with our sin EXCEPT being free of it all. Except being forgiven. Here’s an idea:

Man up.

Hopefully you watched the Saving Private Ryan clip. There’s a scene where a Nazi is at the top of a tower, slowly stabbing an American solider to death. The man with the power to stop him, the man with enough weaponry to blow the brains out of the entire SS; that man is cowering on the stairs, moaning and crying. He’s pathetic. And that’s me a lot of the times. I have the equivalent of sawn-off shotgun in the mouth of sin – the Sacrament of Reconciliation – and yet I whine, I cower before sin. That sin I talked about in the other post, yeah, I felt miserable about it. But it didn’t take long to realize that honest sorrow for my sin had turned into self-pity and a lukewarm sort of despair. An example of this lameness? Alright but don’t tell anyone. I’m a guitar player, so I started to write an “I’m Sorry” sort of song.

If you’re anything like me you get pissed off at the guy on the stairs. Get up! Stop being a pansy! Grow a pair! Pick…up…the…gun…and…kill…some…freaking…Nazis! Or;


We have to crush our sins, else the guilt will destroy us, in this world and the next. We have to smash the head of the serpent. We have to man up, admit that we were wrong to another human being, and be absolutely forgiven by a supernatural one. This takes strength, courage, and humility, and so every act of confession is an act of badassery. Therefore, of course the world hates it. They’ll say it’s morbid, it dwells on guilt, it revolves around fear, anything they can to keep you on the stairs. But it sets you free.

I’ve been having a hard time praying lately. Rather, I’ve lost the desire to pray lately. It’s become somewhat of a chore. I’ve been reluctant to hang out with my friends, and have been snapping at my family. Why? Because I committed a mortal sin, which “destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him” (Catechism of the Catholic Church). Sin is not some abstract mark against you in the afterlife. It is an evil, here and now, that stabs us slowly, making our lives miserable. The Christian singer Danny Guglielmucci’s addiction to pornography hurt him so much that his hair began to fall out, and his body would fail him. Sin is literally stabbing us while whispering gently. Reconciliation takes that weight off us, not merely so we can go to heaven, but so we can be happy here on earth!

So get to confession and pray for me, because I’ll be going too.

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  • Dr. Eric

    In regards to the clip, the private down in the rubble earlier in the picture prevented the Nazi's execution by the rest of his platoon.

  • Robert

    Love your blog. Please comment on confessing the same sin over and over — the thing the I let keep me from going as often as I should.

  • Dave

    "Every act of confession is an act of badassery." Love it. :)I've noticed many times that my thoughts and feelings regarding confession are precisely opposite my thoughts and feelings regarding sin. When I'm tempted to sin, I conjure up every imaginable reason to go ahead. When I'm on my way to confession, I come up with just as many reasons to skip it. Similarly, when I do go ahead and sin, the aftermath levels me. Exactly the reverse of confession. I mean, I don't always float out of the confessional on cloud 9, but I always feel better than when I went in.

  • Dave

    Robert – that's a tough question to answer generically. I'd encourage you to set up an appointment with a priest to talk about it. Might be worthwile to tell him what's on your mind when you call; there's no shortage of liberal priests (God love them) who will tell you that xyz is not REALLY a sin, so don't worry about it. Done with the best of intentions, I'm sure, but it can clobber spiritual progress.A couple of thoughts on dealing with recurring sin. I've had some luck with the three Hail Mary devotion. You say three in the morning, then close with "o my mother, preserve me from mortal sin this day." Then the same thing at night. Obviously its not a magic spell or anything, but I've found it to be useful.You might also want to try very frequent confession. Every two weeks or every week. I heard a talk by (if I remember right) Mike Flynn on reconciliation. He suggested this as a way to make progress rooting out "little" sins. The idea being that if you wait till you have your usual sin to confess, you won't use your confessional time on the little day-by-day things that keep you separated from God. Hope that helps.

  • Cassie

    Awesome blog!!! Love it! I will be back :-)

  • badcatholicblog

    @DaveWho need's blog posts, your comments are brilliant! That's exactly the truth, but maybe that's the point. Maybe God wants confession to be somewhat of an anti-sin, so all the eagerness we had to sin is tempered by the reluctance we have admitting it to a priest, showing us how weak we are. It knocks the pride out of sin, that's for sure. Anyways thanks for your words, I hope you don't mind if I post them for everyone to see.

  • badcatholicblog

    @RobertLook for my next post, I struggle with that like you wouldn't believe.

  • Dave

    Of course I don't mind. All comments are bloggable. :)

  • Patrick

    Robert and all,Here's a consecration prayer for decisively conquering habitual sexual sin or any habitual sin I suppose. I started this prayer more than four years ago and have been freed from these habits ever since. Here's my advice based on true testimony: If you say this prayer in the state of grace every day, and mean it, you will have the strength through grace to become a continent man (or woman), and continence is the foundation of virtue. This prayer doesn't only grant the grace you need, it also opens you to receive it; the repetition based on Mary's relationship to the Trinity and the different aspects of the human person is key as is her awesome intercession before God. Meditate on these relationships, between Mary and God, and the different aspects of the image of God that you reflect in your humanity. This prayer frees you from Satan's dominion, period, it was given to me by a very holy priest and I never looked back. Before then I had tried to conquer these sins with some success but my efforts were always insufficient because, I think, they were not sufficiently humble. It is impossible to conquer habitual sin without grace, at least in such a way that transforms us from within.Focus on never entertaining, not even for a moment, lustful thoughts; this is the key to conquering these sins. When the thoughts begin the sinful act begins because the thoughts themselves are sinful and thus bear evil fruit. The thoughts are not less bad or less serious than the consummation of those thoughts as we know from Christ who speaks of the adultery of the heart. Come up with some short prayer that beseeches Christ or Mary in moments when tempted with these thoughts. This along with the daily consecration to our mother cannot fail; by focusing on Christ through the Blessed Mother the power of all evil fades into the background and is ultimately crushed into the powerless nothingness that it always was. I suggest you post this on your blog because it could be the first step for a lot of bad Catholics to become BADASS Catholics. A warning: If you choose this prayer, Satan will, by whatever means possible, try to get you to stop saying it. Once you skip a day or a few, when you are at your weakest and your guard is down, that is when the demons will choose to attack with severe temptations, and you won’t stand a chance. Not that they won’t attack when you are fortified in grace as well, but these attacks will be noisy and ineffective. If you miss a day make up for it by saying the prayer or other prayers more. In the wounds of Christ,From which flow his loving mercy,PatrickConsecration Prayer to Our Lady of the Trinity of the three Hail Mary’sWith all my heart I praise you most holy virgin above all angels and saints in paradise, Daughter of the Eternal Father, and I consecrate to you my soul with all its faculties, and I beg you to obtain for me all of the graces necessary for salvation.Hail MaryWith all my heart I praise you most holy virgin above all angels and saints in paradise, Mother of the Son of God, and I consecrate to you my body with all its senses, and I beg you to obtain for me all of the graces necessary for salvation.Hail MaryWith all my heart I praise you most holy virgin above all angels and saints in paradise, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, and I consecrate to you my heart with all its affections, and I beg you to obtain for me all of the graces necessary for salvation. Hail Mary

  • Patrick

    Sorry, I didn't realize that another poster had already mentioned the three hail mary's. Hopefully this post helps nonetheless. Hopefully this powerful prayer is gaining in popularity as a means to deal with these sins. Its not magic but it frikin works.

  • Lauren Beatty

    Thank you for this post. You just convinced me to go to confession for sins I’m incredibly embarrassed and ashamed about. I haven’t been to confession in a long time, and my heart hasn’t felt light for a long time. Thank you.