EWTN Catholic Q&A
Confession of nothing
Question from Randa on 04-02-2013:

I try to lead a sinless life. During Advent and Lent, when we are encouraged to go to confession, I find myself at a loss because I have nothing to confess. I have been to confession once in this state, where I told the priest that I have nothing to confess but that I felt a duty to go to confession. He asked me to evaluate myself at that time, asked me to be sure I hadn't violated the Ten Commandments, but again I had nothing to confess. What should I do in these situations? Is it better to go and have nothing to confess, or can I rest assured that not going is okay, as long as I have truly been sinless?

Answer by Catholic Answers on 04-03-2013:


Rest assured, you have not been sinless. I don't even know you, and I can tell you with absolute confidence that you have sinned and need to go to confession. The Blessed Virgin Mary is the only human person who led a truly sinless life. (Jesus Christ is a divine person, a man but not a human person.)

It sounds to me that you might have a lax conscience (a conscience that does not perceive sin to be sin) and that you need help in figuring out where you have sinned. I recommend two things:

-- One, get an examination of conscience, also called an examen (example), and read it regularly. To start, every night before bed and before every Mass might be helpful.
-- Two, go to confession more often, at least once per month. Read the examination of conscience beforehand to help you prepare.

Once you start using an examen and going to confession regularly, you might start to find your conscience becoming more sensitive to sin. If you find your conscience becoming too sensitive, to the extent that you worry too much about sin, you can start using the examen less and consult with your confessor about how often you should go to confession. But, for the time being, you really do need to realize that you (along with all other members of the human race) are a sinner and need forgiveness.

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers