Confession like every other sacrament has certain conditions for valid reception attached to them. For instance, before one can receive the Sacrament of Matrimony validly, it must be a free decision, and between one man and one woman, among other conditions. Let’s say someone coerces a woman into marriage, will they have valid sacramental union? NO, because the woman’s free choice is lacking.
WHAT CONFESSION IS AND WHAT ITS NOT
Some Protestants and sadly, even Catholics believe Confession is a place to go and free oneself from one’s sins from time to time in order to be clean enough for more sins. They think the very concept of confession means that a habitual unrepentant sinner has a shot at heaven even though he does not rid himself of his instruments of sin. He can keep living with an illicit sexual partner, can keep stealing, gossiping and killing as long as he goes to confession from time to time, but this is not what the Church teaches.
The Confessional is NOT
The Confessional is not where one goes to receive forgiveness for sin any time they choose to, with the intention of returning to their sins afterwards. Abuse of sacrament is a sacrilege, which includes lying to a priest, insincere repentance, having the intention of sinning again while confessing; having a willful attachment to sin; refusing to let go of sin even while confessing among others. We believe that God does not forgive those who are insincere to Him, those are forgiven who:
1. Recognize the evil of sin.
2. Sincerely confess them to the priest without willfully withholding any detail.
3. Are truly sorry, which precludes, the clear intention to be better, to discard all instruments of sin one possesses, and to restore what one has damaged or unjustly taken.
4. Are willing to do penance and struggle to lead a holy life.
1451: Among the penitent’s acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is “sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again.
1455 : The confession (or disclosure) of sins, even from a simply human point of view, frees us and facilitates our reconciliation with others. Through such an admission man looks squarely at the sins he is guilty of, takes responsibility for them, and thereby opens himself again to God and to the communion of the Church in order to make a new future possible.
1459: Many sins wrong our neighbor. One must do what is possible in order to repair the harm (e.g., return stolen goods, restore the reputation of someone slandered, pay compensation for injuries). Simple justice requires as much. – CCC 1451, 1455, 1459
WHAT OF HABITUAL SINS?
Someone who finds himself trapped in the same sin but sincerely struggles to avoid both the act and occasions leading to them is ALWAYS forgiven whenever they sincerely ask for pardon. What is important to God is not the number of times a person sins, but his sincerity of heart. God loves everyone, yes, even with all our sins. However, no liar stands a chance before God. He forgives those who beat their chests and say “have mercy on me, a sinner”.
Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace. This conversion of heart is accompanied by a salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called animi cruciatus (affliction of spirit) and compunctio cordis (repentance of heart). – CCC 1431
God is ALWAYS merciful, He can never deny us forgiveness whenever we come to him. He himself called us even while we were still in our sins. Immediately we fell at Eden he promised, no, He SWORE to save us. All we need to do is accept this grace, this free gift He offers us for nothing. We accept it when we choose to come to Him with sincere hearts, to repair our relationship with Him and renew our communion in His Church. God is UNABLE to say “No” to His Children. He just wants us to be sincere in our efforts.