When I was a Protestant, I didn’t loathe my sin like I do now. I thought it was impossible to be without sin. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s easy, but I will say the goal to be sinless is solidly in place. Now, there are short periods when, to the best of my knowledge, I have no unconfessed sin. (Jeremiah tells us our hearts are deceitful, that’s why I added the caveat “to the best of my knowledge”. Also, please note I said, “short periods.”)
Before my conversion to Catholicism, sainthood wasn’t a goal. I saw all believers as saints, although I could hardly imagine how I in my sin and others in theirs, could be saints. But now, I ask God daily to help me avoid sin and grow in virtue, to help me be a saint.
Awareness and conviction of sin is a special grace we’re given in the sacrament of reconciliation. I go to confession a couple times a month. I don’t often have mortal sin to confess, but I want to confess and receive reconciliation often. When a person brushes their teeth twice a day, they recognize the grit and grime of their teeth far better than someone who is haphazard with their dental hygiene. The sacrament of reconciliation is our spiritual hygiene. The better my spiritual hygiene, the more in tune I am to the grit and grime of sin and the more I love the experience of being spiritually clean.
As I confess my sin, my resolve is strengthened to “beat my body into subjection” in that area of sin. Sometimes this works and other times the sins are so deeply a part of who I am that it’s pure grace that gives every ounce of victory. Perhaps my desire and resolve to overcome sin is what God’s grace in the sacrament looks like. James tells us to confess our sins and we will be healed. Our sin is like a cancer and as we confess it, its evil talons are loosened. Some sins that were a problem in my past are no longer a problem because I’m dead-set against having to humiliate myself by having to confess them aloud. (Do you see the pride there? Funny how God draws straight lines with crooked sticks, eh?)
In my experience, one of the graces in the sacrament of reconciliation is the change of heart, the desire not to participate or engage in that sin. Because of confession, I become more aware of sins’ presence and influence in my life. Confession fine tunes my awareness of sin. The more often I go, the more aware I become of sin. My confessions use to be actions I’d done. Now it seems I confess a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle attitudes and thoughts. This is the fine-tuning of the heart.
After confession I ask God to help me be aware of sin and He does. Those hours that I’m free from unconfessed sin are wonderful. And again, by God’s grace, those periods are slowly growing longer. That’s more of the grace of the sacrament.
It’s none of my business what your confession habits are, but I’d sure hate for you to be missing out on this powerful sacrament and the graces it unleashes in our lives.
I’m thinking and praying for you today, Darian.
**My dear son-in-law, Darian, was the first person I sponsored into the Catholic Church. He was the first in my family to see the Truth I saw. I wanted to help him along the way and started a book called, "Dear Darian." In it I wrote about things I was learning, especially things I was learning through praying the rosary, hoping it would help him on his journey too. Well, Darian's spiritual life was on steroids and my little essays didn't seem needed as he was reading much greater minds than mine. So, my "Dear Darian," has instead become blog posts.
 Jeremiah 17:9
 1 Corinthians 9:27
 James 5:16