If a regular customer sits down in a diner and says “the usual”, an experienced waitress will bring their eggs exactly to order without any more questions.
I feel like if I said “the usual” to my confessor he’d know my list of sins as well as the diner waitress knows her regular customers’ orders. When I go to confession it sometimes seems a lot like the time before.
I commit the same sins over and over. It’s some consolation that I’m mostly not out inventing new sins but sometimes when I kneel in the confessional I don’t feel like I’m making much headway.
I guess what I should ask myself is, do I really want to get these sins off my list and what am I doing to make that happen?
What it takes is interior repentance, according to the Catechism. “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)
According to one priest, the way to overcome sin is to “look at the causes of it in ourselves, address them, and avoid what leads us into temptation.” He suggests making an examination of conscience at the end of the day to look at each sin in context, ask for God’s mercy and grace and make a resolution to avoid those sins the next day.
Another suggestion is to journal about it and then go back to find patterns that could lead to a trigger or circumstance causing the sin. That can give clues about how to deal with those circumstances to respond differently the next time.
Desire to overcome sin
We have trouble doing what we know is right because the enemy convinces us to give up the desire in our hearts to be good. If we don’t have the energy to please God, we won’t try very hard.
The solution is to ask the Holy Spirit to heal us and give us back the desire to please God. A good goal is to ask God to help us eliminate one sin each year.
It is harder to work at avoiding sin than it is to say “the usual” in confession partly because we’re kind of comfortable with those sins. They’re always there unless we decide we want to get rid of them. But change happens, if we want it.
A clean heart create for me, God;
renew in me a steadfast spirit.