Many people wait until they have fallen into mortal sin before they go to confession. Even worse, when some people are no longer committing mortal sins, they declare victory, and stop going confession because they think they are a “good” person. In both cases, folks can fall into a mistaken notion of religion that reduces their horizon to merely avoiding the “big” sins. Instead of understanding that the Catholic religion is about our intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, they settle for a superficial and limited perspective.

While the Church does teach that the bare minimum is confessing our mortal sins, we should not consider the bare minimum as the best way to become a saint. To become a saint, we must allow the Holy Spirit to purge us of everything that is keeping us from falling in love with Jesus. To receive and give love, we must allow God to clear away the deep disorders that sin has embedded in the human heart.

To do this, we have to find the sweet spot. The sweet spot of confession (as demonstrated in my brilliant illustration) is that place when temptations and stress begin to surface in our conscious awareness (our thoughts, feelings, and desires) and begin to spill over into venial sins. When this takes place, we must learn to talk about our temptations and confess our venial sins. In this way, we learn to name and address the deep disorders that sin has sown in our hearts, and gain the mastery needed to receive Christ’s love.

In time, an incredible transformation takes place. Soon we begin to conquer our attachments to mortal sin, developing a genuine hatred for them. Then, we slowly get to the point where we are no longer falling into venial sins intentionally because we are beginning to embrace our new identity in Christ. In time, we begin to catch ourselves at the earliest stages of sin, what the Desert Fathers called forgetfulness, and we begin to walk in the presence of the Lord.

Today, let us seek to find the sweet spot in confession. Let us dare to have that intimacy with Christ that was the beloved possession of the saints. Let us clear away the filth and disorder that keeps us from our Lord, and let us pursue this path with complete abandonment!