Habitual Sin

In spite of their best efforts, most Catholics have certain sins that they regularly struggle with and fail to avoid. Overcoming these habitual sins requires the grace of God along with vigilance of the person.

Also known as besetting sins, they are often committed and then confessed to to a priest, only to be committed all over again, with the person slipping into a discouraging loop that leads to a feeling of helplessness.

The recurring sins that people are most closely attached to should be identified, taken seriously, and renounced. Prayer, fasting, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and spiritual direction are effective weapons against these deeply rooted sins.

Repeating the same sin makes it easier to repeat it and more difficult to quit. It also makes it less likely to repent and may even impair the ability to recognize other sins.

Catholics who habitually repeat serious sin but do not feel sorry and have no intention of changing cannot receive absolution, but there is hope for those who have true contrition and are determined not to sin.

As long as the penitent confesses with the firm intention not to sin again, their confession is valid and they are forgiven, even if they recognize that there may be a chance that they fall into sin again.

Some recurring sins are due to compulsions or addictions which can impact moral culpability. Therapy or specialized counseling may also be necessary to break the cycle of these habitual sins.

A frustrating cycle of sin:


Sins with deep roots:

Good Catholic

What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I concur that the law is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh. The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. So, then, I discover the principle that when I want to do right, evil is at hand. For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self, but I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body?

Romans 7: 15-24

Sometimes we just have weakness:

Ascension Presents

Only Jesus can provide freedom from sin:

Fr. Simon Esshaki

Jesus offers love and understanding:

Pints With Aquinas

Sin creates a proclivity to sin; it engenders vice by repetition of the same acts. This results in perverse inclinations which cloud conscience and corrupt the concrete judgment of good and evil. Thus sin tends to reproduce itself and reinforce itself, but it cannot destroy the moral sense at its root.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1865

True repentance is necessary:

Ascension Presents

The sinner must intend not to sin again:

Fr. Larry Richards

It should also be remembered that the existence of sincere repentance is one thing, the judgement of the intellect concerning the future is another: it is indeed possible that, despite the sincere intention of sinning no more, past experience and the awareness of human weakness makes one afraid of falling again; but this does not compromise the authenticity of the intention, when that fear is joined to the will, supported by prayer, of doing what is possible to avoid sin. And here we should again consider the trust which should accompany the detestation of sin, the humble accusation of it and the firm will to sin no more. Trust is the possible and necessary exercise of supernatural Hope, by which we expect from God’s Goodness, through his promises and through the merits of Jesus Christ the Saviour, eternal life and the graces necessary to attain it.

Pope John Paul II, Letter to Cardinal William W. Baum and the Apostolic Penitentiary, 22 March 1996

A firm purpose of amendment is not a forecast:

Catholic Answers

God desires for his children to have freedom:

Called to More

The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of the Catholic Church

At home and comfortable with Jesus:

The Coming Home Network International

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