Pet Sins and the Brick Wall of “I Don’t Need Confession”


The Sinner’s Guide (Week 13 of 15)

We cannot successfully battle with enemies abroad when the forces within us are in a state of rebellion. Thus we see that the devil first tempted Our Savior to gluttony, wishing to make himself master of the avenue through which all other vices find an easy entrance.

Chapter 34, Paragraph 2

Remember that your soul can never rule the flesh, if it be not itself submissive to God. This submission will be the rule and foundation of its empire. Let God command our reason; let reason direct the soul, and the soul will be able to govern the body.

Chapter 34, Paragraph 6

I have a problem, but you’d never know it. In fact, I didn’t even know it until about seven years ago, when I realized just what gluttony was.

In some sense, I think of my problem as a weight problem, though I’m a “skinny little thing” in the words of pretty much every family member who knows me. (I hate that phrase, by the way. It’s inaccurate in so many ways, not least in its tone.)

My problem, as it turns out, is with gluttony. It’s with my relationship with food…and not just food, but, well, everything. “State of rebellion” pretty much describes my default mental state.

At about the time when I realized that I had this struggle, I realized that I could be a fill-in-the-blank addict. I called it having an “addictive personality,” and I can only credit the grace of God with the fact that my college years and subsequent squalor didn’t leave me dead or worse.

The soul can’t rule the flesh if the flesh isn’t submissive to God. Submissive isn’t something we learn well these days. It’s not second nature to me, at any rate, and letting God command? No thanks. I’ve got this, God.

Except, as I’ve proven to myself again and again, I don’t. I don’t ever have this.

Which brings me around to the last chapter of this week’s reading, where we read a few short paragraphs about venial sins.

Enter the brick wall of every discussions I’ve ever had with certain people about confession.

“But I haven’t killed anyone.”

“But I don’t sin. I have nothing to confess.”

“OK, fine, confession. But what will I confess?”

I’ve stopped pointing out that such modern day greats as John Paul II and Teresa of Calcutta went weekly, if not daily. I’ve stopped defending confession at all.

Instead, I ask them if they can think of anything I should confess.

There never seems to be a shortage.

The other day, in fact, a family member of mine said something about me taking the Lord’s name in vain after chuckling that she never, never does that.

Not 24 hours later, reading the newspaper, she exclaimed, “Oh my God!”

I did what any self-respecting person would do and I laughed out loud. Isn’t this just the way life is? And isn’t this just the very thing Louis of Granada has been not-so-gently pointing out to us for the last 300 pages?

Reading Assignment:

Chapters 39-40

Discussion Questions:

1. This section discussed many sins to avoid. While I definitely struggle with gluttony, you might find some other “favorite” in the bunch. Consider spending some time with Jesus (maybe in the Blessed Sacrament) laying it before him.

2. How have the venial sins in your life added up? It’s not comfortable, but the weight’s a lot less after confession. When can you get to confession and relieve yourself of the burden?

Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

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About Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard continues to delight—and be challenged by—her vocations of Catholic wife and mother. She’s online at and is the author of a number of books for families.

This article is reprinted with permission from our friends at Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction.
Sarah Reinhard


When Sarah Reinhard set off in her life as a grown-up, she had no idea it would involve horses, writing, and sparkly dress shoes. In her work as a Catholic wife, mom, writer, parish employee, and catechist, she’s learned a lot of lessons and had a lot of laughs. She’s online at and is the author of a number of books.

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  • JMC

    Interestingly enough, though “addictive personality” is what you personally call it, you’ve actually hit upon the name of an actual psychological disorder, and it is exactly what it sounds like. Someone with this disorder easily becomes addicted to anything and everything – even things that one wouldn’t normally consider even remotely addicting.
    Personally, I think everyone has it to one degree or another. And I’ve found habitual mortification to be a powerful weapon against it.