“I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.” (John15:17)

It seems to me that Catholics in general are aware of their sins, and they most often know when they fall for a temptation. To be aware of sin and that there are such a thing as sinful actions – and thoughts – makes you aware of the consequences of your sins. Of your guilt. All people sin, but as a Catholic perhaps you think a little bit extra on the condemnation of what you have done.

Sin is an act against God and His creation. When I hurt someone I also hurt God. My sins are foremost sins against God since all glory is His. All of creation is his. Through love for others I love God and through my sins I pound the nails in His Hands and Feet.

Still, to me “Catholic guilt” is nowhere near the guilt you feel when you think there is no forgiveness in the world. We all live with the consequences of our actions, even the nihilists does, and the Catholic guilt is a tool here. Without it you are risking that guilt will eat you up. It’s with guilt as it is with stress. Stress causes heart attacks. Stress that you can control builds you up. There is good guilt and bad guilt just as it is with stress.

In the confession you are forced to be aware of your sins, you even have to confess them out loud. You can’t regret your sins if you are not aware of them. If you not formulate them. You can’t get forgiveness if you don’t ask for it, from the bottom of your heart. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

It’s like if you don’t believe there is a city called Stockholm, then you would have no reason to go there. It’s the same with Jesus. If you don’t believe in him, why would you seek his forgiveness? And if you don’t seek his forgiveness, why would he forgive you. Just as the prodigal son, full of remorse returns to his father’s home, so must we all regret all our sins and return home to be able to receive his abundant love and forgiveness. Catholic guilt and the confession is two sides of the same coin:

– We must be aware of our guilt to be able to be released from it.

Love has boundaries. God doesn’t endorse my wrong doings in any way. His endless love doesn’t mean that He loves the sins I commit. No matter if I didn’t think it through, no matter all my best excuses. He loves me despite of what I have done. Like a loving father he welcomes my forgiveness. No matter what I do, he still loves me… Hammering nails in the body of Christ – I still have his love – and there is my guilt, I hurt Him who loves me. I hurt the one I love. He gives me everything and in my sin I instead reject him and causes him pain.

This is the Catholic guilt: I can do better.

And this is the confession: I will.