Is it really possible to go to Confession too often?

How often should one go to Confession? It’s well mythologised that Joan of Arc went every five minutes (clearly too much), while I’m surprised that many Catholic friends only go once or twice a year (implying that they are paragons of virtue). I’ve got it down to about once a fortnight, because doing it any more leaves me with only the smallest of sins to confess. Were I struck by a car and killed, I hope God wouldn’t send me to hell for quietly feeding mum’s casserole to the dog under the table.

I’ve always thought once every two weeks was fine, but a friend expressed concern that it was too much and – maybe? – a sign of neurosis typical in newbie Catholics – as if I was one of those adolescent boys who discovers girls and suddenly starts showering twice or three times a day. But isn’t it important to have a clean conscience? For instance, I always go to see the priest prior to a plane journey because I’m convinced that it’ll fall out of the air and I’ll punch right through the bottom of the Atlantic and into the pits of hell…

But I’m happy to dial it down if the consensus is that I should. After all, God is merciful and omnipotent – so he knows how bad those casseroles can be.

This article is taken from Tim Stanley’s Notebook in the print edition of the Catholic Herald, dated November 21 2014