The Great Sacrament of Confession (Reconciliation)!

Sacrament of ConfessionThe great Sacra­ment of Con­fes­sion (also known as the Sacra­ment of Penance or the Sacra­ment of Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion) is the means which Jesus Christ Him­self insti­tuted so that through the mer­its of His Pre­cious Blood and His death on the cross, we could be for­given of our sins through priests.

Why did Jesus insti­tute the Sacra­ment of Confession?

First of all, Jesus, Who is God, is mer­ci­ful!  Sec­ondly, Jesus knew the weak­ness of human nature so He pro­vided a way that we could come back to Him after falling into sin. As Jesus said, “the spirit is will­ing, but the flesh is weak.” Dur­ing much of His min­istry, He spent time for­giv­ing sins. The for­give­ness of sins is sim­ply a part of His heal­ing ministry–healing the soul of the ter­ri­ble sick­ness of sin.

Where in the Bible does Jesus give priests the author­ity to for­give sins?

After Jesus vis­ited the dis­ci­ples after His resurrection,

20   “…He showed them His hands and side. The dis­ci­ples were over­joyed when they saw the Lord.21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am send­ing you.” 22 And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you for­give anyone’s sins, their sins are for­given; if you do not for­give them, they are not forgiven.”~John 20:20–23

Other Bible Verses related to Confession

If we claim to be with­out sin, we deceive our­selves and the truth is not in us. If we con­fess our sins, He is faith­ful and just and will for­give us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”~I John 1:8–9

13 Who­ever con­ceals their sins does not pros­per,
    but the one who con­fesses and renounces them finds mercy.” ~Proverbs 28:13


(From today’s Mass readings)

Blessed is the one
    whose trans­gres­sions are for­given,
    whose sins are cov­ered.
Blessed is the one
    whose sin the Lord does not count against them
    and in whose spirit is no deceit. 5   Then I acknowl­edged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniq­uity.
I said, “I will con­fess
    my trans­gres­sions to the Lord.”
And you for­gave
    the guilt of my sin.”~Psalm 32:1–2,5

 How do I make a good Confession?

1. Find out my sins.

(NOTE: Sin is doing wrong on pur­pose. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to make a good Exam­i­na­tion of Con­science. It helps to look through the Ten Com­mand­ments to see where you have offended God. Ask the Blessed Vir­gin Mary and your guardian angel to help you to make a good Confession.)

2. Be sorry for my sins.

3. Make up my mind not to sin again.

4. Tell my sins to the priest.

(NOTE: I begin my Con­fes­sion by say­ing, “Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been ______ since my last Con­fes­sion and these are my sins.” Then I tell the priest my sins. After I fin­ish telling my sins I say, “I am sorry for these sins and all the sins of my life.”)

5. The priest will give me a penance (some prayers to say) and then will ask me to say the “Act of Con­tri­tion” prayer.

After or while you say your “Act of Con­tri­tion” prayer, the priest will say these blessed words,

…Through the min­istry of the Church may God grant you par­don and peace, and I absolve you of your sins in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Before leav­ing the Con­fes­sional, say,“Thank you, Father.”

6. Do the Penance the priest gives me.                                                                                 (*NOTE: A penance is a few prayers to offer to God in repa­ra­tion for your sins which have now been forgiven. )

How often should I go to Confession?

Catholics must go to Con­fes­sion at least 1 time a year. How­ever, once a month or once a week is even bet­ter for the soul. Some saints and holy peo­ple like Blessed Mother Teresa and Saint Joseph of Cuper­tino went to Con­fes­sion every day! As a result, they lived lives of great holi­ness. Fre­quent Con­fes­sion is a great aid to advance­ment in virtue and holiness.

Every Con­fes­sion should be a joy­ful encounter with Jesus Christ! For it is our lov­ing Friend and Sav­ior Jesus who waits for each of us in the Con­fes­sional to heal us of sin. Jesus, who is God, sim­ply works through the priest to for­give sins. In addi­tion, each time we go to Con­fes­sion, Jesus gives us graces  to amend our lives, stop sin­ning, and thus grow in holi­ness and virtue. The heal­ing in the soul which is a result of being rec­on­ciled with God through Con­fes­sion also brings peace and joy to the soul.

Let noth­ing keep you from going to Jesus in the Con­fes­sional. Fre­quently peo­ple don’t go to  Con­fes­sion out of con­cern for what oth­ers will say or think, but what God thinks is the most important!

Let us be like the woman in today’s Gospel read­ing who after liv­ing a sin­ful life, came to Jesus in sor­row for her sins and trust in His Mercy. Dis­re­gard­ing the opin­ion of the phar­isees and other present, she fell to the feet of Jesus and washed them with her tears and bathed them in expen­sive per­fumed oint­ment. Jesus then said to her, “Your sins are for­given …your faith has saved you, go in peace.” (Luke 7:36–8:3)

 More about the Sacra­ment of Confession:

  • The Secret of Con­fes­sion (includ­ing the Won­ders of Con­fes­sion)                                byRev. Father Paul O’Sullivan ‚O. P. (TAN Books)
  • A Guide to Confession
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