Jesus appeared to the apostles, breathed on them, and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit – whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.”
John 20: 22-23
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is for our spiritual healing. The reason for this sacrament is to heal our spiritual wounds, which we call sin.
Catholics must confess all known mortal sins to a priest. By doing this, we put ourselves in the state of grace necessary to receive the Holy Eucharist. Any venial or minor sins do not block one from receiving Jesus in Holy Communion.
Confessing sins to a priest is not as difficult as people think. Most people tell sensitive, delicate, and confidential information to their doctor or lawyer, so why not a priest? The priest is bound by the most absolute secrecy and confidentiality known to humankind. Not even the Pope can get the priest to reveal what was said in the confessional. This Sacrament involves the opening of one’s heart, bearing one’s sins before God, and then formally receiving God’s mercy and grace in the absolving of sin. Come drink from God’s fountain of mercy! Do not be afraid – God is waiting to wipe your sins away!
Know that you can ask the priest for help if you may not remember the rite of confession or perhaps need some assistance in determining what commandments you may have broken, or his help in examining your conscience. Priests go to confession too. He is not there to judge you, or make you feel nervous. The confessor is there to help you, to pray with you and to assist you on your path to holiness. Priests help lead people closer to God and to open their hearts to God’s mercy.
Sacraments 101: Penance (why we confess)
Click here to view our current Mass Times and Confession schedule. Please call the office if you would like to arrange a private Confession with one of our priests.
- One begins to prepare for the Sacrament of Confession by examining their conscience. A good way to do this is to review the Ten Commandments and identify those that one has broken. One must have a perfect contrition for these sins; in other words, be truly sorry for them and be resolved to not repeat them.
- You may enter the confessional and greet the priest. One can begin by saying, “Bless me Father for I have sinned, it has been (state how long) since my last confession and these are my sins.”
- We confess all the sins we can remember, especially our mortal or serious sins and then answer any questions the priest has.
- When we have finished confessing our sins, we listen to the advice given to us by the priest. He will often use a scripture passage, words of Jesus, or use strategies to assist the person going to confession to not fall into the same sinful habits, and to strive for holiness. Once the priest ends his help, one will say an Act of Contrition, such as: “Oh my God, I am very sorry for having offended You. I detest all my sins, because of your just punishments, but most of all, because they offend you, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly intend, with the help of your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.”
- The priest will say the prayer of Absolution and give you a penance to do.
- You may then leave the confessional and then spend time in the church to pray your penance and thank God for the gift of His forgiveness.