“It is thanks to the medicine of Confession that the experience of sin does not degenerate into despair.”
Pope Saint John Paul II the Great
The Sacrament of Reconciliation (also known as Confession or the Sacrament of Penance) is the Catholic sacrament wherein the faithful are absolved of their sins by confessing their sins to a priest and, through the power of “the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,” the person who confesses is granted absolution and healing from their sins.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins. . . ” (CCC 1422).
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is known as one of the two Sacraments of Healing (along with the Anointing of the Sick).
St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “in the life of the body a man is sometimes sick, and unless he takes medicine, he will die. Even so in the spiritual life a man is sick on account of sin. For that reason he needs medicine so that he may be restored to health; and this grace is bestowed in the Sacrament of Penance.”
To learn more about Confession
Would you like to go to confession?
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been away for a while; it doesn’t matter what you have to confess.
Call the closest Catholic church for confession times or an individual appointment, and experience the grace of God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. During Advent and Lent, many parishes also offer Penitential Celebrations, where the parish community gathers for a short liturgy and several priests are made available for confessions.
Priests welcome you no matter how long it has been since you last went to Confession!
Forget how Confession works?
Before the Sacrament
- Review your life by examining your conscience.
- See where you’ve made mistakes since your last confession. Ask yourself, “How have I hurt God, others, and myself? Have I broken any of the Lord’s 10 Commandments? Have I broken away from the teachings of the Church?”
- Be truly sorry for your sins.
In order to receive absolution from our sins in the Sacrament of Confession, it is essential that the person confessing is truly sorry for their sins and is resolved to not commit those sins again. As we confess our sins, we must clearly and decisively reject the sins we have committed, inspired by our love of God, which is reborn with our repentance from sin.
Steps of the Sacrament
If you need help — especially if you have been away for some time — simply ask the priest and he will help by “walking” you through the steps to make a good confession.
- The priest greets us, and we pray the Sign of the Cross. He invites us to trust in God. He may read God’s Word with us.
- We confess our sins. The priest may help and counsel us.
- The priest gives us a penance to perform.
- The priest asks us to express our sorrow, usually by reciting an Act of Contrition, such as the following:
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. But most of all because I have offended you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life. Amen.
- We receive absolution. The priest says: “I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” We respond, “Amen.”
- The priest dismisses us by saying, “Go in peace.” We go forth to perform the act of penance he has given us.
After the Sacrament
Give thanks to God for forgiving you again. If you recall some serious sin you forgot to confess, rest assured that it has been forgiven with the others, but be sure to confess it in your next Confession. Do your assigned Penance. Resolve to return to the Sacrament of Reconciliation often.