St John's Q&A

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Penance Service tonight

Parish Penance Service - tonight, 7:30 pm, SAA ChurchThe service will include readings, a homily, and a public examination of conscience. Then, there will be several (visiting!) priests here to hear individual confessions. Please encourage others to take advantage of this opportunity to receive God's Mercy, and pray for a good turnout of St A's parishioners!
The following are my notes for our discussions in RCIA about Confession. The comments or questions in italics are some of the most common among Catholics and non-Catholics about Confession. To view an examination of conscience, please go to the post, “Examination of Conscience”, from 8/24/06 under Archives.

I’m afraid to go to Confession
- been many years
- forgot how
- priest will judge me
- priest will tell others my sins
- I will forget some sins
- I wouldn’t know where to start with my sins

Keep in mind:
- it is Christ in the Confessional; in persona Christi
- “whoever hears you, hears me” (Lk10:16)

- we hear and know we are forgiven
-“I absolve you in the name of the F, S, and the HS”

- Christ’s grace in Confession heals us and gives us the strength to overcome future sins (MT, JP II)
- the priest can give us advice on how to avoid the sins in the future

- confessing on the lips = shows true contrition
- as when I sin against a friend; need to go face to face

How do I make a good Confession?
- examination of conscience
- contrition
- confession
- do your penance

How often should I go?
- at least once a year (req.)
- whenever in mortal sin or think you may be (before Comm.)
- once a month (MT, JP II)
- grow in grace and holiness; frequent Confession helps us to
‘forgive those who trespass against us’ so that we will be
- see our sins as they are (gossip, e.g.) and see ourselves as we are: “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner”

I thought only God forgives sins. How can the priest forgive sins?

Jesus gives his power of forgiving sins to the Apostles (the first priests)
“’As the Father sent me, so I am sending you’. After saying this, he
breathed on them and said: ‘receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive
anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are
retained’”. – Jn 20:21-23

“ God reconciled us to himself through Christ and he gave us the ministry
of reconciliation” (1 Cor 5: 18)

Why do I need to confess my sins to a priest? Why can’t I just confess to God privately?

- we can be forgiven of venial sins outside of Confession
- the Penitential Rite at Mass, Eucharist, sincere Act of Contrition, e.g.

- but, forgiveness of mortal sins is reserved for Confession


  • Thank you Father Greg for this posting...I haven't been here in a while to see what you have posted and for that I apologize!
    I have a question for you. I have been faithful and followed the teachings as best I could and have gone to confession but then life got good and I got complacent and I started missing mass one week a month then 2 then before I knew it I wasn't going anymore.
    Of course as life has a tendency to do it got unmanageable again and the peace and acceptance I had was gone. I have gone back to church, made my confession, done my penance and have been loyal to our faith and the peace has returned to the degree I let it.
    I have done something once that I didn't know was a sin until I was going over a pamphlet from the Archdiocese Of Washington called "Reconciliation" A Short Guide, and discovered while answering the questions "Examination Of Conscience" that there was this particular sin.
    I know that the priest in the confessional is bound to secrecy about what is said during confession. But what if the priest knows you by the sound of your voice and there is great embarrassment with the subject of the confession? I want to be faithful not just to God but to my Church and Priest. What can someone do when embarrassment is keeping someone from making this necessary confession?

    Thank Your For Your Help In This Matter!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:52 PM  

  • Hi Anon,
    Thanks for your comment. You might want to check out my homily from March 9, '08 ("5th Sunday of Lent - homily"). I address the embarrassment of going to confession. I say it is embarrassing for all of us, but SO WHAT! It's a few minutes of embarrassment, but an eternal reward.
    Keep in mind the priest himself has been embarrassed going to confession at times in his life. And, if he's like me, he will have more respect for you because of your humility and courage in making a good and honest confession.
    It is humbling and embarrassing to go to confession, but God appreciates it. It's just like going to a friend and admitting you did something wrong to them. It's tough but it's the right thing to do. And, it shows how sorry you are that you would go face to face (or behind the screen) and honestly acknowledge what you did.
    St James reminds us of an Old Testament line that applies to this: "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (Jm 4:6).
    Be courageous and humble! Btw, glad that you've returned to the Eucharist and Confession. We're glad you're back. Hopefully, it's for good!!

    By Blogger Fr Greg, at 4:13 PM  

  • God Bless you Fr. Greg,

    Since I left this question, I have taken God in hand and walked through my fears of embarrassment. I've been to confession and have done penance, and am very grateful I did. Turns out it was just a boogie man (satin) trying to keep me from doing what I know is write.

    Actually, I AM back more so than I ever thought I would. So much has happened since I left my original question and I'm not sure where this is all leading but I do know I have had a warming of the heart and God has touched me in a way that everything else seems insignificant to what He has in store for me. It has left me quite confused but so joyful knowing that He DOES love me so much more than I could have imagined. I do feel in my heart and soul that I have been called because of all the things that have been happening and the intense feelings that have gone along with them. All I do know is that so much more is going to be revealed. I will keep you in the loop.

    Thank you for your time, love and reply. I will ask, that you please add me to your prayer list for the answers to come in a manner that I can comprehend.

    Love In Christ,

    p.s. I'm clicking Anonymous only because I can't find my password to post with my Google ID. I don't care if my name shows.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:57 PM  

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