SFX for Life
A Web Ministry of the Gospel of Life Committee,
The Catholic Community of St. Francis Xavier, Hunt Valley, Maryland
Building a culture of love and life in the face of a culture of utility and death
More content available on the confession archive page

Memes

St. John Chrysostom

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New Evangelization

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There is More Mercy in God…

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Bl. Dom Columba Marmion

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St. Isidore of Seville

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One Does Not Simply

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St. Augustine Says

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St. Alphonsus Ligouri

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St. Isidore of Seville

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Sacrament of Confession

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Articles

VIDEO: Pope Francis goes to confession before hearing confessions!

Posted on 28 March 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
This is great.
The Devil got a serious kick in the teeth today.
This evening in Rome the Holy Father held a big communal penance service (“Form 2?) in St. Peter’s Basilica, with many confessors to help people make a good confession. That in itself is a marvelous example for the whole Church.
However, Francis – seemingly on the spur of the moment – before getting into a confessional himself – walked across the nave, knelt down at a confessional and made his own confession. I don’t think this is something... Read More

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Fr. Z’s 20 Tips For Making A Good Confession o{]:¬)

We should…
1) …examine our consciences regularly and thoroughly;
2) …wait our turn in line patiently;
3) …come at the time confessions are scheduled, not a few minutes before they are to end;
4) …speak distinctly but never so loudly that we might be overheard;
5) …state our sins clearly and briefly without rambling;
6) …confess all mortal sins in number and kind;
7) …listen carefully to the advice the priest gives;
8) …confess our own sins and not someone else’s;
9) …carefully listen to and remember the penance and be sure to understand it;
10) …use a regular formula... Read More

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ASK FATHER: When confessing, do I have to hear, understand the absolution for it to be valid?

Posted on 9 January 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
From a reader:
A confessor I go to has recently made it his practice to whisper the words of absolution while I am saying the Act of Contrition. The first time he did this I did not catch it and after he dismissed me I asked him whether or not I had in fact been absolved. He said yes and he had said the words of absolution during my Act of Contrition. Now that I know he does it this way (I can hear him whispering but don’t understand the words)... Read More

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ASK FATHER: “Did you desire to completely destroy your relationship with God?” A serious error some priests are into.

Posted on 3 February 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
From a reader…
Quaeritur:
Recently went to confession at a parish near my new job. I hadn’t been there ever before. I mentioned the phrase “mortal sin”. The priest said, “I don’t think there was any mortal sin. Mortal sin requires three things: serious matter, knowing that it’s serious matter and desire to completely destroy your relationship with God. [?!? - This sounds like a variation of the "fundamental option" error.] Did you desire to completely destroy your relationship with God when you [omitted]?”
Of course I answered honestly that I… Read More

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Pope Francis: GO TO CONFESSION!

Posted on 19 February 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
What is it I have been shouting?
From CNA:
Pope: Be courageous, go to confession
Vatican City, Feb 19, 2014 / 04:57 am (CNA).- During his Wednesday audience, Pope Francis encouraged the pilgrims filling St. Peter’s Square to receive the sacrament of reconciliation. [aka Sacrament of Penance]
“Everyone say to himself: ‘When was the last time I went to confession?’ And if it has been a long time, don’t lose another day! Go, the priest will be good. And Jesus, (will be) there, and Jesus is better than the priests –... Read More

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ASK FATHER: Lying during confession

Posted on 23 March 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
From a reader…
QUAERITUR:
Is it a mortal sin if one accidentally lies in Confession about a venial sin?
You cannot “accidentally” lie. A lie is a deliberate distortion of the truth. It cannot be an accident. People can makes mistakes, say things that are false “accidentally”, but people cannot lie “accidentally”. Lying is intentional.
Lying about anything is a sin, more or less grave depending on the matter and the situation.
Lying during confession, however, is grave because of the circumstance.
Lying during confession is also a misuse of a… Read More

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Resources

Good Examinations of Conscience on the Web

10 Tips for a Good Confession

by The Catholic Gentleman on Apr 4, 2014 • 8:31 am
To make a good confession demands prior preparation. The better the prior preparation, the more abundant the graces and the more overflowing the river of peace in your soul. Following are ten short helps to make the best confession in your life.
1. UPGRADING THE RECEPTION. As Catholics two of the most important actions we can accomplish are to go to Confession and to receive Holy Communion. In these Sacraments we have a direct contact with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This being the case, we should make... Read More

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How To Make A Confession

Haven’t Been to Confession In A While?
By Bishop Joseph N. Perry
Needing to go to Confession is like needing to check in with a doctor regarding our physical health. We cannot afford to neglect spiritual doctoring of our souls anymore than we can afford to neglect a physical doctor of our bodies. The Sacrament of Penance also works for a healthy life. Mature and healthy men are men who can take themselves to task, recognize their mistakes and take aim to correct those mistakes for the sake of positive connections with their spouse, their children, their friends, the people... Read More

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Papal Encyclical: VERITATIS SPLENDOR

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Health and the Apostolic Blessing!
The splendour of truth shines forth in all the works of the Creator and, in a special way, in man, created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:26). Truth enlightens man's intelligence and shapes his freedom, leading him to know and love the Lord. Hence the Psalmist prays: "Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord" (Ps 4:6).
INTRODUCTION
Jesus Christ, the true light that enlightens everyone
1. Called to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, "the true light that enlightens everyone" (Jn 1:9),... Read More

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Relevant Excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church

1484

"Individual, integral confession and absolution remain the only ordinary way for the faithful to reconcile themselves with God and the Church, unless physical or moral impossibility excuses from this kind of confession." There are profound reasons for this. Christ is at work in each of the sacraments. He personally addresses every sinner: "My son, your sins are forgiven." He is the physician tending each one of the sick who need him to cure them. He raises them up and reintegrates them into fraternal communion. Personal confession is thus the form most expressive of reconciliation with God and with the Church.

1456

Confession to a priest is an essential part of the sacrament of Penance: "All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted by them in confession, even if they are most secret and have been committed against the last two precepts of the Decalogue; for these sins sometimes wound the soul more grievously and are more dangerous than those which are committed openly."

When Christ's faithful strive to confess all the sins that they can remember, they undoubtedly place all of them before the divine mercy for pardon. But those who fail to do so and knowingly withhold some, place nothing before the divine goodness for remission through the mediation of the priest, "for if the sick person is too ashamed to show his wound to the doctor, the medicine cannot heal what it does not know."

1458

Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father's mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful:

Whoever confesses his sins . . . is already working with God. God indicts your sins; if you also indict them, you are joined with God. Man and sinner are, so to speak, two realities: when you hear "man" - this is what God has made; when you hear "sinner" - this is what man himself has made. Destroy what you have made, so that God may save what he has made. . . . When you begin to abhor what you have made, it is then that your good works are beginning, since you are accusing yourself of your evil works. The beginning of good works is the confession of evil works. You do the truth and come to the light.

1424

It is called the sacrament of confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament. In a profound sense it is also a "confession" - acknowledgment and praise - of the holiness of God and of his mercy toward sinful man.

It is called the sacrament of forgiveness, since by the priest's sacramental absolution God grants the penitent "pardon and peace."

It is called the sacrament of Reconciliation, because it imparts to the sinner the love of God who reconciles: "Be reconciled to God." He who lives by God's merciful love is ready to respond to the Lord's call: "Go; first be reconciled to your brother."

1455

The confession (or disclosure) of sins, even from a simply human point of view, frees us and facilitates our reconciliation with others. Through such an admission man looks squarely at the sins he is guilty of, takes responsibility for them, and thereby opens himself again to God and to the communion of the Church in order to make a new future possible.

1497

Individual and integral confession of grave sins followed by absolution remains the only ordinary means of reconciliation with God and with the Church.

1483

In case of grave necessity recourse may be had to a communal celebration of reconciliation with general confession and general absolution. Grave necessity of this sort can arise when there is imminent danger of death without sufficient time for the priest or priests to hear each penitent's confession. Grave necessity can also exist when, given the number of penitents, there are not enough confessors to hear individual confessions properly in a reasonable time, so that the penitents through no fault of their own would be deprived of sacramental grace or Holy Communion for a long time. In this case, for the absolution to be valid the faithful must have the intention of individually confessing their grave sins in the time required. The diocesan bishop is the judge of whether or not the conditions required for general absolution exist. A large gathering of the faithful on the occasion of major feasts or pilgrimages does not constitute a case of grave necessity.

1482

The sacrament of Penance can also take place in the framework of a communal celebration in which we prepare ourselves together for confession and give thanks together for the forgiveness received. Here, the personal confession of sins and individual absolution are inserted into a liturgy of the word of God with readings and a homily, an examination of conscience conducted in common, a communal request for forgiveness, the Our Father and a thanksgiving in common. This communal celebration expresses more clearly the ecclesial character of penance. However, regardless of its manner of celebration the sacrament of Penance is always, by its very nature, a liturgical action, and therefore an ecclesial and public action.

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