Why Go To Confession? Why Confess To A Priest?

How To Make A Good Confession

How To Confess To A Priest


Examinations of Conscience

Videos relating to Reconciliation:

Confession Explained (Why Confess to a Priest)

I Confess

Oceans of Mercy

Parish Communal Reconciliation Service with Individual Confessions: Tuesday, December 13, 2016 at 10:00am and 7:00pm in the Church.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is available:

  • Saturdays, 3:00pm to 4:00pm and after the 5:00pm Mass
  • 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month after the 5:00 pm Mass (Español)

Anyone wishing to receive this sacrament at other times may make an appointment with one of the priests. Twice a year, during Advent and Lent, communal parish penance services are held for adults, and the children of our parish school, and religious education program.

Why Go To Confession? Why Confess To A Priest?

The Diocese of Richmond, Virigina has developed this helpful video do explain the sacrament of Reconciliation and why go to a priest.


Confession Explained


Q: Why is Sacramental Confession necessary for Catholics but not for other Christians?

A: Catholics believe that Confession is necessary for the forgiveness of post-baptismal sins because Christ instituted the Sacrament of Penance for this purpose (John 20: 22-23). Church Canon Law states: "All the faithful who have reached the age of discretion are bound faithfully to confess their grave sins at lease once a year." (CIC, 989). Catholics who confess their sins have the assurance of Christ Himself that their sins are forgiven (Matt 18:18; John 20:23). Other Christians who do not believe in this Sacrament of Forgiveness must confess in their own way to God and hope that their sins will be forgiven.  On their own, they do the best they can. God bless them!

Q: How often should one go to Sacramental Confession?

A: "All the faithful who have reached the age of discretion are bound faithfully to confess their grave sins at least once a year." (CIC, 989).  "The faithful are recommended to confess also venial sins." (CIC, 987-2). "Anyone who is conscious of grave sin may not receive the Body of the Lord without previously having been to Sacramental Confession;  unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess." (CIC, 915)

As a matter of devotion, monthly Confession or Seasonal Confession (Christmas, Easter, Pentecost) is recommended.  Children and RCIA Candidates are to go to Confession prior to their receiving First Holy Communion.  (CIC, 914), (RCIA, 482).  Pastoral Counsel:  "If you commit a mortal sin, go to Confession as soon as you can and certainly before your next Holy Communion.  For spiritual growth, go to Confession regularly or seasonally."


Q:  "I understand that it is not necessary to go to Confession before we go to Holy Communion unless we have committed a mortal sin.  If we are not guilty of mortal sins, do we still have to go to Confession during the Easter Season?

A: You are correct in stating that if we have committed a mortal sin it is necessary to go to Confession before receiving Holy Communion.  However, if we have not committed a mortal sin it is not necessary to go the Confession during the Easter Season.  A worthy Holy Communion is the requirement at Easter Time.  If, during the Easter Season, a person is in the state of grace, not in mortal sin, no Confession is necessary.  (CIC, 920-1-2; 989).  The main event of going to confession is the reception of God’s forgiveness.  Don’t let the mechanics of making a confession discourage you.


Q: What is the Easter Duty?

A: The Easter Duty is the obligation to receive a worthy Holy Communion during the Easter Time, i.e., the time between the first Sunday of Lent and Trinity Sunday, a period of about a hundred days.  If we are not in the state of grace, then we must go to Sacramental Confession before receiving our Easter Duty Communion.


Q: Is it a sin if Catholics never go to Confession?

A: "Never say never."  The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:  "Children must go to the Sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion for the first time." (CCC, #1457), (CIC, Can. 914) Also: "Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to Communion." (CCC, # 1385 and 1457), (CIC, Can. 989), (1 Cor II: 27-29) And: "…after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation fatithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year."  (CCC, # 1457), (CIC, Can. 989). 

The Sacrament of Penance is part of the "Catholic Sick Call" that prepares the sick person for death.  Holy Communion (Viaticum), Anointing of the Sick (Extreme Unction) and the Apostolic Blessing (Papal Blessing) are also parts of the sick call (CCC, # 1525).  So, apart from these times of necessary Confession, a person without mortal sin need not go to Confession. "Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is, nevertheless, strongly recommended by the Church." (CCC, #1458), (CIC, Can. 988 #2). Jesus and Sigmund might well say together: "Keep in touch; Confession is good for peace of soul and peace of mind."


How to Make a Good Confession

  1. Examine our Conscience.
  2. Have Sorrow for our Sins (Act of Contrition).
  3. Make a firm resolution not to sin again.
  4. Confess our sins to the priest.
  5. Accept the penance which the priest gives us.


How to Confess to the Priest

(Prayer cards on how to make a good confession will be available in the Church)

The Priest will often begin with the Sign of the Cross or a greeting and blessing.

May the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of all the saints, whatever good you do and suffering you endure, heal your sins, help you grow in holiness, and reward you with eternal life. Go in peace.   –Rite of Penance, no. 93

PREPARATION:  Before going to  confession, take some time to prepare. Begin with prayer, and reflect on your life since your last confession. How have you—in your thoughts, words, and actions— neglected to live Christ’s commands to “love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt. 22:37,39)? As a help with this “examination of conscience,” you might review the Ten Commandments or the Beatitudes (Ex. 20:2-17; Dt. 5:6-21; Mt. 5:3-10; or Lk. 6:20-26).

GREETING: The priest will welcome you; he may say a short blessing or read a Scripture passage.

THE SIGN OF THE CROSS: Together, you and the
priest will make the Sign of the Cross. You may then begin your confession with these or similar words: “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been [give days, months, or years] since my last confession.

CONFESSION: Confess all your sins to the priest. If you are unsure what to say, ask the priest for help. When you are finished, conclude with these or similar words: “I am sorry for these and all my sins.

PENANCE: The priest will propose an act of penance. The penance might be prayer, a work of mercy, or an act of charity. He might also counsel you on how to better live a Christian life.

ACT OF CONTRITION:  After the priest has conferred your penance, pray an Act of Contrition, expressing sorrow for your sins and resolving to sin no more. A suggested Act of Contrition is:


My God,

I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.

In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good,

I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things.

I firmly intend, with your help,

to do penance, to sin no more,

and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.

Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.

In his name, my God, have mercy.    (Rite of Penance, no. 45)

(Act of Contrition cards will be available in the Church/Confessional.  Other approved acts of Contrition/Prayer of the Penitent are listed below.)


ABSOLUTION:   The priest will extend his hands over your head and pronounce the words of absolution. You respond, Amen.”

PRAISE:  The priest will usually praise the mercy of God and will invite you to do the same. For example, the priest may say, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good. And your response would be, “His mercy endures for ever” (Rite of Penance, no. 47).

DISMISSAL:  The priest will conclude the sacrament, often saying, “Go in peace.

If it has been a while since your last confession, remember, “Do not fear” (Is. 41:10). The priest will help guide you.  (For more information, visit

Copyright © 2013, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. Scripture excerpts taken from the New American Bible, rev. ed. © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. All rights reserved. Excerpts from the English translation of Rite of Penance © 1974, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. This text may be reproduced in whole or in part without alteration for nonprofit educational use, provided such reprints are not sold and include this notice.


Other Approved Acts of Contrition/Prayer of the Penitent

Psalm 25:6-7:

Remember, Lord, your compassion and mercy you showed long ago.  Do not recall the sins and failings of my youth.  In your mercy remember me, Lord, because of your goodness.

Psalm 51:4-5:

Wash me from my guilt and cleanse me of my sin.  I acknowledge my offense; my sin is before me always.

 Psalm 51:4-5:

Father, I have sinned against you and am not worthy to be called your son.  Be merciful to me, a sinner.


Father of mercy, like the prodigal son I return to you and say: “I have sinned against you and am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

Christ Jesus, Savior of the world, I pray with the repentant thief to who you promised Paradise: “Lord, remember me in your kingdom.”  Holy Spirit, fountain of love, I call on you with trust:  “Purify my heart, and help me to walk as a child of light.”


Lord Jesus, you opened the eyes of the blind, healed the sick, forgave the sinful woman, and after Peter’s denial confirmed him in your love.  Listen to my prayer: forgive all my sins, renew your love in my heart, help me to live in perfect unity with my fellow Christians that I may proclaim your saving power to all the world.


Lord God, in your goodness have mercy on me:  do not look on my sins, but take away all my guilt.  Create in me a clean heart and renew within me an upright spirit.


Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.


Lord Jesus, you chose to be called the friend of sinners.  By your saving death and resurrection free me from my sins.  May your peace take root in my heart and bring forth a harvest of love, holiness, and truth.

From Rite of Penance/Rite for Reconciliation of Individual Penitents. Copyright © 1974.  International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc.  All rights reserved.  Published by the authority of the Bishops’ Committee on Liturgy, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.