“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them…”
Reconciliation - FAQs
The Cathedral offers Reconciliation Monday-Friday from 4:15pm – 5:00pm; Saturdays from 9:00am – 10:00am and 2:30pm – 3:30pm; and Sundays from 4:00pm – 4:45pm. You may also contact the parish office to schedule an appointment with a priest outside of these times.
As a Catholic, am I required to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
As per the precepts of the Church, Catholics are required to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least one per year. Catholics desiring to receive the Eucharist but in a state of mortal sin should also confess before presenting themselves for Communion.
The teaching of the Church is that mortal sins require absolution in the context of sacramental confession, whereas venial sins can be forgiven by various means outside of the context of the Sacrament.
A venial sin is when we fail in a small way. A mortal sin is when we fail in a more serious way. To be a mortal sin, your action must have been done freely, you must have known what you were doing, and it must be a serious thing that you did. If you have committed a mortal sin, you should receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation before receiving the Eucharist. If you are unsure of the seriousness of your sin, feel free to ask your priest!
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is not a time for judgment; it is a time to experience God’s mercy. God already knows your sins, yes. But part of the beauty of the Church’s Sacraments is that Jesus has left us tangible experiences of His grace. When we go to confession, we not only speak out loud the sins that we’ve committed, we also hear the words of forgiveness spoken to us by Christ, present in the person of His priest.
Sin is not new. Your priest has likely heard whatever you have to say before. Don’t be afraid. He is not there to judge or collect sins, but rather to be the vehicle of God’s love and infinite mercy to you.
The teaching of the Church is that only grave sins require oral confession. Nevertheless, the regular confession of venial sins can be very beneficial in the life of discipleship, as it creates an awareness within us of our particular temptations or inclinations to sin. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is also a channel of grace, so speaking our venial sins aloud in effect petitions God for the grace to grow in that area of our lives.
Since the fall of humanity, not even the greatest saints (except Mary!) have been without sin. It can be difficult for us to remember our sins, but that doesn’t mean that we are without them.
If you are having difficulty thinking of your sins, say a prayer to the Holy Spirit that He would enlighten you to know what to confess. Consider prayerfully reading through an examination of conscience that you find helpful.
Many find it helpful to reflect on how they have failed to live the Christian life before going to Confession. This reflection is essentially called an “examination of conscience.” There are a myriad of ways to examine your conscience, such as considering the Ten Commandments, the 7 Deadly Sins, the Beatitudes, or the Golden Rule; many different examples can be found with a cursory internet search. If you are uncertain if something is a sin or you want a good examination of conscience, don’t hesitate to reach out to your priest.
First, pray a prayer to the Holy Spirit to know your sins. Reflect on your sins before you arrive.
Once in the confessional, begin with “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been [insert time] since my last confession.” Then, begin naming your sins, only explaining the circumstances as necessary (i.e. when it is helpful or effects the gravity of the sin).
If you forget how to start, ask the priest. You aren’t the only one!
If you have trouble confessing, you can ask the priest for help. He can ask you questions in order to help you make a thorough confession.
After your confession, the priest may ask you for clarification. This is never meant to pry, but only to provide him with the information necessary to give you proper spiritual guidance and penance.
The priest will assign you a penance and instruct you to pray an act of contrition. Often, the priest has a copy available for those who have forgotten it or do not have it memorized. You may also bring your own and read it or recite one spontaneously.
Finally, the priest will offer you absolution, the sacramental moment when your sins are forgiven. You are then invited to go and live in your newfound freedom!
A penance is a prayer, an offering, a work of mercy, a service of neighbor, a voluntary self-denial, or a sacrifice that the priest asks of a penitent in order to repair the harm done by his or her sins. The confessor must issue a penance that takes into account the personal situation of the penitent and is ordered to his or her spiritual good.
If you are unable to do the penance offered to you by the priest, simply ask for a different penance. A penance is never meant to be an obstacle to God’s forgiveness.
If you forget to do your penance, it does not invalidate the Sacrament, but it should be confessed during your next confession.
Anything of a serious nature must be confessed in the context of the Sacrament, as this is the ordinary means instituted by Christ to forgive sins. To willfully withhold grave sins during Confession invalidates the absolution offered by the priest, as it prevents the penitent from receiving the very mercy he or she is petitioning God to receive. If a penitent discovers that he or she has willfully withheld a sin, he or she should mention the willful exclusion of grave sin as well as the mortal sin in his or her next confession.
Every venial sin does not need to be confessed in the context of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, though the Church strongly recommends the confession of venial faults.
If the sin was grave, but you earnestly forgot to mention it, you are still validly absolved of your sins. However, this sin should be included in your next confession.
If you remember a sin before you exit the confessional, feel free to tell the priest before you leave.
A general confession is a confession of all the sins that one has committed throughout his or her lifetime (or over a prolonged period of time). These are usually done in moments of major life transition for the purposes of encountering the mercy of God in a significant way. The practice of reviewing a significant portion of your life with the Lord can be a helpful practice for recognizing where we stand in need of God’s mercy today. If you would like to know more about the spiritual practice of making a general confession, or you desire to schedule a time to make a general confession, please contact the parish offices and ask to speak to a priest.
No matter what you confess, the priest is bound under the pain of excommunication never to share what you have confessed or even to act on the substance of your confession. Thus, even if a priest were to remember that you committed a certain sin, a priest is bound not to act on that knowledge. This is called the “seal of the confessional,” and the Church takes it very seriously.
Yes! Sin is ubiquitous—which means that priests are sinners too. Confession is necessary for all Catholics, including priests. Even though priests can absolve others, they cannot absolve themselves.
The precepts of the Church proscribe at least once a year. Certainly, you should go as often as you encounter grave sin, so as to ensure that you are in the state of grace.
Even if you have not committed moral sin, however, many disciples find it helpful to confess during the penitential seasons of the Church (i.e. Advent and Lent), once per month, or even weekly. St. John Paul II—one of the great saints of our generation—purportedly confessed to his spiritual director every day!