What is confession?
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the most unique, beautiful and ultimately victorious aspects of Catholicism. Jesus Christ, in His abundant love and mercy, established the Sacrament of Confession, so that we as sinners can obtain forgiveness for our sins and reconcile with God and the Church. The sacrament “washes us clean,” and renews us in Christ.
“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (John 20:21-23).
sounds great, but also sounds quite daunting!
When and where are confessions heard?
Confessions are heard by request after every Mass, weekday or weekend. As a penitent, you have the absolute right to anonymity, so a screen is in place in the Church to help put you at ease.
Remember, Priests, are human and sinful. Even I as a priest, go once a month for confession. So don't worry about what is heavy in your heart, there is nothing a priest hasn't heard before. Plus, I won't even judge you at all. After all, at the end of your confession, you are washed whiter than snow; the saint leaving the confessional where the Priest, a humble sinner, remains!
If you haven’t been to Confession in a while, the Catholic Church wants to welcome you back, and invite you to participate in this beautiful sacrament of healing. Take a step in faith. You’ll be surprised about how free you feel after taking part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. So many Catholics describe incredible feelings of peace, joy, relief, and love that they never expected. Jesus is calling you to experience His mercy in this way too.
Guilt from the sins we commit can make us feel all mixed up inside and cause us to lose our peace and joy. When we hear God’s forgiving words to us from the lips of the priest in Confession, a burden is lifted off our shoulders and we can again feel the peace of heart and soul that comes from being in a good relationship with God.
Every time we experience the Sacrament of Confession, God strengthens our will and our self-control to be able to resist the temptations that confront us in our lives. We become more resolute to follow God’s will and not our own whims.
It must also be said that whatever is discussed within the seal of Confession is in the absolute strictest confidence between you and a Priest. So serious, in fact, that any priest who shares ANY information heard within the confines of a Confession with ANYONE (including senior clergy and those in positions of authority such as police officers) is automatically excommunicated from God's grace and from the Church. A priest will sooner die than disclose anything revealed to them in Confession.
What do I need to do before coming to confession?
It helps if you use an examination of conscience to help you call to mind which sins you may have committed. Here's a link to one.
If you haven't been in a while, don't panic! Just let the priest know as soon as you enter the confessional and he will guide you through. Confession is essentially where we claim victory over Satan, through the death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ who took the punishment for our sins upon himself so that you and I would have salvation! We must NEVER deny the mercy of God; no sin is unforgivable.