Confessions are heard weekdays at 8:45 a.m. and on Saturdays from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is sin?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that sin is “an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.” (1871) Sin entered the world through the disobedience of Adam; because of his sin, human nature became wounded. Every person is thus born in a state of original sin. Because of this, we are tempted to commit personal sins. Unfortunately, because of today’s culture, even many Catholics think that they never sin. But the Bible reminds us:“If we say, ‘We are without sin,’ we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 Jn 1:8)
What are the different kinds of sin?
Catholic teaching distinguishes between mortal and venial sin. Mortal sin “destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law.” (CCC, 1855) One who dies with an unrepented mortal sin cannot go to heaven. Venial sin is a less serious offense that wounds, but does not destroy, one’s relationship with God. Three conditions must be present for a sin to be mortal: grave matter, full knowledge, and deliberate consent. Grave matter means an objectively serious act contrary to the moral law. Full knowledge means that the person is aware of the sinful character of the act. Deliberate consent means that the person truly chooses to engage in the sinful act. An example of a mortal sin might be: choosing not to attend Mass on a Sunday, without a good reason, despite knowing that attending Sunday Mass is a serious obligation. An example of a venial sin might be: cursing mildly or without thinking.
How can my sins be forgiven?
Jesus came into the world precisely in order to save us from our sins. He accomplished this through His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. The saving effects of His sacrifice are transmitted to each of us through the sacraments. Through Baptism, we are freed from the guilt of original sin.Through Penance, we are freed from the sins that we commit after Baptism.
How often should I go to confession?
Church law requires that every Catholic who has reached the age of reason (typically age seven) must confess his or her mortal sins at least once a year. In practice, however, it is a very good idea to confess as soon as possible after one has committed a mortal sin. It is also a very good idea to confess one’s venial sins. Frequent confession is a sure path to heaven. For most people, a good rule of thumb is to confess once a month.
Why should I confess my sins to a priest, who is also a sinner?
By virtue of his ordination and the permission of the diocesan bishop, a priest is empowered to forgive sins by saying the words of absolution. As he does in the administration of all the sacraments, the priest acts in the person of Christ in the Sacrament of Penance. If one makes a good confession, if he is truly sorry for the sins he has committed, and if he truly intends to change his life, he can be certain that when the priest says “I absolve you,” his sins have been forgiven. This certainty is a wonderful gift that so many people in the world long for. That’s why most people feel a great sense of peace when they leave the confessional. Priests do their best to be compassionate and merciful when hearing confessions. Remember that every priest knows what it’s like to be on the other side of the confessional as well!
Can I receive the Sacrament of Penance if I am divorced?
Many Catholics are under a misconception that a civil divorce in and of itself makes someone incapable of receiving the sacraments. The Church recognizes that in certain circumstances civil divorce may be justified, especially when it is the only way to ensure certain legal rights. However, a civil divorce has no effect upon whether a marriage is valid in the eyes of the Church. Unless and until an annulment has been issued by the Church, one is not free to pursue marriage with another individual. Someone who is divorced and who has not civilly married someone else may approach the sacraments under the usual conditions, including the Sacrament of Penance. Someone who has civilly married another person without obtaining an annulment from the Church is in a much different situation. Such a person should ordinarily not approach the sacraments. We urge anyone in this situation to speak to a priest as soon as possible to explore the options that are available to resolve it.
Is my confession confidential?
As the Catechism says, “every priest who hears confessions is bound under very severe penalties to keep absolute secrecy regarding the sins that his penitents have confessed to him. He can make no use of knowledge that confession gives him about penitents’ lives. This secret, which admits of no exceptions, is called the ‘sacramental seal,’ because what the penitent has made known to the priest remains ‘sealed’ by the sacrament.” (1467) A priest may not violate the sacramental seal even to save his own or another’s life.
How should I prepare for the Sacrament of Penance?
Good preparation requires some time spent in silent prayer and an examination of conscience. A good way of doing this is to meditate upon the two Greatest Commandments. Here is one way of doing this:
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matt 22:37)
Have I treated people, events, or things as more important than God?
Have my words, actively or passively, put down God, the Church, or people?
Do I go to Mass every Sunday and on Holy Days of Obligation?
Do I avoid, when possible, work that impedes worship to God, joy for the Lord’s Day, and proper relaxation of mind and body?
Do I look for ways to spend time with family or in service on Sunday?
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt 22:39)
Do I show my parents and lawful superiors due respect?
Have I harmed myself or another through physical, verbal, or emotional means, including gossip or manipulation of any kind?
Have I respected the physical and sexual dignity of others and of myself?
Have I taken or wasted time or resources that belonged to another?
Have I gossiped, told lies, or embellished stories at the expense of another?
Have I honored my spouse with my full affection and exclusive love?
Am I content with my own means and needs, or do I compare myself to others unnecessarily?
What is the procedure for making my confession?
1) Once it is your turn, enter the confessional and either sit or kneel in the place provided.
2) It is customary to make the Sign of the Cross and either to say “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” or “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.”
3) Tell the priest approximately how long it has been since your last confession.Then tell him your sins.Remember that you must tell him every mortal sin that you have not already confessed.Tell him the number of times you committed each sin as best as you can remember.
4) Once you are finished, the priest may ask you some questions and/or give you some advice.He will propose a penance for you to undertake (usually some prayers to say).If for some reason you feel you cannot reasonably complete this penance, let the priest know.
5) The priest will then ask you to make an act of contrition. There is no required formula for this, but here is one possibility:
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.
6) The priest will then say the prayer of absolution, to which you should respond: Amen.
7) The Priest may then say: Give thanks to the Lord for he is good.
You should respond: His mercy endures forever.
8) After the priest’s words of dismissal, you may leave the confessional.You should spend some time in silent prayer thanking God for His mercy.If your penance is to say some prayers, this is the best time to say them.