As Catholics, we have a great gift in the Sacrament of Penance. This sacrament offers us the unique and powerful opportunity to reconcile with God by confessing our sins, asking for forgiveness, committing to avoiding those sins in the future, and receiving God’s mercy.
The questions and answers below help to explain why Confession is such a beautiful gift that Jesus left for the Church.
Saturday | 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Due to the current situation surrounding COVID-19, Confessions are currently taking place in the chapel (not the confessionals). Please enter through the Narthex doors, follow all posted signage and cones, and remain 6ft apart while in line. You must wear a mask.
Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion.
What is Confession?
One of the greatest gifts Jesus gave us!
Most people know John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…that everyone who believes in him might not perish, but might have eternal life.”
The reality is that God already loves you so much that he made the ultimate sacrifice for you — giving up His only son. But a lot of the time, we don’t love God back. A lot of times, we don’t live like God made us to live. A lot of times, even though God wants us to know His love, we just choose to live outside of that love, whether just on the fringes or miles away from it.
Confession is the place where we get to say, “God, I’m giving you permission to love me. I am giving you permission to do what you want to do: forgive me.”
We do this by assessing how we have been living and then confessing the places where we have been saying “no” to God. If we truly come sorry for what we have done and with the intention to not do it again, God pours out his abundant mercy and grace upon us in this Sacrament.
Why do I have to tell my sins to a priest? Can't I just tell God?
The priest (who hears our Confession) gives us the forgiveness of God in Jesus’ Name. We believe this is possible, and necessary, because of what Jesus told the apostles (from whom our bishops and priests have descended) in the Gospel of John, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (John 20:22-23).
While it is true only God can forgive our sins and provide us the mercy we seek in the Sacrament of Penance, Christ clearly lays out the role of the bishops and priests as the instrument to bestow this grace by ‘forgiving sins.’ As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “When he celebrates the sacrament of Penance, the priest is fulfilling the ministry of Good Shepherd who seeks the lost sheep, of Good Samaritan who binds up wounds, of the Father who awaits the prodigal son and welcomes him on his return, and of the just and impartial judge whose judgement is both just and merciful. The priest is the sign and the instrument of God’s merciful love for the sinner.” (CCC 1465).
It's been awhile since I've been to Confession...
Sometimes people are concerned because they don’t know what to say. The good news is that the priest can help you through it! The most important thing in going to Confession when you haven’t been for a while is to just go. It really isn’t complicated.
To be honest, when you have the inkling to get to Confession, it is usually connected to something that you know you’ve actually done and because the Holy Spirit is moving your heart. So you already know what you need to say. And God already knows what you need to say. And the priest won’t remember what it was that you needed to say after you’ve said it and he gives you absolution. So why worry?
But if you are still a little nervous, here are some steps:
Step One: Get a good examination of conscience. Here are some options »
Step Two: Ask the Holy Spirit to help you be honest with yourself as you read through the Examination of Conscience.
Step Three: Find out when and where the next available Confession is held.
Step Four (optional): Write down what you want to confess. It is helpful if you have figured out what the sin is “called” and include the estimated number of times you committed that particular sin.
Step Five: Show up at Confession location during Confession time.
Step Six: Walk in and begin your confession. For example, you could say “Bless me, Father. It’s been _________ long since my last Confession. Here are my sins…”. But if you forget, don’t worry! Just say: “I don’t remember what to say. Would you be able to help me through this?” or something similar. Remember, the priest is there to help you!
Step Seven: Listen to the priest and don’t be upset if his advice isn’t the most profound thing you’ve ever heard. He will give you something to “do” called a “penance” and it is meant to help you take your next steps forward after the Confession is over.
Step Eight: Leave the “Confession space” and do your penance and be joyful! After all, your sins are gone!
I always get nervous, what if I forget something?
That’s why it can be helpful to write down what you want to say, but if you accidentally forget to say something, be at peace. God knows that you had intended to say it. Just make sure that you mention the “thing” the next time you get to Confession. However, forgetting is different than intentionally hiding. Don’t hold stuff back in Confession. God wants to show you his mercy so truly open your heart to his forgiveness by admitting what you have done and being sorry for it. Trust us, you will feel lots better afterwards!
Do I get to go behind a screen or something?
Here at St. Francis, we do offer both face-to-face and behind-the-screen confessions. We encourage you to do whatever you are most comfortable with.
When could I go?
We have scheduled Confession every Saturday from 3:30pm – 4:30pm in the Reservation Chapel. There are also other Confession opportunities at our neighboring parishes. If it has been awhile or you feel like you need more “counseling” than what can be accomplished in a 3-5 minute Confession, then we recommend making an appointment with a priest. Simply call the parish office and they would be happy to assist you in setting something up.