Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes
University of Notre Dame Campus
Digital Photograph, Jean-Marie Lee, 2017
JML-PLOGS poetic commentary is below
21 Questions About Confession
1. Are Confession and penance the same thing?
Yes and No. Confession is the actual act of stating the sins committed. Penance is the formality of making a suffering/offering for the sins committed. Reconciliation/Confession/Penance are all terms used in English to define the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
2. What is the purpose of confession?
To receive absolution/forgiveness for sins committed.
3. How do you go to confession?
Find out your parish’s confession schedule or make an appointment. I recommend doing an examination of conscience. (Linked below) Talk to God through prayer and just listen. Bring your own Act of Contrition prayer page with you or memorize it. And just go into the confessional when it’s your turn and kneel down where the screen is and just say something like “Hello Father, my last confessions was a while ago.” And the priest will pretty much say okay and you’ll state your sins and the priest will tell you something maybe a Saint reference or biblical reference. He’ll give you a penance and you say the Act of Contrition and then you are given absolution. You can just leave or say thank you Father and then leave. After you leave the confessional you’ll do your penance.
4. Is confession embarrassing?
5. I’m afraid to go to confession because I don’t want anyone to see me in line but also I don’t want to go by myself— what should I do?
Possibly, remember that everyone is human and every human is a sinner. You can remind yourself that Pope Francis even goes to confession and the priest hearing his confession is probably one of his subordinates.
6. What if I committed a mortal sin and the priest won’t forgive me or give me a penance?
This is what the Cannon Law says— 843.1. Sacred ministers cannot deny the sacraments to those who seek them at appropriate times, are properly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them.— if you are denied absolution ask why and ask the priest about this Cannon Law. If there is no avail— find another priest and remember we’re all sinners.
7. What if I forgot what my penance was as I left confession?
So. I have forgotten my penance while walking out the door but the door had not fully closed so I just asked the priest for it again. If you walk fully out of the confessional and someone else has already gone into the confessional— wait. Possibly get back in line at the end of the line and hopefully it will come back to you before you have to go ask again.
8. How do I know what exactly to say in confession to not be too long winded?
So. If it’s your first confession in a long time it’s okay to be long winded. If you do the examination of conscience beforehand instead of just winging it — you’ll probably be better prepared.
9. Is confession like a counseling session?
No. Confession is more like talking to your father or the high school principal behind the screen about why you’re in the office. Instead of detention or suspension, you’ll be given a penance.
10. What if I’m female and I don’t want to tell my mortal sins to a man— are there female religious that can hear my confession?
Right now, only males can be priests so until there are female priests to hear confession— be brave and go to confession where you feel most comfortable.
11. How will I know if the priest speaks the same language as me?
This is a really great question. So. I did some research and depending on your diocese you can contact the priest at your parish to connect you with a priest that speaks your language. Also— worst case scenario— say your confession anyway because the church is UNIVERSAL and will take all confessions in any language. I’m assuming you’re using a translator to read this so you could also do the examination of conscience and translate your confession to the vernacular of the parish before hand and just give it to the priest in the confessional.
12. Can I go to communion if I’m planning to go to confession after mass?
Technically, you go to the general mass confession at every mass when you ask God in prayer to forgive you for your sins. If you committed a mortal sin then you would have to wait to go to confession before receiving communion.
13. What is a Mortal sin?
Sin refers to going against God’s Law especially the 10 Commandments. A mortal sin (Latin: peccatum mortale), in Catholic theology, is a gravely sinful act, which can lead to damnation if a person does not repent of the sin before death. A sin is considered to be "mortal" when its quality is such that it leads to a separation of that person from God's saving grace. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortal_sin
14. What is a Venial sin?
Sin refers to going against God’s Law especially the 10 Commandments. According to Roman Catholicism, a venial sin is a lesser sin that does not result in a complete separation from God and eternal damnation in Hell as an unrepented mortal sin would. A venial sin consists in acting as one should not, without the actual incompatibility with the state of grace that a mortal sin implies; they do not break one's friendship with God, but injure it. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venial_sin
15. How does penance work?
So, I’m assuming that this question refers to the penance given during a confession. Most likely, you’ll be given some prayers to say before leaving the church. Whatever your penance is just at least go and attempt it. If it’s one of those “lesson learning” penances — go back to the priest and discuss it with him.
16. If I get forgiveness directly from the person I offended do I still need to go to
Yes. But kudos for asking for forgiveness!
17. After confession— do my sins still reciprocate?
The snowball effect of sins does not end but confession clears your spirit and heals the situation. God can bring lots of good out of bad situations.
18. How often do I need to go to confession?
Technically, once a year according to Cannon Law. Mother Angelica says that all lay people should go once a month and that people who are religious sisters or brothers or priests should go once a week. I heard that on EWTN— MOTHER ANGELICA LIVE CLASSICS.
19. Can I be vague in making my confession?
Yes. The priest may ask about the context of the confession if it’s too vague but you don’t need to provide names or addresses.
20. What is the Act of Contrition?
The Act of Contrition is a prayer— 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.
21. Why do you personally go to confession?
So, as a side note— I did grow up going to Catholic Mass and my immediate family is Catholic. I received my first reconciliation when I was in first grade. From the age of 16-28, I greatly struggled with the various aspects of faith and church. I would not say entirely that I did not believe in God or a God but I definitely did not believe in the full trinity or church or religion or any community aspects or government or country. It was a “dark night” and abyss of despair and depression. From a global history perspective— one could say it was an effect of global economic recession and series of unfortunate events. I say— that stuff didn’t happen to everyone else and questioned— why? That “Why?”— question took me back into faith and a relationship with God. It helped me see the Catholic Church from the “foundation up” rather than a “stage” or “doorway” perspective. And to be totally honest I still wasn’t even an annual confession goer. I made a goal in late 2015 to start going to confession monthly for the HOLY YEAR OF MERCY. This was a weird thing— going to the confessional— but I stuck with the goal and the plan. I practiced my confession before hand and I did the examination of conscience. (Yes— I’m that big of a nerd. I didn’t want to mess up!) And finally one day, I went to the Cathedral and I stood in the confession line with my “sin notes” thumbing the prayer book for The Act of Contrition and I went to confession. Nobody laughed or stared and it was a relief. So, I just kept going back monthly. For me the aspect of personal reflection and prayer has been tremendously helpful especially with some of the curve balls life has thrown my way.
Thank you for all of the questions. I hope this information helps you in going to confession. When Our Lady of Lourdes appeared to Saint Bernadette, she requested a chapel to be built at Lourdes and for more people to make penance. My maternal grandmother, “Grandma Ryan,” shares her birthday with Saint Bernadette which is why Saint Bernadette and Lourdes and the gorotto have been influencential in my life.
In honor of Saint Bernadette Soubirous
For her Feast Day, April 16, 2018
Our Lady of Lourdes
A Good Examination of Conscience
The Holy Bible King James Version audio
The Old Testament
9. 1 Samuel
10. 2 Samuel
11. 1 Kings
12. 2 Kings
13. 1 Chronicles
14. 2 Chronicles
22. Song of Solomon
The New Testament
5. Acts (of the Apostles)
7. 1 Corinthians
8. 2 Corinthians
13. 1 Thessalonians
14. 2 Thessalonians
15. 1 Timothy
16. 2 Timothy
21. 1 Peter
22. 2 Peter
23. 1 John
24. 2 John
25. 3 John
LETS BRING PEACE EVERYDAY
Plog Post: Sunday, April 15, 2018