From a reader:
Today, during Holy Mass, I went to confession. The priest told me to say my Act of contrition, then he would absolve me. So, as I started to say it, he began to whisper something in Latin. Hopefully it was the absolution, but I do not recall if he said Ego te absolve a peccatis tuis in nomine Patris et Filli, et Spiritus Sancti. I couldnt really tell because I was sating the act of contrition at the same time. When I finished, he was already done. Father, do you think he did say it. I pretty sure, because its at St. Margaret Mary in Oakland, and it is ran by ICKSP. Thank you for your time and consideration.
First, any one reading this should not be surprise that a person could go to confession during Mass. This is an old custom, and recently the Holy See said that it is not only permitted to hear confessions during Mass, it is at times a good idea. We need to foster this sacrament.
Second, to the question:
For a priest to be able to give you absolution, he must be sure that you are properly disposed to be absolved. You must display either attrition (sorrow for sin because you fear punishment) or contrition (sorrow because you offended God). Once the priest is certain that you are adequately disposed, then the priest should not delay giving absolution. Some priests take this very literally.
Thus, some older priests (and this priest too) begin to recite in a low voice or whisper the formula of absolution as soon as he has heard part of the act of contrition which expresses attrition ("I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell").
I am guessing that this is what the priest is doing. However, I think he should probably say the sacramental form at the end more clearly when the pentitent has finished the act of contrition.
If in the confessional you are in doubt about whether the priest has absolved you, by all means respectfully ask the priest before you get out of the confessional. Remember point #15 of Fr. Z’s 20 Tips For Making A Good Confession.