When the priest confessor doesn’t use the proper Form of Absolution. Wherein Fr. Z advises.

Everyone should go to confession regularly.

That said, sometimes it can happen that you will have a less than edifying experience of the priest confessor.  Do not fret!

This even happened to me, recently.  While out on the road, I stopped at a parish where I knew confessions were scheduled.  The priest in the confessional was a missionary from India.  As you know, in these USA during the summer we have many visiting priests going about making mission appeals.

This priest did not say the proper form of absolution.  Instead, he gave me a blessing.  Three times I asked for absolution.  I even said the words for him.  He eventually came through.

Will that discourage me from going to confession?  Not a whit.   Of course, as a priest, I can bring a bit more ammo to the moment, if you get my drift.  I am not easily shaken.

Still, I informed the pastor of the parish (standing in the church’s entry way) about my experience and left the situation in his hands.  The priest in the confessional, of course, cannot in any way speak about what happened behind that closed door, but I had – nevertheless – to inform the pastor of the parish about what happened in his confessional.

The matter and form of sacraments is no small matter.  Invalid matter or form is serious.  That is what prompts this post.

What happened to me on Saturday is not an isolated experience.  I know that priests can back me up on this.  As a matter of fact, some time back a priest reader wrote in once with this experience, in response to one of my ASK FATHER posts:

I have gone to Confession in [different Western languages] to Indian priests and I have experienced on many – the majority – of occasions that they do not say the words of absolution.  Instead there is often a sort of flowery prayer ending with the words “and so Jesus forgives you” or “God forgives you.”  [I didn't even get that.  I got a blessing.]

I think the problem is often that they do not know the formula.  If corrected, it becomes clear that they do not know the form.  [Yep.] I’ve tried telling it to them, but that doesn’t go over to well.

A fair number of the Indian priests serving in the U.S. are not even of the Latin rite, they’re Syro-Malabar – some have not celebrated a Roman Mass before coming here, thus they import from what they know, or they make it up as they go along.

It has come to the point that I avoid going to Indian priests for confession.  Also, some priests may not know the form in English or Latin – perhaps a nice gift for parishes/priests would be a nicely framed card for the confessional with the necessary prayers.

Yes, dear readers, this can happen.  We live in a fallen world and not every priest out there, over the last few decades, has been perfectly trained up.  Thus, we learn not to freak out.

Fathers, if you are pastors of parishes, parish priests, and you have a missionary priest visiting, and you put him to work hearing confessions, I suggest that you mention that in your parish, all priests use exactly the form of absolution which the Church has approved. You should have a printed card in the confessional with the approved formula in Latin and in English (and perhaps in Spanish, etc.).  Perhaps diocesan bishops might think about directing that parish priests remind visiting priests from outside the diocese that, ’round these parts we say the black words and do the red stuff.

“But Father! But Father!”, you might be thinking, “isn’t this sort of… insulting?  Assuming that priests don’t know the form of absolution?  Telling them something so fundamental?”

We can’t assume that all visiting priests are going to get it right.  You just can’t.  Better safe than sorry.

Lay people, if this happens to you, ask the priest – politely – to say the words of absolution.  Keep in mind that older priests will be saying the form of absolution while you are reciting your Act of Contrition.  In most cases, they will wait with the actual form, “I absolve you…” when you have finished.  But, sometimes, they don’t.  In that case, if you don’t hear the priest say “I absolve you…” you can – politely – ask if the priest gave you absolution.  You might add that you didn’t hear it.  If you get the sense that the priest simply did not just at any time the correct form, do not lose your cool.  Sometimes a priest will send signals that he is a bit dodgy or unsure.  For example, if he tells you something that is clearly a mortal sin is not a sin, or if he subtly (or not) runs you down for a reciting “laundry list”, or even if he doesn’t give a penance or the penance is something like “think nice thoughts about someone”, you may be in the presence of a guy who has either made the choice that he knows better than the Church or he has not been well-trained.  Again, don’t lose your cool.  Inform the pastor – politely.  If the priest is the pastor, you may have to inform the diocesan bishop.  Did I mention don’t lose your cool? Be polite?  It is nearly unimaginable that the priest is straying from what ought to be done out of malice or ill intent.

If you are pretty sure that you were not absolved, freak thou thyself not out.  If there is another priest available, tell him what happened, make your confession, get absolved, and go on your way whistling a happy tune (after leaving the church, of course).  Otherwise, at your next opportunity, make your confession.

Sacraments have matter and form.  The matter of the Sacrament of Penance (Reconciliation) is the telling of the sins.  The form is the absolution spoken by the validly ordained priest who has faculties.  If the priest does not say a valid form of absolution, then the Sacrament of Penance has not been celebrated.  Some other sort of grace-filled moment might have taken place, but it won’t have been the Sacrament of Penance.

Finally, in the document Redemptionis Sacramentum we read at the end:

Complaints Regarding Abuses in Liturgical Matters

[183.] In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist [all sacraments, actually] will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favouritism.

[184.] Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.

I would add to this that, in a parish, start with the pastor – if feasible – and work your way up.

And always always always say a prayer for any priest who might be doing something a little dodgy.

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34 Responses to When the priest confessor doesn’t use the proper Form of Absolution. Wherein Fr. Z advises.

  1. Rachel K says:

    We have an Indian Syro-Malabar rite priest running our parish at present. He is not designated Parish Priest and is a Carmelite . He has been with us for four years or so and made diligent efforts when he first arrived to learn the Latin Rite Mass, being quite open about his unfamiliarity with it. He then very soon after had to learn the changes to the text! I have not been to confession with him, so can’t vouch for his practice there, being more familiar with the local Opus Dei priests who always give the absolution as prescribed, often in Latin! By the way, our local Opus Dei centres have the Act of Contrition printed on card in the confessional, one side in Latin the other in English. I think this is subtle way of correcting and forming good confession practice.
    The Indian priest is a good, diligent, hard working priest. There are often signs with him of difference in understanding or experience though, which are not doctrinal but cultural. I think it can be difficult to understand these differences.
    Personally, I am very grateful that this priest is here to minister to us, the alternative being a priestless parish in a shared situation with our neighbouring parish.

  2. danhorse says:

    I am a member of a parish in Eastern Oregon and we currently have two Indian priests serving. I am happy to report that they both know and administer the correct form of absolution. We have exclusively had missionary priests in our parish for the last six years, mostly from Nigeria, because our parishes are remote and we do not have an abundance of American priests. All have served well and are sticklers for proper form and I have never experienced anything to the contrary with them, but I can’t say the same about all of the American priests I’ve been to Confession with; they are the only ones, in my experience (and really, it hasn’t happened often), who have ad libbed the words of absolution.

    I know that your post wasn’t classifying all foreign priests as not using proper form but rather as a good reminder for us to be aware of what the priest is actually saying during the prayer of absolution and to listen (and not zone out!). The Indian priest and the people of the parish you visited this past weekend are very fortunate that Fr. Z went to Confession there that day! I think that your mentioning this problem is a great service.

    As an aside, what I have found interesting while going to Confession with our foreign priests is that at times, it is difficult to understand everything they say during Confession, depending on their accents and how new they are to the US, but the words of absolution they speak loud and clear. I have always felt that was a real grace.

    Thanks for all you do, Father! God bless!

  3. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Thank you for your sage advice: “freak thou thyself not out”.

    Thank you, also, for your reasoned explanation of what otherwise we might be tempted to take as deliberate malfeasance.

  4. iteadthomam says:

    This has happened to me with two Indian priests. I would like to think it is simply that they don’t know the langauge but if they were taught about how important the formula of absolution is in their own native country I would think they would make the effort to learn the formula when they come to the U.S. It really makes me wonder what are they teaching them in their seminaries. This is a major transgression against people like me who are very scrupulous and find it very painful to go to confession to begin with in fear that I will somehow invalidate it. It hurts even more when a priest invalidates the confession.

    I get what you are saying Father Z about keeping your cool and I want to but it is hard when I feel like I have been spiritual abused by such priests when this happens. [As I said, above, don't freak out. They aren't doing this to harm you. Just find another priest.] I don’t expect most to really understand though, unless they have experienced the torture of scrupulosity in their soul. Thankfully, going to confession is finally getting easier for me but no thanks to priests such as these who only served to make things worse.

  5. Facta Non Verba says:

    Something similar happened to me twice with an American priest. I didn’t know who was in the confessional, otherwise I would not have confessed to him the second time. At the time for the Act of Contrition, he just asked me, “so, are you sorry for your sins?” When I answered yes, he told me, “You are forgiven. Go in peace.” [FAIL! If that is what he said.] I left the confessional in a semi state of shock, trying to put my finger on what was wrong. I didn’t go repeat the confession to a different priest, and I have now forgotten what I confessed.

  6. Catholic Student-at-Law says:

    This happened to me last weekend. Our parish priest is on sick leave, and a visiting non-diocesan priest is covering the parish for the next 6 weeks. We are a rural parish, and about 1.5h from the next parish.

    The priest did not use the form of absolution for my confession. I asked nicely, but he seemed confused (I think there is a language barrier). I left the confessional and intend to go to the nearest city over next Saturday when they have regular confessions. My question is- do I need to re-confess the same sins? Or were they forgiven despite the lack of proper absolution? [If I were you, I would simply make my confession again to a reliable priest.]

    Thank you for your constant reminder that we need to go to confession!

  7. Priam1184 says:

    I have had the experience of a particular priest who doesn’t elicit or even mention an Act of Contrition in the Confessional but does use the proper form of absolution. I usually just end up going out into the church and recite the Act of Contrition before beginning my penance, but I have always wondered whether or not that makes any difference. [No. Probably not, if you have communicated your sorrow for your sins and desire to amend your life.]

  8. Imrahil says:

    Wise advice. Thank you!

    That said, if it really is about lack of training, I cannot help but wonder what part of “I absolve thee from thy sins in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” is so hard to memorize, and/or why regents do not see to it that candidates for priesthood learn the thing in their studies. It seems like training a truck-driver without ever teaching him to turn around the key for the motor to start. Oh dear.

    As to another thing, about the “not assigning a penance”, is that strictly necessary for validity? [No. It is not required for validity. However, it is a standard practice that should not be omitted, both because of its salutary nature and the expectation on the part of the faithful. The process or format for confession that has developed over the centuries developed for good reasons, from the immense experience of the Church, the greatest expert on humanity there is and the only authority when it comes to how the sacraments Christ instituted are to be celebrated.] I’m trying to remind priests if they forget, but sometimes, as a penitent, one is in emotional distress before being absolved and forgets about it, or one only remember after absolution has already been given.

    On a more positive note, I have repeatedly encountered priests who gave some advice along the line of “thinking nice thoughts about somebody” and then add, “and as a penance, say an Our Father and a Hail Mary” (or whatever). Always good to know what the actual penance is. [Right. "Nice thoughts" = advice. ]

  9. TWF says:

    The point about Syro-Malabar priests is interesting. In the Eastern and Oriental traditions (Byzantine and Syriac at any rate), absolution is always given in the third person…something akin to “and through me his unworthy minister may God forgive you of all your sins…”. I don’t know what formula is currently approved for the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, which uses a variant of the East Syriac Rite (Chaldean / Assyrian patrimony), but it very well may be in the Third Person, with the priest invoking God’s forgiveness. This is perfectly valid within those particular Eastern and Oriental Churches, but obviously problematic within a Latin context.

    My first pastor, when I was received into the Church a decade ago, was from India and in fact had been baptized and confirmed in the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. He was ordained, however, for the Latin Church and thus his seminary training was Roman. He was extremely orthodox and always used the longer form of absolution – the one that explicitly mentions lifting excommunications and censures.

    I’ve had several cases of incorrect formulas. I’ve had both French Canadian and African priests, serving in English parishes and struggling somewhat with the language, say “I forgive” rather than “I absolve”. The same thing happened a couple months ago in the Dominican Republic where the priest decided to “cater” to me by absolving me in English rather than in Spanish and used the same incorrect verb: I forgive. I did politely point out to him that in English we say “I absolve” but his response was simply “it means the same thing”. I know he was well meaning, but it still left me leaving the confessional with doubt.

  10. FrHorning says:

    Same experience. I am a pastor of a parish. I have had help from Missionary priests and they did not say the valid form of absolution. Before they hear Confessions now, I meet with them and make it clear that the Church’s form of absolution is essential for the Sacrament.

  11. In the confessional of my nearly 125-year-old church, there a wonderful letter-sized laminated card that has everything a priest might need to celebrate the sacrament. Though remarkably durable, is slowly wearing out. I’d love to have place to purchase these from and a supply on-hand for my brother priests – perhaps this crowd could help point the way? [It would be interesting to have good photos of those cards! ]

  12. andia says:

    Honestly Father, I wish I could go to you for confession. Thank you for saying it’s ok to go to confession if you have questions about what happened in your last attempt being valid. God Bless you.

  13. acardnal says:

    I have been to confession to an Indian priest here on temporary assignment in a diocese of the USA. He is a Latin Rite priest (not a Syro-Malankara or Syro-Malabar Rite) and he did use the proper Form. Thanks be to God.

    Unfortunately, I have also been to American Latin Rite priests – one a diocesan pastor and one a Franciscan TOR – both of whom did not use the correct Form of absolution. They both said, “I absolve you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The did not say “I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” On the second or third occasion of this happening I knew it was not inadvertent behavior or forgetfulness on their part, and I finally spoke up and mentioned it to them; they both seemed to be unaware of what they were saying or doing wrong.

    Now I in the habit of listening very carefully to the words of absolution used by the priest.

  14. Peg Demetris says:

    Father Z – What happens when a confessor tells you after you confess your sins “Why are you wasting my time with this nonsense. Nothing you confessed is a mortal sin! You should only confess once a year not every week.” This recently happened to a friend and I also have come across this in my own life. Its devastating to hear in the confessional that you may be waiting the priests time. Especially when NO ONE else is waiting to receive the sacrament. In all I have learned, confession of sins, even minimal is required of a repenting soul. I forgive the priest that did this to me. I just don’t understand that if we are called to confess our sins, and we DO, why are we being turned away in the confessional? I was absolved of my sins, but left with a feeling of confusion. I know that our Lord in the Eucharist washes away venial sins but the shower of grace through confession to me, is the two fold Grace of God. One being the washing away and the other forgiveness. In many times I have also requested a spiritual adviser from the particular priest on many occasions, who once again used “I don’t have time”. He wasn’t alone. Most of whom I have asked this have said, no. I don’t have time. Although this entire experience has taught me, the greatest spiritual adviser IS the Holy Spirit, I seem to be missing something. Help.

    [You are free to tell your concerns about confessors to the local diocesan bishop. However, "spiritual direction" is a different matter. Work with the priest's schedule.]

  15. Uxixu says:

    Sancta Missa web store (Biretta Books) has the St John Cantius cards with the old form:

    http://birettabooks.com/go/webstore/product/rite_of_confession_handy_business_card_size/

    Appear to be business card sized rather than letter sized, though.

    [Hard to tell.]

  16. Matt R says:

    Our associate pastor is a priest of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (whose founder will be beatified, by the way!). He is a great confessor and uses the English form “God the Father of Mercies…” In fact, it’s nice having him in the parish. He’s largely been steered away from in the last six months of any bad practices that he picked up (not his fault by any stretch and more obnoxious than bad anyways…), and he always carefully reads from the missal and his cheat seat at the sedilia. The Franciscan priest from Indian who heard my confession a few weeks ago said he was going to absolve me, and I presume he did…but I yearned for Latin to be used instead of his vernacular.

    What’s troubling is that Syro-Malabar priests serving in this country have just as much training as their Latin counterparts (well, at least those of a certain age…).

  17. Netmilsmom says:

    Finding confessions is difficult. In my area for the most part, there are parishes that offer 45 minutes of confessions on Saturday and if you get in, you are blessed. So getting a Priest that is “creative” with pennaces, is frustrating. I haven’t been to a Priest that skips absolution, but the “see this movie” or “here is a pamphet” pennances get me down.

  18. Peg Demetris says:

    Thank you Father Z

  19. Imrahil says:

    As to what the dear TWF said,

    “forgiving” and absolving are, while I’m not sure as to validity questions, certainly not the same thing: There is a sense in which this is even more off the mark than the “God forgives you” or “may God forgive you” self-creations. These, while invalid, at least play to the intended sense of the Sacrament. But while absolution is entrusted to priests (with faculties), forgiveness is God’s alone (that Pharisean remark is in itself not incorrect).

    Hence the often heard more extensive (and I believe post-liturgical reform, but correct) formula:

    “I absolve thee from thy sins in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
    R: “Amen.”
    “Jesus Christ has forgiven thee thy sins. Go in peace.
    R: “Thanks be to God the Lord.”

    That’s the correct order of things. The priest does not forgive for his own person; he distributes the forgiveness of Christ, which we call absolution.

  20. frjim4321 says:

    I’ll have to admit that when it comes to the orations found in the Vox Clara 2010 product I do what can to correct it on the fly; but with respect to the words of absolution I don’t alter a syllable.

    For dear parishioners and others suffering from scrupulosity altering the words of absolution could be truly an act of violence.

    Somebody talked me into using a “simple form” of absolution for use with children but I don’t do that any more. My logic is that if a person is not able to understand the proper formula for absolution they are probably not able to understand the sacrament itself at the most elementary level.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

    [For 90% of that! o{]:¬) ]

  21. frjim4321 says:

    I’m putting this in my calendar.

    This could be worth a few cigars!

  22. I have been to several Indian priests over the years and they have all used the proper form and words of absolution. Like you, Father Z, I would have no problem in saying, “These are the words to use…” We are lucky that in our area the priests are generally obedient to the liturgical laws. In other places I have been assigned, that was certainly not the case!

  23. guatadopt says:

    My son made his first confession last year (he’s 9). I usually take him every 2 months or so. A few months back he came out of confession and told me that the priest didn’t say the normal prayer of absolution…he knows it by heart already. Apparently, from what I gather, the priest may have used a short form for kids. I just told him the priest meant well and probably thought since he was so young that he didn’t want to use the longer prayer. My kid’s response? “That’s confusing. He should just say the normal prayer from the book”. :)

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

    [For the boy, of course.]

  24. Imrahil says:

    Why do I have the feeling that if the formula were Latin anyway, priests would worry less about people understanding them?

    They’re formulas. They’re official acts that produce their effects. They as such have nothing to do with pastoral care to the parishioners (the sacraments have, but not their forms). As an aside, I have yet to see a military officer deviate from the “formula” for promoting a subordinate.

  25. Bosco says:

    Dear Father Z.,
    Just so I don’t torment myself with a case of paralysing scrupulosity and other assorted self-wracking torment, I always end every confession by saying ” I am sorry for these and all the sins of my past life especially for sins against (fill-in the Commandment, etc.). [Sounds like a good thing to do. That also helps the priest know that you are finished. Some people just fall silent and Father sits there, waiting for the "big one", not knowing you are done. People, let the priest know when you are done!] I am given absolution following these words and my act of contrition.
    My memory is like Swiss cheese and I’d have a hard time remembering which sins I’d confessed yesterday much less months or years ago.
    Wouldn’t a subsequent confession where the correct formula for absolution was pronounced following my declaration (above) take care of any irregular absolutions (or lack thereof) in past confessions? [Confession isn't the rack. We should do our best. In a case wherein I knew that I hadn't been absolved, I would make a confession of sins as best I could including what I had said the other time. That what I would do.]

  26. Michael_Thoma says:

    Unfortunately, as a reverse of this scenario, many Eastern priests illicitly use the Latin or a latinized formula within their own Churches, due to being lax or being taught incorrectly.

    The priest should use the correct formula in the location he is serving, if in a Roman parish, with Roman parishioners, use the Roman form; if in a Byzantine parish, use the Byzantine form, etc.

    For educations sake, the Syro-Malabar form, when not latinized follows the Chaldean form, the essence is: “Lord, let Thy grace and mercy descend and absolve Thy servant from all sins”, the actual words of the absolution are “you are absolved”, not “I absolve you”.

    Traditionally there are two Syro-Malankara forms – one for absolution for laity, another for clergy – which follows the Traditional Antiochian/West Syriac/Maronite form:

    The priest lays his right hand on the head of the penitent and says:

    May God have mercy upon you, and may He guide you to everlasting life through the authority of priesthood which was entrusted by our Lord Jesus Christ to His disciples who, in turn, entrusted it to their successors until it was given me; I who am weak and sinful, absolve you, brother (sister) of all the sins that you have confessed and are repentant of them, as well as of all the transgressions which have escaped your memory in the Name of the Father +, amen, and of the Son +, amen and of the Holy Spirit + for everlasting life. Amen.

    Prayer of Absolution for the Clergy

    May God, Who blessed his holy disciples, bless you. May He preserve you from all evil deeds and perfect you in the gracious ones that you may be the keeper of His commandments and the fulfiller of His laws. May He make you a chosen vessel that is fit for the service of His glory. May you enjoy peace in Him, and may He be pleased with you and according to His Good Will, may you be blessed, absolved and consecrated, in the Name of the Father +, amen, and of the Son +, amen and of the Holy Spirit + for everlasting life. Amen.

    This being said, in the Eastern Churches, there is less of a “scrupulosity” on the words being dotted and crossed exactly, most would say if the priest intended to give the absolution, and the penitent to receive it, the rest is up to God.

    [All of this point to the beautiful clarity and precision of the Roman mind behind the Roman Rite. When the form is followed, you don't have to scratch your head or wonder what happened.]

  27. Gail F says:

    This has only happened to me twice, both from different “ordinary American priests.” The first time I was so surprised that I just left, and figured (rightly or wrongly) that he INTENDED to absolve me, so I would trust God that I was absolved — which is how I usually deal with one-time liturgical weirdness. I am not going to fret about them, but trust God that if it was the priest’s weird doings and not mine, He would be merciful to me. (Habitual things that are not right is a different story, then I know they’re happening and have an obligation to do something or go elsewhere). The second time I was very flustered when the priest just gave me a blessing, and I said, “but you didn’t absolve me,” and then he did.

    I think I know why he didn’t absolve me, but really it’s not my job to assign motives (good or bad) and they don’t particularly matter. Confession has a form; that form includes the words of absolution and not just any old words the priest likes better. It can be difficult for a layperson to judge when he or she is being scrupulous vs. simply expecting what the Church is supposed to offer, I wish (like Fr. Jim above) priests would just follow the rubrics. They have plenty of room to express their personalities, preferences, etc., OUTSIDE of the liturgies.

  28. Rouxfus says:

    I once had a situation where our associate pastor used his own formula of absolution, saying “… your sins are forgiven” instead of saying “I absolve you”. I went out to perform my penance and then realized I needed to go back in, after he finished up with the last penitent who went in after me. When I asked father why he didn’t give the proper formula of absolution he told me that he didn’t believe he had the power to forgive sin, but when I respectfully, and nearly in tears, insisted, he relented to my request that he give me absolution using the prescribed form. (He is a good and holy priest, but was formed and ordained as an Episcopal minister and crossed the Tiber as part of JPII’s pastoral provision.)

    In subsequent reading up on the subject, I discovered this well-timedQ&A on Zenit from 2008, which was about the time this happened:

    http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/missing-or-faulty-forms-of-absolution

    which says that what this priest did was a particularly serious grave crime, an offense called “simulating a sacrament”: [That made a shiver run down my spine.]

    If, as has sadly happened at least once, a priest undergoing a spiritual crisis deliberately attempts to deceive the faithful by reciting a blessing or some other formula instead of absolution, then he commits the very grave crime of simulating a sacrament.

    This particular case of simulation is extremely rare and so is not explicitly mentioned in canon law. However, if a priest doing so was sufficiently sane of mind to know what he was doing, then he could be punished with suspension and other just penalties.

    It sounds to me that this potentially tragic situation may be not as rare as it should be. The priest, a year later, told me that he was grateful I had said something to him about this, which had been a catalyst for him to get himself out of a muddle.

  29. Gregg the Obscure says:

    I too am in the habit of saying “for these sins and all my past sins I am truly sorry”, as a cue to the priest that I’m not adding something more. The one odd thing that happens more than once-in-a-while is for the priest to give advice and a penance and then tell me to say the act of contrition once I’ve left the confessional, and immediately absolving me. It’s likely because the parish where I usually confess has confessions every day and always has a steady stream of penitents and they want to minimize the number of folks who don’t get to confess before the priest has to leave the confessional. The best thing about confessing at this parish, though, is that adoration is going on during morning confession and immediately after the priest finishes up in the box, there’s Benediction.

  30. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Well, obviously a dual rite priest assigned to a Latin Rite parish should be using the local rite, unless he’s doing duty over at a parish from his home rite, or he’s out and about and has his choice.

    But it is clear that both forms of the absolution noted above do have the same performative element; one of them says “I absolve you of your sins” and the other one says “Be absolved of your sins.” There’s a lot of surrounding stuff, but it’s there. So if a situation happens when we’re out and about, and we would be going to Confession with a priest from another rite, it’s good to know to listen for that.

    Of course, it would have been nice if we’d have learned something about this stuff in school. I wonder if there’s any kind of Big Book o’ Catholic Stuff from Other Rites that one could get, so that one could reduce misunderstandings? I know there are books like that for other Christian groups, but I’ve never seen one for intra-Catholic knowledge.

  31. Philip Gerard Johnson says:

    In case it helps anyone, I learned the hard way (by being scrupulous and calling every priest I know afterwards) that Maronites validly absolve in the 2nd Person (“You are absolved…”) and Eastern Catholics validly absolve in the 3rd Person (“The servant of God is absolved…).

  32. Frank_Bearer says:

    The local parish here has a sign on the screen on the confessional that says:

    “Act of Contrition: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

    I have also gotten the: “Are you sorry for your sins? You are forgiven. Go in peace.” at this place. [Which, if that is all the priest says, would be invalid.]

  33. La Mamma says:

    Our Pastor always says ‘…I absolve you from ALL your sins…’. I’ve never mentioned it because he uses all the correct words as well as that ‘all’.

    Now, Pharisee that I am, I wonder – is it valid? Should I mention it?

    Thanks, FrZ.

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