Fr. Z’s 20 Tips For Making A Good Confession

Fr. Z’s 20 Tips For Making A Good Confession   o{]:¬)

We should…

  1) …examine our consciences regularly and thoroughly;
  2) …wait our turn in line patiently;
  3) …come at the time confessions are scheduled, not a few minutes before they are to end;
  4) …speak distinctly but never so loudly that we might be overheard;
  5) …state our sins clearly and briefly without rambling;
  6) …confess all mortal sins in number and kind;
  7) …listen carefully to the advice the priest gives;
  8) …confess our own sins and not someone else’s;
  9) …carefully listen to and remember the penance and be sure to understand it;
10) …use a regular formula for confession so that it is familiar and comfortable;
11) …never be afraid to say something "embarrassing"… just say it;
12) …never worry that the priest thinks we are jerks…. he is usually impressed by our courage;
13) …never fear that the priest will not keep our confession secret… he is bound by the Seal;
14) …never confess "tendencies" or "struggles"… just sins;
15) …never leave the confessional before the priest has finished giving absolution;
16) …memorize an Act of Contrition;
17) …answer the priest’s questions briefly if he asks for a clarification;
18) …ask questions if we can’t understand what he means when he tells us something;
19) …keep in mind that sometimes priests can have bad days just like we do;
20) …remember that priests must go to confession too … they know what we are going through.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Jeff says:

    My favorites:

    “2) …wait our turn in line patiently;”

    LOL. I often see people–especially very old people–stand sneakily by the doors of the confessional and then dash in before the person in line can get up and go in! No one complains, but I often want to shout after them, “Don’t forget to confess that one, too!”

    “3) …come at the time confessions are scheduled, not a few minutes before they are to end;”

    The National Shrine usually has three or four confessors going during the scheduled hours. Once, I was in a long line and scheduled time was just about over when I went in. After confession, I told Father, “By the way, I thought you might like to know that I saw a priest leave just before I came in; you are now the only priest hearing confessions and there are about twenty people in line…”

    “Wheeeeeeeew!,” the priest whistled. “Thanks for telling me!”

    The good side is: confessions are almost always PACKED.

    “19) …keep in mind that sometimes priests can have bad days just like we do;”

    Indeed! I am so grateful to them. I often thank them for being priests afterward (briefly!). If a priest is a good confessor over time, after a while, I make it a point to mention that, too. It’s so easy to take priests for granted and to expect too much from them.

    And it’s easy for priests to forget or to have difficulty seeing how incredibly much good they do, even when they only do minimal things. They need a bit of encouragement and thanks. May they be rewarded for the good they do and forgiven for the evil!

    With that in mind, thanks so very much for being a Catholic with me and a priest for me, Fr. Zuhlsdorf. Mihi–NOBIS–bono!

  2. Jon says:


    A year and a half ago I was in line for confession during our parish’s Advent penance service. In front of me stood a 70 something little lady whom I didn’t recognize. She clutched a paper and was earnestly studying it. I couldn’t help but see that it was your Tips, printed from COL.

    As Jeff implied, you priests don’t hear it enough. Thanks for the work you do, even, as illustrated above, when you don’t know you’re doing it!

  3. Jon: What a GREAT thing to tell me!! Thanks!

  4. CaesarMagnus says:

    I hear that #8 is rather a problem in Italy.

  5. CaesarMagnus: Not only in Italy!

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