Bp. Robert Finn on going to Confession

From the most excellent Bishop of Kansas City, MO, His Excellency Most Rev. Robert Finn.

This is on The Catholic Key blog.  My emphases.

Bishop Finn – Take the Family to Confession this Lent
Following is Kansas City – St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn’s column from the upcoming print edition of The Catholic Key:

Lent is an Important Time for Sacramental Confession

By Most Rev. Robert W. Finn

On Saturdays whenever I am in town, I try to be available at the Cathedral so that I can fulfill one of my greatest privileges as a priest – to hear the confessions of the faithful, and offer sacramental absolution

Hearing Confessions in the sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the most wonderful priestly acts – to represent Jesus in mercy. It is also a very significant responsibility to act as judge and as counselor in the work of reconciling sinners to God and the Church.

This sacrament was given to the Church by Jesus Christ as the normal means for us to receive the forgiveness of our sins, particularly our serious sins. At the same time, it is a powerful way to grow in virtue and holiness.

Pope Pius XII in Mystici Corporis (#88) urged frequent confession of venial sins “to ensure more rapid progress day by day in the path of virtue.”

According to the Pope, some of its benefits are these: Genuine self-knowledge is increased; Humility grows; Bad habits are corrected; Spiritual neglect and tepidity are resisted; The conscience is purified; The will strengthened; A helpful self-control is attained; and Grace is increased in virtue of the Sacrament itself.

I have found personally that frequent confession – I try to go every week – helps me to try harder to be a better and more holy bishop.

Almost every Pope since the 1950’s has said that the great “sin of our century” is the lack of the sense of sin. It is true, I fear, that unless we reflect honestly and with humility every day on God’s commandments, we can quickly become numb to so many of the wrongs that flourish in our culture. We may not even realize how far away from God we have grown.

The most important ingredient of Confession, on the part of the penitent, is contrition or sorrow for our sins. We must begin to realize, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and perhaps the caring direction of another person, how we have hurt others; how we have damaged the integrity of our life through the decisions and choices we make; how we have compromised the great dignity and love to which we are called by Jesus.

Our Lord, because He knows and loves the human heart, also knew this Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation would be necessary for us in our path to heaven. Lent, because it is a kind of community retreat for the Church, provides a particularly helpful moment of grace. Many of our parishes have Lenten Penance services, or missions, or additional times of prayer and reflection that provide a help to us to examine our conscience. The presence of additional priests may make it easier for us to take this important step back to the life of the Church, even if we have not visited the Sacrament for many years.

I have asked our priests a number of times to help me make the renewal of this Sacrament of Reconciliation a pastoral priority in our Diocese. I am grateful that so many of them spend long hours in the confessional and greet those who come with gentleness. They are blessed instruments of Christ’s peace. Make good use of this wonderful gift, during Lent and frequently throughout the year. Consider going to church for confession as spouses or as a family. In this way you can strengthen each other in your resolve to be more faithful.

O Mary Conceived without sin; Mary ever-sinless virgin; Mary Mother of Mercy: Pray for us sinners!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    North American bishop pictured with biretta!

  2. JeanS says:

    When Bishop Finn was still in Saint Louis as a priest, I was privileged to be able to go to confession with him. What blessings!

  3. DonR says:

    One thing that has made a big impact for our family in making more frequent confessions is that the parish we now attend has one of the two priests hearing confessions before (and usually during) every Mass (both Sundays and weekdays). This priest continues to hear confession until everyone in line has received the sacrament. Obviously, this approach only works in a parish with two priests. But it has been a real blessing, and the witness of always seeing people in line for confession whenever we’re at Mass has served as a great encouragement to our family to make more frequent use of the sacrament ourselves.

  4. Zach says:

    We in Kansas City are blessed to have Bishop Finn as our shepherd. One of his greatest allies in this emphasis on Sacramental Confession is the pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel (in downtown KC), Monsignor William Blacet, who at the age of 87 hears confessions every day before and after Mass. Did I mention that we’re blessed?

  5. Chad says:

    That’s my bishop! I’ll have you know, Father, that Old St. Patrick’s Oratory (our local TLM community parish for those unfamiliar) has been a Godsend for me – particularly in regards to Confession. Their daily Mass is at 6:00pm w/ Confession at 5:30. If I have something to confess I just pop in right after work and get my self reconciled. I’m usually critical of the “Give me convenience or give me death” culture we live in, but this little bit of convenience has truly improved my life.

  6. mrsmontoya says:

    I am happy to say that when I went to our regular Saturday confession I’ve noticed a number of young men come in and very seriously prepare for and receive Reconciliation. One had a notebook out when he went into the confessional, it was a pleasure to think he had worked hard to prepare himself to receive this grace.

    On a related topic, I plan to ask my pastor this tomorrow, but I would appreciate your feedback as well. What do I confess, if I have been to confession the week before and not knowingly committed any sin sin then? I would like to “receive the sacrament frequently” but certainly do not want to consciously sin! Is there some benefit I can receive from going to confession anyway, and if so how can I avoid wasting the priest’s time?

    Thank you!

  7. Jason Keener says:

    Wonderful to see a bishop actually quoting Pope Pius XII. It demonstrates the Church really did exist before 1962, and they even got some things right! Imagine that. (The “rupturists” should take note.)

  8. Jeannie says:


    “Frequent Confession, Its Place in the Spiritual Life” by Benedict Baur has been helpful to me. Baur offers guidance with respect to the development of a deep sense of contrition for minor faults. He also suggests focusing on one virtue for a period of time, confessing weekly those venial sins that come between you and that particular virtue, as you seek perfection in that area.

  9. Girgadis says:


    I figure if Carmelite nuns in a monastery can find something to confess every week, so can I. If the confession line is long, I will mention it to Father so he will know not to spend too much time giving spiritual advice. I would never want someone not in a state of grace to to be prevented from getting to confession if Mass is quickly approaching, so sometimes I will defer from going at that time if I can to allow someone else the opportunity who may need it more. This is not to say I never have sins to confess; only that I like to go to confession weekly and some weeks are better than others, let\’s face it!

  10. According to the Pope, some of its benefits are these: Genuine self-knowledge is increased; Humility grows; Bad habits are corrected; Spiritual neglect and tepidity are resisted; The conscience is purified; The will strengthened; A helpful self-control is attained; and Grace is increased in virtue of the Sacrament itself.

    Ahhhh – so that\’s why the dissidents are so indifferent or hostile to confession.

  11. Brian Sudlow says:

    Bishop Finn for Westminster!!

  12. little gal says:

    I am guessing that the good bishop’s ongoing Opus Dei formation is helping to shape how he shepherds his flock…

    “Bishop Finn became a member of Priestly Society of the Holy Cross in April 2005, which is linked to the Catholic personal prelature Opus Dei. In an interview with the Catholic Key, Msgr. Finn told of how Opus Dei had helped open his heart to the work of the Holy Spirit. Finn is not technically a member of the Opus Dei prelature, as he is a diocesan priest, but he is able to receive spiritual formation from the prelature in a similar way as its members do.”

  13. irishgirl says:

    Wotta shepherd!

    This might be a silly question to ask, but I’m going to anyway: when you go to confession to a Bishop, do you say, ‘Bless me Father’ or ‘Bless me Bishop’ ?

  14. Faithful one says:

    BRAVO!!! we need more, more Bishop the likes of him…..Good Shepherds of Christ who know what their real vocation is….. priestly vocations and salvation of souls. and ..not socialist/accountant/politician/humanitarian/theraphist, etc…
    Let us continue to pray for our Pope Benedict XVI,Cardinals. Arch. bishops, deacon, clergy religious and for more vocations to the clergy and religious life. I am a CATHOLIC because I am traditional and I am not a traditional Catholic… there is a distinction , you know!

  15. Lentz says:

    Irishgirl, my guess is that “Bless me, father” will do. But “Bless me, your grace” might be better.

    “Bless me bishop” is definitely wrong.

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