Printed forms for penitents outside confessionals

Today I was talking to a friend about a parish he visited.  He saw that penitents waiting for confession were using a printed form or sheet that had a structured form for making a confession as well as an Act of Contrition.

I myself saw such a thing in a cathedral of a diocese I visited.

Is this something you have seen?  Is this a trend?

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  1. Henry Belton says:

    haven’t seen it but i like the idea. i’ve could have used a guide now and then, sometimes forgetful…the trend may actually be just seeing a line of people waiting.

  2. What I’ve seen is the outline for the sacrament…Bless me Father…confession…penance…act of contrition, absolution, it’s easy for us lay people to forget,

  3. maxthedog123 says:

    My parish has an excellent pamphlet with instructions on the sacrament and sample questions about the commandments and the precepts of the church near where the confessionals are. Anytime I pick one up, I end up saying, “Oh – forgot about that one.”

    The cathedral close by also has a pretty good instruction and examination.

    I think it is a great idea – it helps if you are new or an alleged “veteran”.

  4. Christina says:

    I know our parish has something of the sort. I haven’t used it myself in awhile, but I know that it provides at least an examination of conscience, if not also an Act of Contrition (or two or three).

  5. Austin says:

    As an Anglican I was instructed to make my confession with a form that included the words to be used (Bless me, Father, etc.); a list of sins to be considered and confessed, if appropriate; and the words of absolution.

    There was an old joke about a small boy confessing every sin on the list including the last: “I was compiled by a priest of the Society of the Holy Cross.”

  6. Mickey says:

    I’ve seen them in almost every parish I’ve ever been in…many Catholics in the confession line are there for the first time, or go rarely. A nice little sheet with an examination of conscience guide on one side and the form on the other is helpful to reduce the “intimidation factor” that comes with not knowing what to do. I meet a lot of people who simply don’t know their faith…even some who ought to. Sadly, we can’t look to our elders…the “teen-agers with grey hair” haven’t practiced their faith in years, and of the rest, well, Father Rainbow hasn’t taught them anything since 1975.

  7. Cantuale says:

    At the door of the Penitenzieria (Confessional chapel) of st. Anthony Basilica, in Padua, there are folded sheet, printed in different languages (Italian, English, French, German, Spanish) with a very appreciated examination of conscience and the Act of contrition, beside some words of st. Anthony himself to “push” gently the pilgrims towards the sacrament of reconciliation.

  8. Mary Bruno says:

    We have a copy of the Act of Contrition on the wall of the confessional and there is dim light in the confessional so you can see/read it.

  9. JohnMa says:

    The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in DC has these. Interestingly, they change color depending on the time of the year. Lent/Advent they are purple, etc.

  10. mysticalrose says:

    I’ve seen this one around in many places:

    It’s a great resource.

  11. maskaggs says:

    My parish keeps an English translation of the traditional Act of Contrition in the confessional.

  12. Deo Optimo Maximo says:

    I think it’s a great idea. At the cathedral in Fargo, we have lot’s of “how to make a good confession” booklets floating around, but nothing real basic. On the big Confession days, (usually during Stations during Lent), we usually have two priests hearing Confessions and I’ve seen some of the ‘church ladies’ handing out pamphlets to the penitents. A good cover would be: “Haven’t been to Confession for a while? Here’s how!” :p

  13. NewmanSTL says:

    This is a common practice in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. I would say that over half of the confessionals have a printed act of contrition available for penitents, and that probably a quarter or so have a pamphlet to help guide the entire confession. Maybe more parishes are seeking to assist those who have not been to confession for some time or who infrequently avail themselves of this sacrament.

  14. sekman says:

    This certainly is a common practice. My parish does not have such sheets sitting out and readily available, yet there are some certainly floating around. There is also a sheet posted next to the screen with the outline of the sacrament on it.

  15. Kris says:

    Every now and then I’ve seen these. They can be a helpful resource of course for those that haven’t been in a while, but they can also be useful for people that get nervous and forget things.
    I’d like to see more examples of these to use in RCIA classes.

  16. Kaneohe says:

    We offer two guides to confession. One is a brief concise guide as to what one does once in the confessional – basically it’s how to make your confession. It walks you through the actual confession from start to finish We include the tradtional Act of Contrition along with what to do once you have recived absolution – the penance followed by a short meditation on the grace of confession.

    The seoond guide is longer and deals with “Sin in my Life”, the “Difference in Sins”, ‘The part of the penitent”, a 16 point Examination of Conscience, it also concludes with “During…”At the End of…. and “After Confession”.

    I did these for a special occasion but as people continued to ask for them we now have both the guidlines readily available.

  17. lacrossecath says:

    Yes, Cathedral La Crosse WI

  18. Mike says:

    Nope, not in my parish in the Archdiocese of Wash. DC; however, my parish has Sat. and Tues. Confessions! Be nice to add this kind of thing.

  19. doanli says:

    I think it is a good idea— I have to go over this with my son time and time again. (Catholic prayers, what is Sin, etc.)

    I’m thinking about catechizing him myself.

  20. RichR says:

    Both parishes in my town have EoC’s for penitents.

    While I think it is a good practice, I wish the EoC’s would be a little more specific. Sometimes they are so general that a tender conscience can become overwhelmed and unclear. In short, it can do more harm than good.

    A clear delineation of mortal sins is what is needed, not vague ideas that can be stretched or minimized by the scrupulous or lax consciences. Here is a good one that I have used.

    The only disagreement I have with it is on the nature of “presumption”. I wrote about this on another forum, so I’ll just give a link in case anyone is even interested.

  21. LaudemGloriae says:

    Yes, this is very common in my area (southeast US). In fact in recent months I noticed that the pamphlet is now also taped to the top of the kneeler in the confessionals at my parish. It is just a basic outline of the form of the sacrament (who says what, etc) and the Act of Contrition.

  22. lfandrew says:

    Fr. Tim Finigan has some excellent guides for different age groups on his parish website:

  23. Hans says:

    I have seen it in some places, but not in others. ‘Not’ is still the majority.

  24. In some churches here in the Philippines, the form and the Act of Contrition are printed and laminated, and posted inside the confessional boxes. Filipinos never liked the face to face confession. It was introduced before but…we got back into the box! And the good thing is, I always see a long line of people going to confession every Sunday.

  25. bmadamsberry says:

    At the Youth Mass for the March for Life in Washington, D.C., they had little instruction pamphlets that had tear out cards for the Act of Contrition (I keep it in my wallet). I’ve also seen a structured form on the kneeler in the Confessional in Glasgow, Scotland.

  26. ray from mn says:

    I was surprised the first time that a priest told me to say “Contrition No. 4” taped to the wall beside me. This is a parish that offers confession 11 times a week. I would have thought that everybody would know the Act of Contrition.

    Well, I can’t see well in the dim light of a confessional, even with reading glasses, so I just tell Father that I will use the traditional one that I have been saying all my life (except during a huge gap when I was much younger).

  27. I have seen them in my part of the country, but I never use them. Let’s see, how does it go?

    Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been [entirely too long] since my last confession. My greatest sin is that of … proceed to list it and others in number and kind. For these and all the sins of my past life, I am truly sorry. The priest asks questions, some reasonable, some because he’s in the mood to crack down on somebody. For your penance, say yada yada yada. Now make your act of contrition. Oh my God I am heartily sorry et cetera. Ego te absolvo et cetera. Go in peace. Thanks be to God.

    Did I miss anything.

  28. ipadre says:

    I have a little booklet with an exam and a how to make a good confession. I keep them on the kneelers in my confessional and often recommend it to people who are not sure what to do or what to confess or anyone may freely take them. Just a little help for the New Evangelization.

  29. seanl says:

    I’ve seen it all over the Mobile Archdiocese. Most parishes I visit now have a laminated copy of the Act of Contrition on the screen, or near the chair if they offer face to face.

  30. jmgarciajr says:

    As long as this doesn’t lead to people confessing by fax, I’m in favor.

  31. Aaron says:

    I’d say they’re almost necessary, in an age where many people are rediscovering this sacrament. I know we should have the Act of Contrition memorized, but it’s easy to get nervous and forget parts of it. (For that matter, I also jot down my sins on a card or something, because if there are more than two, I’m going to forget one. I know that’s what the “for these and other sins I may have forgotten” part is for, but I’d like to be able to mention them all quickly and not make him wait while I try to remember what that fifth one was.)

  32. Hieronymus Illinensis says:

    RichR (17 August 2010 @ 5:00 pm),

    There are a few other quibbles with the Catholic Parents list. There’s some miscategorization, e.g.,

    * “selective reduction” of babies in the womb clearly belongs under the 5th Commandment, not the 6th
    * hatred for persons of other races is racism, not bigotry
    * cheating in games, school work, etc., belongs under the 7th Commandment, not the 8th

  33. mrs.v says:

    We live in NewEngland. At a local shrine of Our Lady they offer confessions every day of the year with a few exceptions. The line is almost always long. They offer a pamphlet on how to make a confession, a (good) Act of Contrition, and it includes a limited examination of conscience with supporting quotes from Scripture. Not inclusive, but a start in the right direction for many who have been away from the Church- although people from all walks go there for confession, I think they get a good number of those who are on the way back. It does mention pornography, gossip, the occult, and honoring those in authority. Things that aren’t spelled out exactly in the 10 Commandments, which is what a lot of people use as their only resource to examine their conscience (who were never properly formed). Again, not inclusive, but for those who went to “CCD in the 70’s” with Happy Happy Happy all the time, butterflies and rainbows, it is an invitation to understand the Sacrament better. Many local parishes have an Act of Contrition on the wall in the confessional, but sadly some of them are still the 70’s version.

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