QUAERITUR: Didn’t finish penance from confession before Communion.

From a reader:

Yesterday before mass I went to confession and by the time I was in the confessional, the bells of the consecration were ringing. My pennance was 12 Our Fathers and 12 Hail Mary’s. (I had confessed some mortal sins, and therefore HAD to confess before I could recieve the Eucharist) I went to a side chapel to try to pray my pennance quickly before recieving communion. Well, I just could not pray while hearing what was going on in the main part of the Church. At one point they were actually saying the Our Father while I was, but at a different
point, and I was just lost. So I gave up, and resolved to do my
pennance after mass
. I recieved communion. Was this correct?

Yes, you were okay. Please review this post in which I describe that the validity of the absolution is not dependent on doing the penance assigned by the confessor.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Happens to me quite often – I’m not always able to say my penance right away (usually I go to confession before Mass). It is hard for me to say it during Mass because I sing with the choir and it tends to be a bit chaotic up in the loft. So I try to say it as soon as I can after I have time to collect my thoughts.

  2. Dr. Lee Fratantuono says:

    It has always struck me as an odd practice in some traditional locales that because of long confession lines, there will be individuals who are waiting for confession all during the time Mass is being celebrated, only to experience what the questioner did…consecration while in the confessional…and then they go to receive Communion, having participated in the Mass…after a fashion, I guess.

    I know this practice is old, but I wonder if this isn’t one of those cases where a little balance should be restored. It struck me as especially odd when I saw it during a traditional Paschal Vigil, where the most important services of the liturgical year were going on while a line at the confessional continued, only to be broken by the penitents exiting box, entering the pew for their penance and, then, Communion.

    I realize we live in an age where Confession has fallen by the wayside in many places, but I can’t but think that the answer isn’t a culture where Confession takes priority over participation in the liturgical action, such that attendance at Mass for some means standing in the confession line for most of the Mass.

  3. Phillip says:

    When I first became a Catholic, I almost always went to confession immediately before Mass, and I frequently found myself rushing through my Paters and Aves while in the communion line. In retrospect, it would have been better simply to receive and do my penance after receiving. I should have been focussing on who I was about to receive rather than on just “getting my penance out of the way.” You can say your prayers for penance any time – Jesus is being given to you NOW. It’s much easier to do penance joyfully after having received the Lord in the Eucharist. Besides, I feel pretty sure that’s what Our Lord would have us do. Otherwise saying the prayers assigned for penance just turns into “going through the motions,” at least for me. So now if I don’t have time to do penance before Mass, I just do what you did. Makes more sense to me.

  4. Brad says:

    The Sacred Heart understands all our worries. He pities us. Have no fear.

    “And when he came nigh, having seen the city, he wept over it,”

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