Ever experience a priest who doesn’t say the correct words of absolution? UPDATE

I get reams of email from people who, during confession, run into priests who don’t (or won’t) say the proper words of absolution, thus throwing them into doubts about whether or not they were validly absolved.

Under another entry I facetiously proposed that I should make a coffee mug with the formula absolutionis which people could give to these erring confessors.

No sooner did I post that, but I got a score or so of emails from people saying they would get one and pass it on.

So, I am thinking about mugs, yes, but perhaps also a small poster and maybe note cards. The poster could go in the confessional and you could hand the note cards to the priest.

I could have two version.  One would be entirely in Latin, with both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Form formulas of absolution.  The other would be just for the Ordinary Form, but in both Latin and English

Anyone interested?


And also

Keep in mind that the mug would give him something to look at an review every single day.  Be sure to give him a steady supply of Mystic Monk Coffee to go with it!

I am frankly vexed by hearing about priests who won’t or can’t use the proper form of absolution.

If they can’t get it right, they should go work as dish washers instead of confusing God’s people in a matter that is so important, solemn, and delicate.

So, in charity, to reduce my vexation and to keep them from the minimum wage, let’s give them some help!

In addition to the mug designs (above… and since Cafepress has changed the way products are created I can have more than one design in the same section…) I worked up some “post cards” which could be left behind for Father, handed to him, or even mailed:

I also tinkered with business cards.  The request is on the front and the form for convenience is on the back.  A business card is small enough to slide even through most grates:

I am also thinking about something with the Apostolic Pardon.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in GO TO CONFESSION, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, SESSIUNCULA, The Campus Telephone Pole and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. moon1234 says:

    I love the traditional form. I sure wish it was used more. It really hits home that Jesus is the one absolving your sins.

  2. acardnal says:

    I am very much interested!

  3. AnAmericanMother says:

    I would SO sneak these into our confessionals!
    Not that I have ever noticed any deviation from the formula, but I think the Latin would encourage the younger men.

  4. Bea says:

    Yes, I’m interested. Did I hear it or not? I ask myself. There’s only one priest here that I’m sure of.
    I place my trust in God that he DID say it properly, but I still have my doubts.

  5. padredana says:

    I’m in.

  6. Mike Morrow says:

    Although the traditional extraordinary form is beautiful, EF priests don’t need this. Only those who practice the “ordinary form” are frequently in need of encouragement to execute their responsibilities correctly, without personal creativity. I vote for the OF version only.

  7. Father Z:

    What a great idea. Very necessary. Laminated, pocket size would be great.

    The percentage of priests from whom I’ve heard the entire absolution over the years comes to perhaps only one in one hundred. Seriously.

    When I was in Lourdes, I started to carry the absolution formula with me, handing it to the priest to whom I went to confession. Incredibly, even then, many would only read some of it and fall apart at the essential words, so that they ended up absolving… the Most Holy Trinity. I can’t count the times I heard this: “I absolve/forgive You, Father, Son, Spirit.” Probably they meant to absolve me of something, but that’s what they said.


    Why not do a spot quiz with your priests at your next clergy conference. Have sheets of paper and pencils passed out and ask the priests to write out the absolution they usually provide and then the full absolution formula asked by the Church. I would bet you get only one in one hundred which would give you what the Church asks. For a bit of humor, ask that they not cheat, since, after all…

  8. Charivari Rob says:

    Mentioning the mug gives me horrific visions of priest recipient bringing an aromatic cup of something-or-other into the confessional.

    I’d suggest a note card with a tear-off coupon or (more likely) a prepaid card for your Wyoming Carmelite friends: Hey, Father – Looking forward to confessing my sins and hearing those beautiful words of absolution! Here’s a little something for you to look forward to!

    …or is that too much like trying to bribe a priest or buy a sacrament?

  9. Philip Gerard Johnson says:

    Great idea. The two versions could be one card — front and back. Perhaps it would be a great opportunity for priests to compare the two forms.

  10. Fantastic Idea, and I would definitely get one of those mugs ;-)

  11. ContraMundum says:

    Count me in, too.

    I once had a priest try to absolve me not with “I absolve you” but with “may you be absolved”. I asked several good sources about it later, and the strong consensus was that this variation was not only illicit, it was also invalid. (Mostly because the priest is acting in persona Christi, which means he should act with authority, not with a friendly but ineffective wish that might be appropriate on a Hallmark card.)

    I wrote his bishop (this was not in my own diocese), but I do not know if anything came of it. I don’t think the priest *meant* to do harm, he had just fallen into a sloppy habit.

  12. AnnAsher says:

    I’m interested in those note cards; I would buy them.

    I was told by a priest that there is no established Rite for the Sacrament of Confession. No set format. Is this true ?

  13. Centristian says:

    Yes, the coffee mug, ordinary form…excellent idea. What a great opportunity to send a message without being preachy or confrontational…in the form of a gift. Perfect as ordination gifts, as Christmas presents for pastors/vicars and confessors. I confess at a local Jesuit church that offers confession…constantly, it seems. I’d love to buy each Jesuit there a mug, not because they don’t say the correct formula of absolution (they do) but simply as a thank you gift for making themselves available several times a day, every day of the week, to hear confessions. I’ll take 10 right off the bat.

  14. Nora says:

    As sacristan, I make sure the Act of Contrition is available on the penitent’s side of the screen and by the chair for face to face confession. I think an “altar card” type presentation of the form of absolution would be great. I assume that every priest wants to do everything right, but that brain freeze, distraction, etc can get in the way. A convenient, attractive card that could be placed on a stand or mounted on the screen could take a little of the work of remembering off of the confessor.

  15. ContraMundum says:

    I think Fr. Z is right to suggest a mug. Priests are like most of us men, and would be offended at the idea that they needed a card to get the words right. The mug is more subtle.

    This discussion reminds me of the story of a great sea captain who was highly decorated for his skill and daring during several wars. The men under him had noticed that at the start of every day, he unlocked a small box that he kept in his cabin and looked inside, after which he closed and locked it. Finally the day came for him to retire, and he among the things he left in his cabin were both the box and the key. As soon as he was gone, the men rushed to see what had inspired him. A lock of hair or note from a long-lost love? A relic from some battle? Inside the box they found only an old index card on which was written, “Port = Left. Starboard = Right.”

  16. Fr. Augustine Thompson O.P. says:

    For Dominicans who want to use the Dominican Rite absolution, I have already made it available here:


  17. frjim4321 says:

    I really don’t see the point of changing the words – they are simple and direct and say exactly what they need to say and no more.

    The Rite of Penance is quite a pet peeve of mine. This is the time of year of driving around and helping at many Communal Penance Services (the first form). Almost NEVER is the proper form used . . . usually always some kind of made-up paraliturgy. Most of them omit the Lord’s Prayer (which is required of the rite) and most of them omit the global Act of Contrition, which is also part of the rite.

    Also, they make us sit so close together that I’ve heard the priest next to me giving his penance and referring to the sacrament as a “great big garbage can to put our dirty old sins into.” Gag me.

  18. Msgr. F. Nave says:

    The poster with both forms for the confessional would be helpful! Count me in!

  19. Tradster says:

    Having a holy card-sized one with English on one side and Latin on the other would be fantastic. I could have it with me to read along while the priest is speaking, to satisfy myself that the correct words are being used.

  20. Allan S. says:

    Travel mug please!

  21. Sword40 says:

    Count me in too. I haven’t made a priest mad in a while. May as well start soon. Fr. Ad Lib won’t care for this one.

  22. Fr. TK says:

    I was just searching the internet for such a card yesterday. I ended up making poor looking pdf which I loaded onto my ipod. I rarely forget the Latin version, but I sometimes need help with the English. I also wanted that a handy version of the post confession prayer, “May the passion…”

  23. De Tribulis says:

    Nitpick alert (though I’m sure Father’s already noticed this): There’s a typo in the OF Latin text; should be “misericoRdiarum”. [THANKS! I’ll make corrections right away.]

    I love the idea of the cards, especially for the OF (in the EF I’ve never encountered a priest who needed to be reminded of the proper words!) May I suggest, though, making them available in languages other than English? I’d buy Latin/German ones if they were available! (And I could probably provide the German text if needed.)

  24. Edward C. Yong says:


    the form ‘may you be absolved…’ is not invalid, but is probably illicit in the EF. it cannot be invalid for that is how all Eastern rite priests absolve penitents. the only real exception is the East Slavic Byzantine use (Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians) which has ‘i absolve’ due to 17th C Latin influence through Ukraine. Maronites probably also use ‘i absolve’, but their rite has been deeply Latinised for a very long time.

  25. ContraMundum says:

    This wasn’t an Eastern Rite priest, and he wasn’t doing anything in the EF, trust me.

    No disrespect intended, but I have no assurance that you are particularly knowledgeable about this subject. The safe thing to say is that its validity was dubious. For that reason, I repeated the confession to another priest who used the correct formula.

  26. Andy Milam says:

    Absolutely! I’ll take three of them…two for the two boxes that never get used any more (as a not so subtle hint) and the “reconciliation room” (that sounds so sterile and clinical….).

  27. lofstrr says:

    I think a mug with the english and latin on it would be best. A mug is a little more subtle than a card. A card just says you did it wrong now do it right. Which might be the case but seems quite disrespectful. A mug with this on it is a not so subtle hint that you would like to see him do this different but it is still a mug. At least, tongue in cheek, you can say, “I just thought you might like a new mug.”

  28. Charles E Flynn says:

    Does the priest’s side of the typical confessional have a mug holder?

  29. Girgadis says:

    I would most certainly want to invest in such cards. May I be so bold as to suggest an idea for your next venture? Given the number of priests I’ve encountered who insist on saying “for you and for all”, pro multis cards, magnets, etc. might also be very useful.

  30. irishgirl says:

    If I had the money, I’d say, ‘count me in’!
    The priests I go to for confession do ONLY the ‘traditional’ form of absolution, though it’s hard for me to concentrate getting the Act of Contrition in while he’s doing the Absolution!
    Talk about ‘brain freeze’ !
    We don’t have a ‘box’ in our little TLM chapel; it’s more like a closet. Only a kneeler with a cloth ‘screen’ on the penitents’ side.

  31. APX says:

    This discussion reminds me of the story of a great sea captain […] As soon as he was gone, the men rushed to see what had inspired him. […] Inside the box they found only an old index card on which was written, “Port = Left. Starboard = Right.”
    Hey, I had a problem with chronic speeding and never knowing how fast I was going until the police pointed it out to me. Frustrated, I wrote on my rear-view mirror in dry erase marker, “Check Speedometer”. Whatever works… When it comes to the important stuff, there’s no shame in having a cheat sheet.

    The EF cards could be useful for those priests who normally do the OF of absolution, but every once in awhile get requests for the old form. Of course, that would mean they would need to be able to pronounce the Latin correctly and know what they’re saying. Perhaps a card with the Latin, phonetic pronunciation of Latin, and the English translation would be helpful.

  32. Mrs. O says:

    I am not sure I would share this card because it would depend on the priest, really. One may have been taught and forgotten – lazy OR I may be facing a priest who has given into outright disobedience who has put his own preferences over what the Holy Mother Church has prescribed. With the latter, I know it will be thrown completely out – even ripped up. In the past, when I have tried to share things that were of concern with my priest where I am, the reception was hostile. I was abruptly cut off and basically told not to tell him what to do – in essence, he was right. It is his Bishop who is to correct him. I went that route with no luck. I resort to praying for them both. It did not justify a letter to Rome, as the words of absolution COULD be seen as serious. It would depend on the priest if I shared that, the card.

  33. digdigby says:

    What’s a ‘reconciliation room’? What’s a ‘communal penance service’ (I know about emergency communal absolution when the Titanic is going down). What kind of believing priest would change the words of absolution? A Catholic priest could not and would not. I’m a Catholic, a convert under the auspices of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. I’ve never seen these things – they sound awful. As I’ve said before, the only time I had to fulfill my Sunday mass obligation at a NO church it was like seeing my mother drunk and dressed like a slut. Father Z and others talk about some wonderful and reverent mish-mosh of the NO and the EF which will ‘kumbayah’ us all together. I’m not saying he is wrong, I just find it hard to ‘visualize’.

  34. Tantum Ergo says:

    It’s hard enough sometimes just to go to Confession. We don’t need the anxiety that comes with dubious absolution formulas. One priest always started off correctly, but tapered off and never finished saying the last part. Fr. Z, this mug idea is keeper!

  35. Max Hernandez says:

    Father, I’ve been hoping for something like this available online. In my opinion, it would be most helpful to have a version with the Extraordinary Form in Latin (including the Passio &c.) and the English version of the newer rite. A poster version to print and frame would be great as I’ve been contemplating designing my own to frame and donate to the parish, along with a crucifix for the penitents side of the confessional.

    At the same time, a small card with the usus antiquior that could be handed to a priest would be incredibly helpful. There are few words that I like to hear more than “ego te absolvo…”

  36. I was actually thinking of a water pistol, and squirting the errant priest if he messes up the words; but this will probably go over better.

  37. JoyfulMom7 says:

    I have to say after reading all this that I am so thankful that my confessor uses the correct words – he is newly ordained and very orthodox. Things will change as those in seminary now are ordained, I think.

  38. Bryan Boyle says:

    Actually…not to steal Fr Z’s thunder…but, you can go down to your local office supply house, pick up a package of blank business card stock, use the label/card format already in Word…and have a ready supply of them…;) Do it all the time for flash card decks for my RCIA students with pithy questions from the Baltimore…hey, they’re still true, right?

    Two pages: first page is the front. Run it through the printer, second page is the Formula, flip the paper over, run it through again. Voila.

    Not to steal Fr. Z’s thunder, though. Just some propeller-head musing.

    Prayers for all of you, but, especially and specifically for the good Father as we enter Passiontide in the Ordinary Form.

  39. pfreddys says:

    You simply DONT mess with the Sacramental Form!!! That being said, are there any options for the dismissal? It is such a joy to be absolved that maybe that could find some expression in the dismissal. When leaving I keep myself to: “Thank you Father and God bless you, please pray for me and my family.”

    [Since, after the Council, there was a mania to “liturgize” everything, and impose the same structure on every possible sacrament, sacramental, devotion, etc., yes, there is a “dismissal” at the end of the “celebration” of the “Sacrament of Reconciliation”. No, wait! What’s this I see? There are multiple variations for dismissals! Ah, for the days when the priest got into the box and just “heard confessions” and people knew the routine and so they knew when they were done. Sigh. That said, in the usual way, for the confession of one penitent, it would go like this:

    Priest: Confitemini Domino quoniam bonus.
    Penitent: Quoniam in saeculum misericordia eius.
    Priest. Dominus dimist peccata tua. Vade in pace.

    Which is something along the lines of:
    Priest: Give thanks to the Lord for He is good.
    Penitent: For His mercy endures forever.
    Priest. The Lord has forgiven your sins. Go in peace.]

  40. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    Father Z – next time you are at Grotto peak inside the confessionals (penitent side – LOL). Inside each confessional, taped where one kneels, is the Act of Contrition, but also that dismissal you have above (in English). They don’t use it all the time – it might depend on how busy things are, but most of the time, I get it after Confession.

  41. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    Oops! – It’s not taped where one kneels, but where it’s in front of your face when you kneel.

  42. ContraMundum says:

    If a priest persisted in using the wrong formula, I’d stop going to him for Confession, and probably change to a different parish — unless I thought it was somehow really an honest mistake. (One of the best priests I have ever known consistently said “Creator” instead of “Maker” in the Nicene Creed. He was obviously just mixing it up with the Apostle’s Creed.)

    When I had that bad experience, I went back to the priest and told him that maybe I was just being scrupulous, but would he please repeat the absolution using the words “I absolve you.” He reacted angrily, and since I was not sure, I did not press him. I just don’t see how a card would have helped at all. He was offended at being questioned, not startled at having made a mistake.

    I would be interested in people coming back with stories about how priests respond to these items. The mug idea I think is more subtle and avoids a direct confrontation. The more direct approach? … I think it will depend entirely on how the card is presented and on the character of the priest.

  43. ContraMundum says:

    That said, in the usual way, for the confession of one penitent, it would go like this….

    I’ve never heard that! Except for the last line; I’ve heard dismissals very similar to the last line.

  44. Prof. Basto says:


    In the Ordinary Form, when the Priest knows that the penitent has incurred an undeclared censure (say, the penitent, being repentant, has now confessed to a crime which involves excommunication; for instance, a woman confessing that she performed an abortion), are the words of absolution changed to include explicit reference to the forgiveness of the censure? [No, in the Ordinary Form there is another form of absolution of a censure. I posted about that not too long ago. Don’t have the link at the moment.]

    I’m not concerned here with the fact that the canonical crime I discribed above is reserved to the Apostolic See. [This is, indeed, a different case. In this case, the confessor must describe the penitent’s case to the Sacra Penitenzieria Apostolica and receive back the proper faculty.]

    Let us assume that the priest has interrupted the Sacrament, contacted the Apostolic Penitentiary, and that authorization was given for the pardon of the undeclared latae sententiae excommunication. Or let us imagine the case of another crime, not involving reservation to the Apostolic See.

    My question is: in the formula of absolution used in the extraordinary form, there is explicit reference to the pardon not only of the sins, but also of the ecclesiastical censures of excommunication, interdict, etc. [There is a form which absolves excommunication. Priests should know it.]

    The formula of absolution used in the ordinary form, however, lacks explicit mention of the absolution from the censures. So, in the ordinary form, if absolution from a censure is to be given in the sacramental forum, how is that to be done? [As I said above, there is an actual formula.]

    Are the words changed to accommodate the situation, or the mere reference to absolution from the sins is taken in the OF to include the removal of the censures in this case?

  45. AnnAsher says:

    Like the updated versions! I shall go over to cafe press later this evening.
    I also like Fr Martin Fox’s idea about the squirt gun. Could we put holy water in it?

  46. digdigby says:

    You freaked me Father Z. I will no longer say ‘Thank you Father.”

    [Please don’t stop saying “Thank you!”]

  47. acardnal says:

    At the conclusion of Confession, I not only tell Father “thank you”, I also say “I will say a prayer for you.”

  48. acardnal says:

    Yes! PLEASE do some cards with the Apostolic Pardon. I would also like one small enough to keep in my wallet or laminated around my neck in case I am involved in an auto accident or some kind of medical emergency.

  49. Dear Faithful:

    I’m really sorry any priests don’t do this right. I don’t understand it. But I’m sorry.

    I’m pretty sure I always say the words of absolution correctly. IF I DON’T…

    Everyone in the world has permission to reach out and smack me! “Father! Wake up! You’re not doing it right!”

    I promise: I will wake up from whatever reverie or hallucination or what-have-you, and if necessary, pick up the card nearby, and read the correct words! I promise!

    [OORAH! God bless you, Father.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  50. Elizabeth D says:

    FrJim4321’s comment reminds me, I went to a communal penance service (aren’t these always paraliturgies? It is not a liturgy) and there was a recitation of an act of contrition together. Then when I went to make a private confession, after I confessed my sins and the priest told me a penance, he didn’t let me make an act of contrition but immediately absolved me. I asked him about it and he said the act of contrition we said earlier counted, even though that was before I confessed and he had no way of knowing if I had said it or not (as it happened, it was the same act of contrition I use so I was able to recite it even though I wasn’t able to turn quickly enough to wherever it was in the hymnal or missalette or wherever we were told to turn to to read it from). This is an elderly priest I truly think highly of and who sometimes celebrates EF Mass, so I believed him. But I also thought this practice shouldn’t be done. It didn’t seem right to assume I actually already said an act of contrition, or that I meant it in regards to the sins I subsequently confessed. I was going to explain who the priest is who was leading this penance service, but it would be too long and weird a story.

    Anyway is it true that in a communal penance service everyone can say the act of contrition together, before they then individually confess?

  51. We appear to have stuck the needle into an artery and not a vein.

  52. Elizabeth:

    That is what the ritual says.

    That said, nothing really prevents you from offering an act of contrition then and there; if you came to me and wanted to do it at that point, that’d be fine with me at least.

  53. Centristian says:

    ContraMundum said, “I once had a priest try to absolve me not with “I absolve you” but with “may you be absolved”.”

    This reminds me of the way the formula used by the French kings for the touching for scrofula changed as they became less sure of their ‘divine right’ following the Revolution.

    A pre-revolutionary Louis XVI would have said, “The King touches you; God cures you.”

    After the revolution, the formula used by Charles X following his coronation was, “The King touches you; I most sincerely hope that you may be cured.”

    The British sovereign had stopped touching people altogether, by then, back when Queen Anne was a monarch, not a table.

  54. Father P says:


    Re: Rite for the Sacrament of Penance.

    Its not technically correct in the OF to say that there is not “Rite” for the Sacrament of Penance. A rite has been established and promulgated by the Church. However, that being said, there is a provision in the instruction to the Rite that the minister can freely make adaptions to the Rite for pastoral reasons so long as the essential elements (confession, act of contrition, imposition of a penance, absolution) remain.

  55. Fr. Terry Donahue says:

    Since people will be printing out these cards to teach others, I think it is important to get the words of the formula exactly right. In all of the pictures in this post, the English translation of the formula is missing the words “and of” before “the Son” and the word “of” before “the Holy Spirit”:

    God, the Father of mercies,
    through the death and the resurrection of his Son
    has reconciled the world to himself
    and sent the Holy Spirit among us
    for the forgiveness of sins;
    through the ministry of the Church
    may God give you pardon and peace,
    and I absolve you from your sins
    in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
    (Ordo Paenitentiae, 46, as quoted in CCC 1449)

    [Thanks! I had a conflicting source. Interesting. As a matter of fact, I thought that was a little odd, since I have, in the infrequent occasions when I use English to absolve, always said it they way you provided. So, I double checked and found in yet another source that this is the proper way. It is good to get these texts out in front of a few eyes so that we can be sure.]

  56. Trad Catholic Girl says:

    I might be bucking the trend here but it’s o.k. with me if the priests at my parish are not perfect. Yes, they may miss a word ever once in awhile while giving absolution but there is never any doubt that I have been validly absolved. [Then you are squared away. There are, however, priests do not use a valid form and there are others, not a few, who change it a enough that people are left in doubt. Priests should stick to the proper form.] I would rather give them coffee mugs that show love and support as they are overworked and underappreciated by most of the church laity. Fr. Z, if you come up with something supportive of priests, I would buy it for them.

    [Okay. You want something supportive. I’m game! What are your suggestions?]

  57. Sodalis says:

    Trad Catholic Girl:

    Helping a priest be an even better priest certainly shows love and support in my mind. To enable him to slog through all those overworked hours, perhaps you should include a bag of Mystic Monk Coffee with that mug.


  58. ContraMundum says:

    @Trad Catholic Girl

    It depends what they missed and why. For example, baptizing “in the name of the Creator, and the Redeemer, and the Sanctifier” doesn’t make someone a Christian, it just makes him wet. The words of a sacrament should be taken seriously.

  59. Tradster says:

    Fr Donahue,

    Thank you for ensuring the words are exactly correct. In that spirit, I notice that one word (“give”) is different from what I usuallu hear the priests say: “May God grant you pardon”, which I actually prefer.

    And, as an aside, it seems the common usage anymore is to not capitalize pronoun references to God, as they are not here (his, himself). I wonder why that is?

  60. plemmen says:

    Thankfully my confessor does it right, even after my marathon 2 hour confession. My absolution was much more involved than an ordinary one as there were many serious mortal sins involved as well as other “interesting” issues including invalid Holy Orders and invalid consecration to the Orthodox Episcopate. My return to Holy Mother Church and repudiation of these errors was lengthy and involved. Thanks to a very holy and insightful priest I was brought back into the church as a simply member of the laity, absolved of my error and sinful state.
    Thank you Fr. Z for your insightful articles and posts. I, for one, am thankful for this blog and for your dedication to this apostolate.

  61. jilly4ski says:

    I think the mugs and cards would serve different purposes. The mugs could be given in appreciation for a good confessor, or to someone you are not comfortable being direct enough to even mail the card to. The cards I could see being very useful for priests traveling or on pilgrimage and needs a small wallet sized card for people who ask for confessions at the airport, pilgrimage site, etc. (with the latin in case the penitent doesn’t speak the same language. Or for priests or sacristans to tape up in confessionals or to have at the confession stations at the communal penance services.

  62. Alas, I have found that in Photoshop I cannot insert either the nice cross, &#10016, or the response symbol, &#8479.

  63. ContraMundum says:

    Maybe not as a text file, but try using images of the cross and response symbol. [Hmmm…. interesting. A lot of work.]

  64. plemmen says:

    Fr Z: Have you tried using the character map to insert the appropriate characters within the text? [Yes.]
    If that doesn’t work, if you are using a capture tool, create the text in whatever program will display it properly then do a screen capture of the text (as an image) then paste that within your photoshop. [I tried that too. Didn’t work.]
    If you need more help, email me at plemmen55@gmail.com and I will help more.

  65. plemmen says:

    You must also be using a font that contains those symbols, such as Tahoma … [Didn’t work even with other, common fonts.]

  66. Trad Catholic Girl says:

    Fr. Z, I am still a social media novice and just learning photoshop, but if I can help send an email to me at lynnmullen3@gmail.com.

  67. digdigby says:

    You freaked me Father Z. I will no longer say ‘Thank you Father.”
    Father Z – [Please don’t stop saying “Thank you!”]

    Actually, I thought to inform my confessor next time before I make my act of contrition that I am changing this practice because I WANT to leave the confessional with the priest in the person of Christ absolving me and telling me to go in peace. I DON’T want to ‘have the last word’. As for saying ‘thank you’ and that ‘I am praying for you’ I should do it more often other times in other ways. I think that honestly this is more reverent. I love reverence, it is so…..CATHOLIC.

  68. Phil_NL says:

    @Fr. Z., Trad Catholic Girl,

    A design for a ‘supportive’ mug could be something like this:
    – As a basis, a text like “There’s no greater joy than to work in the Lord’s Vineyard” (I’m not at all sure about the precise wording, but if I recall correctly, either JP II or B XVI used a similar line once. If it is indeed a papal quote, a picture of that pope could be used).
    – surrounding that, texts – obviously in latin – typical of the sacraments. For example:
    “Ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis”, “ego te baptizo in nomine patris et filii et spiritus sancti” (obvious), “Adsum” (for ordination), “Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam meam in vitam aeternam. Amen.” (or the version for the communion of the faithful). And so on, maybe something typical of the other 3 sacraments could be found as well if the mug has room.

    With a nice fitting picture it would be a great mug to have for a priest, I imagine, especially if that priests celebrates the sacraments well.

  69. ContraMundum says:


    It sounds like it would have to be more like a bucket than a mug to accomodate all that text!

  70. Phil_NL says:


    It’s less text than the absolution rite! But any priest worth his salt drinks from a large mug anyway, right?

  71. acardnal says:

    Do priests actually drink coffee in the confessional? Seems like they’d have to take bathroom breaks.
    On the other hand, some of the “Reconciliation Rooms” I’ve been in are large enough for a vending machine so . . . coffee and donuts anyone? ;-)

  72. Trad Catholic Girl says:

    Phil_NL, that sounds perfect! How about it Fr. Z?

  73. Good ideas indeed. Let’s keep them coming.

  74. Girgadis: Given the number of priests I’ve encountered who insist on saying “for you and for all”, pro multis cards, magnets, etc. might also be very useful.

    How about something like:

    Dude! It’s “for many”!

  75. Trad Catholic Girl:

    I know our genial host isn’t every priest’s “cup of tea,” but I think you may miss how very helpful Father Z has been for a LOT of priests. One of these days I’m going to write an article on my blog about his very important work on the translation; and then there is his sharing of so much information about the liturgy and good, priestly practice in general.

    A lot of us have learned a lot and been helped to be better priests by this site and Father Z’s tireless efforts. The past 10 years have seen a lot of change in the Church in this country; we’re getting our back our equilibrium and our verve; priests are dressing like priests, acting like priests, praying like priests, and having more fun doing it. A lot of the faithful are being strengthened thereby; good things are happening. A lot of folks are making it happen, one of which is our genial host. But for awhile, there weren’t that many places from which to draw good water; thankfully, there are a lot more places than there used to be.

  76. Phil_NL says:

    Idea number 2:

    Same general setup, but with St Jean Marie Vianney at the centre, usuable quotes would be:
    “The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus. When you see a priest, think of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (ok, that might be seen as arrogant in some cultures, but it does make the point…) “I throw myself at the foot of the Tabernacle like a dog at the foot of his Master.” “Prayer is to our soul what rain is to the soil. Fertilize the soil ever so richly, it will remain barren unless fed by frequent rains.”
    It would need a good picture as well, of course.

  77. Phil_NL says:

    @Fr Martin Fox,

    Indeed. I daresay Fr. Z. has been invaluable to a lot of people (for starters, I learned more about the faith here than anywhere else), and I pray he’ll continue to be so.

  78. Tina in Ashburn says:

    I love it when the priest adds
    “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good.”
    and I get to respond: “For His mercy endures forever.”

    I rarely hear this and recently learned that this is indeed part of the words of confession. The priest telling us this said that priests don’t bother with the phrase because so few respond and it discourages them [Arlington Diocese].
    well, duh, if the words are not said, how would anyone learn them? Speak up Fathers and make the response til your people get it.
    Thankfully, confessions here all use the correct words of absolution…tho i do pick parishes carefully. Deo Gratias.

    Father Z, to get the nice cross and response symbol, would it work to create the whole text and then do a Print Screen, or copy or something, and then just submit that as a photo?

    And as far as hitting an artery here, rather than a vein, I’ve always considered our country as mission territory, since so few now know the Faith. I guess those that need education also include clergy, judging by all these comments about screwy confession practices. whoa.

  79. Tina: I almost always end confessions with the prayers you mention; and, as you observe, many do not know the response, so I say it myself. No problem.

    I do notice, however, some folks are eager to get going, and don’t expect it–I’m guessing other priests don’t do this?–so when that happens, I “wrap it up” with a quick, “go in peace.”

    Also, I think thanking the priest is good form. I always say thank you when I go to confession.

  80. acardnal says:

    I hate to say this but the two priests (one diocesan, the second TOR) I experienced in Confession who did NOT use the correct words of absolution (omitted “of your sins” from “I absolve you *of your sins* in the name of . . . ) were in the Diocese of Arlington. The most orthodox diocese I have ever lived in with well formed priests. But I consider it an anomaly in that diocese. I now live in Bishop Robt. Morlino’s diocese where I have observed very low attendance to Confession sadly .

    I would say it is about 50-50 with regard the the priests using the concluding phrases; I have responded correctly when prompted by the priest:
    “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good.”
    and I get to respond: “For His mercy endures forever.”

  81. digdigby says:

    You forgot my St. Jean Vianney favorite:
    “God is as quick to forgive a penitent sinner as a mother to snatch her baby from the fire.”

  82. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Fr Fox, I wouldn’t expect anything less of you. LOL.
    Yes, “thank you Father” IS a good thing to end the confession, which I say.

    Acardnal, no not every priest here is perfect. hoo-boy. I bet I know of which TOR parish you speak…I sang there years and years ago. I will say those priests are the hardest working priests I have ever witnessed. They are constantly working for their parishioners, confession times are frequent throughout the week, they look exhausted for a reason. They are kind and giving and will do anything for any parishioner at any time. These priests are warm and kind, and loved by the parishioners.
    As much as we laity do suffer from rotten clergy and religious, this brings to the forefront that many priests DO love the laity and work tirelessly – their malformation is a tragedy. There are pious priests who sacrifice their lives, yet are very confused about the true form of worship and sacraments. Do I think these types of priests would care if someone in authority demonstrated to them how they could impart more grace and help to those they labor so hard to help? Yes. I do hope charitable laity and responsible authority figures will help them do the very thing these priest long to effect.

  83. APX says:

    some of the “Reconciliation Rooms” I’ve been in are large enough for a vending machine so . . . coffee and donuts anyone?

    I wouldn’t be surprised to learn there are priests out there who do offer, at minimum, donuts to penitents in an uber lame attempt to make Reconciliation a “more inviting atmosphere.” Gag me with a spoon.

  84. acardnal says:

    Hey Tina,
    both of those priests are holy and faithful. and I liked the TORs. they worked very hard and very long hours! HUGE parish with a school, too. I never attended a badly celebrated Mass except once when they had a visiting priest. they offered the Sacrament of Penance often! God bless them. somehow they (the one TOR and the one diocesan pastor at another parish) just got into a bad habit of omitting those words – unintentionally and without any malice on their part I am sure! So . . . .those cards Fr. Z is proposing would be useful.

    As I said in a previous post on this subj., I was not only concerned about the validity of the sacrament for myself but for all the other hundreds, if not thousands, of penitents who had been standing in their lines all this time! Anyway, two good priests on wdtprs responded to my concern in a favorable way.

  85. Honestly, I would love coffee and donuts in the confessional…but no! I don’t do it.

  86. AnAmericanMother says:

    It’s funny, but you never know when an Anglican upbringing will prove unexpectedly useful.
    The first time I heard “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good” in the confessional, I just automatically responded “And his mercy endureth forever” because it figures somewhere in the old Book of Common Prayer (Evensong, I think). I didn’t realize it was called for, just serendipity.

  87. plemmen says:

    Fr Z: If you send me the text you want and the size in pixels of the finished graphic and format type (i.e., .png, .gif, .jpg) I can send you a finished, ready to upload to Cafe Press graphic (I’ve created hundreds for everything from earrings to t-shirts via screen print and embroidery. Simply email the text to me in the format you want (single lines, text color preferences [I’m sure the ? and ? need to be red] to plemmen55@gmail.com I can send you the result by return email within a few hours.

  88. ContraMundum says:


    I wasn’t raised Anglican; in fact I have never been to a church in the Anglican fold. I had the same reaction as you, though, due to Psalm 136 (KJV).

    Also the last stanza of Chesterton’s Ballad of the Battle of Gibeon comes to mind:

    This is the story of Gibeon fight–
    Where we smote the lords of the Amorite;
    Where the banners of princes with slaughter were sodden.
    And the beards of seers in the rank grass trodden;
    Where the trees were wrecked by the wreck of cars,
    And the reek of the red field blotted the stars;
    Where the dead heads dropped from the swords that sever,
    Because His mercy endureth for ever.

  89. @ Trad Catholic Girl cc:Father Z.
    I think you should request Father to remove your personal email form the site. There are robots that search the web for email addresses to spam/ hack and we wouldn’t want to see that happen to you. No offense but sadly a very good possibility these days. If you want to contact Father here is a link to his email (its at the top of the page)
    God bless

  90. I just noticed other people posting emails. I politely suggest Father Z remove them as if they are hacked and you filled in your real address (some now/ recently require this) someone might be able to edit/ see your address. Posting your personal email online is at the least an invitation to spam (some of an unsavory nature). Hopefully Father can delete them before google crawls the blog as once they are in google they are there for weeks sometimes- even if removed from the site. For those who have done this I suggest changing your passwords to secure ones with captit letters, numbers and signs (@%^*@$^ for example).

    You can contact Father via the link posted above.

    As far as a valid absolution so long as the priest says you are absolved/ may you be absolved, etc or something indicating that your sins are forgiven the absolution is valid. It is not necessary to mention the words sin since if there were no sins there is nothing to absolve (it wouldn’t make sense). It might not be licit but it is valid- there is a difference. The substance of it is that we sinned and they are forgiven. I think the whole fact that you are going to the priest for confession would be indicative of the the authority given to him by the Church to forgive sins. It does not seem the source of authority needs be mentioned to determine validity unless the priest explicitly said something denying the power given to him by the Church to forgive sins (of course as an alter Christus since Christ is the source of that authority). The reason Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier are not sufficient for baptism is that the same formula could be used by a monophysite, or some other Trinitarian heresy (and usually is). There is no implication of the Trinitarian nature of God or of any particular god- certain pagans could use it. I suppose an appropriate comparision is act of the priest hearing your confession and the act of you making a confession (accusing yourself of since and being contrite) is comparable to the matter of the sacrament of baptism (ie water and a living person) and the form is the actual sins you accuse yourself of and the priest actually saying something along the lines of your are forgiven. So long as the baptism is of a Trinitarian nature (mentioning the persons of the Trintity and has valid matter) it is valid. Same applies to confession. Might not be licit but you are still forgiven of your sins (though father may have added to his).

    Personally I have had priests forget it (or maybe not think to mention it- who knows with some). I merely politley ask Father after a slight pause if I may receive absolution before I leave. So far no priests I have met have been upset with doing that. I’ve seen a priest forget the consecration at Mass (an older priest- who was not afflicted by age). Things like that can happen to good priest. Its just that we aren’t perfect and have infirmities- things happen. Its not always intentional so I suggest people keep that in mind if they are not familar with the priest and not to judge too quickly or harshly.

    My pet peeve is some of the acts of contrition may not say for these and all my sins. People should be taught to recite some form of contrition that says something along those lines. If the penitent did not say something along those lines and forgot to mention a particular sin then they should go back to confession if it is mortal before you receive Holy Communion. Of course if they only remembered after receiving after Holy Communion it is unlikely they committed sacrilege since they were totally unaware of your state of mortal sin and lacked the malice in this instance to committ sacrilege (since intent is required to committ a mortal sin). In other words it isn’t required to be mentioned in their next confession (if they trully tried to recall all their sins previously) though it would be recommended as well as the circumstances (ie I forgot). However, even if they did say those lines they are still required by the Church to mention it next time they go to confession (something along the lines of in my previous confession I forgot to mention….). That is presuming they remember to. It was forgiven and previously absolved but you incur a new sin by intentionally neglecting to mention it the next time (since it required and the pentitent would be disobeying the commands of the Church). Or so I understand. Anyone familar with Moral theology please correct or clarify what I have said. Thanks

  91. Sed:

    Very important!

    Unintentionally omitting mention of a mortal sin does not mean that sin is not absolved!

    Read that again, please…

    Only the deliberate omission of a sin one knows to be mortal would be a problem.

    So if one omitted a mortal sin because one forgot, or was nervous, or got mixed up, or whatever…no problem.

    If one honestly believed it to be a venial sin; and thus did not mention it… (that’s right; there is no obligation to mention all venial sins in confession, although it’s a perfectly good thing to do) no problem.

    The absolution is for all sins. There is no need to seek absolution again for a sin one remembers later; or in the case of realizing a sin was more grave than one thought at first.

    The absolution is valid and complete.

    It is appropriate to mention that mortal sin in a future confession thusly: “Father, in a prior confession, I forgot/did not know to include X…”

    That said, I agree it’s a good idea to add, “for these and all my sins, including those I cannot remember.” I usually have a penitent add these words, particularly if the person has been away from the sacrament, or else the person seems anxious. I explain in that moment what I explained above.

    Remember, God knows our sins better than we do. It’s not like when you have a coupon for a free donut or something–and if you don’t bring it, you don’t get it. The reason we confess our sins with specificity is that opens up all the parts our lives where we like to be king; we choose to allow God’s grace there. Being specific is for *our* sake: God already knows the many ways we sin. *We* need to know–and admit–and invite grace to change.

    Remember the first confession: “Lord, remember me, when you come into your Kingdom.” The man confessed as best he could in an extreme circumstance (he did mention other of his sins, you may recall; but was it complete?). God, who sees the heart, replied: “This day you will be with me in Paradise.”

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