” After a 16 year absence I returned to the Sacrament of Holy Confession this evening.”

From a reader in my email:


Dear Fr. Z,
My sincere thanks and gratitude to you for your ministry. After a 16 year absence I returned to the Sacrament of Holy Confession for the first time this evening. After some gentle encouragement from my husband, and in large part due to your frequent discussion of the Holy Sacrament on your blog, I finally found the strength to return. At first I was a little afraid because most of the stations they had set up were face to face – I almost lost my nerve, but your words echoed in my mind – “Just do it!” and I found myself face to face with the most gentle and compassionate priest I could have ever hoped for – the good Lord knew exactly what I needed and provided it for me abundantly. I was able to let go of so many of the terrible sins that had weighed me down for years and am filled with JOY knowing that this Easter I will be able to receive Holy Communion in a state of grace and with my husband. Thank you, Father, you have helped to change my life and strengthen my faith in untold ways. May God bless and keep you always. You are in my prayers.

Everyone… please go to confession.

Fathers… please hear confessions.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, GO TO CONFESSION, HONORED GUESTS, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Genna says:

    Hooray! Welcome back. God be praised. We’ll be praying for you, too.

  2. Mark Nel says:

    In contrast, yesterday a friend told me that when he enquired from his parish priest when Confession times were this week, the response was as follows; or as close as dammit to these lines: “Monday of Holy Week was the last Confession time in the parish for Holy Week. Confession will next be heard after Easter.”

    I of course didn’t believe him. It is impossible to believe that even the most dissident Catholic priest would respond in this way. I, because I am anal, sent an email to the same priest requesting Confession times. I received the exact same response as is quoted above in writing. I then sent the same request to his parish secretary, just in case he was drunk when he responded to my email. The secretaries written response was the same.

    I am an Anglican convert from about 26 years ago when I was in my 20’s. I often speak about “when I was in the Anglican Church, which drives Catholics nuts. One of the comments I often make when doing so, though tongue in cheek of course, is that it may be easier to find a Confessor in the Anglo-Catholic Anglican Church than in the Catholic Church. Maybe I shouldn’t be making that comment quite so tongue in cheek?

    God bless and praise God for that person going to Confession. Now let’s pray for lots of Confessors who are always ready and willing to hear these confessions.

  3. Welcome back to the reader of the original letter, I am so happy for you!
    Mark, what you have written is so disheartening… :(

    I also went to confession yesterday in the evening, Fr. had an hour Wednesday evening from 6-7 with Exposition. (At this church there is a “Reconciliation Room”; as you enter Fr. sits behind a free-standing screen and you can either choose to stay there or walk round it and sit on a chair facing him. Thus everyone can choose to confess how they prefer, which is just brilliant.) It is such a joy to be able to start the Holy Triduum this way! Blessed be Our Lord for giving us the Sacrament of Penance; and for the priests who hear our confessions!

  4. To the writer of the original letter, sorry.

  5. Muv says:

    Well done Fr. Z and bravo to the lady who finally plucked up the courage to go to confession.

    The ghastly trend for face to face confession has probably put thousands of people off. I will only go if there is a proper confessional with a grille and a curtain.

    I have walked out of one confessional before starting because there was no curtain and the priest had his face right up to the grille to look through.

    At another church I turned up at confessions time and the priest was sitting in the middle of the church in a bench. I was out of there in seconds.

    When I went to Lisieux on a pilgrimage I found the confessional boxes are miniature rooms with glass fronts, with the priest sitting behind a table like some sort of robed doctor. Utterly frightful – not only is the penitent deprived of the privacy afforded by the grille, but the next people in the queue (if any) can gawp from the outside to guess how long they will be waiting. Great fun for lipreaders.

    If the state insists we vote in private, it’s a shame the church can’t give us the same for confession.

  6. cheerios in my pocket says:

    What a joy! God is Mercy! Two quick sharings…
    First, it brings me back to when my Dad was alive. He had accepted so many different sufferings during his last 10 years on earth that he wasn’t able to get to confession for a number of those years. Somewhere, perhaps within the last year of his life, I always asked if he wanted me to take him to confession and he kindly said no. But there was that one time, he said yes. My Dad was mostly blind at that point, was still able to use his walker, though. He came out of the confessional (going in thinking he was going to be “kicked out of there”) almost levitating. His words still chime in my heart, “That Priest is a Saint!” How grateful he was.
    It also brings back my own general confession upon my “reversion” to the Faith. I was with Fr. Bob for an hour. Going in with the weight of my sins, and they were many. Coming out walking on air, weightless. Thank you Fr. Bob! Thank you Fr. Z! Thank you who shared about your return! And Thanks be to God, Who Is Mercy! Blessed Holy Thursday to all!

  7. LaudemGloriae says:

    Yes! This makes me so happy to hear this morning. I have been this woman, returning after a long time. I know the anxiety and the joy. Keep going, it does gets easier.

    In past years it has been hard to find much access to Confession, but even in my somewhat liberal diocese, the trend is changing. There have been impressive campaigns to make the sacrament more widely available. It can be hard just before Easter, what with the RCIA rush and all.

  8. VARoman says:

    I love this story! It reminds me of my own experience to a “T”. From my mid-teens through my early 30s, I was the most lapsed of lapsed Catholics. I think I attended Mass 4 times over that 20 year period.

    Then, in April of 2005, I was awakened by the Holy Spirit. Upon the death of Blessed John Paul II, I felt a gravitational pull back to the Church. It was so overwhelming that I could not work for days.

    After researching on the Internet how best to make a general confession, I plucked up the courage and just went for it. I kneeled in that confessional for the better part of an hour. The sins just flowed out of me.

    When I was finished, the priest told me I had made his day. He was positively giddy from my return to a sacramental life.

    Since that time, I go to confession monthly, and have got my nine year old daughter in the habit. Last week she spontaneously told me how great she feels after going to confession.

    Keep up the great work!

  9. B16_Fan says:

    I am also a soon-to-be former Anglican (2 more days!) currently in RCIA and finally worked up the courage to go yesterday. It was similar to CatholicCoffee with the option for a screen or face-to-face. It’s hard to describe the feeling when it was over. The “weightless” comment in an earlier post probably comes closest, but also whole and full, if that makes sense. I just wish Saturday night would get here! Thank you Father Z for all that you do, and please do ask everyone to pray for all of us in RCIA preparing to enter the true Church this weekend. One of our class leaders said that this week can be very dangerous as it is the last opportunity for Satan to strike before we join the Church.

  10. Eugene says:

    this post really tugs at my heart..I have a situation where I am the only adult in my family of 6 that goes to confession…I constantly pray for my wife and adult children and son-in law to return to this sacrament….so far my prayers are unanswered…is that a reflection of my poor faith and example or is it really not up to me but up to them…daily I struggle with this

  11. Eugene says:

    oh i forgot to say…God bless your courgae to return to this most precious sacrament…a Blessed and Happy Eatser to you and your family!

  12. LarryW2LJ says:


    With a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. Man, that must be pretty close to the ultimate for a priest!

    In my mind, I can see angels dancing in Heaven.

  13. The Masked Chicken says:

    This, from Carl Olsen:

    “A Catholic may sin and sin as badly as anyone else,” wrote Archbishop Fulton Sheen, “but no genuine Catholic ever denies he is a sinner. A Catholic wants his sins forgiven—not excused or sublimated.” One of Sheen’s heroes, G. K. Chesterton, put it very directly when asked why he became Catholic: ‘To get my sins forgiven.'”

    The Chicken

  14. Skeinster says:

    Deo gratias! Have the most fruitful of Triduums ! May God use your letter as a ‘nudge’ to many.

    Our pastor once told me that, after celebrating Mass, the best part of being a priest was hearing confessions. This, after I had thanked him for the hours they all spend, before, during and after Mass hearing ours. We are so very blessed, but wish we were not the exception.

  15. Skeinster says:

    I know. Am I doing enough? Too much? The wrong approach? The doubts about our own actions are almost as bad as the angst about others’s status. In the end, it’s not us. It’s them, b/c, free will.
    We’re not sure how our prayers for others work in this instance, but we continue, irregardless.
    Happy Holy Thursday to all.

  16. RJ Sciurus says:

    Yea!!!!!! Well done, FrZ and bravo to all who return. Of course, I must now wonder if all of the people standing in line behind her subsequently confessed their impatience ;-)

  17. DavidJ says:

    There’s a certain A word I wish I could respond with. Not until Sunday though!

  18. KristinLA says:

    Last week our church had a Lenten penance service with 6 priests hearing confessions. I stood in line for one and a half hours to confess. I believe that if we had more than just Saturday afternoon offered people would make use of it. There are times when not everyone in line gets in before the vigil Mass begins and other times the priest starts Mass late. The need is there.

  19. mamajen says:

    Congratulations! That was very brave of you not only to go after such a long absence, but to go face-to-face as well! Have a joyful Easter.

  20. aleighanne says:

    Last night after 5+ years (its so long I forgot) I went to confession. Got there right on time and was 15th in line. Made it to 3rd in line (15 minutes before mass) and priest stopped hearing them. Hopefully I can get the courage up again to go.

  21. FloridaJoan says:

    Father Z,

    I am also very grateful for your encouragement regarding confession. I am very happy for the lady who returned after 16 years. We had a penance service ( and individual confessions ) last Friday night . In the Parrish bulletin it stated there would be no confessions during Holy Week.

    pax et bonum

  22. Kathleen10 says:

    Well imagine that. Of all the rewards of whatever it is we do with our lives, that is a royal flush, it beats everything. Father Z. How amazing. Gosh, to be a priest.

    Many amusing comments in this combox.
    Mark: to balance out your horror story may it console you to know there are many priests who do just the opposite, and seem legitimately eager for folks to come to their many confession times.
    Eugene: Similar situation in my family. Mass is one thing but confession? However, after many years of semi-promises, my husband is going to confession after about 30 years. (!)
    I have mentioned before my beloved Mother, who passed not quite two years ago, at 95 and one day. Her mother passed when she was 6, and that ended her Baptist Church experience. She put us in Baptist Sunday school and helped out at the church now and then. My mother was a complex person, high-spirited and rebellious on the one hand, incomparable christian attitude and behavior on the other. At 75 she was baptized into the Roman Catholic faith, and I was her sponsor. She had not been baptized since Baptists wait until one is around 13. When she became ill at 94, the priest came and gave her extreme unction, about 6 months before she passed.
    I cannot tell you how much comfort all this gives me. My beloved mother, my dear, would have died without being baptized! What a sense of peace I felt, and feel. She died after receiving holy communion within months. What consolation.
    But, I have other family members I dearly love who are far, far away from God. My most fervent prayer, the one above all, is “Please Jesus, may all my dear ones attain salvation, no matter what”. I have prayed this for years and I just trust that since Jesus is my Savior and Friend, He knows this is most important to me, and I feel in my heart, I can trust Him with that. Intercessory prayer is so very powerful! Your prayers may not result in one iota of consolation to you in your lifetime, but only after! God didn’t intend us to worry over our loved one’s eternal destiny. Trust Him on it and just pray with a happy heart. He hears you.
    Great comments, everybody.

  23. JabbaPapa says:

    God bless your courageous reader, and her husband, in her return to Full Communion with our Holy Church :-)

  24. cdnpriest says:

    Sadly, the pastor here has announced in the bulletin, “No Confessions will be heard during the Triduum”. As the associate pastor, I cannot go against his wishes and sit in the Confessional waiting for penitents. Sad, very sad. But I do accept “individual requests”: when a parishioner asks me privately to hear his Confession, I never refuse — not even during the Paschal Triduum (ESPECIALLY not then!). Parishioners here know that, and so some have approached me personally for Confession, which I always gladly accept.

    Faithful brethren, please pray for your priests. Many of them seem to have the idea that Confessions on Good Friday are not permitted. Of course, more often than not, it is just an excuse for avoiding more apostolate on an already-busy day for priests. Compare this to what the great Archbishop Sheen used to say: “The priest is not his own.” Indeed, we are not our own. Even our time does not belong to us: it is to be offered generously at the service of God for the salvation of souls. Pray for your priests.

  25. happyCatholic says:

    What joy for the letter writer to Father Z and for all to rejoice with her!

    To Eugene and the others with similar comments: I have most of my family members in the same situation. I am struggling with if there is anything I can do to reach them. I have prayed for their salvation for years, as Kathleen10 so encouragingly reminds us.

    I wonder, too, if our pain and distress over their current apparent separation from the Lord as well as the concern and uncertainty that causes us, as well as the very real second-guessing of whether we could have done better, may not in fact be “fill[ing] up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His Body, the Church” That it is the very doubt, uncertainty, and longing to do it over again in hopes of getting it “right” — these sorrows and “sufferings” — are what the dear Lord can use in facilitating their return. I do not know if I am theologically correct in my thinking, but I hope so, as this thought does help me endure when the distress is greater.

  26. The Sicilian Woman says:

    Excellent news! Thanks to the writer for sharing this. Dear writer, keep going! The more often you attend, the easier it will be!

    Our community hosts at least seven penitential services prior to Christmas and Easter. My parish hosted the last Lenten service this past Friday. The church was packed! Rather than wait, I left, choosing to go to a neighboring parish on Saturday where a friend of mine attends, as she told me recently there were seldom long lines there. (Though any attendance was an improvement over my being the only person going for confession the day I went to confession there several years ago, for the first time in 20+ years. I suspect that was the norm then.)

    When I went to St. Neighboring Parish, I was surprised to see that there were indeed several people ahead of me, and that several people came in after me. I stayed for Mass where Fr. announced that there wouldn’t be any confessions heard this Saturday. My pastor, however, is having about four hours of Confession on Good Friday, and maintaining his usual 2 hours of confession on Saturday, hours before the Easter Vigil.

    Just go and get it done!

  27. rkingall says:

    In the past few months, I have returned to regular confession. I, too, was absent for a long time. It’s been so liberating to go every couple of weeks and get the stuff out. And, for the first time in my adult life, I think I have used the period of Lent the way you are supposed to, and really examine life, my conscience, the person I have been and the person I strive to be. I have made weekly confessions, done the penance, and where applicable, made the amends with people in my life. I feel lighter than I have since I was in a size 8 jeans way back in my 20’s. :)

    In any case, I went to confession last night. However, there is something that bothers me a bit, and I wonder if others have had this experience. There is very little in the way of discussion/dialog with the priest, who is the pastor of the church (our little country church is very small – only 2 priests). He doesn’t really say anything to me in response to some of the whoppers I’ve confessed. Is that normal? I kind of expect something. Not necessarily serious admonission (although if he did, it would not be unwarranted), but maybe some encouraging words? To be clear, I bring a roll of tissues into the confessional, because I know what I have done, and it ain’t pretty. And then to top it off, the penance he gives me seems really light. I don’t feel it matches the gravity of the sins. So, I pray more, which cannot be a bad thing. But all this makes me wonder if he really listening, or if my sins are not that serious.

    Anyone else come across this? If so, what did you do to resolve?

  28. LarryW2LJ says:

    If more people made use of Confession, the need for psychologists and psychiatrists would diminish.

  29. Priam1184 says:

    Wonderful story! I went to Confession for the first time in more than 20 years last fall and I had to hem and haw about it for 2 months before I did it but came away with the conclusion that, for a lot of people in this world, a proper examination of conscience and a good 5-10 minutes in the Confessional would be worth more than a lifetime of therapy…

    Incidentally, Father, if you are reading this section please publish more info on how to do a proper examination of conscience. This was for me the hardest part as I had been away for so long. I didn’t know which of my sins were mortal (I know that most mortal sins should be obvious but some aren’t to the uncatechized mind) or venial, and I didn’t know everything about how to discern even which of my actions were sins or not. I know that sounds absurd but my suspicion is that many, especially those who have been away for a while are in that position. I eventually found a good guide for doing an examination of conscience in the 1962 Roman Missal. Anyways, if you could help on that subject it would do many people a lot of good I think.

  30. Bender says:

    He doesn’t really say anything to me in response to some of the whoppers I’ve confessed. Is that normal? . . . the penance he gives me seems really light. I don’t feel it matches the gravity of the sins.

    Remember that the purpose of the Sacrament of Penance is forgiveness of sins — making a good confession of those sins and receiving absolution. It is not about therapy or counseling, etc. That’s not to say that therapy and counseling might not be helpful to people, just that Confession is not the time or place for it. That said, some words of comfort or instruction from the priest are helpful to grow in the faith and grace.

    As for the penance fitting the sin — Of course it doesn’t. It can’t. The only way to fully pay given the gravity of your sins (or mine or anyone else’s) is to be nailed to the Cross on Good Friday. Only Jesus can fully pay that debt. Anything else, anything we might receive in Confession is always going to be a mere pittance as compared to the full gravity of our sin, especially when that sin is mortal, i.e. incurring eternal death if not forgiven. But again, it is helpful if the penance given requires one to stop and think, so as to truly be able to give something back, to help out in some small fashion. Then go out and help Jesus carry the Cross in other ways with the entirety of your life.

  31. tradical says:

    That is great news to the original letter writer. And Father Z, you’re doing a great service to the Church and I’m glad you can see it’s impact on others (like me too!).

    My family and I go to confession pretty regularly. We had not been to the regular parish church in a few weeks (having recently started assisting instead at an SSPX chapel). Because of the question of faculty (which I’m not trying to reopen, just mentioning), we decided to go to confession at the regular parish church at the regular time. There was a big sign on the door saying it was cancelled for Holy Week.
    That making no sense, we went in and poked around. We bumped into a few other parishioners we know who were all milling about, having come for the same reason as us, and were likewise in disbelief.
    We checked out the websites for the other 2 NO parishes nearby – also no confession taking place. There is an FSSP parish a decent drive away and that is probably what we will have to do.
    While I initially started this comment out just to add my personal experience, I realize how blessed we are – 3 parish churches, 1 SSPX chapel, 1 FSSP, all within about 45 minutes from here. Thanks be to God.

  32. maxthedog123 says:

    Congrats on the return after so long. That is wonderful!!

    It pains me when I see parishes with essentially no time for confession. The closest parish to me has several thousand families and has the typical 30 minutes before Saturday Vigil Mass listed in the bulletin.

    I live in the Cincinnati area – last year I went to “pray the steps” at Immaculata in Mt. Adams. Imagine my surprise and to find the vocations director and the seminary rector hearing confessions at the top of the steps. Very cool.

    Yes, there was no screen and the confessions were face to face. You know what – my theory has become “any port in a storm”. If there are priests generous enough to here confessions, I am grateful. If my pride and/or humility is hurt a bit if the situation is less private than I would prefer I am OK with that. What is the alternative? I’d rather get absolution than walk away and count on a “next time” that might not come.

    I used to travel 100% of the time and there were occasions where (I’m sure everyone gets this) I simply NEEDED to go to confession right away. Not later, now. I have some very funny stories about the most generous priests (and a couple of bishops) and unbelievable control freak parish secretaries. A couple of favorites:

    1. NYC, St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I went to an early Mass around 7am. I asked a sacristan if there was a priest for a very quick confession. Sacristan said, “I don’t think Father has time, but wait”. Old Monsignor walks out and says, “I have to get ready for Mass, if you want the sacrament lean close enough to my ear and we will begin.” I said “Where?” and he said, “Here! Be quick.” Again, no screen, but what a relief to get the slate clean.

    2. Atlanta. I called around to find a church near the dome/convention center. Man answers phone and I ask if there is a priest available to schedule confession. Man says, “I am a priest. Can we schedule tomorrow?” I explained I was on a plane first thing and he said, “How long will it take for you to get here?” I said, “15 minutes” and he said “come now”. I knock on the rectory door and a deacon who was obviously vesting says, “Monsignor is not available.” I said, “Respectfully, I just talked to him 15 minutes ago.” Deacon closes the door, comes back, leads me down the hall. Msgr. sits down, I confess, he asked me several questions, gives me advice – in general, like he is in no big hurry. After absolution, he says “Are you in a hurry to leave? The Archbishop will be here for Mass in about half an hour. We have most of the priests of the diocese coming – it’s kind of an annual meeting – but you are welcome to stay.” I was in awe and felt very humble – this kind priest made time for the sacraments when he was expecting a full house within the hour!!!

    Fr. Z, I know, turn up at the appointed time. In those days, I was flying multiple times per week and there wasn’t a “time” I could just turn up for the sacrament. God bless priests who give it all up for the service of the rest of us.

    P.S. In those times where I was clearly “imposing” but the good Father made time, I always try to follow Fr. Z’s advice: how long since you’ve been, what did you do (number/kind), clarify if asked. Even for things that are “serious”, that format really does not take long.

  33. happyCatholic says:

    Eugene and others,

    I just heard I believe it was Father Bill Casey on EWTN for some of their special Lenten programming. He reminded everyone that Sister Lucia said that the Lord is giving special efficacy to the recitation of the rosary and especially the intercession of our Blessed Mother in solving all problems, whether of family or of nations. That reminder boosted my spirit and resolve and I am passing it along in case it is helpful for others. (I think I am remembering his comments correctly.)

    I will not post more in this vein, because I just now realized I am swaying off topic. I just wanted to pass along the reminder of our Lady’s powerful intercession.

  34. Will D. says:

    To the original writer: Welcome home. Thanks be to God!

    As for the availability of confession, it really is tragic that more parishes don’t make it more widely available. Especially during Holy Week. The readings and liturgies dramatically highlight our sinfulness and our need for God’s grace. I am very grateful for the Capuchin Friars at the Catholic Center at the Citadel Mall here in Colorado Springs. They hear confession from 10AM to 8PM Monday through Saturday. I pray that this type of ministry catches on in other places, because it makes the Sacrament so much more visible and available.

  35. Torpedo1 says:

    At Rkingball,
    I too, have confessed some biggies in my time, and have, at times, thought I’d like a little more than just a simple penence from Father, but what I always remember is this. Christ is in that Confessional with you and I have experienced the Holy Spirit speaking through the priest. It isn’t often, perhaps twice, but Father said something regarding my life that he could not have known. That experience is mind-blowing. All you can do is sit there in awe of what just happened. My point in telling you all of this is to say, trust Christ. Trust that the Holy Spirit is telling you, through the priest, exactly what you need to hear. If you really want more advice or information, you can always ask Father a question or two once the sacrament is completed. I do that and they are always willing to listen and answer me. Sometimes, however, out of charity and concern for others waiting in line, I’ll save my question for another day or time and that’s ok. The sacrament is healing enough in itself and we must remember that. I only mention all of this because I don’t want you to think that because Father doesn’t give you more advice or admonishments, that the confession wasn’t good enough. This can lead to scrupulosity and believe me, you don’t want to wander down that painful path. I’m so happy you are making regular Confessions and keep it up. Remember Christ loves you, and he will never allow you to lose your soul. God bless everyone here and God bless you Fr. Z. We need you and we all love and are praying for you.

  36. BalmerCatholic says:

    @LarryW2LJ: Maybe, but then again, some folks do have legitimate reasons for being medicated. Case in point, I suffer from ADHD, and while I don’t like being on the meds for it, nobody seems to like me when I’m off of them. It is what it is.

    @Will D.: Awesome! I will make a note of that whenever I have to traverse out to the Springs again. Of course, it’ll only be temporary, since my wife has stated CO is not a place she wants to be (something about being landlocked and that she got bad altitude sickness during WYD ’93 in Denver, the same event where my dad’s brother and SIL personally met with one Josef Cardinal Ratzinger while their parish was helping in the preparations). Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?

    One quibble: how about the USCCB, or more traditionally minded bishops and clergy, on their own, stop applying the abortion paradigm to Penance (specifically the “rare” part)? It’s not like it’s going to kill us if us faithful Catholics frequent it more often, you know?

  37. APX says:

    Tradical, before you drive to the FSSP parish confession, do call ahead of time to make sure your confession can be heard. It’s a busy time for priests (altar boy practices, last minute singing practices, setting up for all the different Masses, ceremonies, etc). Our prior priest from the FSSP scheduled extra confession times for Good Friday and Holy Saturday (I think he was in the confessional hearing confessions a good 2.5-3 hrs on Good Friday. We were lined up almost out the door). Our new priest said if we want to have our confession heard before Easter, come before Holy Thursday because during the Triduum, it’s too busy.

  38. LarryW2LJ says:


    I didn’t mean eliminated – I just meant the need might be reduced. Not arguing that there is a valid need for psychologists and psychiatrists (including my Mom, when she was alive, who needed and went to a psychiatrist for years) ; but I often wonder how many of their patients just suffer from the side effects of needless, pent up guilt, that could be eliminated simply by going to confession.

  39. APX says:


    There are many different ways to examine one’s conscience depending on one’s spiritual needs. For things like mortal sins and having been away from confession for awhile, Fr. Z addressed that here: https://wdtprs.com/2011/04/quaeritur-i-havent-been-to-confession-for-10-years-i-dont-know-what-to-do-2/ when someone was having a little freak out over not knowing how to confess sins properly and stumbled upon Fr. Z’s blog via Google (I’m pretty sure the Holy Spirit works through Google…at least for me.).

  40. rkingall says:

    Thank you, Torpedo1, for the kind words. That really did make me feel more at ease.

    I can’t accurately express how thankful I am to have found this website. I think I got a link to it from the Mystic Monk coffee website or maybe from watching The Vortex. But in any case, this helps me so much. I have come to realize that I was what is commonly called a “Cafeteria Catholic”, and goodness, did I have some bizzare and backwards opinions/thoughts about the faith. And here I am, a product of K-12 Catholic schooling and Catholic university for undergraduate. I’m pretty sure I know what happened to me: the lure of the “enlightened” secular culture. But, thankfully, I am on my way back to the Truth.

    God bless Fr. Z. and all on here and wishes for a beautiful and blessed Easter!

  41. Marie Teresa says:

    Until the Bishops require their priests to offer the Sacraments, there will always be those of us with no access to weekday Mass or to Confession.

    Our pastor offered Confession once during Advent and once again during Lent. The previous year he didn’t offer it at all. He says that we – his parishioners – don’t have an understanding of the Sacrament. About 80-85% of us went.

    (Yes, I pray for the priest and for the bishop. And yes, several parishioners have written to the bishop but received no response. And yes, at least a few of us used Fr. Z’s rules for writing the Bishop as a guide.)

  42. Torpedo1 says:

    At Rkingbal,
    You’re welcome. I’m glad I could make you feel better and I know where you’ve been regarding drifting through Catholicism as if it were simply an option among lots of other options. I came home and I did it through Confession. Was it scary? yes. Was it the right thing to do? Oh yes and I am so happy and so in love with Christ and the Church he founded. Confession is my second favorite among the sacraments. Everyone have a great Easter and rest of Holy Week.

  43. Joseph-Mary says:

    Once went 19 years between confessions. Now a regular, thanks be to God and His holy Mother!
    Especially if a parish only offers the little window of opportunity for confessions on a Saturday, one must think ahead: for example no confessions on Holy Saturday. I have liked it when the priests would hear confessions after Holy Thursday Mass or in the afternoon on Good Friday.

    My parish and one other in town has confessions normally 6 days a week. On the feast of St. Joseph, confessions were offered for 12 hours at my parish and the lines were long as folks come from all over! My husband went at noon and was late for work at 1:30 It is the old “if you build it, they will come”.
    I was fortunate however, in that I went to confession on Monday and then to the surprise of many the signs went up on the confessionals that there would be no more confessions this week. And people have been coming who would not have guessed that. Other parishes are doing the same. You just have to be vigilant on the high holy days.

  44. Jeannie_C says:

    I avoided the Sacrament of Confession for many years because I didn’t really understand “how” to do it, though I understood the “why”. Our R.C.I.A. was a little loosey-goosey on the instruction in that regard. However, last Advent I went face to face, asked the priest to lead me step by step, so that I could one day go behind the screen and make a good confession. He was happy to teach me. At the end he told me I’d made a good confession, we’d killed two birds with one stone, and in response to my saying how easy it was, after all, how I hoped it would be this easy come Judgement Day, he replied “It’s what we’re all counting on.”

    The biggest obstacle for me was having been originally instructed not to take a laundry list of sins into the confessional, rather to look for patterns of sinfulness. Even without a psychology degree, I know what my patterns are, but how to express it, particularly face to face? It was through reading this blog and Fr. Z’s advice that I decided to do the laundry list, just say it out loud and if Father needed any clarification, trust he would ask for it. I found this a far more honest confession because the aforementioned model veered too close (for me) to giving explanations and making excuses for myself. While some folks might prefer face to face, I do not – I feel frightened, tongue-tied, the Sacrament ends up being far from a celebration of forgiveness. So, thank you Fr. Z and for all who have posted with their advice and experience, greatly appreciated!

    As far as wondering why a priest does not have a lot to say in the confessional, I’d like to think it’s because he’s there to forgive, not to counsel or condemn. Most if not all priests will take more time if requested by appointment for in-depth spiritual direction, but my impression of the confessional is to get down to business.

  45. daughter of poor gemma says:

    “In contrast, yesterday a friend told me that when he enquired from his parish priest when Confession times were this week, the response was as follows; or as close as dammit to these lines: “Monday of Holy Week was the last Confession time in the parish for Holy Week. Confession will next be heard after Easter.””

    In my parish, the last opportunity for confession was the Thursday before Palm Sunday…

  46. -Our pastor offered Confession once during Advent and once again during Lent. The previous year he didn’t offer it at all.
    – In my parish, the last opportunity for confession was the Thursday before Palm Sunday…

    Reading comments like this just makes me… downright scared :(( As does what cdnpriest says…
    Muv, what makes me shy away from confession is if the only way is a grilled-screened confessional. (I will still do it if I am in mortal sin, but only then.) I am aware that Canon Law does not give the penitent the right to face-to-face but I am just so grateful that it is permitted! For me that’s the only way it can become the celebration it should be. I have had some very intense and profound experiences in confession – always face to face.

  47. Vox Laudis says:

    To the original writer–Welcome back and thank you for encouraging us.

    To B16_fan: I, too, am a former Anglo-Catholic (crossed the Tiber in 2008), and Papa Benedict was my favorite theologian forever, even before my conversion; his election and Summorum Pontificum were what brought me into the Church after 30 years of refusing Our Lord’s specific invitation. My response to my first confession: if I had had any doubts (which I didn’t) about coming into the Church, the grace, the reality of the forgiveness, and the sheer lightness of soul as a result of my first confession would have been enough to convince me that the Church is the One True Church established by Our Lord and that all She professes and holds to be True is True. I have often said since then that I don’t know how I lived without Confession.

    I will be praying for you, as your catechist is absolutely right–that same warning came from our parish priest in the two weeks before my son and I entered the Church on the First Sunday of Advent, and indeed there were roadblocks thrown up during the last three days!

    One other thing I have recommended to friends who have come into the Church: if the Oath of Abjuration is not to be part of your Confirmation, meditate on it in private and offer it to Our Lord in the church. (Our priest, who was given the faculties to confirm us in the EF, insisted that I take the oath publicly; my son, who was 11 at the time, was permitted the short form.) You can find it at http://www.traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Information/Reception_of_Converts.html

  48. PomeroyonthePalouse says:

    Fr Kevin at the Pullman Newman Center sure pushes confession. My college daughter posted this on her facebook line yesterday:
    “Just a friendly reminder to all my Catholic friends, on Easter Sunday there is an obligation to receive the Eucharist (a once every year type thing)…so if you need to go to confession then you should do that soon.”

  49. pimentinha says:

    Yesterday, after confirming that our local parish had cancelled all confession times for this week, my husband and I packed up the four little boys and drove an hour away to the cathedral. There were four priests scheduled to hear confessions from 11-noon, before 12:05 Mass. There were still two pews full of people waiting in line when they came out and told us that we were out of time. That was our last opportunity for confession before Easter. How unfortunate and disappointing!

    This prompted a discussion with my dad. A question for those who might know: If you intend to confess, or are on your way there, but are thwarted for some reason and you die with unconfessed mortal sins… do you pay the everlasting penalty if you don’t have perfect contrition?

  50. Oliverian says:

    Very inspiring to read your testimony. Thank you for sharing it – it WILL inspire others!

    Of all the sacraments, there are only two that we can receive pretty much as often as we like. For priests to neglect to offer Confession generously (and to neglect to preach and teach on its great value) is to deprive the laity of fifty percent of the sacramental grace routinely available to us! I regard that as a dereliction of duty, and spiritual malpractice.

    When the minimal obligation for a Catholic is to receive Holy Communion once a year at least, and at Easter, it is hard to understand why priests would cut off Confessions very early in, or even before, Holy Week. Isn’t there more joy in Heaven over finding the one lost sheep, than the 99 who stayed in the fold? It’s not as if Father had to out into the wilderness to find the lost sheep … just sit in the warm, dry box, and the sheep will come to you. If you’re there.

    Further, a perceptive priest wrote (it was in Homiletic and Pastoral Review, I think) that only those priests who frequently hear their parishioners’ confessions _truly_ know their own flock. The priest who neglects his time “in the box” really has no idea about the issues troubling his people, the state of their souls, their degree of knowledge (or ignorance) of the Faith. He misses the opportunity to correct misperceptions.

    More mystically, (in that same HPR article, I think), the point was made that the hearing of confessions aids the priest’s own sanctification, in that it provides him the opportunity to model himself on our Lord, by taking the sins of his children on his own shoulders.

    We lay people can ‘dump our trash’ on our poor, long-suffering parish confessor … but because of the seal of confession he simply has to absorb it. He can’t pass it along. Except to our Lord.

    Such a priest is a treasure … with experience as a confessor he learns to see Reality as it is, and knows human nature far better than any $500 an hour psychiatrist. (Perhaps if we had to book our Confessions a year in advance, and pay the $250 per half-hour fee in advance, we would value the sacrament more?)

    It’s wonderful to know that priests have the consolation and joy, every once in a while, of receiving a penitent who has been ‘lost’ for twenty years. What better time of year to receive such a gift than in the days before Easter? Priests who avoid the confessional stunt themselves.

    Perhaps, after being shriven and doing our penances, we all might make it a routine thing to offer a special prayer of thanksgiving specifically for our confessors, in their office OF confessor?

  51. APX says:

    “Just a friendly reminder to all my Catholic friends, on Easter Sunday there is an obligation to receive the Eucharist (a once every year type thing)…so if you need to go to confession then you should do that soon.”

    Not to be a nitpicker, but the Church’s precept is that one must receive communion once a year during the Easter Season, not on Easter. There’s 50 days to fulfill the precept.

  52. Will D. says:

    Perhaps, after being shriven and doing our penances, we all might make it a routine thing to offer a special prayer of thanksgiving specifically for our confessors, in their office OF confessor?

    A thousand times, yes! I have gotten into the habit of praying for my confessor, all other priests hearing confessions that day, all penitents that come to them, and those who need and want to confess but cannot find the courage to make a good confession. (I was in that last group for at least a year before I could finally get it done.)
    Having read the comments in this thread, I think I will try and add a petition for those who wish to confess, but are unable to find a priest willing to hear it.

  53. Di says:

    Praise GOD†
    Welcome Home†
    April 8th 2009 was my first time to Confession in over 33 years. Back then when they started going face to face I was in the 6th grade, I decided I wasn’t going to go anymore and lied to get out of going. I went to Catholic grade school 1975 in the Archdioceses of Cincinnati(that tells you a little something).
    All I could think of standing in line was “Dear GOD don’t let me get stopped saying all the sins I had committed” He was a wonderful priest, and it was not face to face.
    There was something strange that happened. As I was confessing trying to get all of my sins out and crying, He said to me “Diane your sins are forgiven”. I was in shock, there was no possible way the priest knew my name. It was then that I knew it was GOD forgiving me and it is HIM every time. I now go weekly to Confession and every time I go I think how could I have ever stayed away so very long.
    May GOD bless our priests always and may the mantle of our Blessed Ever Virgin Mary protect and keep them close to her Immaculate Heart.
    “Nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good.”
    ~ Pope Leo XIII (Sapientae Christianae, No. 14, encyclical, 1890)

  54. PomeroyonthePalouse says:

    APXI’m not going to be the person to tell her to delete her facebook post. (grin) As I remember her telling me, the priest did say during the Easter Season, but how many other college freshmen are telling their friends to GO TO CONFESSION?

  55. deliberatejoy says:

    Our basilica has been AMAZING this Easter season re. confessions, but then, it’s amazing all year round. Our priests are hardcore there, and they serve people from all over the city – all the parishes – in taking up the slack where the smaller congregations leave off, or simply won’t/don’t provide. Given that… (grin) I went just before Mass on Holy Thursday, and there were no extra bells and whistles that day. It was strictly ‘spit it out, here’s your penance and absolution, have a great day.’ NOT the typical, but considering the line-ups, I think that they’d been told by the rector that they were to make every effort to accommodate everyone possible.

Comments are closed.