Different confessional practices/customs around the world

Under another entry concerning “confessional etiquette” a commentator raised the good point that people from different language/ethnic backgrounds have different formulae for beginning and ending their sacramental confessions.

Most Americans of a certain age learned to begin “Bless me Father, I have sinned…” and to conclude “For these and all the sins…”.

There are people from all over the world who read this blog.

Mind you, there is a lot of flexibility in these practices.  I think people should have a regular way of confessing in harmony with their region.  This helps them be at ease.  This is especially important for children.

Let’s talk about some of the different practices!

And more importantly…


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, Linking Back, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Msgr. F. Nave says:

    Our children are taught to conclude their confession with: “For these and all my sins I am heartily sorry, and I ask pardon of God and absolution of you, Father, if you think that I am worthy.”

  2. Brent S says:

    Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.
    My last confession was [number of days/weeks/months/years ago].
    I am a/an [state in life].
    Since my last confession, I accuse myself of [kind and number].
    For these sins, and all the sins I have ever committed, I beg pardon of Almighty God, and penance and absolution of you, Father.

  3. Bea says:

    We were a Spanish/American community but all our priests at that time were French.
    I made my First Confession/Communion in 1944.

    We were taught to say:
    “Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It’s been XXX since my last confession”
    Then we would enumerate our sins XX times a day/week/month or I did this once.
    This would give the priest an idea how deep rooted our sinfulness/faults were.
    Our catechism class was led up the hill to church once a month for confession after a few minutes of silence in the classroom. The rebel boys were usually absent at this monthly session.

    We were taught to keep our eyes forward or to the ground and mediate on just WHO we were going to receive. This really contributed to receiving Our Lord with greater devotion.

    Many Anglos believe we kiss our thumbs when making the Sign of the Cross.
    What we do is put our thumb upright and our pointer finger bent behind it to form a Cross with our fingers. What we kiss is not the thumb but the Cross made by our fingers.

    As another poster mentioned on the other thread.
    We were taught his same words as a prayer:
    AVE MARIA PURISIMA (Hail Mary, Most Pure)
    CONCEVIDA SIN PECADO ORIGINAL (Conceived without sin)
    EN LA VIDA Y EN LA MUERTE (in life and at death)
    AMPARANOS, GRAN SEÑORA (Protect us, Oh Great Lady)

  4. Pax--tecum says:

    In Dutch you would first ask you confessor’s blessing:
    “Heer, wil mij zegenen.” (Lord, deign to bless me.)
    Then you would say:
    “Ik belijd mijn schuld voor de almachtige God en ook voor U, vader. Mijn laatste biecht is geweest…” (I confess my guilt before almighty God and also before you, father. My last confession was…)
    Then you would continue by confessing your sins. You would conclude with:
    “Deze en al mijn andere zonde zijn mij van harte leed; ik beschuldig mij daarvan en vraag ootmoedig de heilige absolutie en een zalige penitentie.” (For these and all my other sins I am heartily sorry; I accuse myself of them and I humbly ask for the sacred absolution and a holy penance.)

  5. scarda says:

    I was taught to begin by saying “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.” It seems less like getting a blessing for sinning.
    At the ending we were taught to thank the priest, both in gratitude and to make it clear that we were leaving the confessional.

  6. Father S. says:

    I heard Confessions for years in Spanish. Almost always, before the Sign of the Cross, on the advice of many faithful penitents, I would begin with, “Ave Maria, purísima” to which the reply feom the penitent would be “sin pecado concebida.” (“Hail purest Mary” and “conceived without sin”) I still hear these almost always when I go to assist with Spanish Confessions.

  7. sunbreak says:

    In Poland, a common way to do this:
    Penitent kneeling, says clearly: “Praised be Jesus Christ.”
    The priest says, “For ever and ever. Amen.” Then penitent says: “In the name of the Father and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen and goes on to describe himself/herself briefly e.g. I am x years old … I’m (child, student, married, married, widowed). Then penitent confesses sins. Priest may provide brief advice, then grants absolution with sign of cross. Penitent then says ” Praise the Lord, for he is good” and priest answers: “For His mercy endures forever” and “Go in peace.” Then the priest gently knocks on confessional to signify end of confession. Penitent may say “Thanks be to God” and leaves.
    Also, in Poland the confessionals tend to be see through. Even if there is an enclosed section for the penitent, the grill part often has holes in it so it’s not really anonymous like we are used to in the U.S.

  8. Inigo says:

    In Hungary it looks like this:

    The penitent greets the confessor when stepping in the confessional: Praised be Jesus Christ! and the priest says For ever and ever. Amen! This is said either in the vernacular, or latin.
    After this, the penitent makes the sign of the cross saying audibly: In the name of the Father and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen
    Then the penitent continues by saying:
    I confess to almighty God and to you Father, my last confession was ___ago, since then my sins are (confession of sins in kind and number). The penitent concludes with: I don’t remember any other sins. Here the priest usually says a few words, then the penitent says an act of contrition, the priest absolves, and lastly there is a versicle.
    The priest says: V. Praise the Lord, for he is good!
    R. Because he loves us forever.
    V. God has forgiven your sins, go in peace!
    R. Thanks be to God.
    And that’s it.

  9. Navarricano says:

    The way to confess here in Spain is similar to what Father S. noted above, except that it is usually the penitent who begins by saying “Ave María purísima” (Hail Mary most pure) upon kneeling down in the confessional. The priest will respond by saying “sin pecado concebida” (conceived without sin). This may be done the other way ’round if the penitient forgets to say his part upon entering the confessional; the priest will say the first part and the penitent should answer.
    The rest of the formula for confession looks like this:

    Priest : “El Señor esté en tu corazón para que te puedas arrepentir y confesar humildemente tus pecados” (The Lord be in your heart that you may repent and humbly confess your sins).

    Penitent: “Señor, tú lo sabes todo, tú sabes que te amo” (Lord, you know all things, you know that I love You).

    After that you confess your sins. It is customary to indicate how long it’s been since your last Confession, and to add the number and kind of the sins just as wverywhere else, although here, as in the U.S., you will sometimes priests who are very loose in regard to this and even dismiss it.
    After you’ve confessed your sins and the priest has imposed your penance, he will invite you to recite a brief Act of Contrition:

    Penitent: “Jesús, Hijo de Dios, ten piedad de mi que soy un pecador” (Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me for I am a sinner).

    Priest: “Dios, Padre misericordioso, que reconcilió consigo al mundo por la Muerte y la resurrección de su Hijo y derramó el Espíritu Santo para la remisión de los pecados, te conceda, por el ministerio de la Iglesia, el perdón y la paz. Y YO TE ABSUELVO DE TUS PECADOS EN EL NOMBRE DEL PADRE Y DEL HIJO, + Y DEL ESPÍRITU SANTO” (God, our Merciful Father, who reconciled the world to Himself by the Death and Resurrection of His Son and poured out the Holy Spirit for the remission of sins, through the ministry of the Church grant you pardon and peace. AND I ABSOLVE YOU OF OUR SINS IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, + AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT).

    Penitent: “Amen”.

    Priest: “La pasión de nuestro Señor Jesucristo, la intercesión de la bienaventurada Virgen María y de todos los Santos, el bien que hagas y el mal que puedas sufrir, te sirvan como remedio de tus pecados, aumento de gracia y premio de vida eterna. Vete en paz” (The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of all the Saints, the good you do and the evil you suffer, serve as a remedy for your sins, an increase of grace and the reward of eternal life. Go in peace.).

    Penitent: “Amen” … and you’re finished.

  10. VexillaRegis says:

    Reporting from a Scandinavian country: We make the sign of the cross “In the name…” Then the priest says: “God has given us his light. May you percieve and confess your sin and thus experience his mercyfulness.” From there it goes exactly as Inigo describes the Magyar confession. (“I confess…)

    Usually the priest gives you the direction you need – 10 to 20 minutes in the confessional isn’t unusual, as long as there isn’t a line outside, of course!

  11. VexillaRegis says:

    PS The confession ends with the priest saying: (The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of all the Saints, the good you do and the evil you suffer, serve as a remedy for your sins, an increase of grace and the reward of eternal life. Go in peace.).

    Penitent: “Amen” … and you’re finished.

    Thanks Navarricano for reminding me !

  12. Mariana2 says:

    VexillaRegis beat me to reporting from here.

    But I’ve often wondered what to do abroad, if I’ll perhaps confuse the priest when starting with “In the name of the Father,….”?

  13. mike cliffson says:

    Iwas taught, Uk fifties , like scarda above, to start “forgive me father, for I have sinned”, otherwise like Bea above, which is still what I feel easiest with. Fr S comments on the Spanish formula, which is still extant and as far as I know, universal, in Spain itself,Spain in Europe. Navarrico beat me to it: “The way to confess here in Spain is similar to what Father S. noted above, except that it is usually the penitent who begins by saying “Ave María purísima” (Hail Mary most pure) upon kneeling down in the confessional. The priest will respond by saying “sin pecado concebida” (conceived without sin).”(But not the rest so universally.)
    In Spain , non-touristical non-cosmopolitan places, I have more than once been to confession with priests who got furious when I did not begin thus , who assume it’s universal, saying “don’t they teach you how to go to confession where you come from?” I don’t mind, just unexpected.
    Fr Z , Just in case, re my last anecdote, ,please insist that whatever, wherever you are , the sacrament is necessary and worhtwhile, possibly, our last one, essential! praise the Lord there’s a priest available, what a privelidge, and any sort of confessional etiquette is secondary, like a confessional box itself.God bless, and thankyou for continuing to plug confession on your blog, it’s a rare and necessary reminder.

  14. Dr Guinness says:

    In Australia in my experience, it usually goes like this.
    In the name of the Father…
    Priest: May the Lord be in your heart and on your lips that you may confess your sins with true sorrow.
    Penitent: Bless me Father for I have sinned. My last confession was [three weeks] ago, and since then I accuse myself of [sins]. For these and all the sins of my past life, I ask the pardon of God and penance and absolution from you, Father. (This last sentence is somewhat rare, however).
    Priest asks any questions, gives advice, assigns penances and requests the Act of Contrition.
    That’s pretty much how it goes.
    Thanks be to God for the unmeasurable gift of confession, penance and absolution!

  15. mike cliffson says:

    Oh a rather pracical point I expect I missed hearing about or forgot about over several long housebound ailments:
    I have no idea how widespread this is, but at least generally in this area of Spain, UNLESS you ask for a penance , you might not be given one, you’re expected to ask. Other than for children, I can see a point in this, but.

  16. VexillaRegis says:

    Mariana2: Aha, you are the same person as Mariana? I have wondered whether “2” meant “the second one” or if it was short for “too”.

    Regarding the beginning of confession, I’ve been thinking the same as you. I usually let the prist start the confession “procedure”, since there isn’t always a leaflet lying around.

    Our priests in Scandinavia mostly come from Poland and bring with them the style from their native country. So, when you confess to a priest from, say Poland, France, Italy or India, you never know what they are going to do or say next;-) The real “Viking” or Finnish priests are extremely few. The vocation rate in our countries are now increasing, but I think most of the New Guys are sons of immigrants. That doesn’t matter, of course, what I mean is that they will be fully inculturated in their respective countries and the surprizes in the confessional fewer.

  17. Allan S. says:

    I’m surprised this one has not come up yet: the use of the Confiteor.

    Upon entering, the penitent says the Confiteor up through the mea culpa x 3, then accuses him/herself of sins properly. After, the remainder of the Comfiteor is recited, then penance is assigned, then Act of C etc.

    I understand this to have been a pretty normal pre-concilor practice, now in use by some TLM attendees again.

  18. Navarricano says:

    Ooops! In the translation from the Spanish of the form of absolution I wrote above, it should obviously read “…I absolve you of YOUR sins (not OUR sins)…”

    Sorry about that!

  19. babochka69 says:

    In the Byzantine Catholic Church, we begin ” I confess to Almighty God, one in the Holy Trinity, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of God, to all the angels and saints, and to you, Father….”

  20. William Tighe says:

    Is the photograph that accompanies this posting of the interior of the Brompton Oratory? [It’s a church in Naples.]

  21. This has been terribly interesting so far. I hope lots of people chime in from around the world.

  22. Geoffrey says:

    Here in California, I’ve noticed it depends greatly on the confessor. Some priests wait for the penitent to begin with “Bless me Father…”, while most other confessors begin with either the sign of the cross and/or one of the phrases found in the new Rite of Penance.

  23. OrthodoxChick says:

    I’m finding this so interesting too! The formula I learned in the 70’s is sounding pretty bland when I compare it to some others above. Not to mention that it has been changed in the U.S., I assume, because the form that I learned as a kid and the form that my own children have been taught aren’t the same. They have learned a different Act of Contrition than I did, but neither sounds as prayerful to my ear as using the pre-concilior Confiteor. I wonder what would happen if I tried that in my O.F. parish one of these days? The priests at the parishes in my area seem to be more along the lines of “anything goes”, so I wouldn’t think they would object.

    I should also get in the habit of asking for a penance, as someone said above. The last confessor that I went to a few weeks ago told me to “Be the best person you can be.” It sounded like advice rather than a penance, but when I double-checked with him (my head cocked to the side like a dog in obvious bewilderment ), sure enough, that WAS my penance. I sat and said some traditional prayers as a pseudo-penance anyway because it felt awkward not to. The priest also absolved me without asking me to say an Act of Contrition. When I asked him if I should say it after he had just given me absolution, the reply was “No, you can do that when you leave.” I said it at warp speed while exiting the confessional slowly so I could technicially say it while still in the confessional. There again, it just feels awkward and “wrong” to me to not say an Act of Contrition while in the confessional, even if the priest was correct that I could say it afterward.

    Do lay people in the U.S. have any leeway as to what we say on our end, as long as we confess in kind and number, and mention how long it has been since our last confession, and recite our Act of Contrition?

  24. JaneC says:

    The phenomenon that Geoffrey notes, of priests beginning with the Sign of the Cross and not waiting for the penitent to speak, is prevalent all up and down the West Coast of the U.S. I can testify to this occurring in parts of Washington and Alaska as well as both northern and southern California.

  25. ByzCath08 says:

    In the Byzantine Catholic Church, I end my confession with:

    I also repent and ask forgiveness for all those sins that I have not confessed because of their multitude and my forgetfulness. Forgive and absolve me, venerable father, and bless me to commune of the holy and life-creating Mysteries of Christ unto the remission of sins and life everlasting.

    For my act of contrition, I will say the Jesus Prayer ” Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

    The priest places his Epitrachelion over my head, prays the prayer of absolution and offers his Epitrachelion for veneration.

  26. Lepidus says:

    My first Confession was in the mid-70’s in the Milwaukee. The priest at that time was in his early 50’s and a very holy man (who was also a hard worker). Similar to the poster from Australia, confession started with the sign of the cross, followed by a similar phase “May the Lord help you to confess your sins with true sorrow”. After the confessing and penance, you would say “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner”. Then would come absolution and “Alright, the Lord has freed you from your sins, go in peace”. Response “Thank you Father”.

    On the lighter side, we weren’t really taught the a formula for the confessing part. It was basically just “It’s been….since my last Confession and I ….”. The ending was “That’s all Father”. At least until I told my mom who was a convert (prior to RCIA who had actually learned something). She did a pretty good job of mimicking Porky Pig “Th-hth-thhat’s All Father”!!!

  27. Imrahil says:

    Never really learnt a form.

    The usual thing is
    Priest: In the name of the Father…
    Penitent: Amen.
    Priest: The Lord be in your* heart and on your lips, so that you in the right way may confess your sins.

    Always be prepared to hear only one of the above, or a “Praised by Jesus Christ” (R: “in eternity, Amen”) which, perhaps, was the pre-conciliar form. Not sure whether that was originally said by the penitent on entrance.

    Penitent: “I’m a years old and a [profession], and my last Confession was then-and-then. I confess my sins.” (Theoretically, coming to think of it, you perhaps had better say “unmarried”. I always assume that a given-unless-expressly-otherwise-told, once I said my age, or so.)

    (At least that’s how I finally settled to do it.)

    Penitent: “These were the sins I managed to remember in examination. I want to include all others and ask the lord in [humility and] remorse for forgiveness.”

    That was the important part I did get from the prayer book: You have to have the “remorse” somewhere. The tradition to say the official act of contrition (which I learnt from this combox) is rather totally unknown here.

    You ought to say “thank you” when you’ve been assigned your penance.

    Absolution and the encircling prayers.

    Priest: Praised be Jesus Christ.
    Penitent: In eternity, amen.
    Priest: Have a nice day.
    Penitent: Thank you.

  28. Imrahil says:

    [*your, etc.: literally, “thy”, etc. Using the courtesy form is heavily awkward, can be heard sometimes and seems to have been a modern invention, but is on its way out, perhaps because the simple “thou” is what is now the modern thing.]

  29. acardnal says:

    ByzCath08, your comment was enlightening as to how the ending form goes. What is the form for the beginning of Confession in an Eastern Rite Catholic parish?

  30. Mariana2 says:

    VexillaRegis, anybody who’s been wondering,

    Yes, Mariana2 = Mariana, I had to re-register as the system kicked me out somehow.

    And of course you’re right, we’re all doing things the Polish way!

  31. ByzCath08 says:

    I confess to Almighty God, One in the Holy Trinity, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, to all the Saints and to you, Father, all my sins. It has been xyz since my last confession and these are my sins:

  32. acardnal says:

    Thanks ByzCath08. I overlooked above where babochka69 mentioned it.

    Do Byzantine Catholics use Confessionals?

  33. ByzCath08 says:

    No. Confession is done face to face with the priest, usually in front of an icon of Christ.

  34. acardnal says:

    ByzCath08, the photos I’ve seen of Eastern Rite Catholics or Orthodox celebrating the sacrament of Confession show both the priest and the penitent standing with the Epitrachelion (similar to Latin Rite stole?) draped over the penitent’s head. So, doesn’t the priest get tired from standing for all that time hearing all those confessions?

  35. acardnal says:

    ByzCath08, also, does the priest give the penitent a penance?

  36. babochka69 says:

    I’m not ByzCath08, but I’ll answer from my perspective. I’ve had some Byzantine priests give a penance, others not. I can say that I’ve never had a Byzantine priest give a penances such as “x number of Hail Mary’s”. They are nearly always tailored to my confession and spiritual needs.

  37. Precentrix says:

    I usually just start with “In Nomine…” then the first part of the Confiteor, sins in the middle, second par of the Confiteor, and “I ask of the Lord pardon and of you, Father, penance and absolution.” Or roughly that.

    The more traditional priests may say grant absolution whilst one is still saying the act of contrition, and some of the other priests I’ve encountered don’t seem to expect one to say it, so I do it at the same time then too (English, French or Latin depending).

    The Poles tend to add the ‘Give thanks to the Lord for He is good’ bit which threw me the first time I encountered it although I managed to respond. They also have a tendency to leave the stole poking out which on occasions may be kissed (Slavic influence?).

  38. Art says:

    There is an older version of the Byzantine confession that is much longer. It’s beautiful in how the priest takes his time leading the penitent into why they are confessing. Perhaps some Eastern Catholics can comment on this:

    The Administration of Confession (from “The Offices of the Oriental Church” ed by Nicholas Bjerring; Ams Press, New York, 1969; pp. 104-108)

    The priest leads each penitent alone, not two or more at once, with uncovered head before the image of our Lord Jesus Christ, and begins: Blessed be our God always, now and ever, and to age of ages Amen. Glory be to Thee, O our God, Glory be to Thee.

    Heavenly King, Comforter, etc. Then the Trisagion: O Holy God, etc. After: Our Father, etc., Lord have mercy. Glory be to the Father, etc.

    Then: Come, let us worship before the King, our God. Come, let us worship and fall down before Christ, the King, our God. Come, let us worship and fall down before Christ Himself, our King and God.

    Psalm 50(51): Have mercy upon me, God,…

    Troparion: Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us; we sinners, who have no excuse, bring to Thee, as our Master, this prayer: Have mercy upon us.

    Glory be to the Father, etc.

    Then: Lord, have mercy upon us, and thing not of our misdeeds; but look down as the Gracious One also now, and deliver us from our enemies; for Thou art our god, and we are They people; we all are the work of Thy hands, and we call upon Thy Name. Now and ever, etc.

    Open to us the gates of mercy, thou blessed Mother of God, so that we, who hope in thee, may not perish, but may be freed by thee from every misery; for thou art the salvation of the Christian race.

    Lord, have mercy.

    First Prayer: Let us pray to the Lord. O God, our Saviour, who, by Thy prophet, Nathan, didst grant forgiveness to David, when he repented of his sins, and didst accept the prayer of penitence from Manasseh, receive also this They servant (handmaids), N., repenting of his (her) sins, according to Thy wonted kindness, and overlook all that he (she) hath done, forgiving his (her) fault, and passing over his (her) transgressions. for Thou hast said, O Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the sinner, but that he should turn and live; also Thou has said that we should forgive offenses seventy times seven. For as They greatness is without equal, so also boundless is Thy grace. If Thou should be extreme to mark iniquities, who shall stand? Thou art a God of the penitents, and to Thee, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, we offer up praise and glory, now and ever, and to ages of ages. Amen.

    Second Prayer: Let us pray to the Lord. O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, shepherd and Lamb, Who hast born the sins of the world, Who didst remit the debt to the two debtors , and Who didst bestow the forgiveness of her sins on the sinful woman: do Thou, O Master, remit, forgive, and pardon the sins, misdeeds, and errors, both voluntary and involuntary, known and unknown, which have been done in commission and omission by these Thy servants. And if they, as men who walk in the flesh and dwell in the world, have been led astray by the devil, whether they have sinned in knowledge or ignorance, or have despised the priestly word, or have fallen under the priestly ban, or a curse of their own, or have bound themselves by an oath: vouchsafe Thyself, as the good Master, in Whom is no evil, to loose these They servants by the Word, and to forgive them their own curse and oath according to Thy great mercy. Yea, gracious Lord and Master, hearken unto us, who implore for these They servants Thy grace, and forgive them as the gracious One all their errors, and remove them from the eternal torments; for Thou, O Master, hast said: Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in Heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in Heaven. For Thou only art without sin, and to Thee, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, we offer up praise and glory; no and ever, and to ages of ages. Amen.

    The Exhortation to the Penitent: Behold, my child, here stands Christ invisible, and He receives thy prayer of penitence: so be not ashamed and fear not, conceal also nothing from me; be not afraid, but tell me all that thou hast done, so that thou mayest obtain forgiveness from our Lord Jesus Christ. Behold, before us is also His holy image, and I am only a witness, so that I can testify all that thou wilt say to me; therefore, if thou concealest anything thy sin shall be double. Consider wherefore thou hast entered this place of healing, so that thou mayest not go hence unhealed.

    After this the Priest proposes to the penitent the questions, one after another, pausing a little after each, until the answer follows. After he has proposed the questions, which concern faith and morals, according to the difference of rank and sex and age of the penitent, and received the answers, he says: From all these sins must thou henceforth abstain, since thou hast received a second baptism according to this Christian mystery. so make now, with God’s help, a good beginning, and do not imprudently return to thy former sins, so as to become a derision to men, for this is not becoming to a Christian; but he should live honorably, and righteously, and godly, and to this God help thee with his grace.

    When the confessor has said all this, and again examined the penitent, and the latter has disclosed all that is within him without concealment, he says to him: Bow thyself.

    The penitent bows his head, and the confessor prays:

    The Final Prayer:

    Let us pray to the Lord. O Lord and god of the salvation of Thy servants, gracious, and merciful, and long-suffering, Who art grieved at our misdeeds, Who desirest not the death of the sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live, have mercy now upon Thy servant (handmaid) N.; grant him (her) true penitence, and the pardon and forgiveness of sins; remit to him (her) all transgressions, both voluntary and involuntary; reconcile and unite him (her) with Thy Holy Church through Jesus Christ Our Lord, with Whom be power and glory ascribed unto Thee, now and ever, and to ages of ages. Amen.

    At the conclusion of the holy sacrament of confession, the Priest pronounces over the kneeling penitent the absolution:

    Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, forgive thee, my child, N., by the grace and mercy of His kindness, all thy transgressions; and through the power granted unto me, I also, unworthy priest, forgive thee and absolve thee from all thy sins, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

    At the close the Priest signs with his right hand the penitent with the sign of the cross. Then he says: It is indeed right to call thee blessed, etc.

    After this the benediction, etc.

    Historically, it has occurred that, sometimes the order of the prayers (namely, the First, Second, and Final) are reversed. (Chapungco, p. 106)

    From: http://wordgerber.wordpress.com/2010/09/21/the-rites-the-byzantine-churches/

  39. babochka69 says:

    That is indeed beautiful. The first few prayers are the prayers that begin most liturgical services. I’ve never seen confession practiced in this way. It is common in many churches to have confessions after Great Vespers on Saturday evening, and all of these prayers would be present in the vespers service, of course. (Not that we would have problems repeating prayers already said!) I do want to note that the absolution prayer “Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, forgive thee, my child, N., by the grace and mercy of His kindness, all thy transgressions; and through the power granted unto me, I also, unworthy priest, forgive thee and absolve thee from all thy sins, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” is a latinization. It is present in some of the Byzantine churches of the Slavic tradition, but it is not present in the Greek church. It was adopted by the Russian church in, I think, the 17th century, as they were somewhat influenced by scholasticism and therefore included a prayer which included “I absolve…” The more traditional Byzantine formula is: “God, through Nathan the prophet, forgave David his sins; and Peter shedding bitter tears over his denial; and the adulteress weeping at his feet; and the publican and the prodigal son. May this same God, through me, a sinner, forgive + you everything in this life and in the life to come. And may you stand uncondemned before His awesome judgment-seat, for His Name is blessed forever and ever. Amen.” Many Byzantine priests use both, and many use just one or the other. Either is considered valid.

  40. APX says:

    I seem to be the odd one out. When I was being taught h

  41. APX says:

    It would appear my fingers are too fat to type on an iPhone.

    As I was saying before I accidentally hit the publish button, when I was being taught how to make my confession (back in the early 90s in Canada), I wasn’t taught a formula. We were told that we were just going to talk to the priest about our struggles in being good little girls and boys. Then when I went to Confession a couple times after, the priests kept getting annoyed with me and how I was confessing my sins. I didn’t understand why they kept telling me I was doing it wrong until I was watching M*A*S*H and there was someone making a confession starting out “Bless me Father, I have sinned”.

    FWIW, when they hold these mini retreats or spiritual seminars, they are still discouraging the traditional “Bless me Father” formula “immature laundry list confession” for a “more mature meaningful dialogue with the priest about our struggles in this life”.

  42. Supertradmum says:

    Most priests in England like the formula for Confession as they do not have time for a “talk”. The Confessional is not the place for spiritual direction but a sacrament to absolve us from our sins and give us penances.

    Hate this modern psychology of “talk”, which is mostly useless unless a priest is a Padre Pio or Cure of Ars-in other words, one of strict orthodoxy, keen discernment and personal holiness.

  43. Navarricano says:

    Re a comment from Mike Cliffson above about not being assigned a penance in confession here in Spain unless you ask for it:

    I’m not calling your experience into question Mike, just saying that I’ve never encountered that myself. Every priest I’ve ever been to for the sacrament has always given me a penance before absolution, so I wouldn’t say that it’s a general practice in Spain. Perhaps it’s a localized abuse in the region where you live? Dunno…

  44. ByzCath08 says:

    @acardnal….Usually, the confessor is seated before the icon of Christ and is not standing the entire time. Many times, they will rise to place the Epitrachelion over the penitent at the end of the confession.

    Also, there is usually a penance given at the end. My priest confessor is really good about crafting a penance that focuses on the areas that I need to work on spiritually, rather than giving out a number of prayers to say. Part of this comes from the fact that our parishes are rather small when compared to a local latin rite parish and the priest can spend more time with his parishoners in and out of confession.

  45. Imrahil says:

    Dear @APX,

    it strikes me again and again how modernity can be so wrong.

    Giving an “immature laundry list confession” conveys the idea that whereas I did bad, I could have done better. Even in this, it is optimist and refreshing the heart. Then, of course, you get forgiveness, too.

    Having talks and dialogues about my struggles in my life is precisely what I do not want. It conveys a pessimist notion, and worst of all, having struggles, as it is not (in itself) a sin, is also (in itself) not able to be (in the strict sense) forgiven by forgiveness.

  46. mike cliffson says:

    That was a MIGHTN’T , not a don’t, get: I haven’t gone away penanceless, I haven’t experimented not asking. Certainly quite recent , last few years or so. If it’s not widespread around Spain , or elsewhere, makes life simpler for travellers and such. I thought , if any traveller reads this and meets it, well, they can up and ask. If they don’t need to ask, no problem.

  47. JuliaSaysPax says:

    We never really learned any form apart from beginning with “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned, it has been [TIME] since my last confession. I remember that I always ended awkwardly, something along the lines of “Umm…uh… I guess that’s it? I don’t know if I forgot something.” We weren’t even told to memorize the Act of Contrition, and always read it aloud as a class either before we started lining up to confess or after everyone had finished. My first confession after elementary school, I still didn’t know the words, which flustered me greatly (I’d finally learnt them, but I got nervous because face to face confession is a bit nerve wracking for a 13 year old). Luckily Father was very kind and sort of prompted me along in saying a (admittedly pretty paraphrased) version.

  48. Bea says:

    Allan S.
    Thanks for the reminder.
    Actually we were taught to say the confiteor but we didn’t say it in the confessional but before we got there, either in the catechism classroom or while we were standing in line.

  49. jaykay says:

    In Ireland, in the mid-60s when I was first taught how to “make confession”, the formula was as described above for the “Anglo” countries, and was quite brief probably because in those days there always a long line of people outside. While in line you knelt and recollected your sins and said the confiteor (old version, of course). Then you entered the box and and the Priest usually did not use any opening formula, and you started off immediately with the sign of the cross and: “Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been xxx since my last confession.” And then you recited your sins, concluding with just: “For these and for all my sins I am heartily sorry”. The Priest gave the penance and perhaps, if there was time, a very brief advice/admonition, then gave the absolution while you recited the Act of Contrition, followed by dismissal with usually only “God bless” – even while he was sliding back the cover to the grille on the other side.

    This is how it still is in the majority of places I have gone to confession in Ireland – absent the numbers of people of course! Some priests, I noticed particularly the Dominicans in this regard, will close with” Give thanks to the Lord for he is good” and the response is “For his mercy endures for ever”, but that’s unusual enough.

  50. Although it has already been touched upon, I thought for the sake of thoroughness that I would mention together a common formula for the divine Mystery of Confession in the Eastern Catholic Churches. Although there are variations, many of them Latinized against the wishes of Pope Leo XIII, the Second Vatican Council, and John Paul II, this is a common and traditionally Eastern approach.

    For some time prior to the divine Mystery, the Christian will ponder their sins and examine their conscience. After this, a prayer rule may be followed this varies from person to person depending on what their spiritual Father has worked out with them. Common prayers which are often included are several choice Psalms, Akathists to the holy Theotokos and the Lord Jesus, the Jesus Prayer, Canon to one’s Guardian Angel, among others. Then, when one is sufficiently prepared, one will approach one’s spiritual Father for confession. Confession is not conducted in a confessional as it is in the traditionally Western form of administering the Sacrament of Penance. Instead, the East has always followed the ancient practice of confessing in a public location, either in the narthex or the nave of the church, and always in front of an icon of Christ. Often both the Priest and the confessing Christian will sit. In the first centuries, Confession was altogether a public affair no matter where one was in the Roman world, in which one would confess one’s sins in front of the Bishop or his Priests, together with the congregation of the place, and was pronounced as forgiven by the Bishop/Priests equally publicly. Later in the East, the method developed wherein the Priest would lead a confessing Christian a little ways away from the other brethren, in order to ensure a bit more privacy. When this is done, the Priest may, according to local custom, begin with prayers and exhortations, but ultimately, the Priest will drape his epitrachelion over the head of the Christian and the Christian will begin like so:

    “I confess to the Lord my God [and in some areas, ‘one in the Holy Trinity, to the holy Theotokos, Mother of God, to all the angels and Saints,’] and before thee, venerable Father, all of my countless sins, committed by me unto this very day and hour, in deed, word, and thought. I sin daily and hourly by mine ingratitude toward God for His great and countless blessings, and benevolent providence over me, a sinner.

    I have sinned through: (specific sins are now mentioned, and it is common custom to confess many general categories even if one is not conscious of having committed such a sin, i.e. ‘idle talking, judging others, stubbornness,’ etc, for the sake of thoroughness)

    I also repent and ask forgiveness for all those sins that I have not confessed because of their multitude and my forgetfulness.

    Forgive and absolve me, venerable Father, and bless me to commune of the holy and life-giving Mysteries of Christ, unto the remission of sins and life everlasting.”

    After this, the Priest will perhaps give advice to the penitent, and depending on location and custom, will offer variable prayers, but the essential absolution formula in the Eastern tradition is as follows and should not vary:

    “God, through Nathan the prophet, forgave David his sins; and Peter shedding bitter tears over his denial; and the adulteress weeping at his feet; and the publican and the prodigal son. May this same God, through me, a sinner, forgive [here the Priest makes the sign of the cross] you everything in this life and in the life to come. And may you stand uncondemned before His awesome judgment-seat, for His Name is blessed forever and ever. Amen.”

    The formula, unlike the Western one, does not explicitly mention absolution or forgiveness in the first person, but it is understood that the Priest is indeed endowed with power to bind and loose sins according to the Priesthood of the Church of God which he has received. St. John Chrysostom’s work ‘On the Priesthood’, written in the later fourth century, vividly describes this well-understood concept. Nevertheless, it stands implicit in the prayer of absolution and is not explicitly mentioned, just as in the traditionally Eastern Catholic form of Baptism, the Priest says, ‘N. is Baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,’ rather than, ‘I Baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,’ as it is in the West.

    Unlike the Western tradition, the Eastern tradition does not lay as much stress on penance, though the concept does exist. Often the penances that an Eastern Catholic Priest will give will be more specifically tailored to the individual, designed to help them spiritually or temporally make amends, and numbered prayers (i.e. ‘pray x Hail Mary’s’) are far less common. A typical prayer of repentance and for amending one’s ways in the East is the Jesus pray [‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner’]. It may be prescribed by one’s spiritual Father, or one may elect to pray it oneself if not mentioned or if some other prayer or act is mentioned as suitable for amending one’s way by the Priest. Most often the Jesus prayer is prayed before an icon of Christ using a prayer rope, though this does vary.

    This concludes the common outline of the holy Mystery of Confession in the Eastern Catholic Churches. It is quite customary the Confession be sought prior to the Divine Liturgy, either the day or night prior to Sunday (or whatever day the Divine Liturgy falls on, for parishes that celebrate it more than once weekly, as that does vary) or directly prior to the Divine Liturgy, although Confession can and does occur on other days as well, either by scheduled time or more commonly by appointment.

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