ASK FATHER: Confession before conversion

From a reader…

I just read through your “ASK FATHER: Can non-Catholics go to confession?” post. For me, as a convert who was validly Baptized outside the Church, and because I had a horrific first Confession experience, it begs the question of when those entering the Church should receive Absolution?

I was in no grave danger when I was received into the Church in 2002 [?] but I knew that I wanted to be absolved BEFORE I received my First Communion at the Easter Vigil….and I absolutely NEEDED that.

So what’s the norm for validly Baptized, non-Catholics entering the Church about to receive their First Communion? We make our second graders go to Confession before receiving Communion, what about adults?

According to the norms of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, baptized Christians who are being received into the Catholic faith should receive the Sacrament of Penance before making their profession of faith (art. 482).

As far as not being in “grave danger” is concerned, none of us know the hour or minute when we will be called before the Lord for judgment.

And to all you Catholics, I say…


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    When I was converting from an Evangelical church, my RCIA class was going to have first confessions on the morning of Holy Saturday, and then make our professions of faith at the Easter Vigil later that night. I asked the priest if I could go to confession much earlier, at the beginning of Lent, because I needed grace and it was the only sacrament they’d let me have. ;) Also, I was incredibly nervous about it and I didn’t want the joy of being received into the Church to be eclipsed by dread of confession on the same day. For me it was perfect; I’m glad I got to do it. (And I ended up confessing on Holy Saturday anyway, but by then it was my fourth, not my first, confession.)

  2. JabbaPapa says:

    Father Z is absolutely right, as usual.

    Confession is both unnecessary and impossible for adults to be baptised — but necessary and mandatory for those who will be receiving Confirmation.

    The one single exception is for those receiving Confirmation very soon after their Baptism, assuming absence of any mortal sin between the one and the other.

    There are only three Sacraments that can cleanse us of all sins — Baptism, Reconciliation/Confession, and the Last Rites. One must therefore be cleansed of all stain of Sin prior to receiving any of the other Sacraments.

  3. Hidden One says:

    Father Z, how early in the process is too early?

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