Time for Confession

I’m frequently asked how often Catholics should go to Confession. Many people just want to know the minimum requirement. In that regard, the Church provides that all Catholics who have reached the age of discretion (approximately the age of seven) are required to confess their mortal sins once a year. In addition, if one has committed a mortal sin, he or she must go to Confession before receiving Holy Communion.

While that is the minimum requirement, the Church strongly recommends frequent reception of the sacrament–even when one has not committed a mortal sin since the previous Confession–as a means of growing in holiness (see Catechism, no. 1458). The Introduction to the Rite of Penance puts it this way:

“[T]he frequent and careful celebration of this sacrament is also very useful as a remedy for venial sins. This is not a mere ritual repetition or psychological exercise, but a serious striving to perfect the grace of baptism so that, as we bear in our body the death of Jesus Christ, his life may be seen in us ever more clearly. In confession of this kind, penitents who accuse themselves of venial faults should try to be more closely conformed to Christ and to follow the voice of the Spirit more attentively” (no. 7).

As for what might constitute “frequent” reception of the sacrament, monthly or even weekly Confession can make a significant difference in the spiritual lives of those who hunger and thirst for holiness.

After all, Christ’s first gift to His Church after rising from the dead was the gift of Reconciliation entrusted to His Apostles and their legitimate successors (Jn. 20:19-23), so that we may personally experience God’s mercy and peace.

How often should we go to Confession? Whenever we want to experience anew the mercy and peace of Christ.

2 responses

  1. Once I started going weekly on Saturdays, things were never the same again.

    Weekly if you can, monthly is you must. Don’t let the “barnicles” of sin grow on your soul, is my advice.

  2. In my limited time, I have managed to “sneak in” a few references to Confession during some homilies as being good for the soul. I always like having a “something you can do” component in a homily.

    Communal penance services are incredible, as well. I have a hard time trying to figure out exactly why they are so popular. In a certain sense, you lose anonymity, since you present yourself as a sinner (albeit your confession is as ironclad under the seal as always). Maybe the one-on-one is a little too impersonal for some folks, or the evening times work out better. As soon as I get better clue, I’ll work through that.

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