Through penance, the faithful receive pardon through God's mercy for the sins they have committed. At the same time, they are reconciled with the Church community. The confession, or disclosure, of sins frees us and facilitates our reconciliation with others.
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Frequently Asked Questions regarding Penance
- At what age should a child receive the sacrament of penance?
The Church believes that a child reaches the age of reason by the age of seven. Children who have reached the age of reason should be prepared for and receive Communion, preceded by sacramental confession. Return to Top
- How often should Catholics receive the sacrament of penance?
Individuals who have attained the age of reason, usually the age of seven, are bound to confess serious sins at least once a year. In addition, the frequent and careful celebration of this sacrament very useful as a remedy for venial sin. It is recommended that Reconciliation Services, consisting of the Rite of Reconciliation with individual confession and absolution, be celebrated in the parish during the Advent and Lenten seasons. Parishioners are encouraged to attend these services and to avail themselves of the opportunity to confess serious sins at that time. Return to Top
- I have not been to Church or Confession for quite a while. I'm nervous about going to Confession. What advice do you have?
First, be comfortable. I know that our priests would be very willing to speak with you. Perhaps the first contact with your local parish my be an informal meeting with the pastor. You don't need to start right off with Confession. A simple and low-key conversation with the parish priest would be the best way to begin. Then, after a time of reaquaintance, the sacrament of Penance would be celebrated.
A Reconciliation Service may either be face-to-face or the penitent may be behind a screen for confidentiality. At a Reconciliation Service, there is a celebration of the Word, where scripture is read, there is a homily, and music is used.Return to Top
- May parents delay the sacrament of penance?
Parents may decide that their child is not ready to celebrate the sacrament of penance before the First Communion. This informed decision should be made only after the parents and child have participated in the reconciliation preparation program and have consulted with the pastor or parish director and catechist. Return to Top
- Where is the proper place for the celebration of the sacrament of penance?
The parish church is the proper place for the celebration of the sacrament. The Reconciliation Room or Confessional is to be in a visible location within the church and should allow for face-to-face confessions or anonymous confessions with the use of a fixed screen or grille. The choice of face to face or anonymous confession is made by the penitent. Return to Top