“In the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, also called confession, we meet the Lord, who wants to grant forgiveness and the grace to live a renewed life in Him. In this sacrament, He prepares us to receive Him free from serious sin, with a lively faith, earnest hope, and sacrificial love in the Eucharist. The Church sees confession as so important that she requires that every Catholic go at least once a year.1 The Church also encourages frequent confession in order to grow closer to Christ Jesus and his Body, the Church. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, we seek forgiveness and repentance, let go of patterns of sin, grow in the life of virtue, and witness to a joyful conversion.” from Pope Benedict XVI’s Pastoral Exhortation on the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.
To prepare for the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation we need to understand the two main types of sins and their impact on our lives and our relationship with God:
- Mortal Sin:
- A serious, grave or mortal sin is the knowing and willful violation of God’s law in a serious matter, for example, idolatry, adultery, murder, slander. These are all things gravely contrary to the love we owe God and, because of Him, our neighbor. As Jesus taught, when condemning even looking at a woman lustfully, sin can be both interior (choices of the will alone) or exterior (choices of the will carried into action). A man who willfully desires to fornicate, steal, murder or some other grave sin, has already seriously offended God by choosing interiorly what God has prohibited. Mortal sin is called mortal because it is the “spiritual” death of the soul (separation from God). If we are in the state of grace it loses this supernatural life for us. If we die without repenting we will lose Him for eternity. However, by turning our hearts back to Him and receiving the Sacrament of Penance we are restored to His friendship. Catholics are not allowed to receive Communion if they have unconfessed mortal sins.
- Venial Sin:
- Venial sins are slight sins. They do not break our friendship with God, although they injure it. They involve disobedience of the law of God in slight (venial) matters. If we gossip and destroy a person’s reputation it would be a mortal sin. However, normally gossip is about trivial matters and only venially sinful. Additionally, something that is otherwise a mortal sin (e.g. slander) may be in a particular case only a venial sin. The person may have acted without reflection or under force of habit. Thus, not fully intending the action their guilt before God is reduced. It is always good to remember, especially those who are trying to be faithful but sometimes fall, that for mortal sin it must not only be 1) serious matter, but 2) the person must know it is serious and then 3) freely commit it.
Our priests are available to hear confessions at the times by appointment, or times listed below:
St. Michael’s – Saturday 4-4:30pm
St. Januarius – Saturday 4-4:30pm
Children are prepared for Reconciliation beginning in 2nd grade or higher. Classes are usually held in the Fall and their parent(s) are invited to attend the classes with them. This sacrament precedes Holy Eucharist. All children wishing to receive Sacraments must be enrolled and actively participating in the OLOL religious education program or attending a Catholic school. For more information on First Reconciliation, check out these brochures from our diocese.
- “A Guide for Parents, First Penance Preparation”
- First Reconciliation Frequently Asked Questions
- Registration for RECONCILIATION
“Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion.” (CCC 1422)