The Sacrament of Penance (also called Confession or Reconciliation) is an integral part of the Catholic faith. The Sacrament is about God’s love for us and his desire to heal us and set us free. God does this when we turn to him and seek his mercy.

As a Sacrament of healing, Penance is for the good of the person participating, and brings many graces.

“Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion. It is to them that the sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification. The Fathers of the Church present this sacrament as "the second plank [of salvation] after the shipwreck which is the loss of grace.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1446)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church provides helpful instruction on the place of the Sacrament of Penance in relation to Communion: “Anyone who desires to receive Christ in the Eucharistic Communion must be in a state of grace. Anyone aware of having sinned mortally* must not receive Communion without having received absolution in the Sacrament of Penance.”(CCC, 1415)

* During Mass when we ask for God’s forgiveness, God forgives our venial sins. Mortal sins are more serious and need to be confessed to a priest beforehand. See Mortal and Venial Sin.

Acknowledgements
Host photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash

Reviewed
14 October 2019

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