Confession - Penance

Excerpt from “A Primer for Confession with an examination of conscience” by Father Frederick L. Miller:

Jesus Christ came into the world to save all people from the power of Satan, sin, and sin's consequence, death. The purpose of his ministry was OUT reconciliation with the Father. In a special way, his death on the cross brought the possibility of forgiveness, peace and reconciliation to all.
On the evening of his resurrection from the dead, Jesus appeared to his Apostles and gave them the power to forgive all human sins. Breathing upon them, He said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone's sins, they are forgiven. If you retain anyone's sins, they are retained." (Jn. 20:22-23) Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, bishops and priests of the Church receive the ability from Christ himself to forgive sins. It is exercised in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, also known as the Sacrament of Penance or simply as "confession." Through this Sacrament, Christ forgives the sins that the members of his Church commit after Baptism.
In order to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation worthily, the penitent (the sinner) must be sorry for his or her sins. Sorrow for sins is called contrition. Imperfect contrition is sorrow for sins motivated by fear of the fires of hell or the ugliness of sin itself. Perfect contrition is sorrow for sin motivated by the love of God.
Contrition, perfect or imperfect, must include a firm purpose of amendment, that is, a solid resolution to avoid the sin committed as well as the persons, places and things that prompted you to commit the sin in the first place. Without this repentance, contrition is insincere and our confession is pointless.
Whenever you sin, you should beg God for the gift of perfect contrition. Often God
gives this gift when a Christian thinks about Jesus' agony on the cross and realizes that his sins are the cause of that suffering. Throw yourself into the arms of the crucified Savior's mercy and resolve to confess your sins to a priest as soon as possible.
When you come to Church to confess your sins, you should first examine your conscience. Review your life to see how you offended the good God since your last confession. The Church teaches that all mortal sins committed after Baptism must be confessed to a priest in order to be forgiven. This "precept" or law is of Divine Institution. Simply stated, this means the confession of grave sins to a priest is part of God's plan and therefore is supported and carried out in the life of the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1455) underscores the therapeutic value of confession for all believers.
Mortal sin is a direct, conscious and free violation of one or another of the Ten Commandments in a serious matter. Mortal sin, also known as grave or deadly sin, destroys the life of grace in your soul. God's grace begins to draw the sinner back to him through sorrow for sin. He is brought back to life when he confesses his sins to a priest and receives absolution (forgiveness). The Church recommends that Catholics confess their venial sins which arc violations of God's law that do not sever the relationship with Him or destroy the life of grace in the soul.
The following is an examination of conscience to help you prepare for confession. If you are not sure whether your sins are "mortal" or "venial," the confessor (the priest to whom you confess yours sins) will help you to understand the difference. Don't be shy: seek his assistance. Ask him questions!
Most parishes schedule confessions every week, often on Saturday. You are also free to call your parish priest and make an appointment for confession.

The above text is from "A Primer for confession with an examination of conscience" and has been used here with permission from Faith Guild, St. Martin de Porres Lay Dominican Community. To obtain copies of brochure #4005 you can call them at 270-325-3061.



For regular confession times see Confessions on the right side of this page. Other times by appointment. Please call the parish office at 952.929.0113.
Children preparing for their First Confession should enroll in the Holy Family 2nd Grade Sacramental Preparation Program offered on Wednesday evenings during the school year. Registration opens in August each year. For more information about the program, read here.  If you have any additional questions, please contact John Hartnett at

    How to make one’s Confession

    Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. My last confession was _________.  These
    are my sins:

  • Then you tell your sins. All mortal sins must be confessed in order to make a good confession. Venial sins may be confessed, and it is a very beneficial to do so on a spiritual level.
  • When you have finished, add: For these and all my sins I ask for forgiveness.
  • The priest then may give you some words of advice and he gives you a penance. Then you say your act of contrition.
An act of Contrition
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art so good and deserving of all my love.  I firmly resolve, with the help of thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life.  Amen.
  • The priest gives the absolution.
  • Before leaving, say to the priest:   Thank you, Father.