"Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them." (John 20:23)
Penance at St. Brendan:
The sacrament of Penance (also called Confession or Reconciliation) is available at scheduled times or upon reasonable request.
At St. Brendan, the pastor typically hears confessions prior to Thursday Masses as well as Saturday afternoons at 4:00pm and Sunday mornings at 8:15am. The confessional is a small room inside the church and to the side. It has a divider in it allowing for anonymity and privacy.
If you have not been to confession in a long time or are nervous or unsure what to do, please do not be afraid! The priest is there to help you and can guide you through the process. There is also a posted "Start-to-Finish" guide as well as at least 9 versions of an Act of Contrition to choose from.
Remember that the priest is absolutely bound never to reveal sins that you confess.
The most important thing when coming to confession is to have a desire to turn toward God and a willingness to turn away from sin by the help of God's grace. This is expressed by acknowledging at least all serious sins committed since one's last good confession and approximately how often or how many times one has committed them. The priest, exercising authority given by Christ to the Apostles and passed down through the Church, absolves your sins and reconciles you to God and the Church.
To prepare for confession, it is helpful to use a guide called an Examination of Conscience, which is a tool to help gain an awareness of one's sins.
There are various examinations of conscience. Several are available online through the USCCB.
An Experience of the Gift of God's Boundless Mercy
"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."
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, 1422
The Sacrament of Penance, also commonly referred to as Reconciliation or Confession, is an experience of the gift of God's boundless mercy.
Not only does it (the Sacrament of Penance) free us from our sins, but it also challenges us to have the same kind of compassion and forgiveness for those who sin against us. We are liberated to be forgivers. We obtain new insight into the words of the Prayer of St. Francis: "It is in pardoning that we are pardoned."
Jesus entrusted the ministry of reconciliation to the Church. The Sacrament of Penance is God's gift to us so that any sin committed after Baptism can be forgiven. In confession, we have the opportunity to repent and recover the grace of friendship with God. It is a holy moment in which we place ourselves in his presence and honestly acknowledge our sins, especially mortal sins. With absolution, we are reconciled to God and the Church. The Sacrament helps us stay close to the truth that we cannot live without God. "In him, we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).
To learn more about the Sacrament of Penance, visit the US Conference of Catholic Bishop’s website. There, you can also download the e-version of the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults.