The Sacrament of Reconciliation can be intimidating for many, and some Catholics may go years without going to Confession. But staying away from this sacrament keeps us from the graces the Lord wants to pour out upon us. So, how often do we need to go to Confession? Is it only necessary for mortal sins? Do we need to go a certain amount of times per year?
Recently on St. Joseph’s Workshop, Fr. Matthew Spencer, OSJ discussed Confessions, why we should go, how often, and why Advent is a great season to come back to this sacrament of mercy:
“It’s the time of year for Confessions, believe it or not. People think about Confession and associate it with Lent, because Lent is the time you’re thinking about going to Confession more often, or making a deeper, more committed Confession. But Confession also becomes really important during the Advent season.
And you start to pick this up, because you might notice that in our parishes there are Advent penance services, where priests will come together as a group for one night during the season at your parish. It doesn’t happen everywhere, but lots of parishes do this. You’ll get 10, 12, or 15 priests there, and you’ll get hundreds of people who want to go to Confession. It’s a great way for us to have access to the sacraments and to really seriously consider that important step in our life.
And maybe you think, ‘Well, I don’t need to go to Confession. I only go once or twice a year, so that should be good enough, right?’ The bare minimum. Just the bare necessities of life, right?
We’re instructed to receive Communion at least once a year. That’s very important to do, that’s essential for you in your growth. And we’re talking the minimum, I know you should be receiving it much more than that, but at least once a year. Which means that, quite likely, you’re going to have to go to Confession at least once a year. At least.
The basic requirements are there for us, but God doesn’t want us to stay only with the minimum. He doesn’t want us to be minimalists when it comes to His grace. He wants us to benefit from His grace, he wants us to receive an outpouring of his grace.
My general advice is to strive to go to Confession at least once a month. And this advice is contingent upon where you are in the world. If you’re in a missionary territory and a priest only comes by once every six months, once every month isn’t going to work. Practically, that isn’t going to happen. Or if you live in a place where you just don’t have enough priests, then that might be difficult and it might be a burden on your priest to spend countless hours inside the confessional.
But let’s be honest. That’s not the case in most parishes. Normally, in the United States, it’s not unreasonable for people to make a good Confession. And that doesn’t mean it has to be half an hour. You can make a good Confession, with a good examination of conscience prior to that, in a few minutes if you’re staying in a state of grace and trying to follow Jesus. This is what our faith is about, not just doing the bare minimum, but instead using the graces that are available to us.
And if all of our venial sins are forgiven at Mass, why should I go to Confession?
Inside the Sacrament of Confession, we receive the incredible grace to be strengthened in our life as Catholics. We receive grace to avoid falling into sin. When we examine our conscience to go to Confession, we realize how much we need His grace and we start to become more sensitive to the sins in our life.
That’s what this is all about – don’t be a minimalist inside this Advent season! Make some time to go to Confession. Carve some time out of your day in order to make space for God and receive His mercy.”
Listen to the full reflection below:
St. Joseph’s Workshop with Fr. Matthew Spencer airs weekdays at 7:00 p.m. Eastern/4:00 p.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio®.