If My Sins Are Forgiven at Mass, Do I Still Need to Go to Confession?

Did you know that when you receive the Eucharist at Mass your venial sins are forgiven? A venial sin is when we break God’s law in a less serious matter, or when we violate it in a grave matter but without full knowledge or consent of what we are doing. And by receiving the Eucharist at Mass we can be forgiven of those sins. What a blessing!

But a listener named Karen called-in to The Patrick Madrid Show with some questions about this. She explained, “My son is in a Catholic doctrine class and they were talking about the Confiteor, the part of the Mass where we confess our sins and are absolved from all of our venial sins. But I was also trying to explain to him why we still need to go to Confession.”

Patrick offered some clarification, saying, “In the case of venial sins, as you said, at the Penitential Rite in the Mass where we say the Confiteor (I confess to Almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned…) that is true that it does absolve one from all venial sins.”

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But Patrick pointed out that though this is the case, the need for Confession remains. Not for the venial sins, as those have already been forgiven. The need for Confession remains for mortal sins. But that raises still more questions. Does that mean one need not go to Confession unless they have committed a mortal sin? Does that mean that at Mass the venial sins are forgiven but the mortal sins remain?

Patrick said, “This is a bit of a complicated issue so I’d like to de-complicate it. If, in a scenario, somebody was at Mass and had a combination of mortal sins and venial sins, it is not the case that in the Penitential Rite of the Mass that all the venial sins would be removed and forgiven, but the moral sins would remain. All the sins, both large and small, remain.”

Mortal sin removes us from sanctifying grace and communion with the Lord. Thus, the remission of sins through the Eucharist is only applicable to the person who has no mortal sins on their soul.

“So in that first scenario,” Patrick said, “where the person had mortal sins and venial sins, he needs to go to Confession before he can receive Holy Communion. If he only has venial sins then he is in the right spiritual disposition to receive Holy Communion.”

“I want to give that scenario so that people aren’t under the impression that if they have a couple mortal sins that all their venial sins are forgiven at Mass. That’s not how it works.”

Does that mean, as Karen’s son asked, that there is no need for Confession unless you have committed a mortal sin? No. There are many spiritual blessings that come from Confession even if you only have venial sins to confess.

“The Sacrament of Confession is also available for those who do not have mortal sins,” Patrick said. “So let’s say you’ve reached a point of spiritual maturity and you never fall into mortal sin, ever. You still have venial sins, and it’s a very good thing to go to Confession, even if you just have venial sins. Not only are your sins forgiven, but you are also strengthened by the sacrament.”

“So going to Confession on a regular basis is a good idea,” Patrick emphasized. “A very good idea.”

If you need help preparing for Confession, check out the Confession Helper on the Relevant Radio App. It includes an explanation of what happens in Confession, an Examination of Conscience, and prayers for before, during, and after Confession. Get the Relevant Radio App and try to get to Confession today!

Listen to the full conversation below:

The Patrick Madrid Show airs weekdays from 8:00 – 11:00 a.m. Central on Relevant Radio and the Relevant Radio App.

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Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at relevantradio.com and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.