I recently went to a ‘Pennance Service.’ My first and last time. I got in line with an old priest. When it came my turn I began in the usual way. He had a heavy Irish brogue which sounded like my parents, so it was a bit of a struggle for me, but I generally understood him. After I began he said something like, “Alright, lad” (I am78 years old). Then he touch my head and said, “I forgive your sins, I the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Then he waved to the next one in line. My question is can a priest change the words of absolution (God the Father of mercies . . . .) and did I really receive the Sacrament? So far I have just chalked it up to a waste of time. Thanks
If the priest cut you off so soon that you weren’t able to confess any sins, then the sacrament is invalid due to lack of matter. His changing of the words of absolution still retained a synonym for “absolve” and the invocation of the Trinity; so the absolution would still be valid, though illicit (unlawful). Actually, he had no right to cut you off or to change the wording of the formula for absolution. Any mortal sins that you did not mention will have been absolved so long as you mentioned some sins, but you will be obliged to mention them the next time you go to Confession as an act of sorrow and repentance.
Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.