Form of confession question


I try to make regular use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and usually go to the one where I attend weekday Mass, as I can have my confession heard immediately beforehand, or even afterwards.

In the past year, I’ve probably been to Confession, for various reasons due to travel and work, in 3 different dioceses, with 2 churches in the same diocese. Not one follows the same form; in fact, if I am remembering correctly, the priests in my own parish have different ‘forms’.

At my regular confessional, you enter (it’s a private ‘box’ separate from the priest), and I say “forgive me father, for I have sinned; it’s been XXX since my last confession.” Then there is silence! The priest doesn’t say anything! So I dive on in to my list of sins. Afterwards, he tells me I’ve made a good and sincere confession (which is always my intent), and offers either questions for clarification (rarely), or more often, very helpful words of love, forgiveness, sometimes justice, with references to scripture. After my act of contrition (although once it was not asked for; I did say I was sorry at the end of my sins and at that one, I was crying), he gives me my penance and absolution.

Is this ‘regular’ now? For the priest not to acknowledge you as you begin? I don’t know if he recognizes my voice and thinks I’m a regular (which I am…usually no less than every 2-3 weeks), but some other priests start with scripture, or at least, acknowledgment.

Don’t get me wrong; I love my confessor. With the Grace of Jesus Christ, he has helped me greatly over the past year in the confessional with the Sacrament. Perhaps it’s because of time constraints, due to a usually long line both before and after Mass. I just feel ignorant when I enter and each priest does it differently.


I was blessed to have a regular confessor for the past three years, and here is how it always went:

Priest: May the Holy Spirit be in your heart that you may abide in the grace of God.
Priest and Me: In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Me: Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been x weeks since my last confession. (Tells sins) For these and all my sins I am deeply sorry.
Priest: (Gives advice and penance)
Me: (Prays Act of Contrition when he is finished)
Priest: (Gives absolution)
Priest and Me: In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Priest: Go in peace, for the Lord has forgiven you.
Me: Thank you, Father.

Not sure if that helps you at all, but its the formula that I use.


The formula I’ve grown accustomed to is as follows:

Penitent: Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.
Priest: May Almighty God be in your mind and heart, and grant you the grace of a good confession.
Penitent: It has been [length of time] since my last confession. I am a [state of life], and I convict my soul of the following sins: [list sins] …] I am sorry for these my sins, and any which may now escape my recollection.
Priest: [Counsel, assigns Penance, asks for Act of Contrition]
Penitent: [Act of Contrition]
Priest: God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. Through the ministry of the Church, may God grant you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son**†**, and of the Holy Spirit. Go and sin no more.
Penitent: Thanks be to God.


I have had priests begin by saying a short, two sentence prayer. Something along the lines of “May God help you to make a good and sincere confession. Amen” Other priests don’t speak until after I am done confessing my sins.

What I find interesting is the words that the priests say in order to grant absolution. Most of the priests that hear my confessions grant absolution by saying the words that are found in Paragraph # 1449 of the Catechism:

“God, the Father of mercies,
through the death and the resurrection of his Son
has reconciled the world to himself
and sent the Holy Spirit among us
for the forgiveness of sins;
through the ministry of the Church
may God give you pardon and peace,
and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Other priests will say something entirely different. I’ve learned from Catholic Answers that all that is really required is for the priest to say the words, “I absolve you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”


What you describe matches my experience, but in our confessional you can kneel behind a screen or sit in a chair in front of him. Usually he will smile and say Hi and my name since I go to him every 1-2 weeks. On a few occassions, he has done something different such as saying a prayer for the Holy Spirit to reveal to me my sins before I begin with “Bless me father for I have sinned…”

I will note that when he is hearing confessions in the cry room, it is set up for anonymity with a screen. I have gone there a few times, and he was silent as you describe with your confessor. I felt weird and said, “Hi Father, it’s xxx” so he would know it was me, although that was probably unnecessary as I am sure he knows my voice. He responded accordingly.

Each of our other priests does things a little differently, but they will say Hi or a greeting of some sort if I sit in the chair. It may be that since you are behind a screen he wants you to feel your anonymity is preserved.


I think what you describe is fairly common. Honestly , I think some priests are more attentive than others. I too usually start with:“Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been XXX since my last confession.” At this point the Priest usually says a prayer that I will make a good confession and trust in God. And from there I confess, make an act of contrition and receive my penance. However, I have had a time or two when the act of contrition was not asked for and even when a penance was not given.

Only once did I experience a really rude reaction from a Priest. It was bad enough to file a complaint. But most often this experience is very positive and helpful. I also usually go face to face. I learned that if I use a “traditional confessional” I get overly anxious and start to cry. I even forget what I want to confess. So I go face to face.


What you have described sounds like the usual way things are done in my area.

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