Formula For Absolution Efficacious?

Dear brothers and sisters,

I just went to the house of a local priest who I have known for some time now. He is from Ghana and I often go to the rectory/house of his in order to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation during the weekdays.

In all the times when I go to confession with him, he never follows the formula for absolution verbatim. He often adds certain things, but he does tend to follow the general structure.

HOWEVER, what I always hear him say at the end is: “I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (he might leave out the “of” in the invocation of the Son and the Spirit…I can’t remember for sure).

Because I am scrupulous, and a Latin rite Catholic with a Roman/scholastic theological perspective, I am somewhat worried as to whether my confession was valid or not. I lean towards that it was valid: the priest clearly intended to hear and absolve me of my sins, I hid nothing and confessed my sins, and I was sorry and desiring of forgiveness so I could start over.

All that seemed to be missing was that he did not follow the whole formula of absolution exactly.

I am going to go to Mass during the week as I usually do, but I still know that I will probably be feeling somewhat worried when I do partake of Holy Communion.

Any thoughts? Was my confession valid? Should I re-confess everything to my own priests on Saturday?

Thanks in advance.

These are the essential words of absolution. “Ad libbing” the rest of the prayer of absolution is not a good idea (one reason being that it gives folks like you doubt and worry), but it does NOT invalidate the sacrament.

You are good to go. You are forgiven. Be at peace. Receive Communion with confidence in God’s mercy.

Do NOT re-make your confession; that would be harmful for a scrupulous person.

So you really think I’m good to go?

I remember an fssp priest explaining to me that sometimes priests who are not perfect with English can say something that does not sound correct.

The example he gave me at the time was a Priest who said sun rather than son due to pronunciation difficulties. This would not invalidate the sacrament.

Now this Priest is from Ghana and perhaps is not perfect with regards to the form he uses. It may be that he is near fluent in English but due to it being his second language he may not remember to say “of” before the Son and the Holy Spirit.

However there is also a case to be made that omitting those words do not change the formula either as there is no change in meaning AT ALL. I would say that even a priest who has English as his first language could forget to say those “ofs” without invalidating the formula.

In short there is multiple reasons for you not to worry.


If you do have a scholastic perspective, then your absolution is certainly valid.

In the first place, while the rest of the prayer “God the Father of all mercies” disposes us for reception of the sacrament, gives us the right attitude, reminds us of God’s mercy, etc. it is not necessary for validity.

As regards the words “I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”: the general consensus among the scholastics was that the essential words were “I absolve you of your sins” and that the invocation of the Trinity was not essential. Some scholastics held that “I absolve you” alone was sufficient and essential but this opinion was not unanimous.

Yes, I really think you’re good to go. Be at peace. Trust in God’s mercy.

In general, I would recommend EVERY priest read it out of the instruction as they say it. The only time I can excuse not saying verbatim while they are reading it out of the instruction is when they strutting around somewhere and someone comes and says, "Hey Father, can you hear my confession?

Now, if I were a priest I would paste cheat sheets on the inside of the confessional. But, that’s just me – terrible memory; even worse when I have to say things in front of anyone. Yeah, I have more F’s on my highschool and college transcripts than B’s and A’s combined… no really. With that in mind, I’ve learned never take my memory for granted and since I know it will fail, often when I need it most, others should expect their memory to fail as well.

:confused:As an American, I pronounce these words identically. How do the pronunciations differ from each other in Liverpuddlian English?

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