Going to confession ASAP


Hi guys. I know Latin Catholics have a rule that you should confess a mortal sin ASAP. But my understanding is that in the early church people might have to wait years before receiving absolution if they committed a serious sin. In eastern catholic churches, do you have any practice of waiting (days/weeks/years) before confession to prepare yourself and become contrite? It seems that my church (coptic orthodox) may not favor this ASAP rule. I mean some priests seem to encourage confessing asap, others seem to encourage waiting until your regularly scheduled time (which could be in a month).


I am not part of the Coptic community but from reading Coptnet it appears that if you are in a state of mortal sin then you should go to confession as soon as possible.
They also place more emphasis on sins of thought.


Can you provide a link


Those long periods were part of the penance given during confession, not times you had to wait before you could be absolved.

The priest couldn’t tell you to wait a period of time if he didn’t already know about the sin, which means you had to have confessed it, and the Church wouldn’t leave a penitent hanging in a state of mortal sin for weeks, months or years.


Actually, in the early church, you often had to wait a lifetime to go to confession because you were only allowed to do so once.

Here is a fairly good article on the history of the sacrament. As you can see, the sacrament as we know it today is quite different from how it was practiced in the early church.




I stand corrected.


Different people get different advice in confession. A person with tendencies towards scrupulosity might be told that to help that problem and keep it from getting worse.

OTOH, I had a chance for a few months to confess weekly, and that was very helpful to my spiritual life. But I was not fretting about my sins either.


Yes this is good advice. I will occasionally struggle with scruples ( I have OCD) but I’m been making myself go to the same priest on a semi regular basis (every few months). Often I end up having to go immediately following liturgy as there isn’t enough time to always go before hand. I try not to sweat it as it’s the intent that counts…


Thanks Deacon. It was a good read. Do you think the church will ever approve Deacon administering the sacrament? Maybe that would lead to more people taking advantage of the Sacrament.


Do you know? when your going to die? if so,waiting one month or years there is no problem.i think once in a year is the general rule,we know in this age of sin,hyow important confession is.


1422 "Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion."4


1423 It is called the sacrament of conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus’ call to conversion, the first step in returning to the Father5 from whom one has strayed by sin.

It is called the sacrament of Penance, since it consecrates the Christian sinner’s personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction.

1424 It is called the sacrament of confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament. In a profound sense it is also a “confession” - acknowledgment and praise - of the holiness of God and of his mercy toward sinful man.

It is called the sacrament of forgiveness, since by the priest’s sacramental absolution God grants the penitent "pardon and peace."6

It is called the sacrament of Reconciliation, because it imparts to the sinner the live of God who reconciles: "Be reconciled to God."7 He who lives by God’s merciful love is ready to respond to the Lord’s call: "Go; first be reconciled to your brother."8


No, I doubt that will ever happen. We are not even permitted to administer the sacrament of the sick because it includes absolution, and the church has been firm that only priests may absolve.


Do eastern catholic priests sometimes prevent a person from recieving communion after he has confessed a very big sin? Is there ever a case where someone absolved is preventing from receiving communion due to the gravity of his sin? The coptic Orthodox church is very big on this.


According to me Melkite Publicans prayer book, it states that it is up to the spiritual father to decide given that it can become apart of ones regular prayer life and preparation for Holy Communion. However, it also suggests that one should confess every time one has grave sin on their soul.


Confession was regarded as a “second” baptism. And since you could only be baptized once therefore you could only receive the Sacrament of Penance once. Read the story of the Prodigal Son. He didn’t leave home again after he returned. :wink:


NO. A deacon cannot absolve sins nor can he offer the Liturgy. There’s an old saying in the Church: “A higher Order may perform the functions of a lower Order; a lower Order may not perform the functions of a higher Order.” Example: A priest may read the Gospel (technically the function of a deacon) but a deacon may not absolve sins (only a bishop/priest can do so).


Very true but that can be changes. It is church law not God’s law. Many people were lead astray when things changed in then 50’s and 60’s that they thought unchangeable. Some are still bitter today as a result.
I think it would be a good change to promote more people confessing more often.


It is not church law but Divine law. Our Lord gave the apostles (who were bishops) the power to forgive sins. C.f. John 20: 19-23. Deacons (e.g. St. Stephen) did NOT forgive sins. Also, St. Paul (a bishop) absolved the incestous Corinthian. C.f. 1 and 2 Corinthians.


And the bishops delegated the priest and in the future, if they feel called by the Holy Spirit to do so, can delegate deacons.


No way. It won’t happen. You can bet your bottom dollar on that.


I glad you are so sure what the Holy Spirit will do! I hope you are not being set up for the fall. There was a Cardinal, I forgot his mane, who pronounced before Vatican II that nothing will change!
He could not have been more wrong.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.