I recently went to confession and did my best to do a full and sincere confession and I believe I was truly sorry for what I confessed, said the act of contrition and did my penance. What worries me is that the Priest (a visiting Priest) did not say the prayer of absolution as I know it. Rather he seemed to follow his own formula and I did not hear him say “I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. I wanted to ask if I was absolved, but thought better of it at the time. Since then it has worried me. Is my confession valid? Should I go back and confess the same sins? Do I merit any graces form the sacrament of reconciliation, made in good faith, if the Priest does not say those words?
You might have overheard that, but at least “I absolve you (of your sins)” is the minimal necessary formula for the confession to be valid in the Latin Church. For a peace of mind I would go to another confession and next time ask the priest on the spot if you are unsure. God bless!
Could he have spoken Latin?
This happened to me once. It was an older priest I confess to regularly. He always says the standard words. But this time he said something very different. I was listening to his words but the strangeness of the words made my mind flustered. I didn’t think I heard him say ‘I absolve you’. These are the necessary words.
I was so flustered I didn’t think to ask if he said the words of absolution. I left the confessional kinda in a daze. I thought about it for a while. And I drove to another nearby parish where I know a priest who hears confession. I told him what happened and confessed the same sins again.
Now, what I did is not something I would recommend. If you were not in a state of mortal sin then I would definitely think you merit graces from a sincere and full confession. God certainly knows your effort. And you wouldn’t need to confess the sins again because you have no need to confess specific venial sins.
This is the form of the sacrament of Confession:
Form: Priest: God, the Father of mercies, through the death and 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."
Matter: Sins; Contrition and confession; priestly words of absolution
If the form is improper, you are right to be concerned. Please contact a priest as to whether you should have a do-over.
Form is essential. In baptism, if one is baptized using the formula, “I baptize you in the name of the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sanctifier” the baptism is invalid.
In the same way, at the consecration during mass, if the priest, says anything except, “This is My Body,” it would be invalid.
The Church has “forms” for all her sacraments. They are to be followed for validity.
No - definitely English, just before he prayed I recall him saying that I had come at the right time as advent was about to begin and it was good to make my confession in preparation and anticipation of the coming of Jesus, also I was very clear on the penance I was given. Just a bit flustered on the words spoken during absolution. I understood them but they were different and I did not hear “I absolve you…” I remember something about “being reconciled to God” being said.
Thanks, this is really helpful.
There is only one baptism, no matter in what faith one is lawfully baptized. If someone is unable to provide the information needed when entering the Catholic faith, Father may do a “conditional baptism” - he does not rebaptize the person.
In the same way, since you are unclear about hearing the words of absolution, ask your priest if he may do a “conditional” confession. Very possibly, you did not commit sacrilege by receiving communion, even if you had a doubt about being absolved. God knows your heart and you confessed in good faith. But to put your mind at rest, kindly contact a priest about this, okay?
Is it possible that the priest absolved you while you were praying the act of contrition and you didn’t hear him?
Did he says something like “ego te absolvo a peccatis tui, in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritu Sancti. Amen”?
Is it possible that this was an eastern rite priest?
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