MUST a person go to confession to receive absolution of their mortal sins?

First off, I am a Lutheran, so I agree with the “In persona Christi” theological concept. But, in Catholic theology, does a person have to go to confession with a priest to receive absolution of their mortal sins, or can they confess them to God in private prayer and still receive forgiveness?


From the Catechism of the Catholic Church


1451 Among the penitent’s acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is "sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again."50

1452 When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called “perfect” (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.51

1453 The contrition called “imperfect” (or “attrition”) is also a gift of God, a prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is born of the consideration of sin’s ugliness or the fear of eternal damnation and the other penalties threatening the sinner (contrition of fear). Such a stirring of conscience can initiate an interior process which, under the prompting of grace, will be brought to completion by sacramental absolution. By itself however, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins, but it disposes one to obtain forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance.52

So as you can see…it is possible for forgiveness of mortal sins to happen prior to making it to confession…

I should also add that venial sins can be forgiven in many ways…prayer…etc.

but it is strongly recommended that at least some of these be confessed as well…

well, confession is properly called the sacrament of penance, sacrament meaning a sensible sign instituted by Jesus Christ as a physical means to obtain invisible grace and inward sanctification, in which case there needs to be a physical means of obtaining the spiritual,
and then penance meaning to make reparation for, which is what we do in confession, which i will explain how -
first of all confession is an act of humility, when you go you are humbling yourself, saying “I am a sinner Lord, forgive me” and by that you make reparation(if it is sincere), because it is not always an easy thing to do, and also because you are not just saying “i am sorry”, you are proving it, it’s easy enough to just say you are sorry, but to humble yourself like that and do something you don’t really want to do is really saying “see Lord, i am truly sorry”…that is something you need to prove to yourself as well.

and then also it is an act of reparation because of contrition, when we go to confession we must move ourselves to have true sorrow for offending God,
and at the end of your confession the priest gives you a penance to do, whether it is a prayer, or some good work, or to repair some damage you have done, or whatever he sees fitting,

we are told that confession is for those who have been baptized to be able to receive sanctifying grace again in their souls, but why is that? why can’t the unbaptized go to confession? because confession is not just for forgiveness,

when we are baptized we receive sanctifying grace for the first time, baptism is also a sacrament, it is a physical means of obtaining extraordinary grace(sanctifying grace)
but you can only receive baptism once, because it is a permanent mark on your soul which can not be added on to or taken away,
so when you lose your sanctifying grace by committing a mortal sin, how do you get it back? just as you needed a physical sign to get it in the first place, you need it again to get it again,
you need a sacrament to receive sanctifying grace, which is of course the sacrament of penance,
so the reason the unbaptized don’t go to confession is because confession is for getting sanctifying grace back, which can only be obtained by a sacrament.

Jesus wanted it this was for many reasons, and one good reason is simply because you cannot trust in anything else, Jesus Himself instituted confession, and we know that God is all fair, so when you go to confession, and are sincere and truly sorry, then you can be assured that you will receive your sanctifying grace back again, because Jesus said so.
but you cannot have that kind of assurance by doing something which God has not told you to do, we have never been told to “just confess to God” for forgiveness, and why not? well it would be kinda silly, God already knows your sins, He doesn’t need to hear them, the priest needs to because He is the one who must decide if you can be absolved or not, and then he is the one who will give you a penance based on your sins,
of course you are really confessing to Jesus in the confessional, but you need a physical sign and a verbal communication, we are physical being, our bodies are dominant over our souls, and so Jesus has made things work accordingly,

well i think i over explained things…but i hope this helps you, if you have anymore questions, please ask.
alright, tc.

See this interesting post on the difference between forgiveness and absolution. It seems one could be forgiven without confession, but not absolved.


The normal way I go about it is:
*]I confess to God and promise to confess to his Church’s representative “in persona Christi” asap.
*]I confess to the Church’s representative “in persona Christi” at the first available opportunity
[/LIST]It’s pretty simple. Very humbling, but simple.

BTW, If I die before I confess to a priest, I’m covered.

It’s all arbitrary. In case you haven’t noticed, the pope makes up new rulings all the time.

If God is omniscient then he knows how to bring it about that there is neither evil nor suffering.
If God is omnipotent then he is able to bring it about that there is neither evil nor suffering.
If God is benevolent then he wants to bring it about that there is neither evil nor suffering.
But if God knows how to, is able to and wants to bring it about that there is neither evil nor suffering, then why does he not do so?

“God is incomprehensible” you respond.

Theists have often been content to say that we are unable to comprehend God, that his being transcends our mundane experiences and that our concepts, which are derived from such experiences, cannot be used to describe him. If true, then this might be thought to count in favor of agnosticism; if we cannot comprehend God, then how can we reason with any confidence concerning his existence?

Of course, I can’t expect this to make sense to any one here. The only way you could maintain such a blind faith as I see here is if you rejected anything that offended you or challenged your knowledge. At least when I am censored, you must acknowledge the truth of this last paragraph.

The simple answer is yes, must go to confession to recieve absolution. There must be contrition of heart and purpose of amendment.

Confession is an inexhaustible source of renewable grace. Why wouldn’t I want to tap into this fountain of grace?

All other sacraments are not renewable only Confession and Communion. Renewed grace is recieved every time we humbly present ourselves to the priest and ask…“father will you hear my confession?”

This is pleasing to God. And His heart opens up to bathe us in His grace when we ask for forgivness in the way that He prescribed - to one of His priests…In persona Christi…

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