Strange Confession Experience

So, I visited a new parish tonight for Vigil Mass and I try to get to confession weekly as much as possible. But today, I had a rather odd experience… I have been to several confessions in the past year (convert to the faith in 2013) and there have been the odd times, albeit rare, where the priest does not ask for an act of contrition and goes right into the absolution. However today, the priest didn’t even make a sign of the cross prior to my confession. I knelt down and waited for a few moments for him to initiate by making the sign of the cross, but instead he just said “go” … This priest also did not ask for an act of contrition, but offered absolution. Apart from these 2 things, I felt the confession went well. I guess my question is, Is it not required for a priest to make the sign of the cross at the beginning of this Sacrament? And if so, does this make my confession invalid?

I’m a convert myself (confirmed 2012) and so I dont actually knoe what the very bones of a valid confession are. The first time I had a confession experience like the one you described I was extremely confused. Though one time when a priest did not ask for my act of contrtion he told me to go say it while i say the prayers he gave me for my penance. I assume that saying your act of contrition asap outside of the confessional is the idea if the priest does not allow you to say it before him.

what really threw me for a loop was when a priest said the absolution in a foreign langiage. i had no idea where in the confession process we were!! so lost.

Be at peace. I am sure that the priest not making the Sign of the Cross does not invalidate the Sacrament. It is necessary for the penitent to have contrition, not that he say the Act of Contrition out loud.

As long as he said, “I absolve you,” the sacrament is valid.

I bounce around to many different priests for confession, often because of my schedule putting me in a lot of different places at different times. At least half do not make the Sign of the Cross. I don’t think they have to but I suppose I don’t know for sure. No doubt it’s in the Code of Canon Law or something.

Likely, he was waiting for YOU to make the sign of the cross with the words
“bless me, Father, for I have sinned”.
Hence the “go”.

Some priests (as in penance service situations) realize that people have said the Act of Contrition in advance and don’t ask for it a second time.

Try not to worry. As others have said, you are absolved.



Thanks for asking this question. I also joined the Church in 2013, and I like to ‘Confession-hop’ a little bit and have also noticed that there is a certain amount of variety among priests in how they conduct the Rite of Reconciliation. For instance, in one parish where lines are usually very long, you are told to say the Act of Contrition outside the Confessional. Good to know that they’re all OK.

Splendid! Thank you everyone for your fantastic answers. I wasn’t entirely sure as no one ever mentioned to us in RCIA that some priests do not always start with the signum crucis, so I was a bit confused. All cleared up for me now :slight_smile: God bless you all

Ways of doing confession vary. Some use the old formula, some use a newer version. Other countries have an entirely different set of words they use. The only thing that is co nsistent is what the priest says for absolution. So, no, it’s fine if the priest didn’t start first with the sign of the cross.

In the Hispanic community, at least with my parish, when we first enter the confessional and kneel/sit, we’ll say “Ave Maria Purisima” (Hail Mary Most Pure) and the other person will respond “Sin pecado concebido” (born without sin). Sometimes the priest will say it first, or sometimes the penitent will say it first. The priest at my parish will begin the sign of the cross in which I’ll respond “Ave Maria Purisima” and so on. Other Hispanic priests you have to initiate it first by saying the Ave Maria. I think it’s really just dependent on the priest and culture. The absolution and your contrite heart is the most important part. That’s what makes the Sacrament the Sacrament. Fret not! You’re sins are forgiven.

I had similar experiences in my hometown. The priest would literally not say anything until he gave the penance and absolution, and the penance was always something tiny like “do a good deed.” It drove me nuts. If it makes you uncomfortable, I’d avoid going to confession at that parish. As others have said, however, the confession is still valid.

Hmm… I don’t speak Spanish, but that sure looks like “conceived without sin,” not “born without sin”… :wink:

Many priests begin with a formal opening, like the sign of the cross, but many don’t. I know one priest who just says “hello,” and you go from there. And at my parish, most often you are asked to say the act of contrition with your penance outside the confessional, to allow for more confession to be heard.

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