Unusual words of absolution, have my sins been forgiven?

Hi everybody.

This morning I thought myself in need of Confession due to a mortal sin on my conscience.  I sought out the nearest Mass and asked for a Confession afterwords.  The Priest was very accomodating, but rather than end the sacrament with the usual "and I absolve yuou of your sins in the name of.." he said something to the effect of:

“now offer an act of contrition and we can absolve you…”

While I made my act of contrition, he prayed quietly in words I couldn’t hear, as they usually do…, then he said something to the effect of either “the Lord has given you parden and peace” or “may the Lord give you pardon and peace”, I don’t recall which and sent me on my way. I regret not asking for clarification at that time, I was a bit perplexed and for whatever reason was too uncomfortable to question him.

Was this a valid Sacrament, have my sins been forgiven? Thanks!

It can be perhaps that he gave you absolution quietly as you made an act of contrition…and then he dismissed you saying something regarding that the Lord has forgiven you and to go in peace…

It is of course good to hear the words…but if one does not such does not effect the validity.

The only people who can for sure tell you if it was a valid sacrament is the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

You’re not the only person this has happened to. This seems to be getting more and more common. Father Z over at wdtprs.com has handled many stories such as your own. This one, wdtprs.com/blog/2011/01/quaeritur-nitwit-priest-changes-the-words-of-absolution-wherein-fr-z-really-rants/, might be able to help you out. If not, his blog does give advice for writing higher authorities such as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

It is of course good to hear the words…but if one does not such does not effect the validity.

This is a perfect example of why priests need to just, Say the Black, and do the Red. Changing the words of Absolution can affect the validity of the sacrament. It tends to happen that the priest starts out praying quietly during the Act of the Contrition, but when it gets to the words of absolution, they’ll say them so the penititent can hear them. If this is what the priest did, then there is the possiblity that the sacrament was not valid, and the OP’s sins weren’t forgiven. I don’t know how much leeway there is in changing the words of Absolution.

Off topic:

That Father Z elected to title his blog post “Nitwit priest changes the words of absolution.” suggests to me a fair bit about the man. He may think that another Priest is a nitwit, but to call him such lacks humility and charity. If this is the best Father Z can do, I feel bad for Father Z. I appreciate his sentiments, but man, that kind of language is going to completly turn off the people who need to hear your message most. I wish that people in the Church who cannot seem to be charitable in the oppinions would have the humility to keep their thoughts to themselves.

I wouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Father Z has a wealth of knowledge and very dedicated to helping readers with their concerns. He’s a breath of fresh air compared to many of the priests we have today who don’t follow the rubrics. At the very least, not following the rubrics causes things to be illicit, at worst, invalid.

I’m a revert who came back to the Church in full force because of what I learned about how the Church is supposed to be. Not filled with kumbya-music, severe lack of confession, priests telling their flocks they receive absoluton during the Penitential Rite during Mass, liturgical dance, etc.

PS: just to be clear I was not saying that a change in the words could not make it invalid…rather only that the fact that the person does not hear the words (they are said softy etc) does not make it invalid.

Sounds as if he said the words of absolution while you said your Act of Contrition. My parish priest does this all the time. He speaks so low I can’t always hear what he’s saying, particularly since I am concentrating on saying my Act of Contrition, but he’s a very holy priest and I have no doubt he’s saying the correct words. Some priests like to say the words of absolution at the same time you’re speaking and some like to wait until you have finished. Based on what you described it sounds ok to me, but if it’s really bothering you ask the priest next time you see him. He probably has no idea he has confused you.

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