What's with the "no penance" after confession?

I am one of those funny ducks that don’t go to my own parish for confession. (go to a neighboring Shrine) I understand, however, that the Pastor and the previous Pastor in our parish have not been giving penance after confession. They have also not been giving people time to say the act of contrition after confession.:confused:.What’s up with all that? Anyone else been having this experience at their own parishes? People are a little confused with all this, and have been doing their own penances…???

Feedback anyone?

And I thought that I was the only one.

Sometimes I go to confession at a neighbor parish, and sometimes I go to the beautiful Shrine of St. Rita. At these places there is always an Act of Contrition, the “full” prayer of absolution, and a penance. Sometimes at my regular parish there will be no Act of Contrition and the abbreviated prayer of absolution, but always a penance.

No penance? It can really be a penance.

I went to confession a few weeks ago, and there was quite a bit of stuff that I needed to correct. When the time came to give a penance, the priest just said, “You know what you need to do, and I’m not going to give you anything to make it harder.”

I’ve been to him two other times, and the penance has been to continue praying for certain people. I found this pretty frustrating, as it is impossible to know when or if you have completed the penance.

I think I’m finished with this priest!


He sounds like a wise priest to me…obviously you made it apparent to him that you knew whatever it was you needed to do rectify the situation.
And I would think you would know that the penance is complete when you notice a change in yourself. It appears that you are complaining about praying for others…do you have a problem with that, if so why?

Please provide a source for this new doctrine. Where does it tell one they can know penance is complete by noticing a change in themselves? What change? How much change?

I would suggest if you have difficulty with the way your priest conducts the Sacrament that you make an appointment with him and go talk to him about it. Let him know your concerns, but go there to LISTEN and hear what he has to say.

Good Morning to all!

I have found that the way penaces are given has changed at the various churchs that I have been too. Instead of saying Rosaries or Hail Mary’s or Our Fathers, I have been given small assignments instead. Sometimes it is to sit and commune with God and others are to do small acts of charity or penance. I find I get more out of these penances than the older way. It is more involved and not as easily forgotten. I have always been given something to do, so I am surprized that any priest would give no penance. As far as the Act of Contrition, that is not obligatory. It is not set in stone nor specified in the CCC. I have done it since I can remember and will continue to do so. Confession is just not the same without it.

Just a few thoughts…

God Bless!

The Act of Contrition is certainly mandatory–actually “some” Act of Contrition. It might not be in the Catechism, but it is in the “Rite of Penance.” This can take many different forms, and can even be a simple one sentence prayer, in fact a simple “God forgive me” might suffice but it’s by no means optional.

Remember however that depending upon the circumstances, it might not be possible for the penitent to say an Act of Contrition. It’s required for the licit celebration of the Sacrament (in ordinary circumstances) but it’s not required for validity. Since we’re discussing “ordinary” confessions here, it’s certainly required.

I can’t think of why a priest would leave out penance and the Act of Contrition on a regular basis. Except to perhaps save time. Once I did not pray the Act of Contrition and I ask the priest why and he said it was because of time and I could say it along with my penance. I did not think it was a regular practice by any means, and it’s never happened before or since, except during the communal confessions during Advent and Lent where everyone says it before hand. And I’ve only ever gone to a couple of those.

First, I think we should all be wary of the ‘someone says that Fr so-and-so gives (or doesn’t give) this or that penance.’ Folks can certainly discuss there own confession if they want, but it’s not a good practice to armchair quarterback Father’s confessional style based on rumors of what he said.

Also, there is no need to give a reason as to why you receive confession somewhere other than your home parish. It could be scheduling convenience, spiritual direction, or any one of a number of reasons.

Also, some Act of Contrition is required, but it doesn’t have to be said in the confessional. The priest may direct you to say it afterward. Or he may say the Absolution at the same time you say the Act of Contrition.

As I said in another thread, it is not a good habit to constantly be doubting your absolution after confession or to regularly and publicly discuss your own confessions or a priest’s manner of hearing confessions.

Hasn’t happened at my parish.

There is always a penance - could be to pray for someone, to abstain from something and offer it for something, could be to offer a prayer or a Mass in thanksgiving for something God is doing in my life, once it was to “go bask in the silence before Mass and let Jesus speak to you”. Whatever it is, is usually exactly what I need at the time.

And the assignment of penance is always followed by “now make an act of contrition”.

Yikes! I didn’t know that. I go to a priest from Poland for Confession on a regular basis. He never gives you time to say an Act of Contrition. I usually say it after I leave the Confessional. Is that OK?

You’re not really called upon to have an opinion about the priests hearing confessions or their methods in a place you do not usually make your confession, now are you?

Just as you have a right to go to Confession anywhere you wish, for any reason, so you have no right to scrutinize the acts of priests who are not your confessors.

My understanding is that present use allows the Penitent to say his Act of Contrition before or after the confession proper.

There’s my feedback.

I have to admit that the last time I was asked to say an Act of Contrition during confession was about 20 years ago. The priests in my parish never ask and they rarely impose a penance other than “do something nice for somebody”.

The reason I brought this subject up, and needed some feedback as to what might have changed recently, was because the person who approached me with this concern of his, was an elderly gentleman that (of course) was not used to anything but the traditional way of reconcilliation. He was dumbfounded both times with both priests, and said he did say the act of contrition after confession, along with penance he gave himself, which was (I believe he said) a chaplet of Divine Mercy. I assured him that Jesus would be satisfied with this, but was wondering if this was a new trend of administering the sacrament for some reason. I really didn’t mean to pick apart any particular priest whatsoever, and besides since there were two different priests that did this as of recently, I guess I wanted to be prepared myself with whatever I might encounter in the confessional. It was just a matter of gaining some insight as to what the new “trend” so to speak might be.

Well, I have made my confessions there before because it IS my own parish. Even though usually I do not go to my own parish, I sometimes do. (before Christmas and Easter) And as I explained in my other post, I was not scrutinizing or criticizing the priests on their methods, but inquiring if this might be something new that priests were doing. It’s helpful to know what’s going on. At least I am one that likes to know so as how to handle it.

No problem at all with praying for others. The people for whom I was asked to pray are people for whom I pray assiduously every day already. Until now, most penances I have received have been to do something in addition to what I am already doing.


Ok, now I understand what you are saying.

For what it’s worth, I think feedback is important to understand what the latest “trend” might be in the administration of the sacraments. At least in my area there have been trends that are not quite according to Church teachings. For instance in my particular area there was a time that individual confessions were not scheduled AT ALL, and if you wanted to go to confession one on one, you had to call for an appointment. They had General Penetential Rites before Christmas and Easter. People got the idea that individual confession was not all that important, because that was the way it was portrayed by the clergy. I look back on this and realize that people were not being led down the right path. I thank God it is different today, but going through that period of time, people in my area are a little gun shy about what might be right and wrong in the administration of the sacraments. No one here (I don’t believe) is trying to “pick apart” different methods by individual priests as to how they administer the sacrament. This being said, people do (I believe) have the right and maybe the obligation to investigate what is right and wrong about administration of the sacraments. What “trends” that are perfectly fine and which ones to stay away from. I don’t think anyone here can deny that in years past we have had many clergy that were what I call “rogue” and not at all conforming to church teachings. I have even seen a few INVALID consecrations in my life time. (not to go into detail, but VERY INVALID) After going through a period of time like that, people tend to have their eyes wide open, and notice when things change, even just a little. They tend to be just a little gun shy.


Good morning and peace be with you.

I don’t think this thread was intended to pick apart individual priests, I just see through this thread and several others that times have changed and so has the way we do some things in the church. We do not have multiple times of confession here in my new home town in NE. I moved here from Dayton, OH a few months ago and it was the same there. Once a week for about 45 mins and that is all. I think lack of priests and time has played a great role in determining length, how often and way confessions are done. It is not any particular priests problem.

The main post was talking about no peances given. I think that the poster just wanted to know if anyone else had run into this. Yes, it has been on other threads over the preceding months in various forms. This practice has made me wonder if the Vatican has relaxed the rules goering the Sacrament of Reconcillation. I doubt that this is true as there still are places that go with the older form of Reconcillation. Just is this a new trend and if so, is it ok? That is my question.

Just a few thoughts…

God Bless!

since neither you nor I have actually been to confession with that priest, we cannot comment. In general, many priests now instruct people to say their act of contrition outside after absolution, especially if there are crowds, and if there is a penitential service, may announce that everyone will say the same penance, such as the OF, decade of the rosary etc, afterward. The priest is the guardian of the sacrament and unless and until we have proof he is not offering valid or licit sacraments, the Christian obligation is to assume the best on his part. I agree with OP it would be helpful if catechesis from the pulpit for the whole parish were offered if their practices are causing widespead confusion.

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.