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The Sacrament of Reconciliation

Father Paul MacNeil

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is for our spiritual healing. According to the Gospels, after the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to the apostles, breathed on them, and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.” (John 20:22-23) The reason for this sacrament is to heal our spiritual wounds, which we call sin.

Catholics must confess all known mortal sins to a priest. By doing this, we put ourselves in the state of grace necessary to receive the Holy Eucharist.

Confessing sins to a priest is not as difficult as people think. Most people tell sensitive, delicate and confidential information to their doctor or lawyer, so why not a priest? The priest is bound by the most absolute secrecy and confidentiality known to humankind. Not even the Pope can get the priest to reveal what was said in the confessional.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. When is Confession available at St. Denis?

Click here to view our current Mass times and Confession schedule. Please call the office if you would like to arrange a private Confession with one of our priests.

2. I have not been to Confession in a long time, how is it done?

• You start by examining our conscience. A good way to do this is to review the Ten Commandments and identify those that you have broken. Click here for an helpful Examination of Conscience.


• You enter the confessional and greet the priest. We say, “Bless me Father for I have sinned, it has been (state how long) since my last confession.”


• You will confess all our mortal (in kind a number), venial sins, and answer any questions the priest may ask you.


• When you have finished confessing you will say an Act of Contrition, such as: “Oh my God, I am very sorry for having offended You. I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and fear the pain of hell, but most of all, because I have offended You, my God, Who are all good and deserving of my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.”


• The priest will say the prayer of Absolution and give you a penance to do.


• We then leave and immediately perform the penance given to you.

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