Penance: Bestowing His grace upon us

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16).

What is Penance?

Penance – commonly called confession – is a sacrament of healing. It enables us to have a conversion of heart after committing a sin and return to a right relationship with God. We are restored to life with Him and reconciled to the Church. Not only does this sacrament of God’s mercy free us from our sins, it also challenges us to have the same kind of compassion and forgiveness for those who sin against us.

A baptized Catholic is called to confess his or her sins to a priest who – acting in the person of Christ – offers forgiveness. Catholics are encouraged to go to confession regularly. Contact a parish near you to see when the sacrament is offered.


The first step in readying yourself or your child for first Penance is to contact your local parish. Education is required prior to receiving this sacrament and you must first be baptized in the Catholic Church or preparing to enter into full communion in the Catholic Church.


Yes and no. The proper name of the sacrament is Penance. While all three generally refer to the sacrament in which the faithful seek forgiveness and a priest – acting in the person of Christ – offers forgiveness, the three words refer to different aspects of this gift. Confession is the act of telling the priest of your sins and reconciliation is the returning to a right relationship with God. Penance is a prescription to right the wrongdoing and be restored in the eyes of God. This is most often in the form of prayer or service.

Based on the teachings the Church, whenever a grave sin has been committed, or between once a month and once a week. Look up scheduled confession times at a parish near you.

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