The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

“Oh my God, I am heartily sorry…”

So begins one of the most widely recited prayers in the Catholic Church, the penitential Act of Contrition, said at the conclusion of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Lent is a season for revisiting this sacrament, and for attempting to make what my nuns back in grade school used to call “a good confession.” If anyone has been away from the confessional for a while, now is a good time to make a return visit. Need help? Look no further.


A priest friend posted this on his Facebook page, and it’s as good a place as any to start: it’s an “Examination of Conscience,” based on the 10 commandments, with a variety of probing questions. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself looking at your life and your choices differently. Stealing, killing and committing adultery are more complicated than you may think.

I also dug up this essay that I wrote a couple of years ago for America magazine. It talks about my own journey back to the confessional, and what I discovered there:

The Chinese have a saying: “The beginning of wisdom is to call something by its correct name.” Perhaps that is part of it, too: we name what we are–proud, greedy, lustful, petty, selfish, untruthful–and become aware. With penance and practice, we strive to be better. Wisdom begins.


Or so we hope. And so we pray: “I firmly resolve with the help of thy grace to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life, Amen.”

Those final words of the Act of Contrition put it so succinctly and clearly. The purpose of the sacrament, really, is to amend life. To improve on what is there.

And with that improvement, I think, comes this beautiful promise at the heart of our faith: the promise that we will rise. We can be uplifted. Resurrection is available. All of us can roll aside the stone of our personal tomb and stagger, blinking, into the sun. As more than a few preachers have proclaimed: the paschal mystery didn’t end on Good Friday but on Easter Sunday.

So it can be with each of us, too.

The profound act of being reconciled with God enables us to live Easter every time we emerge from that confessional. We breathe again. We see light again. We hope again. We are given grace.

And who doesn’t need that — especially now?

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posted March 1, 2010 at 8:15 am

God bless you. This planet needs to get on thier knees, and pray this is the time for knee – ology,and repentance.:) B.

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posted March 1, 2010 at 9:21 am

Althought I am not catholic I do find myself learning very valueable principles for my newly rediscovery of faith. I love Mother Angela and watch her frequently. Father Corapi is another figure that gives me the breakdown of just how to live my life through Christ. Them above comment on the 10 commandments was something he just preached on and how to apply to your EVERY day life. Turns out it is not as complicated as we want to make it out to be. Both of these people are truly an inspiration and goes to prove people can be Baptist, Methodist or whatever donomination and still grow in faith from other religions. Thank you.

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posted March 1, 2010 at 9:25 am

I don’t understand why one has to confess sins to a priest when i believe the bible says that JESUS is the mediator between man & GOD . PLEASE EXPLAIN ?

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posted March 1, 2010 at 11:25 am

The simplest answer is this: Jesus gave His apostles the authority to forgive sins. If they were no need, why would Jesus give them that authority? And lets not forget that James told us to confess our sins to one another.
Don’t forget that the forgiveness that the priest offers is not his own, but the forgiveness of Jesus.

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posted March 1, 2010 at 12:15 pm

the other reason to confess your sins to a priest is although Jesus watched you sin, and forgives you those sins, we as humans NEED to hear the words “Your sins are forgiven”. I don’t know how often you talk to God to confess your sins out loud,but hearing those words of forgiveness is transforming. There have been many studies that the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession, Penance) is better than a psychologist and many non-Catholics seek it out to hear those words of healing and forgiveness. We live in a society that does not often forgive generously, as Christ forgives.
Also- the priest sits in the place of the person or community you have sinned against. Sometimes, we cannot ever tell the person or community that we are truly sorry for what we have done. When we face the priest and tell him what we have done, we put a face on the affects of our sin.

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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted March 1, 2010 at 12:52 pm

I’m swamped today and don’t have time to fully respond here, but there’s more on the Sacrament of Reconciliation at this link to the catechism, which explains that the sacrament involves not only being reconciled with God, but also with His church.
Dcn. G.

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posted March 1, 2010 at 3:08 pm

How many times does the why we do we have to confess to a priest be asked and answered? I am sure there are plenty of responses to be found on the net.

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Your Name

posted March 1, 2010 at 7:35 pm

If you are into biblical proof-texting, check out John 20, v:22-23. I think that the Catholic position is that 1) This power was given not only to the Eleven apostles, but also to their successors; and, 2) that they had to hear from others what the sins were for which the others wanted to be forgiven. The apostles were not given the ability to read minds and hearts as Jesus had.
There are some noted exceptions on reading hearts – St. John Vianney of Ars, France in the nineteenth century being one.
Hope this helps.

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posted March 2, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Thanks for JOHN 20: 22-23. I believe what scripture is saying to me is that the apostle’s were given the ” power ” thru the HOLY SPIRIT to witness & proclaim that JESUS was the one who could forgive individual sins. Some other scriptures i’ve looked at : PS.103:3, LUKE 17:48, and MARK 2:5, 10-11 : THE SON OF MAN ( JESUS ) HAS THE AUTHORITY TO FORGIVE SINS “.

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posted May 21, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Primul Site din Romania care iti Dezvaluie cum se Castiga Bani pe Net | Afla cum poti sa obtii zilnic atat de multi bani incat sa il concediezi pe seful tau.

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