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Dear Father Angelo,

I am writing in order to ask you some clarification in regards to the Sacrament of Confession) 

ordinarily, if in my conscience I am aware of some  venial sins the church tells me that I can participate in the Holy Mass and by participating with the right disposition those are forgiven: at this point does it make sense to confess my sins after the Holy Mass?

That is, if by God’s Grace I am   prevented from mortal sins, does it make sense to approach the Sacrament of Confession after Mass? Or was it better before?

By attending Mass with the intention of asking the priest to confess me after the celebration, does it make sense to  receive the Holy Eucharist or should I just perform an act of spiritual communion?

Another question that comes to mind: if through  the Holy Mass venial sins are forgiven, does it still make sense to go to Confession often? Is it not a lack of faith in the Eucharist?

I would be much grateful for your help in better understanding this matter so that I will be able to live the life of Grace, especially the participation in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and in the Sacrament of Confession which is  the encounter with the Mercy of the Lord, peacefully and fruitfully in union with the Heart of God.

Thank you, Agostino. 

Priest’s answer

Dear Augustine,

1. in a word your question is this: if the Eucharist forgives venial sins, why confess them in the Sacrament of Penance?

In particular, does it make sense to confess them after Mass, immediately after their remission by the celebration of Mass?

2. The answer is yes, because although venial sins can be forgiven through many paths (the sign of the cross made with devotion, the recitation of the Pater and much more the participation in Holy Mass with Holy Communion…) when the Sacrament of Penance is celebrated together with the sanctifying grace, one also receives the sacramental grace, that is, the grace proper to the Sacrament of Penance.

3. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “sacramental grace” is the grace of the Holy Spirit given by Christ and proper to each sacrament.

The Spirit heals and transforms those who receive them by conforming them to the Son of God” (CCC 1129).

4. In what sense does this sacrament heal?

It could be said   in three ways.

First, by granting the grace to feel for the sins now accused the same feelings that Christ felt when He saw them in the garden of Olive and sweated blood for them.

It is that feeling that leads one to hate sins and to wish he had  never committed them because they made Jesus sweat blood and crucified Him.

It is a feeling, therefore, that repudiates sin and arouses hatred against it with the intention of never offending the Lord again.

5. Secondly, it heals by stirring up humility  in the accusation and making people say together with David: “I recognize my guilt” (Ps 51:5).

By arousing humility in the accusation, pride, which is the root of all sin, is remedied.

This is the true healing, the one that brings remedy to the root of evil.

6. Thirdly, there is a Grace linked to the penance given by the confessor.

This Grace heals in a twofold way: by reviving the displeasure of having sinned. If there were not this displeasure, the fruit of forgiveness would be lost.

And then also by manifesting outwardly the signs of repentance by leading a penitent life.

7. As it  can be seen , the Grace given in this Sacrament is particularly  great.

And although it is implicitly  enclosed in the sanctifying Grace with which it is identified and which is abundantly communicated in Holy Mass, it is nevertheless given here explicitly and with a certain emphasis.

8. Finally, with regard to the question of whether it is more convenient to confess venial sins before or after Mass, although all the Sacraments are ultimately orientated to the Eucharist, it must be said, however, that this Sacrament is not celebrated only in view of the Eucharist. It has its own consistency.

So that sometimes, for a set of circumstances, it is easier to celebrate it after Mass  according to the availability of the priest or  also because of the more serene possibility of  spiritual direction that is very often combined with confession.

Wishing you to enjoy in an ever increasing way the Grace proper to these Sacraments, I remind you to the Lord and bless you.

Father Angelo