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Part Two

absolution, unless he has a grave reason for receiving Communion and

there is no possibility of going to confession.


Children must go to the

sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion for the first




Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday

faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the



Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us

form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be

healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving

more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father’s

mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful:


Whoever confesses his sins . . . is already working with God.

God indicts your sins; if you also indict them, you are joined

with God. Man and sinner are, so to speak, two realities:

when you hear “man”—this is what God has made; when

you hear “sinner”—this is what man himself has made.

Destroy what you have made, so that God may save what

he has made . . . . When you begin to abhor what you have

made, it is then that your good works are beginning, since

you are accusing yourself of your evil works. The beginning

of good works is the confession of evil works. You do the

truth and come to the light.




Many sins wrong our neighbor. One must do what is

possible in order to repair the harm (e.g., return stolen goods,

restore the reputation of someone slandered, pay compensation for

injuries). Simple justice requires as much. But sin also injures and

weakens the sinner himself, as well as his relationships with God

and neighbor. Absolution takes away sin, but it does not remedy

all the disorders sin has caused.


Raised up from sin, the sinner

must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more

to make amends for the sin: he must “make satisfaction for” or

“expiate” his sins. This satisfaction is also called “penance.”

57 Cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1647; 1661; CIC, can. 916; CCEO, can. 711.

58 Cf. CIC, can. 914.

59 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1680; CIC, can. 988 § 2.

60 Cf.



61 St. Augustine,

In Jo. ev.

12, 13: PL 35, 1491.

62 Cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1712.