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.
61 St. Augustine,
In Jo. ev.
12, 13: PL 35, 1491.
62 Cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1712.