Home Page Home Page Events Events Photos Photos Diocese of Ogdensburg Home Page  
Follow Us on Facebook


Father Muench Says...

Confession from a priest’s perspective

June 30, 2021

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Once more on confession: I would like to take a few moments with you to share the unique position of a priest as a confessor. I noticed that at one of my daily Masses recently, a Gospel reading told the story of Jesus teaching his disciples – then and now – the Lord’s Prayer. You will remember how much I love this prayer. I know that I have often been with a family around a hospital bed of a loved one and I wanted them all to join with me in prayer. I always turned to the Lord’s Prayer. It is a perfect prayer.

So, there are many lessons each time we say the Lord’s Prayer. Today I am thinking of forgiveness. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Jesus calls us to be a forgiving people. Jesus promises us that God is a forgiving God. Our Catholic Church is a forgiving Church.

So, a few minutes today on forgiveness. I truly realize how necessary forgiveness is as I act in my priestly ministry as a confessor, acting as a disciple of Jesus. Each week, I spend an hour or more in the celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation – hearing confessions of the faithful. This sacrament is an important, even necessary part of the life of a Catholic.

For the priest as a confessor, this sacrament is an amazing opportunity. I, as an ordained priest, bring God’s forgiveness to all who come to me to confess with repentance. I can bring them the grace of God’s love and forgiveness. I want them to realize that despite any failings they are loved. Our God always loves them unconditionally. God is calling them to a new life – through conversion – to come alive with love and courage and to truly find love for others and change what must be changed with faith.

The priest as a confessor is not a judge. Our task as a confessor is to guarantee forgiveness and to encourage a newness of life. As a priest, I promise the love and support of the Savior Jesus. Jesus made it very clear by his life, his sufferings, his crucifixion, his resurrection that all was a demonstration of the forgiveness of God for all of us sinners. During Mass, at the time of Communion, we all pray, “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.”

I often say to those who find confession difficult that the joy and happiness and peace that comes when we discover the forgiveness of the Lord. The real difficulty in this sacrament is that each of us as sinners must promise our readiness to change. When our confession indicates that there is something, some failing that is interfering with our friendship with our God, then it is time for conversion. My task as a priest is to encourage and lead a sinner to a new life with the Lord’s constant help. Through this conversion each person will find peace and happiness – a forgiveness that bring joy.

One more thing to mention to you that is an important responsibility of each priest: the seal of the confession. The catechism explains this: “The Church declares that every priest who hears confessions is bound under very severe penalties to keep absolute secrecy regarding the sins that his penitents have confessed to him. He can make no use of knowledge that confession gives him about penitents’ lives. This secret, which admits of no exceptions is called the ‘sacramental seal’ because what the penitent has made known to the priest remains ‘sealed’ by the sacrament.” You have probably heard stories of just how serious all priests are about this seal of secrecy.

North Country Catholic North Country Catholic is
honored by Catholic Press
Association of US & Canada

Copyright © Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg. All rights reserved.