Confession Frequency

Q. In the Church’s view, what would be an appropriate frequency for confession?

A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:   

The Church’s Code of Canon Law stipulates Catholics are bound to confess serious sins each year. “After [reaching] the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation…to confess serious sins at least once a year” (Canon 989). The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us we may not approach the Eucharist unless we are in the state of grace. It states, “Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive communion without having received absolution in the sacrament of penance” (No. 1415). The Catechism likewise observes those preparing for marriage should “prepare themselves for the celebration of their marriage by receiving the sacrament of penance” (No. 1622).

These, however, are “minimum” requirements; our baptism unites us in a community with every other baptized Christian. This community is damaged by sin and nourished by the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. The Catechism says: “The confession … of sins, even from a simply human point of view … facilitates our reconciliation with others. Through such an admission man…takes responsibility for [sins], and thereby opens himself again to God and to the communion of the Church” (No. 1455). How often we avail ourselves of the sacrament must remain a personal decision, but frequent — perhaps monthly — confession is probably a good idea.