Meaning of Confession

What is Confession:

Confession is the action and effect of admitting or declaring something that is known to oneself, whether voluntarily or forced. It comes from the Latin confessionterm formed by the prefix withwhich means ‘all’, the word fiterimeaning ‘admit’, and the suffix Zionwhich means action and effect.

An example of the general meaning of confession can be the following: “The defendant’s confession was what allowed, finally, to close the case.”

The word confession is also used to refer to the faith professed by a certain person or community. That is, a “confession of faith.” For example, “Javier follows the Muslim confession.”

Another example would be: “Valentina has made her confession of faith this Sunday at church.” She means that she has declared to believe in the dogmas and principles that make her worthy of belonging to a certain religion.

Sacrament of confession or reconciliation

In the context of the Catholic religion, the word confession refers to one of the seven sacraments of the Church. The sacrament of confession is also called reconciliation.

This sacrament consists of a ritual in which the person declares his sins to a priest, who is authorized and empowered to absolve them, after assigning a penance.

From the moment the person is acquitted, they are considered to be in a “state of grace”. For this reason, confession or reconciliation is recommended in order to receive Communion.

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However, although the act of communion can be practiced daily if the person wishes, it is not necessary to go to confession whenever it is intended to do so. It is enough to confess whenever the person feels the need.

See also:

  • Sin.
  • Sacrament.

Elements of confession or reconciliation

Between the items or steps to a good confessionthe following are counted:

  • Before confession:
    1. Do an examination of conscience beforehand.
    2. Make an act of contrition (repent, feel pain for having sinned).
    3. Have purpose of amendment.
  • In the confession:
    1. Confess sins.
    2. Receive the penance assigned by the priest and listen to his advice.
    3. Receive absolution from the priest.
  • After confession:
    1. Fulfill the penance.
    2. Try not to sin again.


Normally, Catholic confession is made in private, in a kind of room called confessional. Formerly, these confessionals had a prie-dieu in which the penitent knelt. In addition, they were separated by a kind of net or mesh to guarantee the anonymity of the confession.

Today, the Church has judged the old design of confessionals to be impersonal, so it has given license to parishes who wish to adapt them. Thus, in many current confessionals a seat for the penitent has been added and the separator has been eliminated.