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Nancy Chavez wrote:

Hi, guys —

I confessed my sins today but I wasn't told to say any Our Fathers, Hail Marys, nor any other prayer. I was instead given a Novena and Chaplet.

  • Is this normal?

Nancy Chavez

  { Is it normal to receive a different penance in Confession like a Rosary, Novena and/or Chaplet? }

Mike replied:

Hi Nancy,

Thanks for the question.

The penance you receive is at the total discretion of the Confessor.

Seeing he has heard your sins, contrition, and given you appropriate counsel when needed, he is in the best situation to determine the best penance for you. Many times, as you implied, it will be a few Our Father's [and/or] Hail Mary's, but not necessary.

There have been more that one occasion when my Confessor wanted me to say a Rosary, obviously apart for the one I say daily. He could give you any novena or Chaplet, like the Chaplet of Divine Mercy or the St. Michael the Archangel Chaplet.

It's his decision.

Actually, the bigger and longer the penance the better. Remember, although the priest absolves us from all our sins we still have to recover our full spiritual health.

Sometimes people will wonder why they still are drawn back to sin after going to Confession.

Paraphrasing a point that Fr. Corapi has previously pointed out, going to Confession is like the doctor taking a bullet out of your arm. The doctor, or in this case, Confessor removes the bullet but the wound still has to heal. In the same way, it takes time for our souls to heal too.

As the Catechism states:

CCC 1459 Absolution takes away sin, but it does not remedy all the disorders sin has caused. (cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1712.) 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.

The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. (CCC 1473)

Penance helps to make satisfaction for those sins and purifies the soul of these punishments.
If we pass from this life without completing that healing process it continues on in Purgatory,
the Holy Hospital of Heaven.

I hope this helps,


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