Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Wednesday 20 October |
Saint of the Day: St. Paul of the Cross
Aleteia logo
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

How often should a Catholic go to confession?


Fondazione Cariplo | CC BY SA 3.0

Philip Kosloski - published on 07/21/20

Catholics are obliged to confess grave sins at least once a year, but in most cases Catholics need to confess their grave sins on a more regular basis.

One of the most common questions asked by Catholics is, “How often should a Catholic go to confession?”

The answer is both straightforward and complicated at the same time.


Read more:
How to go to confession, a step-by-step guide

According to Canon Law the bare minimum is once a year.

After having reached the age of discretion, each member of the faithful is obliged to confess faithfully his or her grave sins at least once a year. (Canon 989)

However, this requirement is tied to the reception of Holy Communion, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains.

The second precept (“You shall confess your sins at least once a year”) ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues Baptism’s work of conversion and forgiveness. (CCC 2042)

With this in mind, the Catechism further explains that in order to properly receive Holy Communion, one must always confess grave sins beforehand.

The Lord addresses an invitation to us, urging us to receive him in the sacrament of the Eucharist: “Truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”To respond to this invitation we must prepare ourselves for so great and so holy a moment. St. Paul urges us to examine our conscience: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.”Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion. (CCC 1384-1385)

Basically, you are “required” to go to confession once per year, if you intend on receiving Holy Communion once per year. On the other hand, if you desire to receive Holy Communion on a weekly or daily basis, then you will need to go to confession every time you are “conscious of grave sin.”

It is recommended, though not required, to confess venial sins; this is often the reason why Catholics will go to confession on a weekly or monthly basis.

original sin

Read more:
What is sin?

In the end, confession is a beautiful sacrament of God’s mercy and should not be looked at as a “requirement,” but as an “opportunity” to receive God’s love. It gives us the ability to repair our relationship with God and with the Church, opening us up to a shower of God’s grace.

We should confess because we love God, not because we “have to,” though the requirements are there to lead us along the path of eternal life.


Read more:
Do I need to go to confession before going back to Mass?

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
difficult people
Zoe Romanowsky
How to love people you don’t really like
saint teresa of Avila
Zelda Caldwell
Now there’s a computer font based on St. Teresa of Avila’s handwr...
Agnès Pinard Legry
Three brothers ordained priests on the same day in the Philippine...
Philip Kosloski
How the violence in ‘Squid Game’ can impact your soul
Philip Kosloski
A scientist describes the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima
Kathleen N. Hattrup
A martyr’s last letter to his mother
Theresa Civantos Barber
How following Christ is like falling in love
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.