1 Examine your conscience
2 Be sincerely sorry for your sins
3 Confess your sins
4 Resolve to amend your life
5 After your confession do the penance the priest assigns.
‘It was God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the work of handing on this reconciliation. The appeal we make in Christ’s name is: Be reconciled to God.’ 1 Cor 5:18-20
‘A recommendation for all the faithful: have confidence in sacramental Confession.’ Pope Paul VI
A Prayer Before going to Confession
O my God, help me to see and know the condition of my soul honestly and humbly, and to make a sincere and truthful confession. Teach me true sorrow for my sins then, in your mercy grant me Your forgiveness, Your grace and Your love, through the infinite merits of Jesus Christ my Redeemer. Amen.
An Examination of Conscience
You shall love the Lord you God with all your heart.
Have I ignored God or excluded Him from my life and works?
Have been loyal to the Teaching Authority of the Church and been willing to profess my faith in public as well as in private?
Is my daily prayer a real conversation with God in mind and heart?
Have I put my trust in superstitions or involved myself in the Occult or Satanism?
Have I a true reverence and love for the name of God or have I offended Him through blasphemy, cursing or perjury?
Did I miss Mass on Sunday or Holyday of Obligation through my own fault?
Did I fulfil my Easter duties?
Have made a dishonest Confession in the past?
You shall love your neighbour as yourself.
Have I been disobedient, rude or disloyal to my parents or lawful superiors?
Have been harsh or overbearing to those under my authority?
Have I neglected my duty to provide a religious education for my children and to help them to know and love their faith?
Have I been impatient, angry, proud, jealous or hateful to others?
Did l get drunk, use drugs, give bad example or scandal?
Have I been involved in vandalism; driven recklessly or injured anyone?
Did in any way co-operate in an abortion?
Have I been lazy at my work, in study, or in the home?
Have I been immodest or impure by myself or with others?
Have I placed myself in occasions of sin, by reading, listening to, or looking at what was indecent, or pornographic?
Have failed to show love, understanding and respect to my marriage partner or been careless about my marriage vows?
Have I used forms of birth control forbidden by the Church?
Have I been guilty of cheating, theft, or gambling rashly?
Have I received stolen goods? Have I made restitution?
Do I give a full day’s work in return for a full day’s pay?
Do I pay a full day’s wage to those who work for me?
Have I told lies to injure anyone or excuse myself?
Have I been considerate, kind and generous to others in thought or deed?
Have I given way to self pity, brooded over injuries or refused to forgive?
After carefully examining your conscience be sorry for your sins and make up your mind not to sin any more.
PROCEDURE IN CONFESSION
Begin by saying:
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Bless me, Father for I have sinned it is – [a week, or a month, a long time] since my last confession.
Then tell your sins to the priest. If you get stuck do not worry. Ask the priest to help you. When you have finished confessing your sins you should say:
I am sorry for all these sins and the those I cannot now remember.’
Then wait while the Priest gives any necessary advice, and assigns the penance.
Then make an Act of Contrition
O my God, because you are so good I am very sorry that I have sinned against You and with the help of Your grace I will not sin again.’
The Priest then gives you absolution:
God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins, through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.’
THINGS TO REMEMBER
- Develop the habit of examining your conscience every day. It is then easier to recall sins committed.
- If it is a long time since your last confession or you unsure what to do ask the priest to help you
- Don’t postpone your confession. That never solves anything.
- Try to go to confession frequently at least once a month, to offer to God your love in spite of failure and receive both His forgiveness and His strength to overcome your faults and future temptations.
- Sin is any wilful thought, desire, word, action or omission forbidden by the law of God.
- We are bound to confess to a priest each and every serious sin (commonly called mortal) of which we are aware, in order to receive forgiveness. – This is the firm teaching of the Church, founded on the law of a good and loving God.
‘It is here in the sacrament of Penance that God’s mercy will at last win the victory over human wickedness. It is here that men will be cleansed of their sins and reconciled to God. We condemn the theory that the frequent confession of venial sins is ‘not a practice to be greatly valued.’ On the contrary, for a constant and rapid advancement in virtue, we highly recommend the pious practice of frequent Confession, introduced by the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.’ SAINT JOHN XXIII