Whether this is your first confession, or you 100th. Here are 6 easy steps for making a good confession. The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, is needed to be performed by everyone, in order to repent for the sins that we have committed during our day to day lives. All humans, by our very nature commit sin. It is why Jesus Christ died for us, and why God allows us freewill. Sins test our love and devotion for God, Jesus and the Church. They make us worthy of either Heaven, Hell or Purgatory.
By performing the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. We take ownership of our own willful actions, and in facing up to our own faults, God forgives us for being flawed in nature.
In this article we will be going over the best # steps for making a good and honest confession. You must be honest with yourself before you can be honest with God. If you can not take ownership of your own actions, the God can not forgive you.
Step 1) An Examination of Conscience
Prior to confession, as well with each and every day of our lives. We should be comparing our actions against the guidance provided by the Ten Commandments. Only through sincere self-examination, can we identify our faults and weaknesses. It allows us to strive for a better life in the grace of God and the Church, by following the guidance of Christ.
Be honest with yourself and listen to your own conscience. Look at each of the Ten Commandments in the spirit that they have been intended. Ask yourself if you have been doing the best you can to adhere to the nature of the commandments? For examples on the sort of questions that you need to be asking yourself, to see if you’re complying by the standards set by the Ten Commandments. Please read our article on the examination of Conscience.
Step 2) Show Remorse For Your Actions, and Look at Removing the Cause of Your Sin
If you are not willing to take ownership of your actions, and are not ashamed of the sins that you have committed. Then God can not forgive you and absolve you of your sins. Pretending be remorseful for your actions during confession is detrimental for your soul. Not only would you be lying to yourself, you would be trying to lie to God’s face, which is the worse sin to commit.
- Reflect on your sins. Think about how they have impacted others, as well as yourself. Consider the harm that you could be causing those around you, and only when you are ready to repent for your sins, should you seek absolution.
- Take steps to remove and avoid the cause of your sinning from your life. Even if your feel genuine remorse for your actions. Going straight back into the situation that’s causing you to commit sin again. Is just as bad as not feeling remorse in the first place.
By assessing and accepting the sin in our lives, and their causes. We are able to better ourselves, and walk the path that the Heavenly Father has intended for us.
Step 3) Attending Confession
Not every church has walk in confession services. It is best to first confirm when your local church has confessions. Some churches require bookings, others have confessions at set times of the day.
There is not pressure, judgement or disapproval that comes from the priests during confession. They are only there to act as the gateway between you and God. If you are unable to attend a booking, don’t be surprised if your local priest or bishop approaches you, when next they see you. They will more likely just be trying to offering council and to check in on you to make sure everything is OK.
If you need to talk with the priests about matters that concern you, you may do so, wherever you feel most comfortable. They are not only there to look after your spiritual needs, they are also there to offer aid and advice on more immediate matters as well.
Step 4) Confessing Your Sin
- Make the sign of the cross as you take the seat or kneel before the screen
- Wait in silence as you face towards the priest.
When the priest is ready they will welcome you start confession by reciting “May God, who has enlightened every heart, help you to know your sins and trust in his mercy,” or similar words taken from Scripture.
Begin your confession by informing the priest if this is your first confession, or how long it has been since your last confession.
“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. (This is my first confession – or – My last confession was ___ days/months/years ago) and these are my sins.”
- List the kind sins and how many times you committed the sins. (e.g. I missed Mass last week, I cheated on three test, I lied to my spouse). Remember to be as honest and truthful as you can. Do not lie or try to mislead the priest, as they are Gods representative during the confession.
If you are unsure of the nature of the sin, such as, if it a mortal sin or a venial sin. Feel free to ask them for advice. They will not make fun of you for not knowing, and will offer advice on the nature of sins.
- After you have confessed all of your sins, that you can remember, recite:
“That is all I remember, Father.”
The priest may ask you questions and offer you counsel. Answer any questions as best you can, and don’t take offense to any suggestions that they may offer. The priest is not only there to help with spiritual matters, they will also try to offer advice to help keep you safe, and on the right side of the law.
- The priest will give you penance to perform. A penance is how you express your regret and repent for your sins. By doing as the priest instructs, you are showing God that you truly are sorry for what you’ve done, and that you wish for nothing more than to be forgiven.
Step 5) Making an Act of Contrition
After the Priest has given you the penance to perform. You acknowledge the penance and agree to perform them by reciting an Act of Contrition prayer. There are no set words that need to be recited, but here are two of the more popular prayers that many Catholics say during Confession.
I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
In choosing to do wrong
and failing to do good,
I have sinned against you
whom I should love above all things.
I firmly intend, with your help,
to do penance,
to sin no more,
and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Savior Jesus Christ
suffered and died for us.
In his name, my God, have mercy.
O my God,
I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee,
and I detest all my sins,
because I dread the loss of heaven,
and the pains of hell;
but most of all because they offend Thee,
my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve,
with the help of Thy grace,
to confess my sins,
to do penance,
and to amend my life.
Or for one that is in Latin
Confiteor Deo omnipotenti,
beatae Mariae semper Virgini,
beato Michaeli Archangelo,
beato Ioanni Baptistae,
sanctis Apostolis Petro et Paulo,
et omnibus Sanctis,
quia peccavi nimis cogitatione,
verbo et opere: mea culpa,
mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem, beatum Michaelem Archangelum,
beatum Ioannem Baptistam,
sanctos Apostolos Petrum et Paulum,
et omnes Sanctos,
orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum.
- The priest acknowledges your commitment to perform your penance, and your desire for absolution, by reciting scripture such as:
“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. I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
- You acknowledge that you have been given absolution with an:
- The priest will finish the confession with:
“God has forgiven your sins. Go in peace.”
- Thank the Lord for absolving your sins with a:
“Thanks be to God.”
- Absolution – means that God has washed away your sins, and given you a new life.
- If you have forgotten a sin, fret not. For God knows your intentions and has given you absolution for all your sins. So long as you were not trying to hide them from the priest.
- Try to remember to inform the priest of any sins that you may have forgotten at your next confession, as the guilt my end up eating at you.
Step 6) Performing Your Penance
Pay close attention to the penance that the priest gives you. For after you have thanked the Lord for absolving your sins, it is time to perform your Penance.
Follow their instructions, and take their advice into consideration. By doing exactly as they instruct, you will be showing that you truly are remorseful for your actions, and wanting to be absolved of your sins.
- If the priest has given you prayers to recite, such as 12 x Hail Marys. Unless they have instructed a time of day in which to recite the prayers. Then consider reciting these prayers here and now at the church.
- If you have been instructed to make restitution for damages you may have caused to someone’s property, or to another person’s body or life. Then do not put it off and get onto it ASAP.
- If you have been keeping a secret from your spouse, family or friends, and the priest has advised you to confess your secrets. Then seek to rectify the problem.
- If you have confessed to be living in fear for your own safety or that of your children. Take their advice and contact anyone that they may have put you in touch with. While the priest may not be able to intervene in certain matters, they can offer you a way out for your own protection and that of your children.
Upon completion of your penance, you may want to take a moment to thank God and revel in your absolution. Think about how much God loves you and how wonderful it is to be a part of His glory.
God does not expect you to never sin again. God knows that’s not in our nature. It’s only expected that you seek to avoid the situations that lead you to sin. Keep in mind God’s part in your life and how you can strive to live as He desires.