How to Go to Confession
1. Examine your conscience before entering the confessional.
2. Kneel behind the screen OR sit facing the priest.
3. The priest says: "May the Lord be in our heart to help you make a good confession."
4. You say: "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been about ______ since my last Confession. These are my sins." You now tell your sins.
5. The priest then gives you a penance, usually prayers to say or something to do.
6. The priest says: "And now say the Act of Contrition."
7. You say the Act of Contrition, and the priest say the prayers of absolution. He then says something like this: "Your sins are forgiven; go in peace."
8. You say: "Thank you, Father" or "Thanks be to God."
9. You leave the confessional and say or do the penance the priest gave you.
Traditional Act of Contrition
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins because of your just punishments, but most of all because they offend you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen.
A Shorter Act of Contrition
Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Another Act of Contrition
Lord Jesus, I've examined my conscience, I've confessed my sins. I am sorry for my sins and I'm determined to do my best to see that I live in You, and You in me. I ask your forgiveness and your grace. Amen.
Some Help Before Confession
1. PRAYER FOR GOD'S HELP
O my God, I come before you and I beg of You the grace to make a good confession. I wish to confess my sins and obtain my forgiveness. I believe that the priest if your instrument in this sacrament of Reconciliation. He acts in your name when he forgives me. Lord, you know me better than I know myself. I beg you to enlighten me and help me to examine my conscience. Self-love blinds and deceives me. Shame makes it difficult to admit my sins. I need your grace to overcome these obstacles and make a good confession. Oh God, help me to know myself as I really am. I cry out to you like the blind man: "Lord, that I may see!" Take away my blindness and give me courage to repent for past sins and make my future better. God, the Holy Spirit, pour out your gifts on me. Amen.
2. EXAMINE YOUR CONSCIENCE
A. About how long has it been since your last confession? Take a good guess if you can't remember.
B. If you have committed any serious sins (mortal sins), you must confess all of them, including the number of times or about how often.
C. You do not have to confess all of the smaller sins (venial sins). It is better to confess only a few that you are especially sorry for.
D. When you examine your conscience, try to think about the reasons you committed these sins. Doing this makes it easier to correct your faults.
The following list of sins is not complete but it may help you to examine your conscience before going to confession:
- Not believing what God has revealed.
- Using the name of God to express anger or surprise.
- Hatred, fighting, unjust anger.
- Envy of others, lack of appreciation for what you have.
- Giving bad example to others that leads them to sin.
- Urging to encouraging others to sin.
- Wishing evil on others or taking revenge.
- Not going to mass on Sundays or holy days.
- Showing disrespect, unkindness or disobedience to parents, guardians, teachers or anyone else in authority over us.
- Abortion or encourging someone to have an abortion.
- Entertaining thoughts of suicide or attempting it.
- Abusing your body by drug abuse or drunkeness.
- Risking your life or others lives by reckless driving.
- Fornication (having sexual relations without marriage).
- Masturbation (self abuse). Intentionally taking pleasure in immodest thoughts, books or pictures.
- Receiving Holy Communion while separated from God by unforgiven mortal sin.
- Stealing, cheating or keeping what belongs to another. (NOTE: Forgiveness requires your intention to do your best to return or repay what was stolen or destroyed.)
- Purposely damaging public or private property.
- Telling lies.
- Harming someone's reputation
The sacrament of Reconciliation is more than God's forgiveness. In this sacrament, God also gives you special graces to help you overcome the temptations to fall back into the same sins you confessed. The better you prepare for Confession, the more graces you are open to receive.