March 15, 2019

How to make a good confession

Before confession

Confession is not difficult, but it does require preparation. We should begin with prayer, placing ourselves in the presence of God, our loving Father. We seek healing and forgiveness through repentance and a resolve to sin no more.

Then we review our lives since our last confession, searching our thoughts, words and actions for that which did not conform to God’s command to love him and one another through his laws and the laws of his Church. This is called an examination of conscience.

Questions that can help with an examination of conscience can be found at

Going to confession

1. The priest gives a blessing or greets the person coming to make a confession.

2. The person going to confession makes the sign of the cross and says, “Bless me father, for I have sinned. My last confession was …” (give weeks, months or years).

3. Confess specific sins to the priest. If feeling unsure or uneasy, tell him and ask for help.

4. After finishing confessing his or her sins, the person going to confession says to the priest, “I am sorry for these and all my sins.”

5. The priest will then give a penance (often some prayers to pray or simple works of mercy to perform), and offer advice to help the person become a better Catholic Christian.

6. The person making the confession then prays an act of contrition such as the following: “My God, 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.”

7. The priest, acting in the person of Christ, then absolves the person going to confession from his or her sins.

After confession

Give thanks to God in prayer for the mercy that he has showered upon you in absolving you of your sins, and seek his grace to avoid those sins in the future. Also, take time soon after confession to perform the penance that the priest assigned during the celebration of the sacrament of penance. †

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