8 Steps To A Good Confession

  1. The Basic Requirement
  2. What is Sin?
  3. The Differences in Sins
  4. Before Confession
  5. Examination of Conscience
  6. Going to Confession
  7. At the End of Confession
  8. After Confession

The Basic Requirement

The basic requirement for a good confession is to have the intention of returning to God and to acknowledge my sins with true sorrow before the priest.

 

What is Sin?

In many ways our society has lost a sense of sin. As a Catholic follower of Christ, I must make an effort to recognize sin in my daily actions, words and omissions.

The Gospels show how important is the forgiveness of our sins. Lives of saints prove that the person who grows in holiness has a stronger sense of sin, sorrow for sins, and a need for the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession.  Pope Francis has spoken often of how important this Sacrament is for growth in holiness and admits that he goes to confession about twice a month.

 

The Differences in Sins

As a result of Original Sin, human nature is weakened. Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ's grace, takes away Original Sin, and turns us back toward God. The consequences of this weakness and the inclination to evil persist, and we often commit personal or actual sin.

Actual sin is sin which people commit. There are two kinds of actual sin, mortal and venial.

Mortal sin is a deadly offense against God, so horrible that it destroys the life of grace in the soul. Three simultaneous conditions must be fulfilled for a mortal sin:  

  1. the act must be something very serious;
  2. the person must have sufficient understanding of what is being done;
  3. the person must have sufficient freedom of the will.

Remember this…

If you need help–especially if you have been away for some time–simply ask the priest and he will help you by "walking" you through the steps to make a good confession.

 

Before Confession

Be truly sorry for your sins. The essential act of Penance, on the part of the penitent, is contrition, a clear and decisive rejection of the sin committed, together with a resolution not to commit it again, out of the love one has for God and which is reborn with repentance. The resolution to avoid committing these sins in the future (amendment) is a sure sign that your sorrow is genuine and authentic. This does not mean that a promise never to fall again into sin is necessary. A resolution to try to avoid the near occasions of sin suffices for true repentance. God's grace in cooperation with the intention to rectify your life will give you the strength to resist and overcome temptation in the future.

 

Examination of Conscience

Before going to Confession you should make a review of mortal and venial sins since your last sacramental confession, and should express sorrow for sins, hatred for sins and a firm resolution not to sin again.

A helpful pattern for examination of conscience is to review the Commandments of God and the Precepts of the Church:

An Examination of Conscience (based on the Ten Commandments)

1. You shall have no other gods besides the Lord your God.

  •   Do I love God above all things? Is He number one in my life or do I put myself before God? 
  •   Has money and pleasure become more important to me than the God who created me for Himself? 
  •   Do I pray often? Have I neglected my friendship with God by neglecting prayer? 
  •   Have I been involved with occult or superstitious practices, i.e., fortune telling? 
  •   Have I ever received Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin? 
  •   Have I told a lie in confession or deliberately withheld confessing a mortal sin?

2. You shall not take the Lord your God's name in vain.

  •   Have I ever committed perjury, that is, lied under oath in a court of law? 
  •   Have I ever lied after "swearing to God" that I am telling the truth? 
  •   Have I ever used God's name out of anger, that is, as a curse?

3. Keep the Sabbath day holy.

  •   Have I deliberately missed Holy Mass on the Sabbath (Saturday evening through Sunday)? 
  •   Have I ever missed Mass on a Holy Day of Obligation or an important holiday in the liturgical calendar (i.e.,    Ascension Thursday, Easter Sunday, Christmas, Mary the Mother of God, etc.)?

4. Honor your father and your mother so that you may live long and flourish.

  •   Do I disobey my parents? 
  •   Do I fail to respect them? 
  •   Do I swear at them? 
  •   Am I ashamed of them? 
  •   Do I let them know I love them? 
  •   Do I take care of them if they are elderly or sick? 
  •   Do I lie to them? 
  •   Do I steal from them?
  •   Am I obeying and honoring those in place of my parents, such as teachers and principals? 
  •   Do I skip class? 
  •   Do I lie to my teachers? 
  •   Do I swear at them?

5. You shall not kill.

  •   Am I killing myself by taking illegal drugs, such as marijuana? 
  •   Abusing alcohol? 
  •   Have I had an abortion? 
  •   Have I ever counseled anyone to have an abortion? 
  •   Do I stand up for the unborn child's right to life, or have I merely accepted society's anti-life mentality? 
  •   Have I used abortion-inducing contraceptives or encouraged anyone to do so?
  •   Have I sterilized myself in any way or encouraged anyone to do so? 
  •   Did I participate in or approve of euthanasia or "mercy-killing"? 
  •   Have I murdered anyone's reputation by deliberately spreading rumors or keeping rumors alive by passing them   on? 
  •   Do I nurse anger against anyone? 
  •   Hold a grudge? 
  •   Refuse to forgive another? 
  •   Have I cursed anyone?

6. You shall not commit adultery.

  •   Have I ever had sex with anyone? 
  •   Have I had sex with myself? 
  •   Have I ever watched pornography either on the Internet or through some other media? 
  •   Have I ever freely and deliberately entertained impure thoughts? 
  •   Have I practiced any form of contraception? 
  •   Am I modest in dress?

7. You shall not steal.

  •   Do I steal from my parents? 
  •   Do I steal from friends? 
  •   Have I ever stolen from a stranger? 
  •   Have I stolen any property from a store? 
  •   In other words, have I ever taken what rightfully belongs to another?
  •   Do I gamble excessively? 
  •   Do I seek to share what I have with the poor and needy?

8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

  •   Am I a liar? 
  •   Am I guilty of detraction, that is, making known the faults of others? 
  •   Am I guilty of slander, that is, spreading lies about someone? 
  •   Do I gossip about others? 
  •   Do I reveal information that should be confidential? 
  •   Am I "two-faced", that is, have I been a certain kind of person to some people, but a completely different kind of person to others?

 9. & 10. You shall not envy your neighbor’s wife and goods.

  •   Am I envious of others? 
  •   Do I wish that others be deprived of the goods or talents that are theirs? 
  •   Am I jealous of others? 
  •   Do I harbor unforgiveness and grudges against others? 
  •   Am I a resentful person? 
  •   Do I put down others?

- composed by Deacon Douglas McManaman

Again, remember this…

If you need help–especially if you have been away for some time–simply ask the priest and he will help you by "walking" you through the steps to make a good confession.

 

Going to Confession

After examining your conscience and telling God of your sorrow, go into the confessional. You may kneel at the screen or sit to talk face-to-face with the priest.

  1. Begin your confession with the sign of the cross, "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. My last confession was _______ weeks (months, years) ago."
  2. Say the sins that you remember. Start with the one(s) that is most difficult to say. (In order to make a good confession the faithful must confess all mortal sins, according to kind and number.) After confessing all the sins you remember since your last good confession, you may conclude by saying, "I am sorry for these and all the sins of my past life." 
  3. Listen to the words of the priest. He will assign you some penance. Doing the penance will diminish the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven. When invited, express some prayer of sorrow or Act of Contrition such as:

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. But most of all because I have offended you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life. Amen.

 

At the End of Confession

Listen to the words of absolution, the sacramental forgiveness of the Church through the ordained priest.  As you listen to the words of forgiveness you may make the sign of the cross with the priest.

 

After Confession

  • Give thanks to God for forgiving you again. If you recall some serious sin you forgot to tell, rest assured that it has been forgiven with the others, but be sure to confess it in your next Confession.
  • Perform the assigned Penance with sincerity and gratitude.
  • Resolve to return to the Sacrament of Reconciliation often. As Catholics we are fortunate to have the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is the ordinary way for us to have our sins forgiven. This sacrament is a powerful help to get rid of our weaknesses, grow in holiness, and lead a balanced and virtuous life!