What is Confession?
Confession is a sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ in His love and mercy to offer sinners forgiveness for offenses commit- ted against God. At the same time sinners reconcile with the Church, because the Church also is wounded by our sins.
This is good news for all of us, because we all are sinners and in need of God’s for- giveness. In the Sacrament of Reconcilia- tion, we meet Christ in the person of the priest, ready and eager to absolve us and restore us to new life. We confess our sins to God through His minister, the priest, who absolves us in the name of Christ.
For forgiveness of sins, three acts are re- quired from the penitent as parts of the sacrament. These are contrition, confes- sion and satisfaction.
- Contrition – or sincere sorrow for hav- ing offended God, is the most impor- tant act of the penitent. There can be no forgiveness of sin if we do not have sorrow and a firm resolve not to repeat our sin.
- Confession – confronting our sins in a profound way to God, by speaking about them – aloud – to the priest.
- Satisfaction – an important part of our healing is the “penance” the priest im- poses on the penitent in reparation for one’s sins.
How to Make a Good Confession
Confession is not difficult, but it does re- quire preparation. We should begin with prayer, placing ourselves in the presence of God, our loving Father. We seek heal- ing and forgiveness through repentance and a resolve to sin no more. Then we re- view our lives since our last confession, searching our thoughts, words and ac- tions that did not conform to God’s love, to His law or to the laws of the Church. This is called an examination of con- science.
To make an examination of conscience, one should:
- Begin with a prayer asking for God’s help.
- Review your life with the help of some questions (see the following).
- Tell God you are truly sorry for your sins.
- Make a firm resolution not to sin again.
Examination of Conscience
Recall your sins. Calmly ask yourself what you have done with full knowledge and full consent against God’s and the Church’s commandments.
• Do I pray to God every day? Have I thanked God for His gifts to me?
• Did I put my faith in danger through readings hostile to Catholic teachings or involvement in non-Catholic sects? Did I engage in superstitious practices: palm-reading or fortune telling?
• Did I take the name of God in vain? Did I curse, or take a false oath?
• Did I miss Mass on Sundays or Holy Days of Obligation through my own fault? Am I a entive at Mass? Did I keep fast and abstinence on the prescribed days?
- Did I disobey my parents and lawful superiors in important ma ers?
- Did I hate or quarrel with anyone, or desire revenge? Did I refuse to forgive? Was I disrespectful?
- Did I get drunk? Did I take illicit drugs? Did I consent to, recommend, advise or actively take part in an abortion?
- Did I willfully look at indecent photographs or watch immoral movies? Did I read immoral books or magazines? Did I engage in impure jokes or conversations? Did I willfully entertain impure thoughts or commit impure acts, alone or with others? Did I use artificial means to prevent conception?
- Did I steal or damage another’s prop- erty? Have I been honest in my business relations?
- Did I tell lies? Did I sin by calumny, or detraction, of others? Did I judge others rashly in serious ma ers?
- Have I envied other people?
Act of Contrition
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 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 confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen
— Vatican Site (@vatican_site) March 18, 2017