How to Make a Good Confession
- Examine our conscience.
- Be sorry for our sins.
- Have purpose of amendment.
- Confess all our sins, beginning with the mortal sins (which must be confessed in kind and number). Next we may confess our venial sins.
- Pray the Act of Contrition or a prayer of sorrow in our own words.
- Listen carefully to the words of Absolution prayed by the priest.
- Do the penance.
1. Examination of Conscience
An examination of conscience means to think about our actions and deeds in the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Ten Commandments, and the teachings of our Catholic Church. When we know that we have committed sin, especially if it is mortal sin, then we must stop receiving Holy Communion and confess as soon as possible.
- The Gospel
- You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
- You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
- The Ten Commandments
- I am the Lord, your God, you shall not have false Gods before me.
- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
- You keep the Sabbath Day (the Lord's Day) holy.
- Honor your mother and your father.
- You shall not kill.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.
- You shall not covet your neighbor's goods.
- Precepts of the Church
- You shall attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.
- You shall confess your sins at least once year.
- You shall humbly receive the Lord Jesus in Holy Communion at least during the Easter Season.
- You shall observe the Holy Days of Obligation.
- You shall observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence.
- The faithful have the obligation of supporting the Church.
2. Be sorry for your sins - Contrition
Sorrow for our sins is indispensible for the forgiveness of our sins. Our Lord Jesus Christ sheds His Precious Blood on the Cross and gives His life for our salvation by the forgiveness of our sins. Christ died so that all men and women could be saved. But each person of their own free will must choose to follow the Lord: "Any one who wishes to follow me must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23). "If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love" (John 15:10). When we sin we choose not to follow the commandments of the Lord and only by freely acknowledging these sins can I receive the mercy the Lord is offering us.
A mortal sin must have three conditions for the sin to be considered mortal. 1) The object of the sin must be grave matter, i.e., it must be against one of the commandments. 2) The sin must be committed with full knowledge that the act is gravely wrong. 3) The sin must be committed with full and deliberate consent of the will.
A venial sin is committed when: 1)the object of the sin is less serious or 2)when the object of the sin is grave, but the sin is committed without full knowledge or deliberate consent.
Our contrition should be 1) Interior 2) Supernatural 3) Supreme and 4) Universal.
3. Have the intention of changing your ways - Amendment
The firm purpose of sinning no more is the sincere resolve not only to avoid sin but to avoid as far as possible the near occasions of sin.
4. Confess your sins
You say: Bless me father, for I have sinned. It has been (mention the time since your last confession) since my last confession. These are my sins . . ."
It's best to begin with the things you think are most serious, i.e., your mortal sins. You should do your best to mention the number of times you committed the particular mortal sin. If you can not remember, you might say, "I've committed this sin so many times I can't say how often." For venial sins, it is NOT necessary to confess their number, rather a general confession of these is sufficient.
Do your best to confess ALL your sins. God sees all things and if we sincerely try to confess all but still we forget something, all our sins are forgiven. All sins can be forgiven. It's only by deliberately holding something back from the confession that we will not obtain forgiveness and in fact commit the additional sin of sacrilege by concealing the mortal sin.
You conclude the confession of your sins by saying: For these and all the sins of my past, I am truly sorry.
5. Act of Contrition
A traditional Act of Contrition is:
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. But most of all because they offend Thee my God, who art 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. Amen.
The Prayer of Absolution is as follows:
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. And I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, ✠ of the Holy Spirit.
You respond: Amen.
7. Give thanks and do the Penance
Priest: Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
You respond: His mercy endures for ever!
Priest: The Lord has freed from your sins. Go in peace.
You respond: Thanks be to God!
A prayer of thanksgiving is appropriate immediately after the confession. Then the penance should be done as soon as possible. Penance is given after confession so that we may, in some way, make atonement to God for our sins, receive help to avoid them in the future, and make some satisfaction for the temporal punishment due to them.