It's been a while since you last went to confession and you need to update yourself on the procedure to follow? Fear not, this article is here to help you prepare and deliver a good confession.
Part 1 of 3: Before Confession
Step 1. Find out about the times for confessions
Most parishes hold reconciliation services during the week, but some churches may even have them every day. If your parish does not have an office corresponding to your hours, call your priest to make a personal appointment with him.
You can schedule a private session with the priest if you think your confession is likely to last a little longer than 15 minutes. This is the best option if you have left church, committed a serious sin, or if it has been a very long time since you last confessed
Step 2. Sincerely regret your sins
The idea of penance and confession involves feeling truly remorseful, a feeling represented by the act of contrition. You must cast off your sins unambiguously and make a commitment not to commit them again. To demonstrate to God the sincerity and authenticity of your repentance, you must be genuinely sorry and declare that you will no longer have these types of behaviors in the future.
This does not mean that you will never sin again, we do as humans every day. You just resolve to try to avoid situations that bring you closer to sin. This resolution is still considered repentance. If this is your will, God will help you resist temptation, as long as you also intend to improve yourself
Step 3. Examine your conscience
Think back to what you did wrong and why it was wrong. Think about the pain you inflicted on God by committing sin and that because of him Jesus suffered all the more on the cross. For this you must express your sadness, being truly sorry being the necessary element for a good confession.
- To examine your conscience, ask yourself the following questions.
- When was the last time I went to confession? Was it an honest and complete confession?
- Did I make any promise to God on this occasion? Have I kept my promise?
- Have I committed a serious or even fatal sin since my last confession?
- Have I kept the Ten Commandments?
- Have I questioned my faith?
Step 4. Read the scriptures
A good place to start may be the Ten Commandments in the book of Exodus, Chapter 20, verses 1-17 or Deuteronomy 5: 6-21. Here are some reminders of the attentions of love and forgiveness that God has for us.
- “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. "1 John 1: 9.
- How was the forgiveness of our sins made possible? “He himself is an atoning victim for our sins, not only for our own, but also for those around the world. "1 John 2: 1-2.
- To whom should sins be confessed and why? “I have sinned against you alone and have done that which is evil in your sight…” Psalm 51: 4.
See Genesis 39: 9
Step 5. Pray often before a confession
You must be sincerely repentant. Say a prayer to the Holy Spirit to guide you and help you feel sincere contrition for your sins. Perhaps this prayer could take this form: “Holy Spirit, come to me, enlighten my mind so that I can clearly see my sins and open my heart so that I can truly do penance and make my life better. Amen."
Try to identify the causes of your sins: do you have questionable inclinations? Are these personal weaknesses? Or just bad habits? Try to eliminate at least one of these causes. It will be easier for you to either get rid of a negative aspect of your life or to reinforce the more positive aspect
Part 2 of 3: During Confession
Step 1. Wait your turn before entering the confessional
When the time comes, choose between an open-face confession and an anonymous confession. If you wish to remain anonymous, simply kneel in front of the curtain separating you from the priest, the priest will begin confession. If you want to confess face to face, all you have to do is move behind the curtain and sit on the chair in front of the priest. He will be waiting for you.
Remember that confessions are completely confidential. The priest will never share your sins with anyone (and he cannot). He is devoted to the secrecy of confession, whatever the circumstances, including the risk of his life. Don't let your worries affect your confession
Step 2. Begin your confession
The priest will begin the confession with the prayer of the Sign of the Cross. Follow his instructions. There are several variations, but the Latin rite is the most common.
- In the Latin rite. Make the sign of the cross saying “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned” and tell him how long it has been since you have confessed. It is not necessary to remember the exact number of times, only the frequency of significant sins should be taken into account.
- In the Byzantine rite. Kneel in front of the icon of Christ, the priest will stand at your side and will undoubtedly place his epitrachelion on your head. He can also wait for the absolution prayer to do so. Have no fear.
- In other Eastern Churches. The form of the ritual is variable.
- Regardless of the variant, tell the priest about your sins (including the number of times you have committed them). Say them in order, from the most serious to the less serious. Do not shy away from any mortal sin that you remember. You do not have to go into the explicit details of your sins, unless the priest deems it necessary, he will ask you if this is the case.
Part 3 of 3: After Confession
Step 1. Listen to the priest
He will help you most of the time by advising you on ways to avoid sinning in the future. Then he will ask you to recite the Act of Contrition. This should be done sincerely by really thinking about what you are saying. If you do not know the Act of Contrition by heart, write it down on a piece of paper or ask the priest to help you.
At the end of the session, the priest will recommend a suitable penance (to be carried out as quickly as possible). The absolution finished, he will say “I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. If he makes the sign of the cross, do the same. He will then take leave of you with words like “Go in the peace of Christ”. Answer "We give thanks to God", smile at the priest, then leave the confessional
Step 2. Complete your penance
Return to your place in the church. When you begin your penance, thank God for His forgiveness. If you remember important sins that you have forgotten, know that they were forgiven with others, but be careful to include them in your next confession.
If the priest has given you penance prayers to say, say them gently and devoutly. Kneel on the kneeler with your hands folded and your head bowed until you have completed your penance and reflected on your past experience. Resolve to attend the sacrament of reconciliation often
Step 3. Leave the church feeling relieved and in the light of divine forgiveness
Rise up with joy and confidence, for the Lord loves you and has shown you his mercy. Dedicate every minute of your life to Him and bring forth the marvelous character of a life in the service of the Lord.
Stay alert. Do not use confession as an excuse to excuse sins. Rejoice that you have been forgiven and live according to God's plan for you, minimizing the need for confession
Act of contrition
“My God, I regret very much that I have offended you because you are infinitely good, infinitely lovable and you don't like sin. I take the firm resolution, with the help of your holy grace not to offend you any more and to do penance. Amen."
- The seal of confession prevents priests from revealing confessed sins to anyone, under pain of excommunication. This means that no one, not even the Pope, can ask him to repeat what he has heard. In addition, a priest cannot be compelled to reveal sins during a lawsuit.
- Don't be afraid to entrust everything. The great thing about confessing to a human being is that priests can provide you with excellent ideas and serve as counselors. They may have heard confessions very similar to yours and can point you to ways to avoid sinning in the future.
- Be clear, concise, contrite and exhaustive. Concretely, this means …
- Clear: don't use euphemisms (words that embellish actions). “Call a spade a spade” and don't take too long to state things.
- Concise: do not seek evasion by inventing explanations or excuses. Confession is the only trial where the culprit is completely pardoned!
- Contra: you must be sorry for what you did. Sometimes we don't feel remorse, it doesn't matter as long as we try. The simple fact of going to confession indicates that we regret, deep within ourselves. Sometimes performing extra penance and trying to make up for the wrong done is a good way to show God that we are sorry that we have offended him.
- Comprehensive: we must say all our sins. We come into serious contradiction if we do not disclose all of our mortal sins. It is also good to confess all other venial sins although we do not have to. If we receive Holy Communion with all the necessary piety and a pure heart, our venial sins can be forgiven, however it is a very good habit to go to confession regularly and to show genuine remorse for all the sins of which we can. remember us. This is why it is good to go to confession often: so as not to run the risk of forgetting anything. It is a sin in itself to go to confession omitting a mortal sin and because of that we must return to confess this sin, but also the fact of having come to confession by keeping it silent. We should never participate in Holy Communion without confessing mortal sins. It is a sacrilege and it offends God deeply.
Remember the purpose of this sacrament: the penitent seeks forgiveness in order to be reconciled with God and His Church.
It is true that God knows our sins and there is no need to "remind him" of them. While this sacrament has the effect of relieving you, it is in fact the natural consequence of reestablishing fellowship with God and with His Church. The sinner, by repenting, restores the grace of his baptism. See paragraph 1440 and following of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: 
- Be careful that your self-examination does not leave you with a permanent feeling of guilt. View your mistakes calmly and honestly.
- You must be truly repentant for what you have done. Your confession has no value if you have not taken the step sincerely and in this case your confession is meaningless and you will not get forgiveness.
- Under normal circumstances, only persons baptized as Catholics can receive the sacrament of reconciliation. However, this restriction can be lifted in serious circumstances (for example, in the event of the imminent death of a non-Catholic Christian person).