A Guide for Confession
The basic requirement for a good confession is to have
the intention of returning to God like the "prodigal son"
and to acknowledge our sins with true sorrow before the
Sin in my Life
Modern 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 Penance or Confession.
Prodigal SonThe 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
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.
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
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
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
Have God and the pursuit of sanctity in Christ been the
goal of my life? Have I denied my faith? Have I placed
my trust in false teachings or substitutes for God? Did
I despair of God's mercy?
Have I avoided the profane use of God's name in my
speech? Have I broken a solemn vow or promise?
Have I honored every Sunday by avoiding unnecessary work,
celebrating the Mass (also holydays)? Was I inattentive
at, or unnecessarily late for Mass, or did I leave early?
Have I neglected prayer for a long time?
Have I shown Christlike respect to parents, spouse, and
family members, legitimate authorities? Have I been
attentive to the religious education and formation of my
Have I cared for the bodily health and safety of myself
and all others? Did I abuse drugs or alcohol? Have I
supported in any way abortion, "mercy killing," or
Was I impatient, angry, envious, proud, jealous,
revengeful, lazy? Have I forgiven others?
Have I been just in my responsibilities to employer and
employees? Have I discriminated against others because
of race or other reasons?
Have I been chaste in thought and word? Have I used sex
only within marriage and while open to procreating life?
Have I given myself sexual gratification? Did I
deliberately look at impure TV, pictures, reading?
Have I stolen anything from another, from my employer,
from government? If so, am I ready to repay it? Did I
fulfill my contracts? Did I rashly gamble, depriving my
family of necessities?
Have I spoken ill of any other person? Have I always
told the truth? Have I kept secrets and confidences?
Have I permitted sexual thoughts about someone to whom I
am not married?
Have I desired what belongs to other people? Have I
wished ill on another?
Have I been faithful to sacramental living (Holy
Communion and Penance)?
Have I helped make my parish community stronger and
holier? Have I contributed to the support of the Church?
Have I done penance by abstaining and fasting on
obligatory days? Have I fasted before receiving
Have I been mindful of the poor? Do I accept God's will
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.
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,
The priest may read a passage from holy Scripture.
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."
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:
An 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 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. If he closes by
saying, "Give thanks to the Lord for He is good," answer,
"For His mercy endures forever."
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.
Do your assigned Penance.
Resolve to return to the Sacrament of Reconciliation
often. We Catholics 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.