Confession is not difficult, but it does require preparation. We should begin with prayer, placing ourselves in the presence of God, our loving Father. We seek healing and forgiveness through repentance and a resolve to sin no more. Then we review our lives since our last confession, searching our thoughts, words and actions for that which did not conform to God’s command to love Him and one another through His laws and the laws of His Church. This is called an 10 Commandments. When doing an exam of conscience begin with a prayer asking for God’s help, then review your life with the help of some questions, which are based on the 10 Commandments, tell God how truly sorry you are for your sins and make a firm resolution not to sin again. Recall your sins asking yourself about your daily prayer habits and thanking God for all gifts! Are you reading things (or other media) contrary to Catholic teachings or involving in non-Catholic sects? Engaging in superstitious practices like palm-reading or fortune-telling? Did you take the name of God in vain? Cursing or taking a false oath? Are you going to Mass on Sundays or holy days of obligation? Are you attentive at Mass? Did you keep fast and abstinence on the prescribed days? Did you disobey your parents and lawful superiors in important matters? Did you hate or quarrel with anyone, or desire revenge? Did you refuse to forgive? Were you disrespectful? Did you get drunk or took illicit drugs? Did you willfully look at pornography, entertain impure thoughts or engage in impure conversations or actions? Did you use artificial means to prevent conception? Were you unfaithful to your spouse? Did you engage in sexual activity outside of marriage? Did you steal or damage another’s property? Have you been honest and just in your business relations? Have you been responsive to the needs of the poor and respected the dignity of others? Did you tell lies? Did you sin by calumny, or detraction, of others? Did you judge others rashly in serious matters? Have you envied other people? Then comes the Sacrament of Reconciliation that might be face-to-face or anonymous, with a screen between you and the priest where the priest gives you a blessing or greeting. He may share a brief Scripture passage. Make the Sign of the Cross and say: “Bless me father, for I have sinned. My last confession was…” (give the number of weeks, months or years). Confess all of your sins to the priest. The priest will help you to make a good confession. If you are unsure about how to confess or you feel uneasy, just ask him to help you. Answer his questions without hiding anything out of fear or shame. Place your trust in God, a merciful Father who wants to forgive you. Following your confession of sins, say: “I am sorry for these and all of my sins.” The priest assigns you a penance and offers advice to help you be a better Catholic and you say an Act of Contrition, expressing sorrow for your sins and the priest, acting in the person of Christ, then absolves you from your sins.
Act of Contrition
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, do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.