Skip to comments.A Guide for Confession
Posted on 09/18/2005 5:07:46 AM PDT by Desdemona
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 priest.
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.
The Differences in Sins
As a result of Original Sin, human nature is weakened. Baptism, by imparting the life of Christs 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 sin.
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 helpespecially if you have been away for some timesimply ask the priest and he will help you by "walking" you through the steps to make a good confession.
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. Gods grace in cooperation with the intention to rectify your life will give you the strength to resist and overcome temptation in the future.
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 Church:
1. 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 Gods mercy?
2. Have I avoided the profane use of Gods name in my speech? Have I broken a solemn vow or promise?
3. 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?
4. 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 children?
5. 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 suicide?
6. Was I impatient, angry, envious, proud, jealous, revengeful, lazy? Have I forgiven others?
7. Have I been just in my responsibilities to employer and employees? Have I discriminated against others because of race or other reasons?
8. 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?
9. 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?
10. Have I spoken ill of any other person? Have I always told the truth? Have I kept secrets and confidences?
11. Have I permitted sexual thoughts about someone to whom I am not married?
12. Have I desired what belongs to other people? Have I wished ill on another?
13. Have I been faithful to sacramental living (Holy Communion and Penance)?
14. Have I helped make my parish community stronger and holier? Have I contributed to the support of the Church?
15. Have I done penance by abstaining and fasting on obligatory days? Have I fasted before receiving communion?
16. Have I been mindful of the poor? Do I accept Gods will for me?
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, years) ago."
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.
Imprimatur Justin Rigali Archbishop of St. Louis August 15, 1999
I was looking for Confession times on the archdiocesan website and found this. This is something to save.
Rigali was our archbishop at the time this was written, so I left the attribution to him as archbishop.
My brain is on hold this morning.
Excellent examination of conscience. I've saved it; thank-you!
From the Maronite Penance Service, this is the opening hymn:
I yearn for your pardon, O Lord,
Give me tears to repent in this season of Advent
Lord have mercy.
I beg for your favors, O Lord,
For your mercy I thirst, for your kindness and love.
Lord have mercy.
Against you, O Lord, I have sinned,
Hear the cry of my voice, turn your ear to my prayer.
Lord forgive me.
O wash me O Lord from my guilt
Purify me and I shall be whiter than snow.
Lord forgive me.
Another excellent resource is the following which has been given an imprimatur.
This is excellent. Thank you.
What happened to, "Bless me father, for I have sinned"?
Looking at the Latin Act of Contrition, it seems to say,"
Oh my God, I repent of all my sins with all my heart, not only because they have earned me punishment under Your just laws, but because they all offend You, who are the sum of all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your Grace, to sin no more (de cetero me non peccaturum), and to flee the near occasion of sin.
Don't it seem like the English one here is a little...wimpy?
I still do the "Bless me father..." part. It's really rather individual once you are there. I actually had a priest stop me once when I launched into that before the Sign of the Cross.
The Act of Contrition I have memorized is the same up to "I firmly resolve..." There it is "I firmly resolve with the help of thy grace to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin."
"It's really rather individual once you are there. I actually had a priest stop me once when I launched into that before the Sign of the Cross."
You started to say, "Bless me father, for I have sinned," and he stopped you?
What did he say?
No kidding! What I was looking for was a parish that had Confession before Mass, because the last few Saturdays, I've had work commitments and family obligations during the time Confession is at my own parish. I found one and when I got there, there was no priest in the confessional.
"Hold on. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen." He was an older priest and had no qualms about it.
Oh, I see. It was because things were out of sequence.
That's sad. Our priest had to add another half-hour to confession time because people were being turned away during regular hours.
And this is because he considers confession that important and encourages people to come in.
What's interesting is that there are always lines for Confession on Saturday afternoon. On Good Friday, extra hours were added after the service - with all five confessionals - because the lines were so long beforehand. Why we can't have confession in the hour(s) between and before Masses, I don't understand. That's part of the job of priest - to hear confession
At least most parishes have published times. One of the wealthier parishes (I know both of the priests there, too) doesn't even have published times.
This sounds like an opportunity for a crusade....
It's a relief to hear the Word of God preached and not "God is doing a new thing" (with regards to Gene Robinson, et al) and various heterodoxies. Believe me, there were many thrown at us over the years. Now that we've left, it's like learning to breath again...we were stifled for so many years.
Thank you. We have an excellent catechist for which we are grateful. It's kind of strange being on the receiving end since I was a lay catechist in the Episcopal Church for years.
#19 hasa link to multiple examples of Examination of Conscience -- parents, children, etc.