June 3, 2010

Making a Good Confession, Part 2

This is the second in what will be a series of posts on how to go to confession.

What Must I Confess?

You need to confess all mortal sins committed since your last good confession that you can recall after a thorough self-examination. Mortal sin (ccc 1857) is sin whose object is a grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent. It is important to confess them with their frequency (how many or how often) and circumstances (anything that adds another sin, i.e., to angrily strike someone is a sin against the fifth commandment, but to commit this offense against your father is also a sin against the fourth commandment).

If you commit a mortal sin, make a sincere act of contrition right away and go to confession as soon as possible. If you have perfect contrition for a mortal sin, God forgives you and forgives the sin right away, but you may not receive Holy Communion until you confess it in Confession.

You needn’t confess your venial sins, but it is helpful to do so, especially in overcoming bad habits. You may also renew your contrition for sins already confessed.

To deliberately omit telling a mortal sin in confession is itself a mortal sin of sacrilege. This is called “making a bad confession” and to rectify it, you must confess that you made a bad confession, confess the omitted mortal sin(s), and also any mortal sins you have committed since then (including the reception of Holy Communion while in this state.)

If, after a sincere examination of conscience, you forget to confess a mortal sin, your confession is valid and God has forgiven your sins.

For the Reluctant

You may go to any priest at any Catholic Church. You need not give the priest your name or any details that would identify you. The priest is never allowed to tell anyone, communicate, or made any record of any sin he has heard in confession (the “Seal of Confession”), even in a court of law or to a religious superior.

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