November 29, 2017

A Step by Step Guide for Making a Good Confession


The penitent and the priest begin with the sign of the Cross, saying: 

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

The priest urges the penitent to have confidence in God with these or similar words: 

May the Lord be in your heart and help you to confess your sins with true sorrow.

The priest may recite a passage from Sacred Scripture after which the penitent then states: 

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been (however many days, weeks, months or years) since my last confession.

The penitent then states his sins. For the confession to be valid, the penitent must confess all of the mortal sins he is aware of having committed since the last confession, be sorry for them, and have a firm purpose of amendment to try not to commit the same sins in the future.

After this, the priest will generally give some advice to the penitent and impose a penance. Then he will ask the penitent to make an Act of Contrition. The penitent may do so in his own words, or may say a memorized act of contrition like the following:

Act of Contrition 

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, 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 Thee, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.

After this the priest will absolve the penitent in the following words:

God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.*

The penitent makes the sign of the Cross and answers: Amen.

The priest will then dismiss the penitent with a short prayer and encouragement. The penitent should then fulfill the penance in a timely manner.

*You receive spiritual, psychological, and physical healing in the Sacrament of Reconciliation because Jesus is present in the person of the priest (In persona Christi).

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