Confession How To
There are four steps in the Sacrament of Reconciliation:
- We feel contrition for our sins and a conversion of heart to change our ways.
- We confess our sins and human sinfulness to a priest. Click here to see what confession is like.
- We receive and accept forgiveness (absolution) and are absolved of our sins.
- We celebrate God’s everlasting love for us and commit to live out a Christian life.
In the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation, we experience Jesus’ power to heal and to forgive sin. Those who celebrate this sacrament open themselves to this saving power, this peace of Jesus Christ.
During the course of the Church’s history, the Sacrament of Reconciliation has taken on different manners of celebration. Based on the actual need for reconciliation, the Church, through its various stages of growth and development, offered rites in keeping with its understanding of sin. The Scriptural roots of the sacrament seem to emerge from the account in the gospel of John of Jesus’ appearance to the Apostles on Easter Sunday night. Jesus greeted the frightened Apostles with the words: “Peace be with you.” Then He commissioned them to be ministers of that same peace. He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and those sins you retain are retained.” John 20:22-23
Today, the Sacrament of Reconciliation emphasizes healing; reconciliation with God, self and others; and a personal encounter with a loving Christ. The style of confession is now more personal and one’s state of being is more important than a “grocery list” recitation of sins.
Before you go to confession, click on the "Examination of Conscience" link to the right to help you think of your sins, be sorry for them and try to do better.
A Sample Script of How Confession Works
Priest: Welcomes you in the name of Jesus and the Church.
Priest and Penitent (YOU): +“In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
Penitent (YOU): Say,“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been _________(say how long) since my last confession. Children celebrating for the first time, should say, “Bless me,Father, for I have sinned. This is my first confession.”
Priest: Invites you to tell your sins.
Penitent: Tell your sins and faults.
Priest: Talks to you, suggesting ways you might grow closer to God. He will give you a penance to say or do.
Penitent: Listen and answer any questions Father may have. If you have any questions, you may ask.
Priest: Invites you to pray an act of contrition or a prayer of sorrow:
Sample prayer: "My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy. Amen."
Priest: Will give you absolution by saying a prayer over you.
Priest: "Go in peace."
Penitent: "Thank you Father."
You should then go to a quiet place to pray the penance prayers Father asked you to pray.