Guide To A Good Confession
- You always have the option to go to confession anonymously, that is, behind a screen or face to face, if you so desire.
- After the priest greets you in the name of Christ, make the sign of the cross. He may choose to recite a reading from Scripture, after which you say: ‘Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been (state how long) since my last confession. These are my sins.’
- Tell your sins simply and honestly. You might even want to discuss the circumstances and the root causes of your sins and asks the priest for advice or direction. (To deliberately withhold a mortal sin from the priest in Confession is in itself a mortal sin and makes the Confession a bad Confession.)
- Listen to the advice the priest gives you and accept the penance from him. Then make an Act of Contrition for your sins.
- The priest will then dismiss you with the words “Go in peace.’ And you respond by saying: ‘Thanks be to God.’
- Spend some time with Our Lord thanking and praising Him for the gift of His mercy. Try to perform your penance as soon as possible.
Prayer before Confession
O most merciful God! Prostrate at your feet, I implore your forgiveness. I sincerely desire to leave all my faults and to confess my sins with all sincerity to you and to your priest. I am a sinner, have mercy on me, O Lord. Give me a lively faith and a firm hope in the Passion of my Redeemer. Give me, for your mercy’s sake a sorrow for having offended so good a God. Mary, my mother, refuge of sinners, prays for me that I may make a good confession. Amen.
An act of contrition
Oh 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.
Another 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 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, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.
‘I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods before Me.’ (Ex 20:2,3) Did I doubt or deny that God exists? Did I refuse to believe what God as revealed to us? Did I believe in fortune telling, horoscopes, dreams, the occult, good-luck charms, tarot cards, palmistry, Ouija boards, séances, reincarnation? Did I deny that I was Catholic? Did I leave the Catholic Faith? Did I give time to God each day in prayer? Did I love God with my whole heart? Did I despair of or presume on God’s mercy? Did I have false gods in my life that I gave greater attention to than God, like money, possessions, drugs, TV, fame, pleasure, property, etc.? Do I seek to surrender myself to God’s word as taught by the Church? Have I ever received communion in the state of mortal sin? Have I ever deliberately told a lie in Confession or have I withheld a mortal sin from the priest in Confession?
‘You shall not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain.’ (Ex 20:7) Did I blaspheme or insult God? Did I take God’s name carelessly or uselessly? Did I take God’s name carelessly or uselessly? Did I curse, or break an oath or vow? Did I get angry with God? Have I wished evil upon any other person? Have I insulted a sacred person or abused a sacred object?
‘Remember that you keep holy the Sabbath Day.’ (Ex 20:8) Did I miss Mass Sunday or a Holy Day of Obligation through my own fault? Did I come to Mass on time? Leave early? Did I do work on Sunday that was not necessary? Did I set aside Sunday as a day of rest and a family day? Did I show reverence in the presence of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament?
‘Honor your father and your mother.’ (Ex 20:12) Did I disobey or disrespect my parents or legitimate superiors? Did I neglect my duties to my husband, wife, children or parents? Did I neglect to give good religious example to my family? Did I fail to actively take an interest in the religious education and formation of my children? Did I fail to educate myself on the true teachings of the Church? Did I give scandal by what I said or did, especially to the young? Did I cause anyone to leave the faith? Did I cause tension and fights in my family? Did I care for my aged and infirm relatives? Did I give a full day’s work for a full day’s pay? Did I give a fair wage to my employees?
‘You shall not kill.’ (Ex 20:13) Did I kill or physically injure anyone? Did I have an abortion, or advise someone else to have an abortion? (One who procures and abortion is automatically excommunicated, as is anyone who is involved in an abortion, Canon 1398. The excommunication will be lifted in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.) Did I use or cause my spouse to use birth control pills (whether or not realizing that birth control pills do abort the fetus if and when conceived)? Did I attempt suicide? Did I take part in or approve of ‘mercy killing’ (euthanasia)? Did I get angry, impatient, envious, unkind, proud, revengeful, jealous, hateful toward another, lazy? Did I give bad example by drug abuse, drinking alcohol to excess, fighting, quarreling? Did I abuse my children? Have I abused alcohol or drugs? Did I give scandal to anyone, thereby leading him or her into sin? Have I mutilated myself through any form of sterilization? Have I encouraged or condoned sterilization? Have I engaged, in any way, in sins against human life such as artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization?
SIXTH & NINTH COMMANDMENTS
‘You shall not commit adultery.’ (Ex 20:14) ‘You shall not desire your neighbor’s wife.’ (Ex 20:17) Note: In the area of deliberate sexual sins listed below, all are mortal sins if there is sufficient reflection and full consent of the will. ‘No fornicators, idolaters, or adulterers, no sodomites,…will inherit the kingdom of God.’ (1 Cor 6:9-10) ‘Anyone who looks lustfully at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his thoughts.’ (Mt 5:28) Did I willfully entertain impure thoughts or desires? Did I use impure or suggestive words? Tell impure stories? Listen to them? Did I deliberately look at impure TV, videos, plays, pictures or movies or deliberately read impure materials? Have I used the internet to find pornography? Did I commit impure acts by myself (masturbation)? Did I commit impure acts with another – fornication (premarital sex), adultery (sex with a married person)? Did I practice artificial birth control (by pills, device, withdrawal)? Did I marry or advise anyone to marry outside the Church? Did I avoid the occasions of impurity? Did I try to control my thoughts? Did I engage in homosexual activity? Did I respect all members of the opposite sex, or have I thought of other people as objects? Did I or my spouse have sterilization done? Did I abuse my marriage rights? Am I careful to dress modestly? Do I pray at once to banish impure thoughts and temptations? Have I behaved in an inappropriate way with members of the opposite sex: flirting, being superficial, etc.?
SEVENTH & TENTH COMMANDMENTS
‘You shall not steal.’ (Ex 20:15) ‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.’ (Ex 20:17) Did I steal, cheat, help or encourage others to steal or keep stolen goods? Have I made restitution for stolen goods? Did I fulfill my contracts; give or accept bribes; pay my bills; rashly gamble or speculate; deprive my family of the necessities of life? Did I waste time at work, school or at home? Did I envy other people’s families or possessions? Did I make material possessions the purpose of my life? Do I pay my debts promptly? Do I seek to share what I have with the poor? Have I cheated anyone out of what is justly theirs, for example creditors, insurance companies, big corporations? Am I jealous of what other people have? Do I envy the families or possessions of others? Am I greedy or selfish?
‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.’ (Ex 20:16) Did I lie? Did I deliberately deceive others, or injure others by lies? Did I commit perjury? Did I gossip or reveal others’ faults or sins? Did I fail to keep secret what should be confidential? Do I speak badly of others behind their back? Am I sincere in my dealings with others? Am I critical, negative or uncharitable in my thoughts of others? Have I injured the reputation of others by slanders? OTHER SINS Did I fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday? Did I eat meat on the Fridays of Lent or Ash Wednesday? Did I fail to receive Holy Communion during Eastertime? Did I go to Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin? Without fasting (water and medicine permitted) for one hour from food and drink? Did I make a bad confession? Did I fail to contribute to the support of the Church?