How to Go to Confession

First of all… DO NOT be shy. “All have sinned,” and you are not going to say anything that the priest has not already heard.
Secondly, remember to bring this guide with you…it is okay…really!
Lastly, it is always your option to confess face-to-face or behind a screen, but either way, remember that the priest does not see you as being weak having sinned, but strong having chosen to receive God’s grace through this Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Before You Go…

Examine your conscience. This is a time for reflecting on the sins you have committed. Though this does not require a rote routine or guide, there are many forms of “Examinations of Conscience” you may use. Most simply, jot down a list of sins and bring them with you.  The back of this sheet has a space for you to write down your sins. Simply searching the Internet will allow to find many versions of an “Examination of Conscience,” if you so choose.

Once you know why you are seeking Reconciliation, go before the priest. Often, Reconciliation is just prior to Mass times, and you’ll likely see a small line of folks waiting to share in this Sacrament. Simply take your place in line and wait for the open door, light, or other invitation when it is your turn to share in this Sacrament. If you are unsure about how your parish handles this Sacrament, do not be afraid or too shy to ask a parishioner, staff member, or clergy.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation

Introduction:  When you come before the priest, begin with the Sign of the Cross (praying out loud, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit). Follow this by saying, “Bless me, Father, I have sinned. It has been      (length of time)      since my last confession. These are my sins…”

Confession: List your sin (the sins you recalled in your Examination of Conscience and/or wrote down). Try not to be vague, like “I have not been a good person,” but details are not all that necessary either. You are not telling a story about your sins, just a simple comment about each one. If you are not sure whether something is sinful, ask the priest. The priest is NOT present to judge your sins; the priest is there for you. If you get stuck, or simply do not know what to do next, ask… he is there for you.

Penance: Penance is something the priest will have you say or do as a response to God’s mercy toward you. Listen carefully…there is often a moment of counsel and helpful discussion along with the Penance… the act that you will do when confession is over.

Contrition: The priest will ask you to pray your “Act of Contrition.” This needs to be prayed out loud, and though there is no need to follow exactly one formula, there are some standard “Acts of Contrition.” We have a couple options on the reverse side for you.

Absolution: The priest will then hold his hand out towards you, and he will pray the Prayer of Absolution: “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 grant 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, Amen.” To which your respond, “Amen.”

Conclusion: The priest will say something similar to “God has freed you from your sin. Go in peace.” To which you respond, “Thanks be to God.”

After you leave…

Do not forget to do your penance. Penance is NOT working-off your sin. Your sins are no more… gone… forgiven! Penance is helpful in leading your heart towards Christ. Often, it is best done before you even leave the church. Sometimes, it is like receiving “holy homework” for drawing you nearer to God.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation

Examination of Conscience: (my sins)____________________________________________________________

Introduction:

You:  (Sign of the Cross – U) In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Bless me, Father, I have sinned. It has been   (how long)   since my last confession. These are my sins:

(Use the list above to tell your sins. Hint: start with the “most difficult” sin for you to confess. Do not be afraid to ask for help!)

Penance:

The priest will suggest something for you to do. Listen carefully.

Contrition:

The priest may ask you to say an Act of Contrition, or you simply continue on after receiving your Penance.
You:  O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you and I detest all of 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 resolved with the help of your grace, to confess my sin, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen

Absolution:

Priest:  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 grant you pardon and peace. And I absolve you from your sins U in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

You: Amen

Conclusion:

 Priest: God has freed you from your sin. Go in peace.
or
Go in peace.

You: Thanks be to God.

After you leave:

Follow through with your prescribed penance.