Making a Good Confession - The Light Is On For You (2022)

ContentsDownload PDF
How to Make a Good Confession & Examination of Conscience
Frequently Asked Questions about the Sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation/Confession
A Guide to Confession for Children
An Examination of Conscience for Married Couples
An Examination of Conscience for Religious and Priests
Teen’s Guide to Reconciliation
An Examination of Conscience for Teenagers

How to Make a Good Confession

Going to 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 read or say 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 or her sins. For the confession to be valid, the penitent must confess all of the mortal sins he or she 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 or her own words, or may say one of many memorized acts of contrition like the following:

Act of Contrition

O 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 the help of your grace, 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, O Lord, have mercy.

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.

(Video) Making a Good Confession

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 immediately try to fulfill the penance imposed if it is something that can be done quickly.

Preparing for the Sacrament of Penance

Ask God for the Holy Spirit’s help to examine your conscience well by prayerfully reviewing your conduct in light of the commandments and the example of Christ. The questions below should assist you in making a thorough review.

Tell the priest the specific kind of sins you have committed and, to the best of your ability, how many times you have committed them since your last good confession. Avoid generalizations and inform the priest of any relevant circumstances in which your sins were committed.

You are obliged to confess only mortal sins, since you can obtain forgiveness for your venial sins by sacrifices, acts of charity, prayer and other pious actions. Confession of venial sins, however, is very helpful for avoiding sin and advancing in holiness toward Heaven.

If you are in doubt about whether a sin is mortal or venial, mention your doubt to the priest. For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.” (CCC 1857)

(Video) How To Make A Good Confession | The Catholic Talk Show

Always tell the priest your state of life: married or single, priest or religious, under religious vows or promises.

Examination of Conscience

Catholics for centuries have found it profitable to examine their consciences in light of the Ten Commandments. Penitents are encouraged to expand on them in their prayerful review of their conduct. (Click on each commandment to view the examination aids.)


First Commandment


“I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods before Me.” (Ex 20:2,3)

  • Have I really loved God above all things or have I put other things — work, money, drugs, TV, fame, pleasure, other people — ahead of Him?
  • Have I made time for God each day in prayer?
  • Have I denied my faith in God or endangered it by practices of the occult or through reading or programs that are opposed to faith and morals?
  • Am I whole-hearted in accepting and following God’s teaching or do I only pick and choose the convenient parts of His message? Have I tried to learn and understand my faith better?
  • Have I denied my faith before others? Have I been willing to affirm, defend and practice my faith in public and not just in private?
  • Did I despair of or presume on God’s mercy?

Second Commandment


“You shall not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain.” (Ex 20:7)

  • Do I love and have reverence for God’s Name?
  • Have I offended God by blasphemy, cursing, or treating his name carelessly?
  • Do I try my best to fulfill the promises and resolutions that I have made toward God, especially those of my Baptism and Confirmation?
  • Have I shown disrespect for the Blessed Virgin Mary, the saints, the Church, holy things or holy people?
(Video) 5 STEPS TO MAKING A GOOD CONFESSION | IGNATIAN RETREAT 2022

Third Commandment


“Remember to keep holy the Sabbath Day.” (Ex 20:8)

  • Did I miss Mass on Sunday or a Holy Day of Obligation through my own fault?
  • Have I fully, consciously and actively participated in Holy Mass or just gone through the motions?
  • Have I given my full attention to the Word of God or have I given in easily to distractions?
  • Have I arrived at Mass late due to carelessness?
  • Have I left early without a serious reason?
  • Have I kept the Eucharistic fast before Holy Mass?
  • Have I received Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin?
  • Did I do work on Sunday that was not necessary?
  • Have I used Sunday as part of the “weekend” or as a day for acts of love toward God, my family & those in need?

Fourth Commandment


“Honor your father and your mother.” (Ex 20:12)

  • Did I neglect my duties to my husband, wife, children, parents or siblings?
  • Have I failed to be grateful for the sacrifices my parents have made for me?
  • Have I disrespected my family members, treated them with scant affection, or reacted proudly when corrected by them?
  • Did I cause tension and fights in my family?
  • Have I cared for my aged and infirm relatives?
  • Have I provided for the Christian education of my children through Catholic school or religious instruction? Do I inspire them by my virtue or scandalize them by my failings?
  • When I have disciplined my children, did I do so with charity and prudence?
  • Have I encouraged my children to pray about their why God created them, and whether God may be calling them to the priesthood or religious life?

Fifth Commandment


“You shall not kill.” (Ex 20:13)

  • Did I kill or try to physically harm someone?
  • Did I attempt suicide or entertain thoughts of taking my life?
  • Did I have an abortion, or encourage or help someone else to have one? Have I participated in the practice of abortion through my silence, financial support for persons or organizations that promote it, or voting without a very serious reason for candidates who support it?
  • Have I taken part in, or supported, so-called “mercy killing” (euthanasia)?
  • Have I abused my children or others in any way?
  • Have I mutilated or harmed my body?
  • Have I borne hatred or withheld forgiveness?
  • Have I been reckless behind the wheel so as to put my and others’ lives in danger?
  • Have I neglected my health?
  • Did I give bad example through drug abuse, drinking alcohol to excess, fighting, or quarreling?
  • Have I easily gotten angry or lost my temper?

Sixth & Ninth Commandments


“You shall not commit adultery.” (Ex 20:14)

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.” (Ex 20:17)

  • Have I remembered that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?
  • Did I willfully entertain impure thoughts or desires?
  • Did I deliberately look at impure TV programs, computer sites, videos, pictures, or movies?
  • Did I commit impure acts with myself (masturbation) or with others through adultery (sex with a married person), fornication (premarital sex) or homosexual activity?
  • Have I been faithful to my husband or wife in my heart and in my conduct with others?
  • Have I sinned through the use of contraception, contraceptive sterilization, or in-vitro fertilization?
  • Have I touched or kissed another person in a lustful way?
  • Have I treated others, in my deeds or thoughts, as objects?
  • Have I been an occasion of sin for others by acting or dressing immodestly?
  • Am I married according to the laws of the Church?
  • Did I advise or encourage anyone to marry outside the Church?
(Video) Father John Corapi ~ HOW TO MAKE A GOOD CONFESSION

Seventh & Tenth Commandments


“You shall not steal.” (Ex 20:15)

“You shall not covet your neighbor‘s goods.” (Ex 20:17)

  • Have I been greedy or envious?
  • Have I made acquiring material possessions the focus of my life? Am I inordinately attached to the things of this world?
  • Did I steal, cheat, help or encourage others to steal or to keep stolen goods? Did I receive stolen goods? Have I returned or made restitution for things I have stolen?
  • Did I damage others’ property without acknowledging it and repairing it?
  • Have I paid my debts or have I played the system so as to avoid fulfilling my obligations?
  • Have I cheated my company? Have I given a full day’s work for a full day’s pay? Have I paid a fair wage to anyone who works for me? Have I been faithful to my promises and contracts? Have I given or accepted bribes?
  • Have I allowed work to get in the way of my obligations to God or to my family?
  • Do I generously share my goods with the needy?
  • Am I generous to the work of the Church? Do I share my time, talents and treasure in the apostolic and charitable works of the Church and in the life of my parish?

Eighth Commandment


“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Ex 20:16)

  • Did I lie? Have my lies caused spiritual or material harm to others?
  • Have I told lies about anybody (calumny)?
  • Have I injured others by revealing true hidden faults (detraction)?
  • Did I commit perjury? Have I been guilty of refusing to testify to the innocence of another because of fear or selfishness?
  • Have I engaged in uncharitable talk or gossip?
  • Have I encouraged the spread of scandal?
  • Am I guilty of any type of fraud?
  • Did I insult or tease others with the intention of hurting them?
  • Have I falsely flattered others?
  • Have I made rash judgments about others?
  • Did I fail to keep secret what should be confidential?

Other Sins


  • Did I intentionally refuse to mention some grave sin in my previous confessions?
  • Have I fulfilled my obligation to go to confession at least once a year and of going worthily to Holy Communion at least during the Easter season?
  • Did I fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday?
  • Did I abstain from meat on the Fridays of Lent or Ash Wednesday?
(Video) How To Make A Good Confession - 10 Tips From A Priest

These materials have been adapted from the Diocese of Fall River’s “Be Reconciled to God” Initiative in 2009, with permission of Fr. Roger Landry.

FAQs

What makes a good confession? ›

That starts with an act of praise and confidence in God's grace. Acknowledging that you are in the strong and loving arms of God, trusting that God will care for you and provide for you, thanking God for the blessings of His grace — all of this is a fitting start to prepare for a good confession.

What are the words to the Catholic act of contrition? ›

My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do what is 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.

What is the first step to make a good confession? ›

Begin with Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Come, Holy Spirit, into my soul. Show me my sins, both the wrong that I did and the good I failed to do. Give me the grace to be sorry for my sins out of love for God, so that through Confession my soul might be healed and strengthened to do good.

What to say at the beginning of a confession? ›

Begin by making the sign of the cross and say “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It's been [however many days/months/years] since my last confession.” List your sins. Mention venial (everyday) sins and mortal sins, which are more serious.

What sins must be confessed? ›

All mortal sins must be confessed, while confession of venial sins also is recommended but not required. The priest may emphasize repentance and offer counsel, and always proposes a penance which the penitent accepts and then recites an act of contrition. The priest imparts absolution.

What are the 5 steps of confession? ›

Terms in this set (5)
  • Examine your conscience.
  • Be sincerely sorry for your sins.
  • Confess your sins.
  • Resolve to amend your life.
  • After your confession do the penance that your priest assigns.

How do you say a perfect Act of Contrition? ›

Act of Contrition (traditional)

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love.

What is the old Act of Contrition? ›

The Act of Contrition is a powerful prayer of penance that is prayed after confessing one's sins to a priest in confession. After making an act of contrition, the priest will grant absolution to the penitent, absolving him/her of their sins by the grace of God.

What is the short Act of Contrition? ›

Simplified form of the Act of Contrition: O my God, I am sorry for my sins because I have offended you. I know I should love you above all things. Help me to do penance, to do better, and to avoid anything that might lead me to sin.

What are the 4 parts of a good confession? ›

The four major parts of the sacrament of Reconciliation are: 1) contrition, 2) confession, 3) penance, 4) absolution. 3. An examination of conscience helps us to know what we need to confess.

How do you confess your sins? ›

Here are a couple things to keep in mind:
  1. You can confess your sins directly to God. You do not need to confess to a pastor, priest, or spiritual leader to be forgiven. ...
  2. James tells us to confess our sins to one another. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
31 Jan 2018

How often should you go to confession? ›

A recommended frequency, based on the teachings of past popes and canon law, is between once a month and once a week. This practice "was introduced into the Church by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit", according to Pius XII.

What are the 4 mortal sins? ›

They join the long-standing evils of lust, gluttony, avarice, sloth, anger, envy and pride as mortal sins - the gravest kind, which threaten the soul with eternal damnation unless absolved before death through confession or penitence.

What is an example of a confession? ›

When you go to church to see a priest and tell him about your sins, this is an example of a confession. When you write out the details of a crime you committed for the police, this is an example of a confession. When you share an embarrassing secret with a friend, this is an example of a confession.

What is a prayer of confession? ›

A prayer of confession is a way for us to acknowledge and repent from our sins. Through prayers of confession, we come clean with God about our mistakes and need for God's grace, preparing our hearts to be cleansed by Christ's sacrifice and transformed by the Holy Spirit.

What sins Cannot be forgiven in confession? ›

Matthew 12:30: "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.

Can you repent without confessing? ›

One must first repent before their confession of Jesus as Lord can be considered valid.

Can you receive Communion if you forgot to confess a sin? ›

Can You Receive Communion Without Going to Confession? So, what does this all mean in practice? If you want to receive Communion, do you always have to go to Confession first? The short answer is no—so long as you're only conscious of having committed venial sins.

What do you pray before confession? ›

"Father as I come before you in this sacrament of confession I ask that you give me the gift of the Holy Spirit. Help me to see and to know my sins so that I may confess them and be free from them. Jesus, help me to trust that any sin I confess will be forgiven and that you came to save me from my sins.

How do you confess after a long time? ›

Going to Confession for the First Time in a Long Time - YouTube

How do you confess an impure act? ›

MAKING YOUR CONFESSION

You may begin by saying: “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It has been (state length of time) since my last confession. These are my sins.” Then tell your sins, especially any serious sins. The priest will give the necessary advice and assign penance.

What is the only way for a mortal sin to be forgiven? ›

Despite its gravity, a person can repent of having committed a mortal sin. Such repentance is the primary requisite for forgiveness and absolution.

Can perfect contrition forgive mortal sins? ›

When a person makes an act of perfect contrition, on the instant, even before he goes to confession, mortal sin is forgiven, sanctifying grace is restored in his soul — and with it is restored the friendship of God.

Who wrote the Act of Contrition? ›

Janice Holt Giles (1905-1979), author of nineteen books, lived and wrote near Knifley, Kentucky, for thirty-four years.

What do you say at the end of your confession? ›

Make the sign of the cross upon his prompt, saying, "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been (blank) since my last confession." This is your standard, traditional phrasing. However, if you just sit down and say hello, that's fine, too.

What is a typical Catholic penance? ›

A penance may be to do something nice for your enemy every day for a week. It may be to visit a nursing home or hospital one day a week for a month. It may be to donate time to a soup kitchen or clothing bank. It may involve any one of the corporal or spiritual works of mercy.

What are the 4 main types of penance? ›

The Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation involves four parts: contrition, confession, penance and absolution. Contrition: a sincere sorrow for having offended God and the most important act of the penitent. There can be no forgiveness of sin if we do not have sorrow and a firm resolve not to repeat our sin.

What are the four types of prayer? ›

The basic forms of prayer are adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and supplication, abbreviated as A.C.T.S.

What does a Catholic priest say after confession? ›

He will then say the words of absolution, acting in the person of Christ, speaking the words of forgiveness and reconciliation at the heart of this sacrament. At the end of the words of absolution answer, “Amen.”

What are the 4 parts of a good confession? ›

The four major parts of the sacrament of Reconciliation are: 1) contrition, 2) confession, 3) penance, 4) absolution. 3. An examination of conscience helps us to know what we need to confess.

What are the 4 mortal sins? ›

They join the long-standing evils of lust, gluttony, avarice, sloth, anger, envy and pride as mortal sins - the gravest kind, which threaten the soul with eternal damnation unless absolved before death through confession or penitence.

What is an example of a confession? ›

When you go to church to see a priest and tell him about your sins, this is an example of a confession. When you write out the details of a crime you committed for the police, this is an example of a confession. When you share an embarrassing secret with a friend, this is an example of a confession.

How should I prepare for Catholic confession? ›

Consider making a Holy Hour and spend your time asking the Holy Spirit to reveal your sin to you and let any sins that you have come to your mind and your heart before the Lord. Praying before the Exposed Blessed Sacrament may help you feel more exposed towards God and will help you prepare for confession.

How often should we confess our sins? ›

A recommended frequency, based on the teachings of past popes and canon law, is between once a month and once a week. This practice "was introduced into the Church by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit", according to Pius XII.

How long should confession? ›

A normal confession may last 10 or so minutes. If you think yours will last a lot longer, feel free to ask for a private session.

How do you confess your feelings? ›

Be upfront and honest.

Say something like, "I wanted to tell you something. It's a little hard for me to say, but I think you should know that I have feelings for you." Let them know what you want from them. For example, "I'd just like to know if the feelings are returned at all."

Is fornication mortal sin? ›

In AD 385, Pacian of Barcelona, in his Sermon Exhorting to Penance, gives contempt of God, murder, and fornication as examples of "mortal" or "capital sins."

What makes a sin grave? ›

A mortal sin is defined as a grave action that is committed in full knowledge of its gravity and with the full consent of the sinner's will. Such a sin cuts the sinner off from God's sanctifying grace until it is repented, usually in confession with a priest.

Can you confess to God without a priest? ›

You can confess your sins directly to God. You do not need to confess to a pastor, priest, or spiritual leader to be forgiven.

What sins Cannot be forgiven in confession? ›

Matthew 12:30: "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.

What is the true meaning of confession? ›

1 : to tell or make known (something, such as something wrong or damaging to oneself) : admit he confessed his guilt. 2a : to acknowledge (sin) to God or to a priest. b : to receive the confession of (a penitent) 3 : to declare faith in or adherence to : profess.

What is the purpose of confession? ›

The purpose of Confession is to reconcile man to God. When we sin, we deprive ourselves of God's grace. And by doing so, we make it even easier to sin some more. The only way out of this downward cycle is to acknowledge our sins, to repent of them, and to ask God's forgiveness.

Why do Catholics confess to a priest? ›

Let's summarize: Catholics confess their sins to a priest because that is the method of forgiveness that God established. The Almighty alone has the power to forgive sins, and the Son of God granted that authority to His Apostles.

How do you confess after a long time? ›

Going to Confession for the First Time in a Long Time - YouTube

What is the short Act of Contrition? ›

Simplified form of the Act of Contrition: O my God, I am sorry for my sins because I have offended you. I know I should love you above all things. Help me to do penance, to do better, and to avoid anything that might lead me to sin.

Videos

1. HOW TO MAKE THE BEST CONFESSION OF YOUR LIFE
(Fr. Ed Broom, OMV)
2. How to make a good Confession
(Syracuse Diocese)
3. Making a Good Confession (Examining Your Conscience)
(Breaking In The Habit)
4. Going to Confession for the First Time in a Long Time
(Ascension Presents)
5. Most Common Problems I See in Confession (and how to fix!)
(Breaking In The Habit)
6. Making a Good Confession is Hard!
(Catholic Drive Time)

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