By Bishop Joseph N. Perry
Needing to go to Confession is like needing to check in with a doctor regarding our physical health. We cannot afford to neglect spiritual doctoring of our souls anymore than we can afford to neglect a physical doctor of our bodies. The Sacrament of Penance also works for a healthy life. Mature and healthy men are men who can take themselves to task, recognize their mistakes and take aim to correct those mistakes for the sake of positive connections with their spouse, their children, their friends, the people they work with and, therefore our God.
Check your parish confession schedule or some parish, shrine or oratory that has a regular confession schedule.
– Examine Your Conscience Beforehand –
Have I any habits of serious sin to confess: drunkenness, sexual misconduct, drug use, dishonesty or cheating on the job?
Have I willfully doubted or denied any of the teachings of the Church?
Have I taken active part in any non-Catholic worship?
Am I a member of any anti-Catholic or any secret society?
Have I practiced any superstitions, horoscopes, fortune tellers, etc?
Have I used God’s name in vain by use of profanity?
Have I murmured or complained against God?
Have I maligned priests or others consecrated to God?
Have I sworn by God’s name falsely or rashly?
Have I missed Mass on Sundays or holy days of obligation through negligence?
Have I done unnecessary physical work on Sunday?
Have I been disrespectful to my parents or neglected them?
Have I failed in obedience or reverence to others in authority?
Have I mistreated my wife or children?
Have I neglected the material needs of my children?
Have I neglected my children’s religious education?
Have I given my children bad example?
Have I allowed my children to neglect their religious duties?
Have I quarreled or cursed anyone or otherwise wished evil on them?
Have I taken pleasure in anyone’s misfortune?
Is there anyone to whom I refuse to speak or be reconciled?
Have I lied about anyone?
Have I rashly judged anyone?
Have I engaged in gossip or spread scandal?
Have I been jealous or envious of anyone?
Have I practiced unlawful birth control?
Have I abused my marriage rights in any other way?
Have I committed adultery or fornication?
Have I touched or embraced another impurely?
Have I sinned with others of the same or opposite sex?
Have I disrespected my own body sexually?
Have I harbored lustful desires for anyone?
Have I indulged in pornography or indecent literature?
Have I done anything to provoke or occasion impure thoughts or actions in others?
Have I committed or cooperated with an abortion of life in the womb?
Have I stolen anything?
Have I damaged anyone’s property through my own fault or negligence?
Have I cheated or defrauded others
Have I neglected to follow through on my debts?
Have I failed to make restitution for any negligence of mine?
Have I sinned by gluttony?
Have I sinned by becoming intoxicated?
Have I used narcotics?
Have I been motivated by greed or avarice?
– The Ten Commandments –
- I am the Lord your God. You shall not have any strange Gods before me.
- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
- Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
- Honor your father and your mother
- You shall not kill
- You shall not commit adultery
- You shall not steal
- You shall not bear false witness
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods
– The Beatitudes –
- Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
- Blessed are the meek; for they shall possess the land
- Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted
- Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for justice; for they shall be fulfilled
- Blessed are the merciful; for they shall be fulfilled
- Blessed are the pure of heart; for they shall see God
- Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God
- Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
After the priest welcomes you, either in the confessional box or a face-to-face encounter, which ever you choose, make the Sign of the Cross. Then you may wish to indicate facts about your life such as whether you are a single man or married, widowed, divorced or…. Mention how long it’s been since your last confession, any difficulties in leading the Christian life and anything else that may help you ease your mind. If you feel you need help with making your confession, just ask the priest. He is more than willing to gently lead you.
Confess your sins as they are evident to your conscience. The priest then offers you suitable advice and imposes an act of penance or satisfaction, such as certain prayers you should say once you leave the confessional or some action to make restitution, some act of self-denial or work of mercy or charity.
The priest will ask you to make an Act of Contrition:
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 my sins have offended Thee my God Who art 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,
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!
Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Lamb of God; you take away the sins of the world. Through the grace of the Holy Spirit restore me to friendship with your Father, Cleanse me from every stain of sin in the blood you shed for me, And raise me to new life for the glory of your name.
The priest then extends his hand and pronounces the formula of absolution, making the Sign of the Cross over you during the final words. You answer, “Amen!”
The priest sends you on your way with Christian best wishes for peace and your well-being lived in God’s grace through a life renewed according to the Gospel and more and more steeped in the love of God.
End by saying: “thank you Father!”
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