How to Go to Confession

As a Christian, you can be at peace with God by confessing your sins in the sacrament of reconciliation, or what is often called confession. Before you receive the sacrament understand that God doesn’t want you to feel miserable for your sins: he wants to free you from them. But to do that, we must repent, or turn away from sin and turn toward Christ. The only way we can reject our sins is by identifying them and expressing our sorrow to God for having committed them. 

 

In the mystery of reconciliation, you can confess any sin, but you must confess any mortal sins you’ve committed or gravely evil actions you freely chose to take part in even though you knew they were wrong. These sins cut us off from a relationship with God, and so we must seek forgiveness for having committed them. One way to determine if you’ve committed mortal sin is to conduct an “examination of conscience.” These practical guides, which can be found online, ask you a series of questions that help us see if we have committed a mortal sin. Here are some examples of sins that can be mortal, and thus need to be confessed:

 

  1. Denying God exists or rejecting the Catholic faith 

  2. Taking God’s name in vain or failing to go to Mass on Sunday and other important Holy Days 

  3. Disrespecting or failing to care for one’s parents 

  4. Murder, abortion, or intense hatred of others 

  5. Stealing that causes serious harm 

  6. Lies or even gossip that cause serious injury 

 

After you’ve examined your conscience, you are ready to receive the sacrament of confession.  We offer this sacrament Every Saturday: 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM.

 

Don’t worry if it’s been a long time or if you’ve never been to confession. The priest will help you through any part of the sacrament you aren’t familiar with, but here are the necessary steps to remember:

 

  1. Introduction: You can speak to a priest directly or from behind a curtain to remain anonymous. Begin by saying, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been [insert amount of time] since my last confession."

  2. Confession: Keep it simple and just say what sins you committed and how many times you committed them. Don’t worry about explaining unnecessary details or why you sinned, you just need to tell the priest your sins and say you’re truly sorry. If you can’t remember how many times you committed a sin, give an estimate. If you desire further counseling, call the church office and an appointment can usually be made so you can discuss these issues with a priest at greater length.

  3. Contrition: The priest will then ask you to say an Act of Contrition. Here is one many Catholics use: “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.” Don’t worry about memorizing this prayer as it is usually posted in the confessional for you to recite (though it’s still a good prayer to memorize).

  4. Penance: The priest will suggest something for you to do, such as a series of prayers, to make up for the consequences of your sins. Only Christ can make up for the eternal consequence of our sins, but through our prayers and works we can make up for the harm our sins cause in this life. Remember the penance you’re given and complete it soon after your confession.

  5. Absolution: The priest will then offer a prayer of absolution, through which God will forgive you for your sins. He will usually say this: “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.” You respond by saying, “Amen.

  6. Conclusion: The priest will probably say something like, “Go in peace,” to which you can respond “Amen” or “Thanks be to God.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adapted from Horn, Trent. Why We're Catholic: Our Reasons for Faith, Hope, and Love.  

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