A 7 Step Survival Guide for Returning to Confession (2022)

Maybe you have been thinking of going to Confession soon but you don’t know where to start. If so, welcome back! The following is especially for you.

Author: By Ruth Baker | Source: http://catholic-link.org/2016/03/17/a-7-step-survival-guide-for-returning-to-confession/

If you’re thinking of going to Confession, but it has been a while, this post is for you. Going to Confession is never pleasant or enjoyable,but it is always worth it.

However, it can feel so much worse if you’ve not been in years. Maybe it has been so long ago since you’ve been, and you simply feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. If you have questions or concerns on why you should go back to Confession in the first place, then why not check out this15 Excuses to Not to Go to Confession(Answered!)post which will hopefully answer some of your queries.

We know it is scary.

If Confession wasn’t so important, it wouldn’t feel like such a big deal. Maybe you have been thinking of going to Confession soon but you don’t know where to start. If so, welcome back! The following is especially for you.

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1. Know Your Options

Doing a little bit of preparation beforehand can really help you feel more at ease. You could find a parish with a regular time for Confession, turn up at the time and join the queue. Many parishes have a Service of Reconciliation during Lent and Holy Week. These can attract a crowd. Maybe company, even anonymous company, makes you more comfortable. Or, you could contact a local priest or a priest you know and request a particular appointment time. Either way can be more reassuring if you are returning to Confession after a long time. Going to a larger, regular Confession time allows you to feel part of a community of people all there for the same reason, while making an appointment with a priest for another time may help you feel relaxed time-wise, if you want to discuss a few things. Either way is fine and either way you will still experience the miracle of the Sacrament.

In an ideal scenario, you should have the choice of whether to see a priest face-to-face, or behind a screen (so you can remainanonymous).

2. Before You Go

So hopefully you’ve done a bit of preparation and have found somewhere to go to Confession. Now is the time to make an ‘Examination of Conscience’. This is the process of prayerfully reflecting on what sins we need to confess in Confession itself. If we have any mortal sins- very grave sins- they must always be confessed. You may be aware of something in particular, or behaviours or patterns that you know are wrong and are holding you back from God.This link can help take you through the process of examining your conscience. Always pray to the Holy Spirit to show you clearly what it is your need to say and how to say it. Sometimes things may not always be obvious to us, or might be forgotten in the depths of time. Finally, remember here that God isalwayscalling to us, waiting for us, making the first move to bring us back to Him. He doesn’t stop gently nudging us!

3. What to Say: ‘The Script’

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At some point you will probably have learnt, or been aware of the fact that there is a certain ‘script’ to what to say in Confession. Don’t panic if you can’t remember it- particularly if you decide at the last minute to go to Confession. The main thing in this scenario is to tell the priest you are not sure of the wording and he will guide you through it. If you have the time however, it is great if you can go prepared with what to say.This excellent sheetfrom Busted Halowalks you through the process step by step and gives you the lowdown on what to say. Print it off and take it with you if that helps.

4. What to Say: Your Sins

Be clear when stating your sins. Don’t be vague, but neither do you need to go in-depth with the detail. If you’re anything like me and your mind tends to go blank in critical moments, it is fine to take a list in with you. You could jot down one word reminders on a small piece of paper. You might want to remember to destroy it afterwards! If there is one particular sin that is causing you a lot of shame, it can be helpful to say it first, so then it is out of the way.

5. The Priest

Worries and fears about confessing to a priest can be a very real block to going to confession. ‘What if I know him? What if Iworkwith him?! Will he remember my sins? What if I have something terrible to say? What if I don’t have anything bad enough to say?…’ Firstly, as reassurance, nothing you could say to a priest could shock him- no matter who you are or your age or state in life. Priests have honestly heard it all before. Likewise, if you feel you don’t have anything very interesting or major to say,don’t let that stop you going!Sin is like dust- it builds up over time. Even if we feel we’re not doing anything too terrible, all that dust needs a good clean-up. Don’t be ashamed to say the little things that you know are stopping you from having a close relationship with God.

Secondly, it is very likely that the priest you are going to see goes to regular confession himself and he therefore knows the very real feelings of nerves you have right now. He understands the courage it has taken you to get there and he will probably be feeling humbled and privileged to be part of your reconciliation with God. From my own experience of regularly confessing to a priest who I also worked with daily, I can say, they really do forget your sins! This particular priest didn’t bat an eyelid when he’d hear my Confession and then meet me in the office half an hour later!

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You can also check out this excellentarticlefrom a priest who shares his experience of hearing confessions.

Thirdly, no matter how well or not you know the priest, whether he gives you fantastic advice or just keeps it basic, remember thatit isChrist you are confessing to.The priest is ‘in persona Christi’ which means he is in the person of Christ. The priest is the human channel of God’s mercy and forgiveness. The Sacrament still stands valid no matter the priest’s own weaknesses, flaws or lacklustre Confessional advice. There is a line from this year’sYear of Mercyprayer, written by Pope Francis, which I love. It says: “You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error: let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.”We confess to a human priest, who yes, will be flawed, but through him we experience the endless tenderness and mercy of a heavenly Father who loves us.

6. Think About It; It’s Free!

Putting aside the very understandable fears and worries for a moment, let’s take a look at the Sacrament itself. It is almost scandalous in it’s simplicity. To put it inverybasic terms, you go into a private space with a priest, tell him the bad stuff you have done, he says a prayer and you come out wiped clean,a total fresh start. The guilt of the most terrible things you have ever done is lifted from you. A relationship with God, which you may have thought was damaged beyond repair, is more than just mended again, it is completely restored. And through that, our own broken human relationships can begin to heal again.And all this is totally free.The fear and the nerves are, in reality, a small price to pay for the peace and beauty and unrestrained mercy of this Sacrament. Don’t let fear, or your pride, get in the way of the amazing gift Confession actually is.

“Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”Isaiah 1:18

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

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7. Afterwards

When you come out of Confession, you may feel hugely happy or relieved, you may feel at peace, or you may just feel- normal. All of that is fine. Our feelings are not necessarily indications of therealityof what has just taken place- that you have been absolved of your sins and you are at rights with God again.

Spend some time in the church or wherever you are, thanking God. Don’t forget to do your penance*, whatever you might have been given.

Think about when you could next go to Confession. Itdoesbecome a little easier to go when you go more regularly. Making a regular date (like once a month) means that things don’t build up so much. You get to experience God’s forgiveness and love in a very real way far more often. It is like having a wound and making sure you redress the bandages properly. You need to do that very often and it’s the same with Confession. Keep going back for more healing and mercy!

Finally, you can also check outthis postandvideo to help remind you of what to do when you’re going to Confession. Fr. Larry Richards also offers a wonderful talkConfessionthat is available at Lighthouse Catholic Media to download. His thoughts will inspire you and help direct you towards a Holy Confession.

*penance- an assigned act of reparation and love, assigned by the priest upon absolving you of your sins. Sometimes it will be a few prayers. Sometimes it will be more pointed and/or active, as the Holy Spirit and your priest’s particular spirituality may influence his choice, “For your penance, say/do/pray/read… etc.”

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What should I say in confession examples? ›

This prayer is short and simple: 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.

What are the step by step the way of doing confession? ›

Confession begins with the (1) Sign of the Cross and the penitent greeting the priest with the words, (2) “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. My last confession was ….” (weeks, months, years). The penitent (3) confesses sins to the priest, who stands in the name of Christ and the Church.

How do I go back to confession? ›

Say, “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned, it has been (period of time) since my last confession.” The priest will welcome you and may read briefly from scripture. Tell the priest your sins, and how often you have done them. Talk with the priest about your actions, if he invites you to.

Can I confess my sins to God instead of 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? ›

The unpardonable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Blasphemy includes ridicule and attributing the works of the Holy Spirit to the devil.

How detailed do you have to be in confession? ›

Answer: The basic norm for confessing grave sins is that we should be sorry for all of our grave sins without exception. For this reason the Church asks us to confess grave or mortal sins “by number and kind.” This just means “what and how many times” you did what you did.

What do you say after confession? ›


Say a prayer of thanksgiving. Give thanks to God for the gift of his infinite mercy and for the sacrament you have just received.

What is the best way to prepare yourself for confession? ›

Before Confession Be truly sorry for your sins. Pray to the Holy Spirit to help you make a good confession: Prayer to the Holy Spirit Come, Holy Spirit, and help me to know how much God loves me and wants to forgive me. Help me to see and to love the goodness God has placed in me and in others.

What are the six steps to making a good confession? ›

  1. 6 STEPS FOR A GOOD CONFESSION. Examine your conscience - what sins have you committed since your last good confession. ...
  2. Examination of Conscience.
  3. Become sorry for your sins. For sins to be forgiven, the penitent must possess contrition for his/her sins. ...
  4. Confess your sins to a priest.

How do you turn your sin back? ›

Repent and accept Christ's forgiveness

True repentance is more than acknowledging sin, it is turning away from sin and to God. It is not simply saying 'Lord, I repent' and while still seeking sin out. If you find that your desires are sinful, pray 'Lord, create in me clean and pure desires.

Does reconciliation forgive all sins? ›

Reconciliation (also called Penance or Confession) is God's gift to us so that any sins committed after baptism can be forgiven through the priest's absolution to those who with true sorrow confess their sins and promise to do better.

What are the 4 mortal sins? ›

They are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth (acedia). Note from the author: For those of you who do not understand why these particular sins are of grave matter, I would suggest that you refer to the Summa Theologiae of St.

Can Catholics confess alone? ›

' Ask His forgiveness with all your heart with an act of contrition, and promise Him, 'Afterward I will go to confession. ' You will return to God's grace immediately. You yourself can draw near, as the catechism teaches us, to God's forgiveness, without having a priest at hand.

What is it called when a priest forgives you for your sins? ›

absolution, in Christianity, a pronouncement of remission (forgiveness) of sins to the penitent. In both Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, confession, or penance, is a sacrament.

What are the 2 unforgivable sins? ›

— J.F.D. Rev. Graham: Only one sin that can't be forgiven is on God's list — and that is the sin of rejecting Him and refusing His offer of forgiveness and new life in Jesus Christ. This alone is the unforgivable sin, because it means we are saying that the Holy Spirit's witness about Jesus is a lie (see Luke 12:10).

Are there 3 unforgivable sins? ›

A: There are many sins recounted in the Hebrew Bible but none are ever called unforgivable sins.

What sins will God not forgive Catholic? ›

Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come" (Matthew 12:22-32).

Can I read my sins during confession? ›

You are free and encouraged to mention common venial sins, but every single and possible sin or foible need not be mentioned in every confession. As for making a “more thorough” confession, there are many good examinations of conscience both online and in books.

Can you bring notes into confession? ›

It's OK to bring in a list: After you've made an examination of conscience, it can sometimes help people if they write down all of the sins they want to confess.

Do you have to confess all your sins in confession? ›

Many of us were brought up in a tradition where we were taught to confess our sins to a priest. There may be some value in that, but there is no place in the Bible where God says that you must confess your sins to a priest.

How do you end a Catholic confession? ›

Go in peace. You respond, “Thanks be to God” and leave the confessional. After leaving the confessional, go into a pew, kneel down and say a prayer of thanksgiving to God for his mercy and love. If the penance given by the priest is to say certain prayers, complete your penance in the church.

What are three things that happen after you make a good confession? ›

11 Things That Happen When You Commit To Going To Confession Regularly
  • You Gain a Healthy Knowledge of Your Sin. ...
  • You Can Begin to Forgive Others – Especially Deep Wounds. ...
  • You Become More Patient with Yourself. ...
  • You Start to Seek Integrity in All You Do (i.e Life Isn't About Just “Not Sinning”)

What are the 3 requirements of confession? ›

Requirements of a Confession
  • It must be voluntary. ...
  • The confession must be made by the party to be affected by it. ...
  • The confession must be to another person.

How can I make my confession less awkward? ›

Be upfront and honest.

Tell the other person how you feel directly and let them know why you're confessing. This can be difficult if you're really shy, but if you've spent time building up confidence, you should feel a little better about confessing. Say something like, "I wanted to tell you something.

What do you say before first confession? ›

Confess Your Sins to the Priest

The priest should welcome you kindly and warmly. Make the Sign of the Cross, and say these words: Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. This is my first confession.

What makes a good Catholic confession? ›

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.

Do you say Bless me Father for I have sinned? ›

Answer: The opening of confession with the expression “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned” is a widespread custom in the United States and in some other regions. In different parts of the world, there are other expressions used to begin the confession.

What prayer do you say before confession? ›

Prayer Before Confession

Come Holy Spirit, into my soul. Enlighten my mind that I may know the sins I ought to confess, and grant me your grace to confess them fully, humbly, and with a contrite heart. Help me to firmly resolve not to commit them again.

Can you receive communion if you don't go to confession? ›

The Catholic Church teaches that a person conscious of having committed a mortal sin must confess it before he or she receives Holy Communion (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1457).

How much time you wait after confessing feelings? ›

While men tended to consider confessions of love acceptable after about a month or so, women tended to say it was better to wait 2 to 3 months or so. Confessions of love generally inspired feelings of happiness, but men felt more positive about confessions that happened before the relationship became sexual.

What happens if you forget to confess a mortal sin? ›

Yes. If one through bad memory or nervousness forgets to confess a mortal sin, the person's confession is valid and all his or her sins will be forgiven. The person should, however, mention that forgotten sin in the next confession to receive advice and a proper penance.

How many times can you repent for the same sin? ›

There are two things to remember here: (1) God's mercy is indeed infinite, and (2) true repentance means forsaking your sins. On the one hand, because of the infinite Atonement of Jesus Christ, repentance is available to everyone, even those who have made the same mistakes many times.

How do you ask God for forgiveness if you keep sinning? ›

Jesus, I believe you love me. Please forgive me for my sins. Help me to be a better person. Amen.

Can sin be washed away? ›

Jesus came into this world for the purpose of seeking and saving sinners (Luke 19:10). God's plan of salvation through Jesus included His death on the cross where He shed His precious blood. It is His blood that washes away sin (Revelation 1:5b).

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.

How often should a Catholic 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.

Can there be Reconciliation without repentance? ›

Remember, the Bible teaches that all sin is against God and God alone. We may OFFEND a brother, or a girlfriend, or a son, but our SIN is always against GOD AND GOD ALONE. And, there can be no reconciliation with God without repentance, which is not simply being sorry for our sin but turning from our sin.

Is it a mortal sin to live together before marriage? ›

The Church's teaching on cohabitation is not an “arbitrary” rule. Living together before marriage is a sin because it violates God's commandments and the law of the Church.

Does watching Mass on TV count? ›

Watching Mass on TV is not the same as attending Mass and does not fulfill someone's Sunday/holy day obligation. However, if someone is unable to attend Mass, then there is no obligation to attend Mass.

Is it a sin to get a tattoo Catholic? ›

I'll cut to the chase: There is nothing immoral about tattoos. Mother Church has never condemned them, and neither can I. It is one of those areas where a Catholic must follow his or her conscience.

Can a Catholic be forgiven without confession? ›

Answer: Sacramental confession is normatively required for the forgiveness of mortal sins; it is not absolutely required. What this means is that, in extraordinary circumstances, mortal sins can be forgiven outside of sacramental confession.

Can a Catholic make a confession over the phone? ›

No, a penitent cannot confess and receive absolution by telephone. The teaching of the church is that the sacrament requires the physical presence of a priest. Among the practical reasons for this is that the seal of confession requires and guarantees absolute and strict confidentiality.

What do you say at the end of confession? ›

When you're done, conclude by saying “I'm sorry for these and all my sins.” Listen to the priest. When you're done confessing your sins, the priest may offer some guidance and suggest ways to avoid sins in the future. He'll then give you a penance, which could be a form of prayer, a service or some work of mercy.

What happens if a priest snitches? ›

Under Roman Catholic law, it is forbidden for a priest to disclose information — under any circumstances — obtained in the form of religious confession. If a priest breaks what's called "the sacred seal of confession," he will be subject to excommunication from the church.

Can a priest give absolution without hearing confession? ›

Can. 976 Even though a priest lacks the faculty to hear confessions, he absolves validly and licitly any penitents whatsoever in danger of death from any censures and sins, even if an approved priest is present.

What are examples of sins? ›

The seven 'deadly sins'
  • Sloth. One example of sloth is plagiarism. ...
  • Gluttony. While alcohol and substance abuse issues among students receive much attention, less attention is paid to such problems among faculty, said Franke. ...
  • Lust. ...
  • Greed. ...
  • Pride. ...
  • Envy. ...
  • Wrath.
1 Dec 2013

What are the 10 mortal sins? ›

These sins are vices and are defined as contrary to the Christian virtues of holiness. They are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth (acedia).

What do you say when 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."

What is the most committed sin? ›

According to a 2009 study by the Jesuit scholar Fr. Roberto Busa, the most common deadly sin confessed by men is lust and the most common deadly sin confessed by women is pride.

What are the two mortal sins? ›

These include apostasy (deliberate renunciation of the faith) and the desecration of the elements of the Eucharist. Mortal sins are contrasted with venial sins, which usually involve a less serious action and are committed with less self-awareness of wrongdoing.

Is it a sin to drink alcohol? ›

They held that both the Bible and Christian tradition taught that alcohol is a gift from God that makes life more joyous, but that over-indulgence leading to drunkenness is sinful.

What 3 conditions make a mortal sin? ›

Three conditions must together be met for a sin to be mortal: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent." The sin against the Holy Ghost and the sins that cry to Heaven for vengeance are considered especially serious.

How do you not get nervous when confessing feelings? ›

  1. Start With Subtle Actions. You don't have to lay yourself on the line all at once. ...
  2. Practice What You Want To Say. Although you probably shouldn't come prepared with a script, it helps to rehearse what you want to say to your crush before actually saying it. ...
  3. Give Them An Out. ...
  4. Try Not To Take It Personally.
11 Oct 2019

How do you confess without being awkward? ›

Don't shy away from it, like you're embarrassed. Make eye contact and smile flirtatiously when you see the person you're crushing on. Show an interest in what they do and what they are like. Try to get to know your crush as a friend first, before you confess anything.

How do you confess a unique way? ›

Add a comment...
  1. Sub-tweet it. via GIPHY. If your crush is following you on Twitter, then you can spill your tea out loud in an honest tweet. ...
  2. Tell it through a math problem. via GIPHY. ...
  3. Serenade it. via GIPHY. ...
  4. Ask them to "help" pick out a gift. via GIPHY.
14 Feb 2020

What is the most important part of confession? ›

The essential parts are that you confess your sins (especially any serious, grave or mortal sins) and the priest speaks the words of absolution over you. Next, the penitent makes the sign of the cross, which the priest may make also. For some reason, it seems many people don't know to make the sign of the cross.

What are the qualities of a good confession? ›

Qualities of a Good Confession
  • Complete Sincerity and Openness Even the holiest and wisest confessor cannot forcibly pour into the soul what he desires if it is not sincere and open. ...
  • Humility A soul does not benefit as it should from the sacrament of confession if it is not humble.


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