Getting to Confession - Catholic Action For Faith and Family (2022)

Getting to Confession - Catholic Action For Faith and Family (1)

Any Lenten resolution should include a determination to deepen our love for the Sacrament of Penance, Confession, or Reconciliation. This is a Sacrament, instituted by Jesus Christ, to be used frequently in our life. It is the normal means for the forgiveness of our sins. The Church requires that we come to confess our mortal sins – according to the kind or species of sin and the number of the times we have fallen. Frequent reception of Confession is also an important means for growing in holiness. It imparts a sacramental grace that can assist us to grow in the virtues.

Getting to Confession - Catholic Action For Faith and Family (2)Because of a marriage situation outside the Church, a Catholic may be obstructed from receiving the Sacraments. But otherwise the requirements for Catholics going to Confession are simple: we must be a sinner; we must have sorrow for our offenses; and we must be open to the amendment of our life.

Prepare. We ready ourselves to receive the Sacrament by calling to mind the sins we have committed since our last worthy Confession. Begin by briefly asking God the Holy Spirit to help you know your sins. Pray for the grace of sorrow for your offenses against God and neighbor. There are many worthwhile pamphlets and aids that provide an “examination of conscience.” They might review the Ten Commandments; the Precepts of the Church; the Seven Capital or “deadly” Sins.

While this proximate examination for Confession is necessary and helpful, the best long-term help for making good Confessions, is a daily examination of conscience. Every day, perhaps at bed time, we should reflect on the day to see where we have failed in obedience to God’s law and in charity to our neighbor. Asking the help of the Holy Spirit, we can review the events of our day, or perhaps reflect on a list of our own personal weaknesses. We need only spend a few minutes to briefly accuse ourselves of these sinful acts and omissions, and to pray the Act of Contrition. The daily Examination of Conscience is perhaps the best help to make good Confessions.

Confess and Receive Absolution. Jesus entrusted the holy work of forgiving sins – on behalf of God and the Church – to the ordained priest. The Church ritually established this in the Sacrament of Confession. We must acknowledge our particular sins with honesty and completeness, as best we recall. We express our sorrow through some prayer of sorrow, an “act of contrition.”

Getting to Confession - Catholic Action For Faith and Family (3)In the most absolute secrecy, the priest sits in the place of Jesus, the Divine Physician, who hears our acknowledgement of sins and sorrow for them, and in Christ’s name and, through the ministry of the Church, offers the prayer of Absolution, granting “pardon and peace.”

(Video) How to Go to Confession

The priest, exercising the sacrament of Holy Orders, and with the “faculties” or jurisdiction of the bishop, applies the “power of the keys” to bind and loose. Jesus entrusted this grace-filled power to Peter, first of the Apostles, when he established the Church. The Successor of Peter extends it as He sees fit within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. With the absolution our sins are forgiven.

This is the real moment of mercy. We need not presume that we have been forgiven. We have that reassurance through the Church’s sacrament.

Assignment of a Penance. The priest imposes a “penance.” It could be a prayer or prayers, or he could ask us to fulfill some action of faith, hope, and/or charity - for the remission of the corporal punishment due to sin. The penance may be large or small. In light of the damage our sins may have caused, it may seem only a small token or sign of our turning back again to God. We are obliged to fulfill our assigned Penance.

Resolution of Repentance. True sorrow for our sins, and Sacramental forgiveness in confession, does not always take away the tendency or inclination we have to selfishness and sin. We often have built up bad habits, or vices, that make it difficult to change quickly. It is important to leave Confession with a good determination and, if possible, a strategy for avoiding a certain sin, or for strengthening our resolution to build up the habits of holiness in our life.

Getting to Confession - Catholic Action For Faith and Family (4)Jesus knew that we would need this Sacrament frequently. Lent may be a particularly important moment of grace to come to Confession. It is a wonderful thing when families come to church together so that each one can use this Sacrament. Putting your trust in Him and in His grace and mercy, resolve to use Confession frequently – once a month or more - as a vehicle to strengthen and fortify your resolve to love Our Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength; to love our neighbor for His sake.

From PAENITEMINI, the Apostolic Constitution on Penance, by Blessed Pope Paul VI, February 17, 1966

“…Since the Church is closely linked to Christ, the penitence of the individual Christian also has an intimate relationship of its own with the whole ecclesial community. In fact, not only does he receive in the bosom of the Church through baptism the fundamental gift of ‘metanoia,’ but this gift is restored and reinvigorated, through the sacrament of penance, in those members of the Body of Christ who have fallen into sin. ‘Those who approach the sacrament of penance receive from the mercy of God forgiveness for offenses committed against Him and at the same time become reconciled with the Church on which they have inflicted a wound by sinning, and the Church cooperates in their conversion with charity, example and prayer.’ And in the Church, finally, the little acts of penitence imposed each time in the sacrament become a form of participation in a special way in the infinite expiation of Christ to join to the sacramental satisfaction itself every other action he performs, his every suffering and sorrow.”

Getting to Confession - Catholic Action For Faith and Family (5)

(Video) Q&A on Confession - Dallas Conference Full Talk

Confession Guide for Adults


1.I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods before Me.
-Do I give God time every day in prayer?
-Do I seek to love Him with my whole heart?
-Have I been involved with superstitious practices or have I been involved with the occult?
-Do I seek to surrender myself to God´s word as taught by the Church?
-Have I ever received communion in the state of mortal sin?
-Have I ever deliberately told a lie in Confession or have I withheld a mortal sin from the priest in Confession?
-Are there other "gods" in my life? Money, Security, Power, People, etc.?

2.You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

-Have I used God´s name in vain: lightly or carelessly?
-Have I been angry with God?
-Have I wished evil upon any other person?
-Have I insulted a sacred person or abused a sacred object?

3.Remember to keep holy the Lord's Day.
-Have I deliberately missed Mass on Sundays or Holy Days of Obligation?
-Have I tried to observe Sunday as a family day and a day of rest?
-Do I do needless work on Sunday?

(Video) I Confess

4.Honor your father and your mother.
-Do I honor and obey my parents?
-Have I neglected my duties to my spouse and children?
-Have I given my family good religious example?
-Do I try to bring peace into my home life?
-Do I care for my aged and infirm relatives?

Getting to Confession - Catholic Action For Faith and Family (6)5.You shall not kill.
-Have I had an abortion or encouraged or helped anyone to have an abortion?
-Have I physically harmed anyone?
-Have I abused alcohol or drugs?
-Did I give scandal to anyone, thereby leading him or her into sin?
-Have I been angry or resentful?
-Have I harbored hatred in my heart?
-Have I mutilated myself through any form of sterilization?
-Have I encouraged or condoned sterilization?
-Have I engaged, in any way, in sins against humanlife such as artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization?
-Have I participated in or approved of euthanasia?

6.You shall not commit adultery.
-Have I been faithful to my marriage vows in thought and action?
-Have I engaged in any sexual activity outside of marriage?
-Have I used any method of contraception or artificial birth control in my marriage?
-Has each sexual act in my marriage been open to the transmission of new life?
-Have I been guilty of masturbation?
-Do I seek to control my thoughts and imaginations?
-Have I respected all members of the opposite sex, or have I thought of other people as mere objects?
-Have I been guilty of any homosexual activity?
-Do I seek to be chaste in my thoughts, words,actions?
-Am I careful to dress modestly?

7.You shall not steal.
-Have I stolen what is not mine?
-Have I returned or made restitution for what I have stolen?
-Do I waste time at work, school, and home?
-Do I gamble excessively, thereby denying my family of their needs?
-Do I pay my debts promptly?
-Do I seek to share what I have with the poor?
-Have I cheated anyone out of what is justly theirs, for example creditors, insurance companies, big corporations?

8.You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
-Have I lied? Have I gossiped?
-Do I speak badly of others behind their back?
-Am I sincere in my dealings with others?
-Am I critical, negative or uncharitable in my thoughts of others?
-Do I keep secret what should be kept confidential?
-Have I injured the reputation of others by slanders?

9.You shall not desire your neighbor's wife.
-Have I consented to impure thoughts?
-Have I caused them by impure reading, movies, television, conversation or curiosity?
-Do I pray at once to banish impure thoughts and temptations?
-Have I behaved in an inappropriate way with members of the opposite sex: flirting, being superficial, etc.?

10.You shall not desire your neighbor's goods.
-Am I jealous of what other people have?
-Do I envy the families or possessions of others?
-Am I greedy or selfish?
-Are material possessions the purpose of my life?


(Video) Confession is a Place of Victory

How to go to Confession:

Getting to Confession - Catholic Action For Faith and Family (7)1. You always have the option to go to confession anonymously, that is, behind a screen or face to face, if you so desire.

2. After the priest greets you in the name of Christ, make the sign of the cross. He may choose to recite a reading from Scripture, after which you say: "Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been (state how long) since my last confession. These are my sins."

3. Tell your sins simply and honestly to the priest. You might even want to discuss the circumstances and the root causes of your sins and ask the priest for advice or direction.

4. Listen to the advice the priest gives you and accept the penance from him. Then make an Act of Contrition for your sins.

5. The priest will then dismiss you with the words of praise: "Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. You respond: "For His mercy endures forever." The priest will then conclude with:"The Lord has freed you from your sins. Go in peace." And you respond by saying: "Thanks be to God."

6. Spend some time with Our Lord thanking and praising Him for the gift of His mercy. Try to perform your penance as soon as possible.

Getting to Confession - Catholic Action For Faith and Family (8)PRAYER BEFORE CONFESSION
O most merciful God! Prostrate at Your feet, I implore Your forgiveness. I sincerely desire to leave all my evil ways and to confess my sins with all sincerity to You and to Your priest. I am a sinner, have mercy on me, O Lord. Give me a lively faith and a firm hope in the Passion of my Redeemer. Give me, for Your mercy's sake a sorrow for having offended so good a God. Mary, my mother, refuge of sinners, pray for me that I may make a good confession. Amen.

(Video) Q&A With Cardinal Raymond Burke - Dallas Conference Full Talk


A Confession Guide for Adults from the National Catholic Register, a service of EWTN

Getting to Confession - Catholic Action For Faith and Family (9)


What do you say when you go to confession Catholic? ›

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.

How do you profess your faith when you go to confession? ›

I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and amend my life. Amen. 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.

What do you say when you walk into confession? ›

-How do I go to confession?-

You may then begin your confession with these or similar words: “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been (give weeks, months, or years) since my last confession.” Confession: Confess all your sins to the priest. If you are unsure what to say, ask the priest for help.

What are the three things required for a Catholic confession to be valid? ›

Conclusion. In sum, true sorrow for sin along with a desire to amend one's life, confession of number and kind (for all mortal sins – not necessary for venial), and the intention to perform the penance imposed by the priest are all required for valid matter.

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 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.

What is the first thing you say in 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 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.

How can you profess your faith through actions? ›

Here are some ideas that may help you get started:
  1. Receive the Sacraments. ...
  2. Limit your TV time. ...
  3. Pray for someone who has wronged you. ...
  4. Don't gossip, and stand up for someone. ...
  5. Donate used clothes, toys, kitchen items, canned food, whatever to charity, and do so with a heart for Christ. ...
  6. Read the Bible.
14 May 2012

What is an example of a confession? ›

I sincerely desire to leave all my evil ways and to confess my sins with all sincerity to you and to your priest. I am a sinner, have mercy on me, O Lord. Give me a lively faith and a firm hope in the Passion of my Redeemer. Give me, for your mercy´s sake a sorrow for having offended so good a God.

How do you say a good confession? ›

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.

Do you say act of contrition out loud during confession? ›

Saying the act aloud helps a priest know you are contrite or disposed to receive the sacrament, but he may not need to hear it in order to know you are truly sorry for your sins. He may instruct you to say the act of contrition after you have left the confessional or not say it at all.

What invalidates the sacrament of confession? ›

Thus, lack of at least imperfect contrition (fear of punishment) invalidates the absolution of the sacrament, as does lack of an integral confession (holding out sins which one is obliged to confess - mortal sins, in number and kind), and the deliberate intention not to do penance for one's sins.

How often does a Catholic need to go to confession? ›

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that one must confess serious sins at least once a year (CCC 1457). One can commit a serious sin without it being a mortal sin.

What makes a confession invalid in court? ›

A confession can serve as powerful evidence of a suspect's guilt, but criminal defendants have a constitutional right against self-incrimination. An involuntary confession that was coerced by a police officer cannot be used against a defendant in court, regardless of whether it was true.

What sins cant be forgiven by a priest? ›

And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come." The same idea that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable is found in Luke 12:10 and Mark 3:29.

Can I bring a list of sins to 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 Catholics still need to go to confession? ›

Each of the faithful who have reached the age of reason is bound to confess his or her mortal sins at least once a year and always before receiving Holy Commuion. Any Catholic who thinks that the Sacrament of Penance is optional, or that he or she does not need to ever go to Confession, is seriously mistaken.

What are the 7 mortal sins Catholic Church? ›

"I think it's to remind people that sins are not just individual," he says referring to the Catholic church's old seven deadly sins — lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride.

Can a divorced Catholic receive Communion? ›

May a divorced Catholic receive Holy Communion? Yes. Divorced Catholics in good standing with the Church, who have not remarried or who have remarried following an annulment, may receive the sacraments.

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.

What are the three important things to remember to make a good confession? ›

Pray often before a Confession.

You want to be honest and repentant. Say a prayer to the Holy Spirit to guide you and help you remember and feel true contrition for your sins.
Make an examination of conscience.
  • When did I last go to confession? ...
  • Did I make any special promise to God last time?

What are the three qualities of a good confession? ›

According to # 210 in the Baltimore Catechism, the 3 chief qualities of a good confession are: - being humble during one's confession, - being sincere, - doing an entire confession, not intentionally omitting some sins.

What prayers are said before confession? ›

Come, Holy Spirt, enlighten my mind that I may clearly see all my sins. Let me not be deceived by self-love, but show me the true state of my conscience. Move my will to sincere sorrow; help me to make a good confession. Holy Mother of God, intercede for me that I may obtain the pardon of my sins.

What is considered an impure thought? ›

Impure or forbidden thoughts include sexual fantasies, violence against others or ourselves, cheating, divorce, rape, and other behaviors that we think of as the worst possible things we could do or have happen to us.

How do you confess your impure thoughts? ›


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 are the three types of confessions? ›

The Different Types of False Confession
  • Voluntary False Confessions. Kassin and Wrightsman33 initially defined a voluntary false confession as one that is offered in the absence of police interrogation. ...
  • Compliant False Confessions. ...
  • Persuaded False Confessions.

How do I commit my actions to God? ›

Truly committing our decisions—and lives—to God means taking a step back from what we think we want and honestly contemplating what God wants us to do. It means taking our successes, failures, plans, and questions to God in prayer every single day—not just “the big stuff”.

Can faith be an action? ›

In the biblical sense, faith is a verb, an action verb. In the 11th chapter of Hebrews, the author lists a number of familiar examples of faith in action from Abraham and Sara to Moses, Samson, Samuel and David. Without their faith in action where would the world be today?

What are the 5 steps of faith? ›

The Five Steps are:
  • Who or what is God?
  • Who was Jesus?
  • The Cross - a tragic mistake?
  • Resurrection - can you believe it?
  • Holy Spirit - presence and power?

What does a good confession look like? ›

A good confession is the fruit of prayer to God, begging the grace to want to change, to want to leave our sins behind, to want to hand our sins to God and never seek to take them back.

How do you make a general confession? ›

A. On entering the confessional we should kneel, make the sign of the Cross, and say to the priest, "Bless me, father"; then add, "I confess to Almighty God and to you, father, that I have sinned." Q.

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.

Is it OK to bring notes to confession? ›

Some also bring written notes with them. The only potential problem with that is that the light is often low in traditional confessionals, and this sometimes makes reading a written text difficult. The point, however, is that you ought not be anxious about bringing some form of written reminder with you to confession.

Should you thank a priest after confession? ›

9. DISMISSAL: The priest will conclude the sacrament, often saying, “Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace.” You can thank the priest.

What are some examples of venial sins? ›

For instance, if one were to steal small amounts of property from a particular person, over time one would have stolen enough that it would develop into a serious theft from that person. In all this, one ought not to take venial sin lightly, especially when committed deliberately.

What happens if we deliberately withhold a sin in confession? ›

If a person withholds confessing a venial sin, he would still be validly absolved.

Can a priest ever break confession? ›

The current code of canon law states: "The sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore it is absolutely forbidden for a confessor to betray in any way a penitent in words or in any manner and for any reason."

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.

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 if I dont go to confession? ›

The pope said his response would be, “Do what the Catechism (of the Catholic Church) says. It is very clear: If you cannot find a priest to confess to, speak directly with God, your father, and tell him the truth. Say, 'Lord, I did this, this, this. Forgive me,' and ask for pardon with all your heart.”

Under what circumstances the confession Cannot be admitted in evidence? ›

Under sec. 25, a confession made to a police officer under any circumstances is not admissible in the evidence against him. Sec. 26 provides next that no confession made by a prisoner in custody even to a person other than a police officer is admissible unless made in the immediate presence of a magistrate.

How do you prove coerced confession? ›

The most common include: Perceived or real intimidation by law enforcement. Perceived or real use of force by law enforcement during an interrogation. The suspect no longer has the ability to think rationally due to stress, exhaustion, hunger, and even mental limitations.

Does confessing reduce sentence? ›

In criminal law, the confession of a criminal offense, under certain conditions, can constitute a mitigating circumstance in terms of sentencing.

How do you say the Catholic 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 they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.

Can I make up my own act of contrition? ›

If you have the creativity, you can make up your own act of contrition if you wish, as long as it has the three elements mentioned above. An act of contrition is an expression to God of the sorrow of the penitent.

Can I say my own act of contrition? ›

Strictly speaking there is no one formula that a penitent must recite. The person may use their own words, or use a traditional act of contrition. The important part is that the individual has a “sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again.”

What is contrition in simple words? ›

/kənˈtrɪʃ. ən/ a very sorry or guilty feeling about something bad you have done, or the act of showing that you feel like this: He feels no contrition for what he did.

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.

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.

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”)


1. The Way of Mercy: Catholics On The Journey Of Reconciliation
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2. Good Morning Offering Prayer Song
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3. Adult Faith Formation | Examination of Conscience: Preparing for the Sacrament of Reconciliation
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4. 5 Things You Should Never Say To A Priest | The Catholic Talk Show
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