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

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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?

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) How To Make A Good Confession - 10 Tips From A Priest

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?

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.


What makes a good confession? ›

Tell God how truly sorry you are for your sins. Make a firm resolution not to sin again. If you are unsure about how to confess or you feel uneasy Ask the priest to help you – This is what Father became a priest to do: to make us friends with God again. Place your trust in God – Our Heavenly Father is merciful.

What is the good rule to confess? ›

The basic requirement for a good confession is to have the intention of returning to God with your whole heart, like the prodigal son (in Luke 15), and to acknowledge your sins with true sorrow before the priest. Modern society has lost a sense of sin.

What are good confession questions? ›

Do I speak about the Faith, the Church, the saints, or sacred things with irreverence, hatred or defiance? Do I watch television or movies, or listen to music that treats God, the Church, the saints, or sacred things irreverently? Have I used vulgar, suggestive, or obscene speech? Do I behave disrespectfully in Church?

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 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 do you confidently confess? ›

Try to express your love genuinely and in a drama-free way. Remember, romantic gestures may not always be well received, and sometimes it can make the other person a little uncomfortable too. Be honest. Handwritten letters are the best and easiest way to confess your feelings to a loved one.

Why is confession so important? ›

Confession helps us realize we are sinners as much as anyone else. The important thing is we are truly sorry for our sins and seek forgiveness to lead a holier life in His divine light. Confession helps us grow emotionally and spiritually, teaching us how to accept and learn from our shortcomings.

What do you say at the end of confession? ›

5. When you finish confessing your sins, say: “…and I am truly sorry for all my sins.” 6. The priest will then give you some words of advice and/or encouragement to help you become a better person and a more faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.

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 is an example of a confession prayer? ›

Almighty God, we acknowledge and confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed; we have not loved you with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength; we have not loved our neighbor as ourselves. Deepen within us our sorrow for the wrong we have done, and the good we have left undone.

What is an example of confession? ›

Example Sentences

He confessed after being questioned for many hours. He willingly confessed his crime. I have to confess that I was afraid at first. I confessed my sins to the priest.

What is the power of confession? ›

When we confess, Christ absolves us of our sin! Absolution means that when we confess our sins, the gospel assures that our sins are forgiven. No priest on earth and no other human being can absolve you of your sins.

What is the value of confession? ›

Man has instinctual need to confess that which he perceives to be a wrong or an offense against himself, against fellowman, or against God. It is believed that man's sense of wholeness and integrity and his sense of community are impaired if wrongs are not confessed.

What are the benefits of confessing our sins? ›

When we confess our sins to God, he cleanses us from all unrighteousness through the blood of the lamb. God reminds us that we have the imputed righteousness of Christ. Confession is a time to remember that we stand before God in the grace of Jesus Christ.

How do you confess after a long time? ›

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.

What is the prayer said 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.

How do you calm down before confession? ›

  1. Take Advice. Before you do anything, it's always good to take advice from loved ones. ...
  2. Be Calm. It's important to be calm and composed as opposed to hyper and jumpy. ...
  3. Don't Mug It Up & Be Clear. ...
  4. Being Nervous Is Okay. ...
  5. Do Not Do It Over A Text. ...
  6. Don't Overthink It. ...
  7. A Small Gesture Can Make A Big Impact.
14 Feb 2019

What are words for confession? ›

Synonyms of confession
  • admission.
  • acknowledgment.
  • avowal.
  • assertion.
  • insistence.
  • declaration.
  • self-confession.
  • acknowledgement.

What do you say after you confess your love? ›

If you do need to say anything… well, the best thing is to say “hey, I realize things are a little awkward right now, but I want you to know, it's all good and I'm willing to power through the awkward if you are.” And then just drop the subject. If she ever wants to talk about it, she'll let you know.

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 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.

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.

How do I confess directly to God? ›

Confess your sins privately to Jesus.

We can approach God directly through Jesus Christ who is our once-for-all sacrifice and our eternal High Priest. Because of who Christ is and what he has done, we can go to God's throne with boldness to confess our sins and receive his mercy (Hebrews 4:16).

How do we confess our sins to God? ›

Pray. You confess sin to God through prayer, but you can also pray for the courage to confess to another person, and ask Him to help you see any other things you need to confess (Psalm 139:23-24).

What are the three types of confession? ›

After a description of the three sequential processes that are responsible for the elicitation of false confessions—misclassification, coercion, and contamination—the three psychologically distinct types of false confession (voluntary, compliant, and persuaded) are discussed along with the consequences of introducing ...

What is the true meaning of confession? ›

Confession [N] (1) An open profession of faith ( Luke 12:8 ). An acknowledment of sins to God ( Leviticus 16:21 ; Ezra 9:5-15 ; Daniel 9:3-12 ), and to a neighbour whom we have wronged ( James 5:16 ; Matthew 18:15 ). These dictionary topics are from.

What are the 5 steps to make a good confession? ›

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

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.

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.

What do I say in confession? ›

Confession: Confess all your sins to the priest. If you are unsure what to say, ask the priest for help. When you are finished, conclude with these or similar words: “I am sorry for these and all my sins.” Penance: The priest will propose an act of penance.

What are some examples of confessions? ›

Confession Guide for Adults
  • I am the Lord your God. ...
  • 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 against your neighbor.

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

When you finish confessing your sins, say: “…and I am truly sorry for all my sins.” 6. The priest will then give you some words of advice and/or encouragement to help you become a better person and a more faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.

How do you make a quick confession? ›

Going to Confession
  1. The priest gives a blessing or greeting.
  2. Make the Sign of the Cross and say, “Bless me father, for I have sinned. ...
  3. Confess all your sins to the priest. ...
  4. Say, “I am sorry for these and all my sins.”
  5. The priest gives a penance and offers advice to help you become a better Catholic Christian.


1. Making a Good Confession (Examining Your Conscience)
(Breaking In The Habit)
2. How to make a good Confession
(Syracuse Diocese)
(God Bless Fr.J.Corapi)
4. Making a Good Confession is Hard!
(Catholic Drive Time)
5. Going to Confession for the First Time in a Long Time
(Ascension Presents)
6. How to go to Confession | A Guide to Confession
(Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington)

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