How to make a good confession, where to start, which are the sins, what should I do when I come to church for confession?
We would like to help you make a confession a regular part of your everyday life. Read the article until the end and take this important decision to confess regularly.
What is a Confession or Sacrament of Reconciliation?
Confession is 50 % forgiveness and 50 % divine grace of the Holy Spirit, for us to be able to grow.
Be careful, living without temptation is a dry land, the temptations and going over them, means to live your life in fullness. We mustn’t fight the temptations, but manage them, control them.
You should be determined to improve to become better, even if you will fall, desire to become better is important.
Don’t be afraid of repeating of your sins. Don’t forget God is merciful, beyond our imagination. We are those who don’t allow mistakes and are quick to condemn.
Picture yourself a wobble chair. To balance it, you have to put something under it. Every confession is a small leaf under the leg of the chair. And eventually the leaves stack up. And bring the chair into proper balance. This is the purpose of the confession.
And eventually it will change the balance to the good side. And you won’t repeat the sins. We must not give up if we fail and repeat them. Image your home garden, you have to pick the weed constantly.
In order to make a good confession, we need to do all parts of the sacrament of the Holy Confession properly, namely:
- Prayer before the Examination of conscience – A good start is important
- The Examination of conscience
- Seven sins
- Sincere repentance – Be honest
- The Decision to no longer sin – Let Jesus help you, you are not alone.
- The Act of Holy Confession
- The Act of Contrition
- What’s next?
Note: If you just want to skip to the guide on how you can do a confession, go here and get it.
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We always have to ask ourselves: Is God in the first place in our lives?
Prayer before the Examination of conscience
First of all you should thank our Lord for the Sacrament of Confession. It is good to pray to the Holy Spirit to enlighten us and our conscience so that we can make a good confession and pray for the priest who will confess us. Do it with your own words.
We need to honestly reveal our sins to the priest. Therefore, well before the Holy Confession, you should thoroughly examine your conscience in order to remember the sins you have committed.
Honestly ask yourself, do you enter to the sacrament of the confession with a true desire to cleanse your soul and to get a new life? To convert and to deepen your friendship with God? Or is my confession a habit without the true desire to become a better person?
- Do I sincerely regret my sins committed, do I cry over the fact that I have offended God, my neighbor, and myself, and that my sins are ruining my life?
- Do I sincerely reject every sin and decide I will no longer sin or think to continue to sin even after my confession?
If there is no sincere regret and the decision to no longer sin, and if we deliberately hold some serious sin for ourselves, the confession is not valid and our sins are not forgiven. So we do another great sin, that is, we are making a sacrilege of confession and without the true intention we receive the sacrament of Christ.
Holy confession is conversion and renunciation of every, even the smallest sin, and full commitment to Christ and life in his love and grace. Ask yourself:
- When was the last time went to a confession?
- Did I forget or deliberately not told to the priest my sins?
- Did I made the penance?
- Do I live a long time in a state of sin and therefore I am without will and energy in my life.
It is good to go to the confession at least on time per month and every Sunday to the Holy Mass and official feasts.
What does the official Catechism of Catholic Church say about Confession?
1423 It is called the sacrament of conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus’ call to conversion, the first step in returning to the Father5 from whom one has strayed by sin.
It is called the sacrament of Penance, since it consecrates the Christian sinner’s personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction.
1424 It is called the sacrament of confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament. In a profound sense it is also a “confession” – acknowledgment and praise – of the holiness of God and of his mercy toward sinful man.
1461 Since Christ entrusted to his apostles the ministry of reconciliation,65 bishops who are their successors, and priests, the bishops’ collaborators, continue to exercise this ministry. Indeed bishops and priests, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, have the power to forgive all sins “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
If you need a motivation read a good book about saint like St Padre Pio, St Leopold Mandic, two of the priests who spent their lives in the confessional booths. St Faustina Kowalska on the importance of a good priest for a confession.
Examination of Conscience or list of Sins for Confession
NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME
- Is God in the first place in my life?
- Do I have other Gods in my life, like money, material wealth, career, honor, good reputation?
- Are my idols actors, singers, sportsman, politicians, or are my idols TV, PC, Smartphone, social media, social profiles. Am I an idol for myself?
- Am I superstitious? Do I believe that black cat and number 13 will bring me bad luck? Do I knock on the wood for bad things not to happen?
- Do I believe that good luck charms will bring me luck, four leaf clover, etc…?
- Do I gamble or play the lottery?
- Do I go to gurus, practice yoga, voodoo, go to fortune tellers, astrologists, palm readers, check coffee grounds, do I go to spiritual seances, call the dead, do black magic?
- Do I practice transcend meditation, Yoga, Hare Krishna, oriental sects?
- Am I a member of a party which relativize the truth, has an ideology or beliefs contra catholic church?
- Do I hang out with people who mock God and promote anti-Catholic faith?
- Did I had or have doubts about the catholic Creed?
- Do I give to the Lord enough of my time? Prayer, reading of the Holy Bible, or am I lazy and not interested?
NOT TAKE THE LORD’S NAME IN VAIN
- Did I coursed the Lord, Holy Virgin Mary, saints? Did I say their names in anger without respect?
- Do I swear, speak vulgar words and with that offend God, my friends and my soul?
- Do I watch shows or programs where vulgar words are spoken and promoted?
- Do I speak a lot about hell and the devil?
- Do I blame God for the bad things in my life and accuse Him all the time?
REMEMBER THE SABBATH DAY
- Did I skip a Holy Mass on Sunday and feast of the church because of my laziness, forgetfulness? Do I often come late to the Holy Mass or misbehave?
- Do I believe the true Jesus Christ is under the Images of bread and wine?
- Do I frond upon religious acts such as the Way of the Cross, Rosary, Litanies, Angelus,…?
- Do I work for profit on Sunday? Or have Sundays dedicated to Jesus Christ, my family and friends.
HONOR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER
- How do I act in my family?
- Do I try to work for happiness and good in my family?
- Do I talk with everyone, am I often away from my home?
- Did I always respected my parents, helped them when needed?
- Did I hurt them, emotionally or physically? Neglected them?
- Do I pray for the decided members of my family?
- Did I neglect Christian raising of my children? Am I a good model for my children on how to be a good catholic?
- Do I have any unsorted things with my relatives?
- Did I mock the priests, bishops, church and spoke bad things about them?
- Did I take part in activities where the topic was anti-life anti-faith?
THOU SHALT NOT KILL
- Did I offend, coursed, or beaten up someone? Am I misbehaving towards my neighbors?
- Am I envious, do I wish bad things to someone, am I jealous, do I hate someone, or took revenge? Maybe I do not let myself to forgive?
- Did I commit or advised an abortion?
- Did I killed someone or tried to commit murder or try to kill myself?
- Did I misused alcohol, food, drugs and cigarettes?
- Did I spent my days in bars, pubs, parties, in front of the TV and internet?
- Was my bad driving cause for an accident or danger for human life?
- Did I neglect my responsibilities and help in my family?
- Did I neglect order and good manners in my family?
- Did I skip to help the needed in crises?
THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY AND THOU SHALT NOT COVET (NEIGHBOUR’S WIFE)
- Did I deliberately had sinful thoughts, desires and looks?
- Did I support or helped others to make adultery, by bad example?
- Have I committed an adultery, do I make a sin of masturbation?
- Did I make a sin of having intercourse with a person of the same gender?
- Do I read books, magazines or watch movies with sexual content or encouraged others to do the same?
- Did I visit brothels, worked in prostitution?
- Have I been unfaithful to the spouse in any manner (with words, thoughts or desires)?
- Did I act in intimate relations with my spouse in an egoistic way?
THOU SHALT NOT STEAL
- Did I stole something, what was the worth of it? Did I kept a stolen thing?
- Did I cheat someone in my business?
- Did I made damage to someone and did not compensate for it?
- Did I neglected to pay my debts?
- Did I received a bribe?
- Do I have a company and do not pay my workers a just full pay?
THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS AGAINST THY NEIGHBOUR
- Did I lied?
- Have my lies made damage to someone?
- Have I made wrongly testimonies?
- Have I been dishonest, made quick judgments?
- Have I been falsely humble?
- Have I confessed and went to the Holy Mass in Easter time?
- Did I went to the Holy Mass while I was still in deep sin?
- Did I withheld some sin in previous confessions?
- Did I neglect the sacraments and easily apologized myself?
Love your neighbor as you love yourself
- Do I love my close ones no matter how they look, their differences, status, and gender? Do I try to be friends and in union with them?
- Was I friendly with everyone, especially to the poor, older, sick, weak ones? Do I work for peace with everyone?
- Do I try to immediately forgive and forget?
- Do I serve or wait to be served?
- Do I forget about myself so I can seek Christ in others and constantly fight against my ego?
- Do I seek admiration, glory and reject criticism, suggestions?
- Do I think am I the smartest one in every matter?
- Was I eager to get the first place (in school, in job, to power, in politics)?
- Did I humiliate others?
- Have I always just worked for myself and my ego? Did I neglect to go beyond my selfishness and forget to open my heart to others? Did I misuse my talents?
- Do I constantly cry about my life, relations, work?
- Do I believe in the Gods providence?
- Do I show dignity in my sexual life or do I have a mentality that everything is allowed?
- Did I neglect the truth that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and it does not belong to me, and that every sin, smudges the body of Christ and the church?
- Am I angry because others have more than me?
- Am I jealous, envious to my brothers, relatives, friends, neighbors, coworkers?
- Did I fake love or friendship to get some material or other benefits?
- Did I made damage to my body with excessive drinking, eating and smoking?
- Are drinks and meals so important to me that the Holy Mass, bible and prayer are neglected because of that?
- Have I lost temper in my family, with coworkers and friends? Have I neglected to show respect to everyone?
- Did I cursed someone on the street, while driving?
- Was I angry on God for something that was happening to me?
- Was my laziness the reason to neglect my duties as a husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, friend, citizen?
- Am I content to live in my laziness?
- Have I neglected prayer, sacraments, because my lack of willpower?
So when you finish the examination of conscience think how much you offended and are responsible for suffering of the Christ. Do you think that God has sent his only son on earth and then on the cross for you:
- Bigger paycheck
- Your next summer trip
- Good-looking spouse
- Lottery win
- Nice gadgets.
It is our strong desire, to sin no more. If the decision is missing, it means no repentance, no pain, and no forgiveness.
Going to Confession – How to actually do it and what to say to the priest in Confession?
Go to your local church or on a pilgrimage. For instance Our Lady of Fatima sanctuary with their 32 confessional booths. When we went to Medjugorje, there were literally hundreds of people waiting in the line to go to the confession. We have written about it in Where is Medjugorje article. So check when the confession is, usually it’s on their website or on the billboard of the church. But often is before or during the Holy Mass.
Where are the confessional booths? At the side, on the left or the right of the nave of the church.
Sometimes there is a line of people for the confession (usually on First Saturday devotions or bigger feasts.)
The booths have sometimes signals, to say that the confessional booth is empty or occupied, green or red light.
Nearby are probably leaflets, where are all the prayers, act of contrition, etc. But don’t worry we have a PDF guide for you at the end to print out and to take it with you.
When it’s your turn, it goes like this:
You enter the booth and the priest begins 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 you 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.
Everything that you have written down in your examination of your conscience, you say to the priest. After this, the priest will generally give some advice and impose you penance.
Penance consist in the work we are given by the priest for the sins that we have confessed. It has to be done properly. And as soon as possible.
The catechism says the spiritual effects of the sacrament of Penance are:
– reconciliation with God by which the penitent recovers grace;
– reconciliation with the Church;
– remission of the eternal punishment incurred by mortal sins;
– remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin;
– peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual consolation;
– an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle
Act of contrition
Then he will ask you to make an act of contrition. Again in your own words, or you may say one of many memorized acts of contrition like the following:
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. But most of all because I have offended you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life. Amen.
At the end of Confession listen to the words of absolution, the sacramental forgiveness of the Church through the priest.
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.
As you listen to the words of forgiveness you may make the sign of the cross with the priest. If he closes by saying, “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good,” answer, “For His mercy endures forever.”
When you come out from the confession booth, stay sometime in the church, and do the penance if it’s a prayer or a decade of rosary. A then go back in your life. Your sins are forgiven, there is a new you. Don’t forget, God loves you! Show it in your life!
Here is a PDF confession guide for you. Download it and use it! Give us your feedback how it went and inspire others to do the same!