How to make a good confession in the catholic church

The basic requirement for a good confession is to have the intention of returning to God like the “prodigal son” and to acknowledge our sins with true sorrow before the priest.

Sin in my Life

Modern society has lost a sense of sin. As a Catholic follower of Christ, I must make an effort to recognize sin in my daily actions, words and omissions.

The Gospels show how important is the forgiveness of our sins. Lives of saints prove that the person who grows in holiness has a stronger sense of sin, sorrow for sins, and a need for the Sacrament of Penance or Confession.

The Differences in Sins

As a result of Original Sin, human nature is weakened. Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, takes away Original Sin, and turns us back toward God. The consequences of this weakness and the inclination to evil persist, and we often commit personal or actual sin.

Actual sin is sin which people commit. There are two kinds of actual sin, mortal and venial.

Mortal sin is a deadly offense against God, so horrible that it destroys the life of grace in the soul. Three simultaneous conditions must be fulfilled for a mortal sin: 1) the act must be something very serious; 2) the person must have sufficient understanding of what is being done; 3) the person must have sufficient freedom of the will.

Remember

If you need help especially if you have been away for some time simply ask the priest and he will help you by “walking” you through the steps to make a good confession.

Before Confession

Be truly sorry for your sins. The essential act of Penance, on the part of the penitent, is contrition, a clear and decisive rejection of the sin committed, together with a resolution not to commit it again, out of the love one has for God and which is reborn with repentance. The resolution to avoid committing these sins in the future (amendment) is a sure sign that your sorrow is genuine and authentic. This does not mean that a promise never to fall again into sin is necessary. A resolution to try to avoid the near occasions of sin suffices for true repentance. God’s grace in cooperation with the intention to rectify your life will give you the strength to resist and overcome temptation in the future.

Examination of Conscience

Before going to Confession you should make a review of mortal and venial sins since your last sacramental confession, and should express sorrow for sins, hatred for sins and a firm resolution not to sin again.

A helpful pattern for examination of conscience is to review the Commandments of God and the Precepts of the Church:

Have God and the pursuit of sanctity in Christ been the goal of my life? Have I denied my faith? Have I placed my trust in false teachings or substitutes for God? Did I despair of God’s mercy?

Have I avoided the profane use of God’s name in my speech? Have I broken a solemn vow or promise?

Have I honored every Sunday by avoiding unnecessary work, celebrating the Mass (also holydays)? Was I inattentive at, or unnecessarily late for Mass, or did I leave early? Have I neglected prayer for a long time?

Have I shown Christlike respect to parents, spouse, and family members, legitimate authorities? Have I been attentive to the religious education and formation of my children?

Have I cared for the bodily health and safety of myself and all others? Did I abuse drugs or alcohol? Have I supported in any way abortion, “mercy killing,” or suicide?

Was I impatient, angry, envious, proud, jealous, revengeful, lazy? Have I forgiven others?

Have I been just in my responsibilities to employer and employees? Have I discriminated against others because of race or other reasons?

Have I been chaste in thought and word? Have I used sex only within marriage and while open to procreating life? Have I given myself sexual gratification? Did I deliberately look at impure TV, pictures, reading?

Have I stolen anything from another, from my employer, from government? If so, am I ready to repay it? Did I fulfill my contracts? Did I rashly gamble, depriving my family of necessities?

Have I spoken ill of any other person? Have I always told the truth? Have I kept secrets and confidences?

Have I permitted sexual thoughts about someone to whom I am not married?

Have I desired what belongs to other people? Have I wished ill on another?

Have I been faithful to sacramental living (Holy Communion and Penance)?

Have I helped make my parish community stronger and holier? Have I contributed to the support of the Church?

Have I done penance by abstaining and fasting on obligatory days? Have I fasted before receiving communion?

Have I been mindful of the poor? Do I accept God’s will for me?

During Confession

After examining your conscience and telling God of your sorrow, go into the confessional. You may kneel at the screen or sit to talk face-to-face with the priest.

Begin your confession with the sign of the cross, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. My last confession was _______ weeks (months, years) ago.”

The priest may read a passage from holy Scripture.

Say the sins that you remember. Start with the one(s) that is most difficult to say. (In order to make a good confession the faithful must confess all mortal sins, according to kind and number.) After confessing all the sins you remember since your last good confession, you may conclude by saying, “I am sorry for these and all the sins of my past life.”

Listen to the words of the priest. He will assign you some penance. Doing the penance will diminish the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven. When invited, express some prayer of sorrow or Act of Contrition such as:

An Act of Contrition

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 ordained priest.

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.”

After Confession

Give thanks to God for forgiving you again. If you recall some serious sin you forgot to tell, rest assured that it has been forgiven with the others, but be sure to confess it in your next Confession.

Do your assigned Penance

Resolve to return to the Sacrament of Reconciliation often. We Catholics are fortunate to have the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is the ordinary way for us to have our sins forgiven. This sacrament is a powerful help to get rid of our weaknesses, grow in holiness, and lead a balanced and virtuous life.

How to make a good confession in the catholic church

How to make a Good Confession

Five Steps For a Good Confession

1. Examine your conscience.

2. Be sincerely sorry for your sins.

3. Confess your sins to a priest.

4. Resolve to amend your life.

5. After your confession, do the penance the priest assigns.

Procedure in the Confessional

You say: “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been – (state the length of time) since my last confession.(. ) These are my sins.”

Then tell your mortal sins and the number of times committed. If you have no mortal sin to confess, then confess the venial sins you have committed since your last confession. When you have finished telling your sins,

you should say: “For these and all the sins of my past, I am truly sorry.”

The priest now gives the necessary advice, assigns your penance and asks you to say the Act of Contrition .

An Act of Contrition

“O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pains of hell, 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 occasions of sin. Amen.”

Then wait and listen as the priest gives the absolution

Then say “Thank you, Father” ,

then leave the confessional and then perform the penance assigned by the priest.

The Differences in sins

There are two kinds of actual sin, mortal and venial. Mortal sin is a horrible offense against God, so horrible that it destroys the life of grace in the soul. Three simultaneous conditions must be fulfilled for a mortal sin:

(1) the act must be something very serious;

(2) the person must have sufficient understanding of what is being done;

(3) the person must have sufficient freedom of the will. So I cannot commit a mortal sin if the matter is not serious (e.g., if I stole a small amount of money from my employer), or if I did not know what I was doing (e.g., if I were to hurt someone accidentally or unthinkingly), or if I did not act with full freedom (e.g., I was under physical or emotional pressure). A Catholic should know well the difference between mortal and venial sins. Deliberately missing Sunday Mass without sufficient cause is to be considered a very serious mortal sin.

Examination of Conscience

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 (horoscopes or ouija boards) 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?

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 not kept Sunday as a family day and a day of rest? Do I do needless work on Sunday? Do I make others work on Sunday?

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? Do I respect my elders? Do I respect my pastor, bishop, and the Pope?

5. You shall not kill .

Have I had an abortion or encouraged anyone to have an abortion? Have I physically harmed anyone? Have I abused alcohol or drugs? Did I give scandal to anyone, thereby leading them into sin? Have I been angry or resentful? Have I harbored hatred in my heart? Have I been sterilized for reasons of birth control? Have I encouraged or condoned sterilization?

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 before marriage or outside of marriage? Have I used any method of contraception or artificial birth control? Has each sexual act in my marriage been open to the transmission of new life? Have I respected all members of the opposite sex, or have I thought of other people as objects? Have I been guilty of any homosexual activity? Do I seek to be pure in my thoughts, words and actions? Am I careful to dress modestly, so as not to tempt others? Have I been guilty of masturbation with myself.

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 or at 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?

8 . You shall not bear false witness .

Have I lied? Have I gossiped? Have I harmed someone’s reputation? Have I spoken behind someone else’s back? Am I critical, negative, or uncharitable in my thoughts of others? Do I keep secret what should be kept confidential?

9. You shall not desire your neighbor’s wife .

Have I consented to impure thoughts? Have I caused them by impure television, movies, books, magazines or internet? Do I pray at once to banish impure thoughts and temptations? Do I listen to, or engage in, impure conversations or jokes?

10. You shall not desire your neighbor’s goods .

Am I jealous of what other people have? Do I envy other people’s families or possessions? Am I greedy or selfish? Are material possessions the purpose of my life? Do I trust that God will care for all of my material and spiritual needs?

HOW TO GO TO CONFESSION: THE BASICS

There are variations in the way different priests celebrate the sacrament of confession, and they will sometimes introduce different prayers and scripture readings. Here is the traditional way of making a confession, which has the very basics of what we need to know and say. If you want to know more about the kind of life we should be living as Christians, and what sins we should be avoiding, see the ‘Examination of Conscience’ below.

General advice

Sometimes we get nervous about going to confession. But don’t let nerves or fear hold you back. However long it has been, however bad the sin, however embarrassed you feel – don’t let anything stop you from going to confession.

Remember that it is the Lord we meet in confession. Priests are all different; and some we like more than others. But what matters is the presence of Jesus in our life through the ministry of the priest, and not the personality of the priest. Christ touches our life through each priest, whoever he is; and every priest will keep your confession absolutely secret for the rest of his life.

Your local parish should have confessions at least once a week. It is also useful to know the times of confession at other churches nearby, or at churches near where you work or study. The diocesan Cathedral is often a good place to go to confession, with plenty of different times.

You have the right as a Catholic to go to confession ‘anonymously’, in a confessional where the priest cannot identify you. If your local parish does not have this, then if you prefer you can try and find confession at another parish that does.
Try to go regularly, perhaps every month.

Briefly examine your conscience at the end of each day, and make an act of contrition. In this way you will become more sensitive to what is really happening in your own life, and you will be more prepared and more honest as you come to confession.

Before confession

Spend a few minutes before your confession: Pray for God’s help and guidance; examine your conscience; remember any sins you have committed (write them down if it helps); pray for God’s forgiveness.

But don’t spend forever trying to remember every little sin (this can become an obsession that is called ‘scruples’) – ten minutes is probably a good amount of time; an hour is too long.

It is our duty to mention in confession all our serious (or ‘mortal’) sins; and we are encouraged to mention some of our other smaller (or ‘venial’) sins and everyday faults, but we don’t need to list every minor failure. Remember that all our venial sins are forgiven and forgotten whenever we pray for God’s forgiveness, and whenever we receive Holy Communion.

If you are not sure what to say or do, don’t worry – tell the priest, and ask him to help you as you begin.

In confession

Begin by saying: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” Then add: “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It is [state the length of time] since my last confession”. Then tell him very briefly what your ‘state of life’ is, to help him understand your situation; e.g. “I am at school studying for A-levels” or “I am a wife and mother”.

Now confess your sins. Be simple and straightforward. Just put into words what you have done wrong since you last went to confession. Don’t make excuses; but if it helps, say a little bit about what happened and why. When you have finished, say: “I am sorry for all these sins and the sins of my past life”.

The priest might then talk to you and give you some advice. He will give you a penance to do (a prayer or action that expresses your sorrow and your desire to put things right and live a new life).

The priest will then ask you to make an Act of Contrition. Say one you know, or use the following one: “O my God, because you are so good, I am very sorry that I have sinned against you; and I promise that with the help of your grace, I will not sin again. Amen.”

The priest then says the prayer of absolution, which is the moment when God forgives your sins. He may add some other prayers as well.

After confession

If it is possible now, do your penance in the church before you leave; e.g. if you have been asked to say a certain prayer, kneel down and say it now.

Pray for a moment in thanksgiving for the forgiveness you have received in this sacrament; and pray for God’s help to live a new life.

You might feel relieved and peaceful and full of joy. Or you might feel dry and empty. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we have been forgiven and been given new life. The Lord has touched us – even if we do not feel it. That knowledge should give us a kind of inner peace and joy, even if we don’t feel it.

If you forgot to mention something small, don’t get all worried. As long as we make an honest examination of conscience and do not deliberately conceal anything from the priest, we can trust in God’s forgiveness. If we remember, later on, any mortal sins from earlier in our life, we can bring them to our next confession.

AN EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE

An Examination of Conscience is simply a list of some of the ways that we can love God and our neighbour, and some of the ways we can fail to love through sin. Reflecting on an Examination of Conscience helps us to be honest with ourselves and honest with God. It is not meant to be a burden. It helps us to examine our lives, and to make a good confession, so that we can be at peace with Christ and with one another. The important thing, of course, is to love, and to live our Catholic faith with our whole heart. But now and then it is useful to spell out what this really means, and to make sure that we are not kidding ourselves.

This Examination of Conscience is not to be used every day, or even at every confession – we do not need to go through a checklist every time. It is here for us to look at every now and then. It is based around the Ten Commandments. As we reflect on it, we can ask the Lord to shine his light into our hearts. Some things will not apply to us; but if something in particular touches our conscience, then we can bring it to confession.

Above all, let us remember God’s mercy and his love for us. His love never fails or changes. He loves us passionately, with infinite kindness and tenderness. The only reason we remember our sins is so that we can turn to him and receive his forgiveness, and learn to love him in a new and deeper way.

Making a good or bad confession can depend on where you will spend your eternity, Heaven or Hell. So here is a list of suggestions to help you make a good, sincere Confession.

How to make a good confession in the catholic church1) Examination of Conscience. Before planning on going to confession, it is of utmost importance to find a Traditional Examination of Conscience. Then, take time and quietly and prayerfully go over the examination of Conscience. Write down all the sins you have committed. Take this with you. Here is a good examination of conscience: communityofhopeinc.org

2) Sincere Contrition. We need to work on truly being contrite for having sinned against God. That means we see that we were guilty of breaking God’s loving laws. We take full responsibility for having disobeyed God. We need to be very careful to not let any excuses cover over our sins. Many people always have a reason for why they sinned. So what, you still broke God’s law and are guilty. Grow up and take responsibility for your actions. Do not blame it on circumstances or other people. They will not be there when you are judged; just you and God.

3) Deep Sorrow. Once we are contrite and have taken responsibility for having sinned, we also need to work on a true and deep sorrow for having done the sin. This means meditating on the pains we caused for Jesus and the harm we have done to ourselves and to others when we sinned. The monks use to have a cry room. It was not for babies who cried. It was a room where they went and cried for having been so sinful and having crucified Jesus and hurt others. This is true sorrow.

How to make a good confession in the catholic church4) Firm Resolution to Sin No More. So, we are contrite, we are sorry, but now we need to do something about these easily worked up feelings. It is one thing to say I am sorry to someone after I have been caught or feel guilty. But it takes much more effort to stop doing what I have done against them. This is something that has to be diligently worked on. Before going to confess, be sure you have a firm resolution to change your way of living and especially in the area of your life that is displeasing to God.

5) Concrete Plans to Avoid the Occasion of Sin. If the internet is causing you to sin, you need to be willing to give up using the internet. If a person is tempting you to sin, (a few examples: to have sex, use drugs, drinking or gambling), that person has to be avoided. Many so called friends or family members are really instruments of the devil to get us to sin. Jesus says it is better to pluck out an eye, cut off a hand, or a foot rather than to be thrown into hell for all eternity. What ever it is that is causing you to sin, get rid of it (or the friendship).

6) Love for God and Fear of God’s Judgement. We should want to make a good confession because we love God. When we work on a loving friendship with God, we want to love Him, not hurt Him. So in our prayer life, working on true love of God, can really help us to please Him rather than to shun His loving life that is sustaining our souls. But if you can not stop sinning out of love, at least do it for fear of God’s judgement and damnation. Fear is better than remaining in a state of sin. When you have fear of God, you will clean up your soul in confession, even when it may be embarrassing. The devil always helps us forget about embarrassment when we are in the act of sinning. But as soon as we are in the line to confess, he makes sure to fill us back up with embarrassment so that we become afraid to confess or tell all the details of our shameful sins.

7) Do not Withhold Sins. A confession is not valid when we purposely withhold a sin because we are afraid to confess it. If, on the other hand, you forget to confess it by accident, your confession is still valid. Get every serious sin out. Start with the most embarrassing sins first. The rest will be much easier. You will be eternally happy you had the humility and guts to confess the most serious sins. You will feel a weight lifted of your shoulders and you soul as well. If you forget by accident, confess the sins the next time.

How to make a good confession in the catholic church 8) Be Aware That God is Very Merciful. When approaching the confessional, keep in mind that you are not approaching a mere man (the priest). No, you are approaching the God of Mercy and forgiveness. The priest is just His instrument like a telephone. You talk to God through the priest and God talks to you through the priest. But it is the Precious Blood of Jesus, poured out on the cross, that forgives your sins. But that depends on you being totally honest, truly sorry and have firm resolution to sin no more.

9) Confess Sins of Omission As Well. Many times we think that a sin is breaking one of God’s laws. But there are many sins of omission. This means not doing what we should have done. And example would be when parents failed to educate their children well in the Catholic Faith. When we have failed to help at church. When we have failed to help the poor.

10) Humility, Humility, and more Humility. Of all things that will help us to make a sincere, complete, sorrowful confession, it would have to be staying humble. The devil will try his best to keep you in pride so that you can not make a good confession. Before going to confession, reflect on Jesus’ and Mary’s humility. If we shove pride out of our souls and minds and let humility in, it will be so much easier to confess those shameful sins and be ready to stop sinning.

How to make a good confession in the catholic churchGod pours out graces on those who are sincerely sorry and honest through the great Sacrament of Confession. So we wake up to the reality that our souls are starving and not even able to eat pig’s slop, we get up, and walk back to Our Father’s house and pour out our soul in Confession. We are so blessed to be traditional Catholics and have God’s divine mercy so close to us in Holy Confession.

The original author of this blog passed away in July of 2016. RIP Father Carota.

Returning to the Sacrament of Reconciliation

Reconciliation (also known as Confession or Penance) is a sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ in his love and mercy to offer sinners forgiveness for offenses committed against God. In Reconciliation, we acknowledge our sins before God and his Church. We express our sorrow in a meaningful way, receive the forgiveness of Christ and his Church, make reparation for what we have done, and resolve to do better in the future.

FOUR STEPS TO RECONCILIATION

Step 1: Contrition

Contrition is “sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again.”

Step 2: Confession

The confession (or disclosure) of sins, even from a simply human point of view, frees us and facilitates our reconciliation with other

Step 3: Absolution

The priest speaks the words by which “God, the Father of Mercies” reconciles a sinner to himself through the merits of the Cross.

Step 4: Satisfaction

An important part of our healing is the “penance” the priest imposes in reparation for our sins.

How to make a good confession in the catholic church

STEP 1: CONTRITION

Confession is not difficult, but it does require preparation.

Before we enter the Confessional, we should begin with prayer. We should review our lives since our last confession, searching our thoughts, words and actions for that which did not conform to God’s command to love Him and one another through His laws and the laws of His Church. This is called an examination of conscience.

How to make an examination of conscience

Begin with a prayer asking for God’s help.

Review your life with the help of questions based on the Ten Commandments.

There are various types of examinations of conscience but regardless of which one you use to prepare yourself for the Sacrament it should be rooted in Scripture; particularly, the Ten Commandments and Beatitudes.
CLICK HERE for a few examples of Examinations of Conscience that can help you prepare for the Sacrament.

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.

Remember that God loves you – He wants to give you this free gift of His mercy and His love.

Listen to this homily – A priest reminds us about the amazing love of God in the confessional.

STEP 2: CONFESSION

Receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation

Enter the Confessional

The Sacrament of Reconciliation may be face-to-face or anonymous, with a screen between you and the priest. Choose the option that is the most comfortable for you.

Begin your confession

When you enter the confessional, the priest will give you a blessing or greeting. He may also share a brief Scripture passage. Make the Sign of the Cross and say, “Bless me Father for I have sinned, It has been [X days, weeks, years] since my last confession.”

Confess your sins

Confess all of your mortal sins to the priest in number and kind. Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father’s mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful.

After you have confessed all of your sins

Say “I am sorry for these and all of my sins.” The priest will then offer you advice to help you be a better Catholic, such as how to better work with the graces that God is giving you in your life, or ways to combat your weaknesses or habitual sin. He will then assign a penance.

Say an Act of Contrition

This is a way of expressing your sorrow for your sins.

Oh 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 they offend 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, do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.

The priest, acting in the person of Christ, then absolves you from your sins.

STEP 3: ABSOLUTION

Restoration of friendship with God

When the priest absolves you, he will say these words:

God, the Father of mercies,
through the death and the 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

For those who receive the sacrament of Penance with contrite heart and religious disposition, Reconciliation is usually followed by peace and serenity.

STEP 4: SATISFACTION

Completing the penance imposed by the priest

Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must “make satisfaction for” or “expiate” his sins.

This satisfaction is also called “penance.”

General Confession and Scrupulosity

Dear Father John: What is a general confession? And, under what circumstances should one make a general confession? Should a scrupulous person make a general confession?

Thank you for your question. I hope I can shed a little bit of light on the nature of general confession.

What “General Confession” Refers to

Usually, the term “general confession” refers to going to confession and confessing all the sins of one’s past life (or of an extended period, like the past year) instead of just those sins committed since one’s previous confession. Traditionally, making this kind of confession has been a recommended spiritual practice for moments of major life transition. For example, young people often make a general confession before professing religious vows or before being ordained to the priesthood. Some retreat directors will also recommend making a general confession when retreatants participate in serious retreats like the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

So that’s what the term traditionally refers to. But what’s the reason behind the tradition?

Why Make a General Confession?

The idea behind making a general confession is simple and profound.

Remember, the sacrament of reconciliation is meant to be a significant encounter with God’s mercy. At particularly poignant moments in our faith journey (like those mentioned above), preparing a general confession gives us a good opportunity to prayerfully reflect on our whole life history, and on how faithful God has been to us throughout that history even when we weren’t so faithful to him. Going over our whole past, or a significant chunk of that past, together with the Lord, is meant to bring us to a new appreciation of our need for God, of the abundance of his mercy, and of the depth of his care for us.

Another benefit sometimes accrues to this devotional practice as well. When we patiently take time to review all the sins of our past life in the presence of God, the Holy Spirit will often enlighten us regarding not only individual falls, but regarding patterns of sin and underlying attitudes that make us vulnerable to temptation. These insights can serve as a valuable guide as we prudently identify a path of spiritual growth for the future. In other words, making a general confession can be an effective way to grow in self-knowledge, such an essential element for spiritual progress.

What About Scrupulous People?

In general, I would not recommend people suffering from scruples to make a general confession. The exercise could easily exacerbate their own tendency to become obsessively preoccupied with their faults. But even for them, when the context is right and the explanation is thorough, making a general confession at important junctures can be useful.

A Less Precise Use

I should also mention that some people use the phrase “general confession” to refer to something the Church calls “general absolution.” This refers to extreme situations (going into battle, a ship or a plane going down, etc.) in which a priest will absolve a whole group of people from their sins instead of hearing their confessions one by one. In these cases, the priest will usually (if there is time and the conditions permit) ask all present to give some kind of sign of their repentance. This shared sign could be described loosely as a “general confession.” Even in these cases, however, the absolution only takes effect if the penitent intends to confess his mortal sins in a normal, private confession as soon as reasonably possible.

Thank you for question. God bless you! in Him, Fr John Bartunek, LC

Fr John Bartunek, LC, SThD
Do-It-Yourself Online Catholic Retreat Guides: www.RCSpirituality.org
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Art: Pietro Longhi [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons;

Making a good or bad confession can depend on where you will spend your eternity, Heaven or Hell. So here is a list of suggestions to help you make a good, sincere Confession.

How to make a good confession in the catholic church1) Examination of Conscience. Before planning on going to confession, it is of utmost importance to find a Traditional Examination of Conscience. Then, take time and quietly and prayerfully go over the examination of Conscience. Write down all the sins you have committed. Take this with you. Here is a good examination of conscience: communityofhopeinc.org

2) Sincere Contrition. We need to work on truly being contrite for having sinned against God. That means we see that we were guilty of breaking God’s loving laws. We take full responsibility for having disobeyed God. We need to be very careful to not let any excuses cover over our sins. Many people always have a reason for why they sinned. So what, you still broke God’s law and are guilty. Grow up and take responsibility for your actions. Do not blame it on circumstances or other people. They will not be there when you are judged; just you and God.

3) Deep Sorrow. Once we are contrite and have taken responsibility for having sinned, we also need to work on a true and deep sorrow for having done the sin. This means meditating on the pains we caused for Jesus and the harm we have done to ourselves and to others when we sinned. The monks use to have a cry room. It was not for babies who cried. It was a room where they went and cried for having been so sinful and having crucified Jesus and hurt others. This is true sorrow.

How to make a good confession in the catholic church4) Firm Resolution to Sin No More. So, we are contrite, we are sorry, but now we need to do something about these easily worked up feelings. It is one thing to say I am sorry to someone after I have been caught or feel guilty. But it takes much more effort to stop doing what I have done against them. This is something that has to be diligently worked on. Before going to confess, be sure you have a firm resolution to change your way of living and especially in the area of your life that is displeasing to God.

5) Concrete Plans to Avoid the Occasion of Sin. If the internet is causing you to sin, you need to be willing to give up using the internet. If a person is tempting you to sin, (a few examples: to have sex, use drugs, drinking or gambling), that person has to be avoided. Many so called friends or family members are really instruments of the devil to get us to sin. Jesus says it is better to pluck out an eye, cut off a hand, or a foot rather than to be thrown into hell for all eternity. What ever it is that is causing you to sin, get rid of it (or the friendship).

6) Love for God and Fear of God’s Judgement. We should want to make a good confession because we love God. When we work on a loving friendship with God, we want to love Him, not hurt Him. So in our prayer life, working on true love of God, can really help us to please Him rather than to shun His loving life that is sustaining our souls. But if you can not stop sinning out of love, at least do it for fear of God’s judgement and damnation. Fear is better than remaining in a state of sin. When you have fear of God, you will clean up your soul in confession, even when it may be embarrassing. The devil always helps us forget about embarrassment when we are in the act of sinning. But as soon as we are in the line to confess, he makes sure to fill us back up with embarrassment so that we become afraid to confess or tell all the details of our shameful sins.

7) Do not Withhold Sins. A confession is not valid when we purposely withhold a sin because we are afraid to confess it. If, on the other hand, you forget to confess it by accident, your confession is still valid. Get every serious sin out. Start with the most embarrassing sins first. The rest will be much easier. You will be eternally happy you had the humility and guts to confess the most serious sins. You will feel a weight lifted of your shoulders and you soul as well. If you forget by accident, confess the sins the next time.

How to make a good confession in the catholic church 8) Be Aware That God is Very Merciful. When approaching the confessional, keep in mind that you are not approaching a mere man (the priest). No, you are approaching the God of Mercy and forgiveness. The priest is just His instrument like a telephone. You talk to God through the priest and God talks to you through the priest. But it is the Precious Blood of Jesus, poured out on the cross, that forgives your sins. But that depends on you being totally honest, truly sorry and have firm resolution to sin no more.

9) Confess Sins of Omission As Well. Many times we think that a sin is breaking one of God’s laws. But there are many sins of omission. This means not doing what we should have done. And example would be when parents failed to educate their children well in the Catholic Faith. When we have failed to help at church. When we have failed to help the poor.

10) Humility, Humility, and more Humility. Of all things that will help us to make a sincere, complete, sorrowful confession, it would have to be staying humble. The devil will try his best to keep you in pride so that you can not make a good confession. Before going to confession, reflect on Jesus’ and Mary’s humility. If we shove pride out of our souls and minds and let humility in, it will be so much easier to confess those shameful sins and be ready to stop sinning.

How to make a good confession in the catholic churchGod pours out graces on those who are sincerely sorry and honest through the great Sacrament of Confession. So we wake up to the reality that our souls are starving and not even able to eat pig’s slop, we get up, and walk back to Our Father’s house and pour out our soul in Confession. We are so blessed to be traditional Catholics and have God’s divine mercy so close to us in Holy Confession.

The original author of this blog passed away in July of 2016. RIP Father Carota.

To make a good confession demands prior preparation. The better the prior preparation, the more abundant the graces and the more overflowing the river of peace in your soul.

Following are ten short helps to making a very good confession.

How to make a good confession in the catholic church

1. Upgrading the Reception. As Catholics two of the most important actions we can accomplish are to go to Confession and to receive Holy Communion. In these Sacraments we have a direct contact with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This being the case, we should make a concerted effort to improve our encounters with Jesus in these Sacraments. In other words we should never take these Sacraments for granted. Also be keenly aware of the concept of dispositive grace. The abundance of graces are received in direct proportion to the disposition of the recipient. On the walls in the sacristies of the Missionaries of Charity is written: “Say this Mass as if it were your first Mass, last Mass and only Mass.” We can apply the same principle: “Confess as if it were your first, last and only time.”

2. Prayers Before. All is grace! A source of abundant grace is the Communion of saints. Why not pray to the holy Confessors to help you to make a good confession. The following are a few: The Cure of Ars (Saint John Marie Vianney), St. John Bosco, St. Leonard of Port Maurice, Saint Leopold Mandic, Saint Padre Pio, Saint Francis Regis, Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Saint Anthony Claret, and Saint Ignatius of Loyola. “Get a little help from your friends (the saints).”Pray to them to help you to confess well — that each confession you make is better than your prior confession!

3. Prepare the Night Before. Have a good examination of conscience booklet. Find a quiet and contemplative place to examine your conscience. Utilize the crucifix and Divine Mercy image to elicit sorrow and trust. Written! Write down the sins so that you will not forget them once in the confessional! Also, pray for your confessor — to his guardian angel — before you enter the confessional!

4. Self-Knowledge. One of the classical steps to make a good confession is contrition but also firm purpose of amendment. This entails rewinding the film of your life and seeing the various falls into sin. But also to capture what were the preceding causes that led to the sin. Maybe it is a person that jeopardizes your spiritual life. Who knows maybe it is a recurring situation at work or family? Maybe it is your physical state of weariness? Still more, maybe it is some improper use of the electronics media and lack of prudence? You will notice often a pattern that is established that leads to the slippery path and collapse. For this reason the faithful observance of one’s daily examen can prove a valuable tool to know oneself and even supply for the necessary knowledge to avoid the near occasion of sin.

5. Biblical Passages to Prepare. The Church highly recommends the use of Sacred Scripture as a means to prepare us for a better reception of the Sacraments. Two excellent passages I would recommend: Lk. 15 and Psalm 51. Lk. 15 presents the Parables of God’s Mercy, and the greatest is the Parable of the Prodigal Son. By praying Psalm 51 you have one of the best “Act of Contritions” ever composed, by none other than King David after having committed adultery with Bathsheba and killing an innocent man. Praying with the Word of God adds extra power to one’s prayer!

6. Frequent Confession. The saints highly recommend frequent confession as a most efficacious means of growing in sanctifying grace. Confession either restores sanctifying grace or it augments it. Of course this presupposes a thorough preparation!

7. Sacramental Grace. Each sacrament communicates grace. However every sacrament communicates a specific grace pertinent to that specific sacrament. For example, the specific sacramental grace communicated in the Eucharist or Holy Communion is that of NOURISHMENT. It is the Bread of life for the journey on the way to eternal life. The Sacramental grace of Confession is different. It is HEALING! Jesus came to feed us with His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Furthermore, He came as Divine Physician. Time and time again in the Gospels we see Jesus healing. The blind, deaf, deaf-mute, lepers, paralytics, even the dead, were healed and brought back to life by Jesus. Even now within the context of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, Jesus heals us. The Sacraments of healing are the Sacraments of Confession and the Anointing of the Sick.

8. Qualities of a Good Confession. In the Diary of Saint Faustina the most important qualities of a good confession are highlighted in # 113: 1) complete sincerity and openness; 2) humility; 3) obedience. Adhering to these qualities one cannot go wrong! Reminder! We want to strive to make better Communions and Confessions until the end of our lives!

9. Avoid Discouragement. Even though one might fall frequently, never give in to discouragement. Some bad habits have possibly clung to us for decades. Many have a “Micro-wave” spirituality — namely instant holiness! It does not work that way! Change is often tedious, laborious and painful. The key is to keep praying, working, fighting as a true soldier of Christ to be liberated from the shackles of sin. Of course a key message from the Diary is that the worse thing possible is to fail to trust in God’s infinite mercy! As St. Paul reminds us, “Where sin abounds God’s mercy abounds all the more.”

10. Mary and Mercy. Never forget to invite Mary to be present in your remote preparation for Confession, your immediate preparation for Confession. Even ask Mary to enter with you into the Confessional so that you make the best confession in your life. Blessed Pope John Paul II called the Marian sanctuaries — Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe — “Spiritual clinics”. How true! Lines of penitents await to meet the merciful Jesus in the confessional in these Marian Sanctuaries. Among the many beautiful titles of Mary are the following: “Mother of Mercy, Mother of Good Counsel, Health of the sick.” Behind many powerful conversions is of course the grace of God but also the maternal intercession of Mary!

Father Ed Broom. “10 Tips for a Good Confession.” Catholic Exchange (April 4, 2014).

Reprinted with permission from the Catholic Exchange. The original article can be found here.

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