A GUIDE TO CONFESSION
FIVE STEPS TO A GOOD CONFESSION
PROCEDURE IN THE CONFESSIONAL
The priest may begin with a scripture reading. After he finishes you say:
“Bless me Father, in this confession it has been ------- (state the length of time) ------- since my last confession. I accuse myself of the following sins: --------.”
Then tell your mortal sins and the number of times committed. If you have no mortal sins to confess, the 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 life especially for my sins of --------, I am truly sorry.”
The priest now gives the necessary advise, assigns your penance and asks you to say the Act of Contrition (in some form). The wait and listen as the priest gives the absolution.
Then say: “Thank you, Father”, leave the confessional and perform the penance assigned by the priest.
AN 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.
THE DIFFERENCES IN SINS
There are two major kinds of sin: original and actual.
Actual sin is sin which people commit.
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 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 great physical or emotional pressure).
A Catholic should know well the difference between mortal and venial sins and, if mortal sins have been committed since the last confession, should identify them as mortal when confessing.
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 or have I been involved with the occult?
Do I surrender myself to God’s Word as taught by the Church?
Have I ever received Holy 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 on another 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 Sunday 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?
4. Honor your father and 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?
Have I had an abortion or encouraged anyone to have an abortion?
Have I physically harmed another?
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 mutilated myself through any form of sterilization?
Have I encouraged or condoned sterilization?
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 form of contraception or artificial birth control?
Has each sexual act in my marriage been open to the transmission of new life?
Have I been guilty of masturbation?
Have I sought to control my thoughts?
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 chaste in my thoughts, words and actions? Am I careful to dress modestly?
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 home?
Do I gamble excessively, thereby denying my family of needs?
Do I pay my debts promptly?
Do I seek to share what I have with the poor?
Have I lied?
Have I gossiped?
Have I spoken behind someone else’s back?
Am I sincere in my dealings with others?
Am I critical, negative, or uncharitable I my thoughts of others?
Do I keep secret what should be kept confidential?
Have I consented to impure thoughts?
Have I caused them by impure reading, movies, conversation, or curiosity?
Do I seek to control my imagination?
Do I pray at once to banish impure thoughts and temptations?
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?