There are many misunderstandings about Confession, and it’s a shame because it’s such an easy Sacrament, really, if we know what we are doing, and this means we are prepared. I put this post together to help outline the sacrament in a 3-part sequence: First, Next, Finally… What could be easier? If you are a Catholic who wants to go to confession, confess properly your sins, and receive absolution, then check out the outline below (works every time!)
First, review your life since the last time you went to confession. This is for many a seemingly difficult task, so I offer below some questions to help with this review. They are based on the ever-classic Ten Commandments…
- Do I pray, and do I trust God? Am I superstitious, or have I participated in occult activities? Have I rejected Church teachings, or denied I am a Catholic?
- Do I use God’s name without respect, or use foul language? Have I disrespected the Virgin Mary, other saints, or the Church?
- Have I willfully missed Mass on Sundays and other obligatory holy days? Am I late to Mass? Have I received Communion unworthily (in a state of sin)? Do I work unnecessarily on Sundays, neglecting my rest and family obligations?
- Do I respect my parents and other authorities? Am I helpful at home? Do I give others good example (siblings, children, friends)?
- Do I fight and argue, and have I physically harmed others? Am I cruel in my speech? Do I detract or gossip about others? Do I always defend the dignity of human life? Do I abuse drugs or alcohol, or do I eat excessively?
- Have I acted impurely, either alone or with others? Have I sought out impure entertainment (movies; Internet sites; magazines; music, etc.)? Am I modest in the clothes I wear, in my conversation, and in my general lifestyle? Do I respect and defend true marriage—one man, one woman, for life? Am I open to having as many children as God wants in my family?
- Do I respect others’ property? Have I taken things that are not mine? Do I return what I borrow? Do I cheat to win or look good? Do I respect others’ “intellectual property”? Am I generous in sharing my things, time, knowledge, etc?
- Do I lie to look good or to avoid punishment? Have I lied so that someone else looks bad or gets in trouble?
- Have I willfully enjoyed impure thoughts? Am I vain in my actions, speech, and imagination? Am I jealous of my neighbor’s spouse, friends, material goods, successes, or talents?
- Am I thankful to God for everything he has given me?
Next, Find a priest, ask him to hear your confession, and tell him the last time you went to Confession.
Then, Tell the priest all your sins, based on your review (don’t rush, don’t ramble). The priest will then give you some advice and a penance to do afterword. Pray an act of contrition to show you are sorry, and receive the Sacramental Absolution: “I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (You say “Amen”).
Finally, Do your penance, give thanks to God for his grace and mercy, and next time bring a friend!