Guide to the sacrament of confession

Five steps for a good confession
1. Examine your conscience.
2. Be sincerely sorry for your sins.
3. Confess your sins.
4. Resolve to amend your life.
5. After confession, do the penance the priest assigns.
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."
Procedure in the confessional
Taken from the brochure "A Practical Guide for the Sacrament of Confession," by Human Life International
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, then confess two or three 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 advice, assigns your penance and asks you to say the act of contrition (in some form). Then wait and listen as the priest gives the absolution.
Then say, "Thank you, Father," and leave the confessional, and perform the penance assigned by the priest.

 Examination of conscience

Taken from theCatholic Encyclopedia
An examination of conscience may be described as general or particular. A general one probes the various aspects of a person's life: relationship with God, relationship with others, the vast array of virtues associated with the Christian life, etc. Customary areas of inquiry for a general examination of conscience are likely to include but definitely not restricted to: the Ten Commandments, the beatitudes and the precepts of the Church. A particular one focuses on a predominant fault, an unacquired virtue or a duty connected with a specific vocation.
Examination of conscience based on the Eight Beatitudes
Taken from the brochure "Personal Encounter with Jesus Christ: The Sacrament of Reconciliatio,n" by the Rosary Evangelization Apostolate
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Do I live a spirit of detachment and generosity?
Do I sacrifice for others?
2. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Do I console and help those who mourn and suffer?
Do I show compassion?
3. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Am I authentically humble and self-giving?
Have I been egotistical or boastful?
4. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for holiness, for they will be satisfied.
Am I passionate for the things of God?
Do I work for the triumph of love, peace and justice?
5. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Am I forgiving and merciful?
Do I give others the benefit of the doubt?
Am I harsh or judgmental?
6. Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God.
Am I single-minded in the practice of my faith?
Have I allowed a particular sin or vice to distract me from God?
7. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Am I a person of reconciliation, peace and mercy?
Do I hold grudges or seek revenge?
8. Blessed are they who are persecuted, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Do I suffer well?
Am I willing to sacrifice anything for my faith?
Do I allow human respect to keep me from being a Christian witness?
Find out more
For an examination of conscience based on the Ten Commandments compiled by the Rosary Evangelization Apostolate, go to


© Arlington Catholic Herald 1970