Confessions are on Tuesday evenings from 5:30-6:45pm in the Church
The Sacrament of Penance must be seen within the context of conversion from sin and a turn to God. Peter wept bitterly over
his triple denial of Christ but received the grace of conversion and expressed it with a threefold confession of love for Jesus (cf. Lk 22:54-62; Jn 21:15-19). Paul was converted from persecuting Christians to becoming one of the greatest disciples of Christ who ever lived (cf. Acts 9:1-31). These moments of conversion were only the beginning of their lifelong commitment to living in fidelity to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Gospels provide numerous examples of Jesus’ mission to forgive sins. While only God can forgive sins, the Church is his instrument of forgiveness on earth. On Pentecost Jesus shared with the Apostles his power to forgive sins: “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (Jn 20:21-23) Today, priests and bishops continue this ministry to forgive sins. Sins committed after Baptism are forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance. For those who have committed mortal sin, this Sacrament is necessary to be reconciled with God and the Church.
Sin harms our relationship with God and damages our communion with the Church. Conversion of heart is the beginning of our journey back to God. Liturgically this happens in the Sacrament of Penance. In the history of the Church, this Sacrament has been celebrated in different ways. Beneath the changes, there have always been two essentials: the acts of the penitent and the acts of Christ through the ministry of the Church. Both go hand in hand. Conversion must involve a change of heart as well as a change of actions. Neither is possible without God’s grace.
What can a person expect when they go to confession?
They will be greeted by the priest, who will usually read from Scripture. The person confesses their sins; the priest may offer encouragement or guidance for the person’s moral and spiritual growth. The priest gives a penance and asks the person to say an act of contrition. Then the priest, representing Christ, grants absolution.
How to Make a Good Confession
Confession is not difficult, but it does require preparation. We should begin with prayer, placing ourselves in the presence of God, our loving Father. We seek healing and forgiveness through repentance and a resolve to sin no more. Then we 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.
Examination of Conscience
Recall your sins. Prayerfully ask yourself what you have done with full knowledge and full consent against God’s and the Church’s commandments.
- Do I pray to God every day? Have I thanked God for His gifts to me?
- Did I put my faith in danger through readings contrary to Catholic teachings or involvement in non-Catholic sects? Did I engage in superstitious practices: palm-reading or fortune-telling?
- Did I take the name of God in vain? Did I curse or take a false oath?
- Did I miss Mass on Sundays or holy days of obligation through my own fault? Am I attentive at Mass? Did I keep fast and abstinence on the prescribed days?
- Did I disobey my parents and lawful superiors in important matters?
- Did I hate or quarrel with anyone, or desire revenge? Did I refuse to forgive? Was I disrespectful?
- Did I get drunk? Did I take illicit drugs?
- Did I willfully look at pornography, entertain impure thoughts or engage in impure conversations or actions? Did I use artificial means to prevent conception?
- Was I unfaithful to my spouse? Did I engage in sexual activity outside of marriage?
- Did I steal or damage another’s property? Have I been honest and just in my business relations?
- Have I been responsive to the needs of the poor and respected the dignity of others?
- Did I tell lies? Did I sin by calumny, or detraction, of others? Did I judge others rashly in serious matters?
- Have I envied other people?
Rite of Reconciliation:
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.
- The priest gives you a blessing or greeting.
- He may share a brief Scripture passage.Make the Sign of the Cross and say: “Bless me father, for I have sinned. It has been _______(say how long) since my last confession.
- Confess all of your sins to the priest. The priest will help you to make a good confession. If you are unsure about how to confess or you feel uneasy, just ask him to help you. Answer his questions without hiding anything out of fear or shame. Place your trust in God, a merciful Father who wants to forgive you.
- Following your confession of sins, say: “I am sorry for these and all of my sins.”
- The priest assigns you a penance and offers advice to help you be a better Catholic.
- Say an Act of Contrition, expressing your sorrow for your sins. The priest, acting in the person of Christ, then absolves you from your sins.
Act of Contrition
My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy. Amen