This sacrament is for the forgiveness of sins – primary mortal sins — committed after baptism. It is also referred to as the sacrament of penance or confession. Any baptized person above the age of reason, with a basic understanding about how to use this sacrament, can make use of it.
Requirements for the Sacrament of Reconciliation
- Contrition: A sincere sorrow for having offended God, and the most important act of the penitent. There can be no forgiveness of sin if we do not have sorrow and a firm resolve not to repeat our sin.
- Confession: Confronting our sins in a profound way to God by speaking about them, aloud to the priest.
- Penance: An important part of our healing is the ‘penance’ the priest imposes in reparation for our sins.
- Absolution: The priest speaks the words by which ‘God, the father of mercies’ reconciles a sinner to himself through the merits of the cross.
How to Go to Confession
- Before entering the confessional, examine your conscience and resolve not to sin again with God’s help.
- When in the confessional, begin with the sign of the Cross, and then listen to the words of the priest. If the priest does not speak, say, “Forgive me, Father, I have sinned.”
- Tell the priest how long it has been since your last confession (or that this is your first confession).
- Confess each mortal sin and the approximate number of times you committed it since your last confession. Then confess your venial sins you committed since your last confession (optional).
- When you have finished confessing all mortal sins and those venial sins you wish to confess, say to the priest, “That’s all, Father.”
- Listen to the priest’s words of encouragement and to the penance he will give you.
- Pray an Act of Contrition (prayer of sorrow).
- Listen for the priest’s words of absolution.
- If the priest says, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good.” You answer by saying, “His love endures forever.” After the priest says, “Go in peace or God bless you.” Respond with, “Thank you, Father (God bless you, too).”
- As soon as possible after leaving the confessional, do the penance the priest gave you.