Step 1: Prayer
To make a good and sincere confession, we begin our preparation with prayer.
† In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. (3)
†Glory be to You, our God, glory be to You.
Heavenly King, Advocate, Spirit of Truth, Who are everywhere present and fill all things, Treasury of Blessings, Bestower of Life, come and dwell within us; cleanse us of all that defiles us, and, O Good One, save our souls.
†Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy and Immortal, have mercy on us. (3)
†Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and for ever and ever. Amen.
Trinity most holy, have mercy on us. Cleanse us of our sins, O Lord; pardon our transgressions, O Master; look upon our weaknesses and heal them, O Holy One; for the sake of Your name.
Lord, have mercy. (3)
†Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and for ever and ever. Amen.
Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us. We sinners bring this appeal to You, O Master, for we have no defense. Have mercy on us.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
Lord, have mercy on us, for we have put our trust in You. Be not exceedingly angry with us and do not remember our transgressions, but look upon us now with compassion. Redeem us from our enemies, for You are our God, and we are Your people. We are all the work of Your hands, and we call upon Your name.
Now and for ever and ever. Amen.
Open the doors of mercy to us, O blessed Mother of God, that we who hope in you may not perish but be delivered by you from danger, for you are the salvation of the Christian people.
Ask God to help you make a good examination of conscience, to help you repent of your sins and to amend your way of life in the days to come.
Step 2: Examination of Conscience
With the help of the self-examination provided, call to mind all the sins you have committed since your last confession.
1. Putting God First. I am the Lord your God; you shall not have other gods before me.
Do I seek to love God with all my heart, mind and soul? Do I worship Him? Does He truly hold first place in my life? Do I seek to keep His commandments? Is prayer important to me? Have I given to anyone or anything else the love, honour and worship that belongs to God alone? Have I failed to trust in God, His love and mercy? Have I been thankful for His blessings? Have I doubted the Christian faith? Have I ever received Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin? Have I told a lie in confession? Have I deliberately withheld confessing a mortal sin out of fear or embarrassment?
2. Respect for God. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
Do I have a deep and sincere respect for God and His holy name? Have I shown disrespect to God, either in word or deed? Have I sworn a false oath? Have I broken any solemn promise or vow which was made before God? Have I cursed or used foul language? Have I wished evil upon anyone?
3. Respect for the Lord’s Day. Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.
Have I worshiped God faithfully on Sundays and Holy Days? Have I encouraged others to do the same? Have I worked or shopped unnecessarily on Sundays or Holy Days? Have I caused others to do the same? Have I spent the Lord’s Day in wholesome and edifying ways? Have I made time for family and friends?
4. Respect for Parents and Authority. Honour your father and mother.
Have I loved and respected my parents as I should? Have I neglected them, or failed to help them? Have I disobeyed them, deceived them or caused them pain by my words and deeds? Have I forgiven them where forgiveness is due, or do I hold any resentment or bitterness towards them?
Is my own family centred around Christ and His teaching? Have I neglected my responsibilities to my spouse and children? Have I respected my teachers, superiors, employers (those who are in authority) as I should? Have I disobeyed or deceived them by my words or deeds? Have I treated fairly all those who have worked for me?
5. Respect for Human Life. You shall not kill.
Have I caused physical harm, or injury or death to anyone? Have I had an abortion? Have I encouraged an abortion? Have I abused my own health or the health of others by evil and intemperate living (i.e. drugs, alcohol, etc.)? Have I caused physical harm to myself?
Have I given way to anger, hatred or resentment towards anyone? Have I failed to forgive anyone? Have I led others into sin by my bad example? Have I encouraged others to sin?
6. 9. Respect for Marriage. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife.
Have I been unfaithful to my marriage vows in action or thought? Have I practiced any form of artificial contraception in my marriage? Am I envious of another’s spouse or family?
Am I engaged in any inappropriate relationships? Have I engaged in sexual activity with a member of the opposite sex or the same sex? Have I masturbated? Have I encouraged others to commit impure acts? Have I sinned by giving way to impure thoughts, words or conversations?
Have I indulged in pornographic material? Am I reckless in choosing the books I read or the movies I watch? Have I associated with bad company or frequented places of ill repute? Do I maintain modesty and decency in dress?
7. 10. Respect for Private Property. You shall not steal. You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbour.
Have I taken or kept anything that was not mine? Have I cheated anyone? Have I caused others to steal or cheat? Have I tried to find the owners of lost things I have found? Have I damaged or destroyed anything that belonged to another? Have I defrauded anyone of their rightful wages? Have I paid my debts? Have I worked honestly and conscientiously for my wages? Did I spend beyond my means? Do I give alms according to my capacity? Have I looked with envy, jealousy or hatred toward the possessions, talents or achievements of others? Have I desired their downfall or loss of others out of evil intent that I might benefit? Have I grieved that God has bestowed greater blessing on others than on me? Am I resentful and bitter over my position in life?
8. Respect for Truth. You shall not bear false witness.
Have I lied, spoken evil of anyone, or spread false rumours about them? Have I unjustly accused anyone? Have I revealed information that was confidential? Have I made careless statements or done anything else to harm the good name and reputation of another person? Have I engaged in idle gossip (discussing that which is doubtful as if it were true), hearsay and backbiting? Am I sincere in my dealings, or am I “two-faced”?
* * *
See Mt. 5: 1-11
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Have I truly recognized my complete dependence on God? Have I been proud, arrogant and self-righteous? Have I been selfish, greedy, possessive and self-seeking? Have I sought after status, recognition, power, material possessions and wealth?
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Have I endured difficulties and afflictions with faith and patience? Do I have compassion for the poor, the hungry and addicted, for the sick, the lonely and the sinful of the world? Have I truly been sorrowful for my sins and faults?
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Am I gentle with others, or am I harsh in my behaviour? Do I seek to dominate others at home, school, work, office, church, or elsewhere? Have I lost my temper? Have I nursed hatred in my heart or the desire for revenge? Have I been impatient, resentful, bitter, unforgiving, insulting, or abusive to others? Have I tried to love my enemies?
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Do I thirst for holiness? Do I truly yearn for God’s will to be done in my life and in all things? Have I tried to cultivate a righteous and holy life through prayer, fasting, almsgiving, worship, the reading of Holy Scripture, frequent Confession and Communion? Have I been lukewarm in my faith? Have I been lazy, negligent or apathetic?
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Have I been merciful to others? Have I turned away from someone who needed my help? Have I turned my back on someone poor, hungry, rejected, lonely or needy? Have I tried to understand and to forgive others? Have I been indifferent or judgmental?
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Do I love purity and honesty? Have I been dishonest in my speech or actions? Have the motives or intentions of my actions been evil or selfish? Have I given way to lust, impure thoughts, words or deeds? Have I been guilty of prejudice? Have I been hypocritical, pretentious or self-indulgent to sinful passions?
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
Am I at peace with God? Do I have His peace in my heart? Have I been angry, aggressive or impatient? Do I foster peace at home, work, church and community? Have I been irritable or argumentative? Have I caused division and discord? Is my criticism harmful and disruptive, or does it build up others in charity?
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs in the kingdom of heaven. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.
Have I complained when persecuted for my faith? Have I prayed for my enemies? Have I failed to defend someone for fear of humiliation or persecution? Have I had the courage to stand up for the truth despite criticism, ridicule or persecution? Am I afraid to witness to my faith in Christ Jesus? Is the joy of Christ in my heart, even in trying moments? Do I give thanks to God in all circumstances, or do I complain often? Have I been pessimistic, negative, despondent or despairing? Have I truly delighted in the promise of God’s treasures in heaven?
Step 3: Sorrow and Desire to Change
It is very important that you be truly sorry for the sins which you have committed, and that you firmly resolve to amend your manner of living.
Step 4: Confession
Cross yourself twice, kiss the gospel book and the cross; cross yourself a third time while saying: †God be merciful to me, a sinner. (3)
Facing the gospel book and the cross, say:
I a sinner, confess to almighty God, the Lord, One in the Holy Trinity; to the immaculate Virgin, the Mother of God, to Saint (Name), my patron saint, to all the saints, and to you, my spiritual father, all my sins.
Mention how long it has been since your last confession. Then, confess your sins. When you have said everything, complete your confession with the following:
For these sins, and for all my sins which I cannot remember, I am truly sorry because I have offended God Who is good. I sincerely repent and I promise with the help of God, to better my way of life. And so, I ask you, my spiritual father, for saving penance and absolution.
The priest may give some spiritual counsel and may assign to you a penance. Then, say the following act of contrition:
†I have sinned without number, forgive me, O Lord.
The priest will say the prayer of absolution, and dismiss you with a blessing.
Step 5: Penance
Return to your place and give thanks to God for His goodness. Fulfill the penance which has been assigned to you. Doing penance is a way of showing God our gratitude for His mercy and forgiveness, our willingness to change our life, and our desire to atone for our sins.