Preparation for Confession

Confession is the sacrament of God’s merciful love through which sins committed after Baptism are forgiven.

Shrine of Divine Mercy in Vilnius

The Sacrament of Confession consists of the following steps:
Careful Examination of Conscience: A careful examination of one’s conscience.
Contrition: Sincere remorse for sins.
Resolution to Amend: A commitment to avoid repeating the sins.
Confession of Sins: Confessing sins to a priest.
Act of Penance: Fulfilling the penance assigned by the priest.

Examination of conscience should be done carefully, but it will never be exhaustive. For the one who confesses a sin with their lips but does not sincerely regret it, that sin will not be forgiven. Additionally, a firm resolution not to commit that sin in the future is necessary. When confessing, one must express that sin to the confessor, thus confessing it. Finally, the act of confession includes penance or contrition, which the priest assigns to the penitent to make amends for the harm caused by the sin.

The process of confession

Approach the priest, make the sign of the cross, and say: ‘Praise be to Jesus Christ.’ The priest responds: ‘Forever. Amen.’ Then mention when your last confession was, whether absolution was received, and whether the assigned penance was completed, listing any significant circumstances. Sins should be confessed openly, without hiding anything, as otherwise the confession would be sacrilegious (a grave sin). The priest is bound to keep the seal of confession. Afterward, the penitent says: ‘I don’t remember any other sins, I am sorry, and I promise to amend my ways. Please grant me penance and absolution.’ If necessary, the priest may ask questions related to the sins mentioned.

Then the penitent performs the prescribed penance, commits to avoid sins, and strives to make amends for the wrong done to others.

(According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and ‘Youcat’)

  • In previous confessions, I have forgotten or intentionally omitted serious sins;
  • I have not made amends for the wrongs I committed;
  • I lacked trust in God;
  • I neglected my faith;
  • I feared revealing or acknowledging my belief;
  • I did not pray in the morning or evening;
  • My prayers were insincere;
  • I failed to thank the Lord for His graces;
  • I used God’s, Jesus’s, or Mary’s names disrespectfully or in vain;
  • I believed in or dabbled in superstitions and omens;
  • I did not observe Sundays or obligatory feasts, nor did I attend Mass;
  • I did not listen to my parents or teachers, nor did I respect them;
  • I did not assist my parents, nor did I love my neighbor;
  • I despised, mocked, demeaned, insulted, and gossiped about others;
  • I mistreated or exploited my friends;
  • I harbored anger and hatred toward others;
  • I contributed to harm;
  • I did not defend the oppressed;
  • I did not help those in need, and I wished ill upon others;
  • I lied;
  • My wrongdoing harmed others;
  • I spoke ill of others or needlessly revealed their weaknesses;
  • I sowed discord among people;
  • I betrayed a trust;
  • I stole;
  • I caused harm to others;
  • I rejoiced in others’ misfortune;
  • I did not strive for forgiveness and reconciliation;
  • I neglected my duties;
  • I wasted time and often spent it frivolously;
  • I entertained impure thoughts, feelings, and actions;
  • I listened to inappropriate speech and shared indecent jokes;
  • I viewed inappropriate images;
  • I supported or encouraged abortion;
  • I influenced others to commit sins;
  • I consumed alcohol immoderately and used drugs;
  • I harmed my own life and health;
  • I was jealous;
  • I boasted against others;
  • I failed to control my desires and lusts;
  • I overindulged;
  • I celebrated Advent and Lent noisily;
  • I did not fast;
  • I did not pray for my living and deceased relatives;
  • I did not strive to avoid sin.

The Most Common Obstacles to Confession

I have no desire to confess. Without a doubt, there is no desire, and the more a person needs confession, the more determined they must be to overcome themselves and the shame of their committed sins. Confession is necessary so that we no longer carry our mistakes as a heavy burden.

I confess my sins directly to God; I don’t need a priest. To be sure that God has truly forgiven, we need a sign from Him. That sign is the Sacrament of Reconciliation, in which the priest, as a visible instrument of God’s forgiveness, administers forgiveness. The priest himself does not have the power to forgive sins. After His resurrection, Jesus said to the apostles, ‘Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained’ (John 20:23), thus granting this authority to certain individuals.

I continually commit the same sins. Perhaps, but avoiding confession will only make matters worse. Through confession, we receive not only forgiveness for our sins but also enlightenment of our minds and strength to fight against sin, striving to make our lives better and more beautiful. The very act of struggling forward is progress.