Sacrament of Confession
SACRAMENT OF PENANCE – RECONCILIATION
By virtue of Baptism and Chrismation we have a share in the life of God; but, as we all know through personal experience, how fragile this divine life in us is. God has given each of us the freedom to choose, and we do not always choose wisely. We disobey Him and sin. God “knows what we are made of; He knows we are dust” (Ps 102); He knows that we are weak, imperfect human beings constantly in need of His mercy.
Therefore, as a sign of His great mercy, He instituted the Sacrament of Penance to restore divine life in us lost through sins committed after Baptism. This Sacrament was instituted when, on Easter Sunday, Jesus “breathed on the apostles, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained'” (Jn 20, 19, 22-23). Our Lord instituted the Sacrament of Penance, which is the tribunal of mercy, so that He could forgive us every time we fall.
Requirements For Making a Worthy Confession
To receive this Sacrament worthily, five things are necessary:
1) to examine our conscience.
2) to be sorry for our sins.
3) to resolve to sin no more.
4) to confess all our mortal sins to the priest.
In order to prepare oneself for a good confession, it is good to implore God for His light and grace.
EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE;
a) On the Ten Commandments
- Have I deliberately entertained doubts in matters of faith? Believed in or consulted fortune-tellers? Frequented places of false worship? Read books against the faith? or listened willingly to remarks against it? Neglected my religious duties through human respect? Been guilty of presumption or despair? Been irreverent in church or toward sacred persons or things or been deliberately distracted during prayers? Belonged to forbidden societies? Been guilty of superstitious practices?
- Have I taken the name of God in vain? Spoken with disrespect of holy things? Sworn falsely, rashly, or in trivial things? Cursed or blasphemed, or caused others to do so?
- Have I kept holy the Sundays and holy days of obligation? Assisted at the Divine Liturgy and abstained from servile work on such days? Have I prevented others from doing the same?
- Have I honored and obeyed my parents, pastors, and other superiors as was just? Have I been respectful to the elderly? Conscientious in my charge over children and others who depend on me?
- Have I desired, hastened, or procured the death of anyone? Been guilty of hatred and anger? Quarreled with, or oppressed or provoked anyone? Desired revenge? Given scandal? Refused to forgive?
- & 9. Have I deliberately entertained impure thoughts or desires? Have I deliberately associated with people who were to me a source or occasion of sin against purity? Listened to immodest stories? Read bad books or attended dangerous amusements? Have I committed any impure act either alone or with others? Been an occasion of sin to others by my talk, manner of dress, or actions?
- and 10. Have I taken or kept what is not mine? Cheated others or harmed them in property? Coveted what belonged to others? Neglected to make restitution?
- Have I borne false witness against my neighbor or in his favor? Have I injured others by lying, rash judgment, or flattery; by disclosing the faults or sins of others, or by any other fault against charity? Have I been guilty of untruth in any matter
b) On the Commandments of the Church
- Have I kept holy the Sundays and holy days of obligation, by hearing the Divine Liturgy and avoiding unnecessary servile work? Have I kept the days of fast and abstinence, as far as I was obliged to do so? Have I gone to confession and Holy Communion during Easter time? Have I contributed toward the support of the Church and the pastor according to my means? Have I observed the laws of the Church concerning matrimony? Have I encouraged others in the practice of the faith when I could have done so?
c) On the Nine Ways of Being Accessory” to Another’s Sins
- Have I helped or encouraged others to sin: 1) By counseling them to do so? 2) By commanding them to sin? 3) By consenting to their sin? 4) By provocation? 5) By praise or flattery? 6) By concealment? 7) By partaking? 8) By silence? 9) By defense of the ill done?
d) On the Capital Sins
- Pride: Have I been guilty of excessive self-esteem. Have I been too proud of my appearance, family, talents, position, money, and the virtues I imagine I possess. Have I been guilty of undue ambition, of attracting notice and praise and of seeking undeserved honors, distinctions, and other worldly favors. Was I presumptuous, pretending to be greater than I really am; did I boast of my deeds or abilities. Have I looked down upon others and hurt others by my pride.Envy. Have I harbored any bitter feeling at the excellence or good fortune of those who are better or happier, with a desire to rob them of what they have. Have I rejoiced over their misfortune? Have I injured their name through calumny, gossip, detraction, hatred, scandal or other sins.Lust. See Sixth and Ninth Commandments.Gluttony. Have I endangered or injured my health or reason by eating or drinking to excess? Have I made others drunk, or sought to make them so, or boasted of having made them so?Anger. See the Fifth Commandment.Avarice. Have I desired or loved too much the things of this world and sought after them eagerly? In my covetousness have I hurt anyone in any way?Sloth. Have I been guilty of laziness of mind or body, which has prevented me from discharging my duty? Have I wasted time in idleness and useless occupation? Have I avoided work?MANNER OF MAKING CONFESSION
Bless me father, for I have sinned, I confess to Almighty God, and to you Father, the sins of which I have been guilty in thought, word, action, or omission. It has been about (mention the length of time) since my last confession. Since then I have committed the following sins. (Here mention the sins you have to confess.} I wish also to accuse myself of the sins of my past life, especially (here it is well to mention some past sin for which you are sure that you are sorry). I humbly ask pardon of all my sins and absolution of you, Father.”
(You may ask the priest for help in recalling sins you may have committed, or you may ask questions concerning your spiritual life or problems or doubts. When you have finished your confession and the priest directs you to make an act of contrition, you may express your sorrow by saying the following act of contrition, or any act of contrition you may know from memory:
An Act of Contrition
For these and all the sins of my life I am most heartily sorry because by them I have offended God. I firmly resolve to amend my life and to sin no more. I humbly ask penance and absolution of you, father.
Prayer of the Publican
0 God, be merciful to me sinner; Lord, cleanse me of my sins, and have mercy on me; I have sinned without number, forgive me, O Lord,