The method given by Christ to the Catholic Church by which individual men and women may confess sins committed after baptism and have them absolved by a priest.
This sacrament is rooted in the mission God gave to Christ in his capacity as the Son of Man on earth to go and forgive sins. After his resurrection, Jesus passed on his mission to forgive sins to his ministers, telling them: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you . . . Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
Those who approach the sacrament of Reconciliation obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against Him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion.
How To Go To Confession
- The priest greets you.
- You say: “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.” You then say how long it has been since your last Confession.
- You tell the priest your sins and answer any questions.
- The priest will give you some advice and will assign you a penance.
- You will next pray the Act of Contrition (see below).
- The priest then gives absolution.
- The priest will then say: “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.”
- You respond: “His mercy endures forever.” The priest will then dismiss you.
Act of Contrition
Praying the Act of Contrition is an essential part of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The prayer expresses one’s heartfelt sorrow for sin, and states the commitment, with the help of God’s grace, to live a better life. Each Catholic should know an Act of Contrition by memory. Three are listed below:
- O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. But most of all, because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.
- O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you. I detest all my sins because of your just punishment, but most of all because they offend you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to sin no more, and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen (This is the Act of Contrition taught to our parish children before they receive their first Reconciliation.)
- 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.