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A Guide to Confession
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"And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation." (1 Corinthians 5:18).

Why Confess?
"Jesus said to them again, 'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.' When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.'" (John 20:21-23).

Jesus Christ knew that man would sometimes fall to sin. Mortal sins separate us from God. In his mercy, he gave us the sacrament of reconciliation so that whoever sins after baptism can reconcile themselves with God and his Church. He gave this authority to absolve sins to the apostles who empowered other bishops and priests to do the same.

"Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective." (James 5:16).

Catholics must confess whenever they are in a state of mortal sin and at least once a year. You should not receive Communion if you are in a state of mortal sin. A mortal sin involves a grave matter, full knowledge that it is a sin, and intent to commit the sin. Other sins are venial sins, which hurt God but do not completely separate us from him. Venial sins are good to confess also but it is not required. ALL mortal sins must be confessed. Hiding a sin is also a sin.

Examination of Conscience
Before confession, take some time to reflect on your sins. Use the Ten Commandments to help you.

The Ten Commandments
  1. I, the Lord, am your God. You shall not have other gods besides me.
  2. You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain.
  3. Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.
  4. Honor your father and your mother.
  5. You shall not kill.
  6. You shall not commit adultery.
  7. You shall not steal.
  8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  9. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods.
How to Confess
You may confess behind the screen or face-to-face.
Knell or sit, make the Sign of the Cross, and say, "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been [state how long] since my last confession. These are my sins…"
Tell ALL your mortal sins to the priest. You may want to discuss the reasons.
When you're done say "For these and for all my sins, I am sorry."
Listen to the priest and accept the penance.
He may then ask you to say the Act of Contrition.
Finally he will grant absolution and dismiss you. Your sins are forgiven!
Try to perform your penance as soon as possible. Penance is satisfaction for the temporal punishment due to sin which has already been forgiven.

Act of Contrition
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.

Our Father
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.

Hail Mary
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and in the hour of our death. Amen.

Glory Be
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.