1. Examination of Conscience
In order to make a good confession, an Examination of Conscience is helpful in bringing to mind the times we have sinned against God. Begin with an opening prayer asking for wisdom and help from the Lord:
Lord, hear my prayer as I examine my conscience, asking for Your merciful help. I know that You desire to forgive me, for I am helpless to save myself. May I always remember the goodness You want to see in me in imitation of Your Son Who died to save me from my sins. Amen.
We can examine our conscience in light of the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, and the seven capital sins.
- Examination of Conscience based on the 10 Commandments
- Examination of Conscience for Children
- Other Examinations of Conscience (for children, married persons, young adults, etc.)
2. Be contrite
Once we admit that we have sinned, God’s grace stirs us to remorse for our falling into sins. We admit we have turned from God and hurt our relationship with both God and neighbor.
3. Resolve to do better
True contrition for sins is more than an emotion of remorse for sin. True contrition means that we intend to live differently from now on.
4. Confess one’s sins
We speak our sins in Confession to the best of our ability knowing that God forgives any sin we meant to confess and sincerely forgot to mention.
Here’s a printable guide for what to do in the confessional.
5. Do the penance the priest gives us
This may be a prayer or an act of mercy intended to remind us of God’s love and our resolve to live differently.
Don’t forget to accept God’s forgiveness and boundless mercy, and be sure to pass that forgiveness on to others in your life.
Source: How to Make a Good Confession, Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi; USCCB.org