How to make a confession
Or, don’t sweat the embarrassing stuff
By Dave Myers
Southwest Kansas Catholic
Editor’s Note: I provided the text that is in italics. Catholic News Agency provided the rest.
You can begin your confession by making the Sign of the Cross and greeting the priest:
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.”
This is why you’re here. On another occasion, you could easily greet a priest by saying, “Bless me, Father, for I. Am. Awesome!” Why? Because God loves you so much! Even as we are in sin, we are as beloved to Him as a newborn is to their mom or dad!
But here and now, it’s about saying to God, “I know I let you down. Help me to be a better person. Help me to heal.”
King David probably said it best: “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” (Psalm 51:2)
You’re in good company! Even popes go to confession!
The priest gives you a blessing. One response you might give is these words St. Peter said to Christ:
“Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you” (Jn 21:17).
One then continues with the time since one’s last confession:
“My last good confession was... (approximately how many weeks, months or years).”
I’m not sure what a “good” confession is versus any other confession, but the point is, this is similar to telling a dentist when your last checkup was. It gives the priest a little wider perspective on what you are about to confess. If you have a litany of sins a mile long, yet you just went to Confession last week, the priest will probably have different words of guidance than if you last went to confession in 1974.
Don’t be afraid of long lapses! Remember the Prodigal Son!
Say the sins that you remember. Start with the one that is most difficult to say; after this it will be easier to mention the rest.
If you do not know how to confess, or you feel uneasy or ashamed, simply ask the priest to assist you. Be assured that he will help you to make a good confession. Simply answer his questions without hiding anything out of shame or fear. Place your trust in God: he is your merciful Father and wants to forgive you.
I know: This is the tough part. Just know that there is no sin that the priest has not heard before. Probably. When my mom was a girl, she thought her first confession was a rehearsal for the real thing, so she made up a bunch of sins that would have made Al Capone envious. I’m sure the priest sprouted several grey hairs that day.
If you do not remember any serious sins, be sure to confess at least some of your venial sins, adding at the end:
“I am sorry for these and all the sins of my past life (not past life as in, you were once a Roman gladiator), especially for...” (mention in general any past sin for which you are particularly sorry; for example, all my sins against charity).
The priest will assign you some penance and give you some advice to help you to be a better Christian.
This is what some people forget: the Sacrament of Reconciliation isn’t just about how many Our Father’s you’ll be assigned, it’s about receiving caring guidance.
Listen to the words of absolution attentively. At the end answer: “Amen.”
Be willing to do the penance as soon as possible. This penance will diminish the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven.
Know this: Just because you’re doing penance, doesn’t mean God loves you any less, even temporarily. As it says in the book of Micah (7:19), “You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins.” From what I hear, that ol’ sea is pretty darn deep!