Saturday, August 1, 2009

Forgive me Father. . .7 Simple Steps for Confession

The other morning, I was looking through the Catholic Answers forums when I saw a question in a post: "What would you do if you went to confession at St. Peter's and realized you were confessing to Pope Benedict XVI?" I don't know if His Holiness still hears confession but my answer was this. I'm enough of a Catholic Geek that I would be geeked out. I would go home and tell my friends and family, "Yeaaaaaaah, the pope and I are tight. He's my personal confessor." Realizing that of course, I would be lying and have to go to confession again.

I then had a realization (spurned on by the other postings.) When we go to confession, even if it's a a simple parish priest, we have a greater confessor than going to the pope. You see, when we confess to a priest, BECAUSE he's an ordained priest, we are actually confessing our sins to Jesus. The priest is in persona Christi, in the person of Christ.

Confession is one of my favorite sacraments. We are confessing our sins in the way that Jesus wants us to. In the gospel, after His resurrection, He breathed on the apostles and said, "whoever's sins you forgive are forgiven and whoever's sins you retain or retained." That's a paraphrase--you'll forgive me for not knowing the exact words--I'm Catholic and don't know the Bible that well :-).

A second reason, confession is so great, is that it is freeing. There is something releasing about telling someone your sins. It's like lifting a burden. And it's not like the priest can tell anyone anything you said without suffering the pains of excommunication. And besides--the priest hears many confessions. He has probably heard it all.

A third good reason for confession--if you have a good confessor--is that you can get some good spiritual guidance. The priest I go to is amazing. He can help you with things are troubling you. Don't ask me his name or parish--I'm not going to tell you. The lines to confession there are long enough!!

So I have two request to ask. The first is to everyone. GO TO CONFESSION!!! Make a habit of it. It isn't difficult and if it's been a while here are X simple steps for confession.
  1. Make an examination of conscience. You may think you only have one thing to say but examine your conscience and think of other sins. There are plenty of places, resources you can go to find. Personally, I always listen to Fr. Larry's CD on Confession that can be found here at Fr. Larry talks about confession (hence the name of the CD) and give a quick list of things that you may have done and not realized it such as have you ever

  2. Go into the confessional. Don't know where or when to go?? Go to and find someplace. You can go face to face or with a screen.

  3. The priest may say a few words and you simply start off by saying, "Forgive me Father for I have sinned. It's been (amount of time) since my last confession. Don't be embarrassed. If it's been 12 years then fantastic!! You are here now--that's the important part.

  4. Say your sins. In however order you choose. I usually like to get the big ones out of the way first. That way I don't forgive them and besides--you are there to confession them not try to hide them. I usually finish off with "and for other sins that I may have forgotten. You are forgiven anyway for things you may have forgotten anyway but I just like to finish off.

  5. The priest then may say some words--give you guidance and finally, the best part--the words of absolution.

  6. He will finally ask you to say an Act of Contrition. You can find this simple prayer on line or say what you wish out of your heart. I usually say something along the lines of, "Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee. I fear the fires of Hell but most of all because it offends Thee my God who art all good and deserving of all my love. And I firmly resolve to go forth and sin no more. I know it's wordy and sounds stupid with the thee's and stuff--but that's what I learned when I was a teenager and it's stuck

  7. Penance. The priest will give you some sort of penance. It's nothing that big--normally like 10 Our Father's and 10 Hail Mary's. My biggest penance was "read the book of Genesis." What the heck!?!?! (It was my first one by the way)

There you are done!!! There is nothing like a clean slate.

That brings me to my second request. This is to all the priests out there. Actually--there are two things: PUSH CONFESSION!!!! Encourage it!! The second request is: have confession more regularly. The second Saturday of the month from 3:30-4:30 isn't going to encourage anyone to go!!

Confession--ahhhhh, what a feeling. It's a great gift that Jesus and every time I go I want to say to all my Protestant brothers and sisters---na na na na booooo booo!!!


  1. Once a month? Oh, my, we are fortunate. Our English-speaking priest has confession every Saturday before mass, and the Latin-mass priest who also speaks Spanish (and of course English) holds confession every Sunday before mass. The priest for the Spanish mass comes from the next town (10-15 minutes away) and there are several confessions a week there for Spanish speakers, plus the Spanish speakers will often grab the priest after mass and ask for confession right then and the priest will usually comply. We have a quaint, old-fashioned confessional, but several times a year, confession is held in the open church and then it is face-to-face. I actually prefer the face-to-face. I had just assumed that 2-3 opportunities a week was normal. I see now that we are indeed blessed in my parish.

  2. Hey! Love this post!! I've seen you on CAF and just came to check out your blog. Great job pushing confession. Loving your blog and all you have to say!!

    God bless!!

  3. Yeah--we only have confession once a month at my parish (2nd Saturday of the month before mass) I'm sure the priest would have it more if he saw the need. Unfortunately, the parishoners have it in their mindset that they can go once or twice a year when they have a confession service (they have lots of priests from other parihses come)
    Personally, I got downtown to another parish that has daily confession--and there is always a line. Concidence?
    Thank you for your kind words, Marlana. I'm glad you are enjoying.

  4. If anyone's interested, Fr. Larry has his sin list posted on the web. Here's a link to it on the website for a foundation he started.

    God bless!

  5. Thanks, Carlos!! I appreciate it!

  6. Several years ago was my last confession. I doubt if I will go again without a very pushy Holy Spirit. Information that was only spoken in the confessional showed up in nearby rectory.

  7. I have been foloowing Our Lady of Medjugorje , Queen of Peace's messages, and in them she says that we should all make use of the sacrement of Reconcilliation, confession,regularly or at least once a week. That is when I go , weekly, and since I've started weekly confession I look more seriously on my sins and trying to live in a state of grace as much as possible. My fiance hasn't been in over 35 years, and I am trying to stress to him the importance of confession.I told him that if he goes to communion in astate of mortal sin that makes it worse than if he'd never been at all. Pleae pray for him I fear that if he dies in mortal sin, well, I would hate it for him, but i canot make him go to confession. Thanks for lettign me share.

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  9. Just so you know: Protestants have confession too! It is a sacrament - it is obviously not seen as a cornerstone in the same way or practiced as regularly, but in my home church they offer confession three or four times a week, as well as personal spiritual guidance for people who don't feel comfortable with the notion of confession. We are not taught to go to confession in the same way as our Catholic brothers and sisters are, but all the same you don't need to pity us :-) (Different Protestant churches probably differ in their views on confession, mind you. My knowledge only extends to the Church of Sweden, which definitely counts confession among the Holy Sacraments.)

  10. Question for clarification:
    The statement: If there be any sins that I may have forgotten, I wish also to ask forgiveness for them.
    a. Is it necessary that it be mentioned or optional
    b. Is it okay to use say those words or it wrong to say them therefore should not be mentioned.
    I wish t ask for enlightenment regarding this matter. Thank you so much

  11. No, it's not mandatory at all, just something that I like to throw in there--that way I won't worry if I recall something later on. You don't have to say it at all.
    So, I suppose you could say it at the beginning or end if you'd like--or not at all.

  12. hey! thanks it realed help me alot. once more thanks!

  13. Do you say the act of contrition in the confessional with the priest or after your done with confession

  14. In the confessional. Usually the priest will let you know when.

  15. Thanks for the great piece, I have not confessed for over ten years and am feeling dead. Back to the holy ways now.

  16. I recently confessed after a long time. It felt so good. I just got a small penance. And in my church there is confession everyday.
    I think it is the greatest gift god has given us.

  17. If your sin is masturbation, do you have to call it fornication and do you have to mention who you lusted after, whether male or female?

  18. No, you don't have to say "fornication." You can say "masturbation," of you can just say you touched yourself in an impure manner or even "had improper relations with myself."
    And you don't say you have to say that you lusted after a male or female---although if you are having homosexual thoughts you may mention that as the priest may be able to counsel you in ways to deal with those thoughts. Does that make sense?

  19. I havn't gone to confession for over 5 years. I committed adultery 13 years ago and confessed. 5 years ago I committed adultery again with the same man. I am married for almost 30 years. I feel I am unforgiveable but I try to so good things for people every day in hopes that He will forgive me. I'm going to confession tomorrow with my elderly father who is a strong Catholic. I'm anxious and afraid but I want to feel whole again. I want to feel good again. I guess this is the only way to move foreward and to maybe forgive myself.

  20. God's mercy knows no bounds. Go into the confessional knowing that all the angels and saints will be cheering for your return. God loves you and wants nothing more than to forgive you.

  21. I will like to know more about confession, as well as knowing more about the Roman Catholic life as a whole

  22. I would suggest that you go to your local parish and talk to the local priest then.

  23. i have not gone to confession for long now bcos i dont no how to say a confession in english. pls can u help me out.for example, if u re a lier, theif etc. hw will u tell a priest

  24. You have a couple of options that I can think of. My first suggestion would be to talk to your priest about it. One option would of course to be find a priest who speaks the same language as you. The second option would be to have a translator with you. The translator would be bound by the same seal of the confessional that the priest is---he could not tell anyone what he heard. But talk to a priest. I am sure that between the two of you something can be figured out.

  25. Great job, thanks a lot for this! In my country a used to go to confession every first friday in month. Now I work and live in the U.K., I attend masses every Sunday, if possible, taking Holy Communion, not havig any "heavy sins". Now I feel, that I need to go to confession. As I believe, still not having any heavy sins. I was afraid, taht I will not be able to confess in English, but now a know, I can. Thanksand God bless You.

  26. I got blessed by the steps to steps confession process....after 20 years i want to start all over again!!! Thanks alot for the guide!!! Am sure i deserve to mercies and forgiveness of our God!!
    Virgin Mary please pray and interced for me as i prepare to confess after 20 years......its alot but i will try!! Thank you holy Mary Mother!!

    As for my brothers and sisters, kindly encourage me because its a bit difficulty after that loooong!!

    Terry Wachira

    1. I am preparing today to go back to confession for the first time in over 20 years....I feel for you Terry! I will pray for you, and you pray for me. God knows our hearts and knows our intentions. I can't wait to get there and feel that blessed peace!!

  27. My age is 9 and
    My first confession is on friday next week. I got a lot of sins, sorry priests. Please forgive me.

  28. My age is 9. My name is Ethan Bryce C. Lopeña.
    Please be sorry to me because I got a lot of sins. If the priest forgive me, I will not sin again, I promise.

  29. I went to confession mid~last year Α̲̅πϑ M̶̲̥̅γ̲̣̣̥ penance was to go for confession evry month nd I cudnt keep up wt dat cos ☀̤̣̈̇f M̶̲̥̅γ̲̣̣̥ job! Now I feel so angry for M̶̲̥̅γ̲̣̣̥ self not being able to do M̶̲̥̅γ̲̣̣̥ penance n wen I G̶̲̥̅̊☺ †̥ mass I long for christ so much dat I ran †̥ d Chapel wia d blessed sacrament was exposed made alittle prayer Α̲̅πϑ received communion! Now I really dont knw if I did wrong Α̲̅πϑ hav to confess again? Pls I need ur help nd candid advice.

  30. So helpful i am preparing for a confession soonest i need the baggage offloaded. Thanks