Confession, also called the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation, is one of the seven Sacraments on our Church. In each Sacrament we believe Christ is active, a specific Grace is present which we receive as we actively participate in the ritual. Confession can be a road to transformation. Reviewing areas of my life in need of healing and forgiveness with the priest, who represents Christ, seeking to be the person God created me to be, and growing in the belief that God loves me unconditionally can lead you to living a more wholesome and authentic life.
While bringing oneself to go to Confession is difficult, Confession is not difficult, but it does help to prepare. Begin with a prayer, placing yourself in the presence of God and asking God to help you make a good confession. Then review your life since your last confession, searching your thoughts, words and actions for that which did not conform to God’s command to love Him and others through God’s laws and the laws of the Church. This is called an examination of conscience.
The Rite of the Sacrament of Reconciliation
•You may go to Confession face-to-face or anonymously, with a screen between you and the priest.
•The priest gives you a blessing or greeting.
•Make the Sign of the Cross and say: “Bless me father, for I have sinned. My last confession was…” (give the approximate number of weeks, months or years).
•Confess all of your sins to the priest. The priest will help you to make a good confession. If you are unsure about how to confess or you feel uneasy, just ask him to help you. Answer his questions without hiding anything out of fear or shame. Place your trust in God, a merciful Father who loves you unconditionally and wants to forgive you.
•Following your confession of sins, say: “I am sorry for these and all of my sins.”
•The priest assigns you a penance and offers advice to help you be a better follower of Jesus.
•Say an Act of Contrition, expressing your sorrow for your sins.
•Act of Contrition: God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you, 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 you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of your grace to confess my sins, do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.
•The priest, acting in the person of Christ, then absolves you from your sins.
•After he may say something like, “Go in peace.”
Each of know what sin is. Often I ask small children in Confession after they confess something, “And how did you feel after.…?” The child always responds something like, “I felt sad.” And so it is with our conscience. And yet this is a complex world and our days offer up so many choices and circumstances. So, formation of our conscience is not only important but also a real help in making the best choices and following Jesus’ call to live a life of authentic love.
In future articles in our Parish Bulletin, we will offer some models and resources to help inform and shape our consciences. And in the end it is always our intention that matters most?wanting to follow Christ and seeking the best way to do exactly that.
“God’s forgiveness finds me no matter where I am. God’s compassion takes me where I ought to go” – Sri Chimnoy