Confession is a sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ in his love and mercy to offer sinners forgiveness for offenses against God and against your sisters and brothers. Confession brings reconciliation between God and the penitent, between the penitent and others, and to the individual penitent.
Confession begins with the Sign of the Cross and the penitent greeting the priest with the words, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. My last confession was ….” (weeks, months, years).
The penitent confesses sins to the priest, who stands in the name of Christ and the Church. Place your trust in God, a merciful Father who wants to forgive you. Following the confession of sins, say, “This is all I can remember. I am sorry for these and all my sins.” Remember that we tell our sins to the priest, not for him. God already knows what they are. If you will, we put the cards on the table to recognize what needs God’s wonderful mercy, which is greater than any sin, and with His help, a change. You should confess your sins as straight forward as possible without getting into a lot of details or long involved commentaries. You should always confess all mortal sins. To knowingly conceal a mortal sin makes the confession invalid. If later you remember that you accidentally forgot to confess a mortal sin, try to remember to mention it the next time you go to Confession.
The priest will assign you a penance. The penance takes into account your personal situation and supports your spiritual good. It may be a prayer, an offering, works of mercy, service, or sacrifice; whatever the penance, the individual is joined in some way to Christ and the cross.
The penitent will then pray an Act of Contrition. This prayer expresses true sorrow for the sins confessed.
The priest, acting in the person of Christ, will absolve you from your sins by saying the prayer of Absolution. As the prayer is ending, the penitent makes the Sign of the Cross and responds, “Amen.” He will then send you on your happy, forgiven way by saying “Go in peace” or something like that. What you will experience is the healing gift of God’s love, the chance to start over with a clean conscience, and an overwhelming sense of gratitude.
If you haven’t gone to Confession in awhile, Lent is the perfect time to reconcile yourself with God and the Church. Remember that in the Diocese of Rockford, “Be Reconciled Day is March 29.” All parishes have the Sacrament of Penance available during most of the day. We will be happy to welcome you no matter what you have done, or how long it has been, and the angels in heaven will rejoice with you.
Preparation for the Sacrament of Penance consists of a good examination of conscience. This examination, guided by the Ten Commandments, prepares one to confess sins to the priest. Confession presumes the penitent is truly sorry with a firm resolve not to sin again. Think back on sins you have committed since your last confession and pray to the Holy Spirit to make a good confession. Calmly and honestly ask yourself what you have done with full knowledge and full consent against God and the Church’s commandments. A mortal sin involves a serious matter and should always be confessed as soon as possible. We have guides in the narthex to help you with this.
Remember, three conditions are necessary for mortal sin to exist:
~ Grave Matter: The act itself is intrinsically evil and immoral.
~ Full Knowledge: The person must know that what they’re doing or planning to do is evil and immoral.
~ Deliberate Consent: The person must freely choose to commit the act or plan to do it.
When all is said and done, remember that where sin abounds, mercy abounds even more.