Making a Good Confession

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A trailer of the Sacrament by Bishop Barron

Sr. Bethany Madonna. S.V.P.

Why go to Confession?


"Not only does it [the Sacrament of Penance] free us from our sins but it also challenges us to have the same kind of compassion and forgiveness for those who sin against us. We are liberated to be forgivers. We obtain new insight into the words of the Prayer of St. Francis: "It is in pardoning that we are pardoned."

Jesus entrusted the ministry of reconciliation to the Church. The Sacrament of Penance is God's gift to us so that any sin committed after Baptism can be forgiven. In confession we have the opportunity to repent and recover the grace of friendship with God. It is a holy moment in which we place ourselves in his presence and honestly acknowledge our sins, especially mortal sins. With absolution, we are reconciled to God and the Church. The Sacrament helps us stay close to the truth that we cannot live without God. "In him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). "


  • Francis De Sales: "Go to your confessor; open your heart to him; display to him all the recesses of your soul; take the advice that he will give you with the utmost humility and simplicity. For God, Who has an infinite love for obedience, frequently renders profitable the counsels we take from others, but especially from those who are the guides of our souls."
  • Faustina: Daughter, when you go to confession, to this fountain of My mercy, the Blood and Water which came forth from My Heart always flows down upon your soul and ennobles it. Every time you go to confession, immerse yourself in My mercy, with great trust, so that I may pour the bounty of My grace upon your soul. When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest, but I Myself act in your soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy. Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity.
  • Ambrose on conversion: "“there are water and tears; the water of Baptism and the tears of repentance.”
  • Thomas Aquinas: In the life of the body a man is sometimes sick, and unless he takes medicine, he will die. Even so in the spiritual life a man is sick on account of sin. For that reason he needs medicine so that he may be restored to health; and this grace is bestowed in the Sacrament of Penance.

Canon Law:

  • 960: "Individual and integral confession and absolution constitute constitute the only ordinary way by which the faithful person who is aware of serious sin is reconciled with God and with the Church; only physical or moral impossibility excuses the person from confession of this type, in which case reconciliation can take place in other ways."

Vatican 2:

  • Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion.

Catechism of the Catholic Church:

  • 1446: "Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion. It is to them that the sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification. The Fathers of the Church present this sacrament as “the second plank [of salvation] after the shipwreck which is the loss of grace.”"

Catechism/Fellowship of Catholic University Students:

Do you ever wish you could just start over? Want a more intimate relationship with God? Feel at odds with everyone or even yourself? The Church has an "app" for that.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation:

  1. [You] Imparts God's Love (CCC 1424)
  2. [You] Sacrament of forgiveness (CCC 1424): One more benefit of being Catholic. There are lots of benefits, including a sense of community, liturgical rites to help us encounter God in prayer, and the wonderful sense of humanity exemplified in the saints, from Mary, the loving Mother of God, to Augustine, the exasperating son of Monica. The sacrament that leads us to inner peace is among the greatest boons.
  3. [You] Restores us to God (CCC 1468): Closeness to God. Confession helps you realize that you have a close connection to God and receive his grace through the sacraments. What can be better than knowing God’s on your team, or, to be less arrogant about it, that you are on God’s.
  4. [You] Regular confession helps form our conscience, fight evil tendencies, lets us be healed by Christ, and enables us to progress through life in the Spirit. (CCC 1458): Forced time to think. Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. To examine our lives and acknowledge failings marks the first step of making things right with God, others and ourselves. Life can be more worth living when you ponder the meaning of your own life.
  5. [You] Brings "spiritual resurrection" and restoration of dignity and blessings of being children of God (CCC 1468): Realistic self-perception. Confession helps overcome arrogance when you have to admit you’re as much of a sinner as anyone else. It helps build tolerance for others’ perceived shortcomings. It brings balance from the other end of the spectrum. If you felt like you were unforgivable (still pride), you realize that you did something bad but you are still a child of God.
  6. [You] Joins us in an intimate friendship with God (CCC 1468): Confidentiality guaranteed. There’s nothing like confessing your sins to someone guaranteed not to tell anyone else. Sometimes you need to talk in absolute confidence. Even under subpoena, a priest can’t tell anyone what’s said to him in confession. He can’t even hint at it. Now that’s confidentiality.
  7. [You] Strengthens the sinner's heart and mind (CCC1469): Housekeeping for the soul. It feels good to be able to start a clean life all over again. Like going into a sparkling living room in your home, it’s nice when clutter is removed – even if it’s your own.
  8. [You] Reconciles our self with our inmost being (CCC 1469): Low cost therapy. It’s free, which makes it cheaper than a psychiatrist for dealing with guilt. It serves as a low scale exorcism, revealing lies believed and restoring the soul and mind to health.
  9. [Church & everyone else] Reconciles us to the Church and others (CCC 1469): A better neighborhood. Confession leaves you feeling relieved and restored, thereby cutting back the inclination to sin. Sin not only harms our relationship with God but also others and ourselves. Our soul is damaged, conflicted by lies believed against known truths. Our sin always affects others spiritually, physically, and/or mentally. Grace of this sacrament restores you to God, your health spiritually and mentally, and encourages you to make amends with those you have hurt. Additionally, you’re energized to, as Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “go and sin no more.”
  10. [Church & Everyone else] Repairs and restores fraternal communion (CCC 1469): Contribution toward world peace. Gaudium et Spes, the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, said that the imbalances in the world that lead to war and tensions “are linked with that basic imbalance which is rooted in the heart of man.” Peace of soul leads to peace of heart leads to peace beyond oneself.
  11. [Church & Everyone else] Has a revitalizing effect on the life of the Church (CCC 1469): A balm for the desire for revenge. When you have been forgiven you can forgive others. If the perfect Jesus forgives me, who am I to want to avenge the slights in my life. Think: “Why did they promote him over me?’ or “Mom played favorites!”
  12. [All Creation] Reconciles us with all of creation (CCC 1469)

Pope Francis:

"Everyone says to himself: ‘When was the last time I went to confession?’ And if it has been a long time, don’t lose another day! Go, the priest will be good. And Jesus, (will be) there, and Jesus is better than the priests - Jesus receives you. He will receive you with so much love! Be courageous, and go to confession,” - February 19, 2014


"Three conditions are necessary for Penance: contrition, which is sorrow for sin, together with a purpose of amendment; confession of sins without any omission; and satisfaction by means of good works."- St. Thomas Aquinas

Prayer of Sorrow

Dear God, I seek Your mercy. Be not angry with me because of my sins, my transgressions of virtue, my faults. I know I have failed Your graces; accept my sorrow for these offenses. Renew my response to You, my bond with You. Let me be cleansed by the penances of my life. Give me the strength to be firm in my resolve no more to offend You. Give me Your assurance of grace in my life that I may respond to Your will and goodness. Let the mantle of Your justice protect and encourage me all life.

Prayer for Knowledge of Sins

O Holy Spirit. Source of all light, Spirit of wisdom, of understanding, and of knowledge, come to my assistance and enable me to make a good confession. Enlighten me, and help me now to know my sins as one day I shall be forced to recognize them before Thy judgment seat. Bring to my mind the evil which I have done and the good which I have neglected. Permit me not to be blinded by self-love. Grant me, moreover, heartfelt sorrow for my transgressions, and the grace of a sincere and contrite confession, so that I may be forgiven, reunited to Thee, and admitted once again into Thy friendship. Holy Mother of God, intercede for me that I may obtain pardon for my sins and desire true conversion. Holy Guardian Angel pray for me that I may mend my ways.

Write your sins down to help you remember and destroy it afterwards.

The 7 Deadly Sins

1. Sloth is often equated with laziness; but the kind of laziness that sloth is is often misunderstood. Sloth is fundamentally a sadness in the presence of eternal or spiritual goods, and ultimately God Himself. Sloth is often disguised by "workaholism," or by a "busy-ness" about temporal things that is actually a means of avoiding eternal and spiritual things, and ultimately God. Sloth is often manifested by "boredom" about attending Mass or praying, for example. Saint Thomas Aquinas calls sloth the "sin against the Sabbath."

2. Envy is a sadness in the presence of the goodness of others. Rather than move us to emulate the goodness of others, envy leads us to find a way to justify the fact that we lack the goodness that others possess. A manifestation of envy today is ethical relativism, which denies that there are any objective moral norms. This denial is intended to subvert the objective status of the goodness of others.

3. Covetousness is a disordered and excessive desire to control persons, places, or things. Contrary to generosity, covetousness manifests itself today especially in the contraceptive mentality. The contraceptive mentality is the distorted attempt to control one's own as well as another's body, including the human capacity for sexual loving and procreation. The tragic result of the contraceptive mentality -- the "sexual holocaust" of the past twenty-five years -- is the reduction of one's own and another's body to "mere dress." The contraceptive mentality has reduced woman to a merely passive receptacle of male predatory tendencies.

4. Vainglory or pride is respecting oneself or others for the wrong reasons. "Mother of all sin" Pride today is often manifested in the news media when, for example, a Catholic legislator who consistently promotes a so-called "pro-choice" position is praised by the Catholic media for his or her position on welfare reform.

5. Gluttony is the excessive preoccupation with our bodies at the cost of becoming forgetful of our souls, not only in terms of excessive eating and drinking, but also in terms of excessive preoccupation with physical fitness and physical beauty.

6. Lust is the vehement disorder of sexual desires, as in the case of the so-called "homosexual lifestyle" or the widespread phenomenon of "living together." Lust reduces human sexuality to genitality. As a result, lust tends to distort human sexual genital activity into a form of recreation. Ironically and tragically, lust leads to a fear of fertility and to an animosity for children, as expressed in practices such as rape, sterilization, contraception, abortion, pornography, child molestation, adultery, and divorce.

7. Finally, anger is a mixture of sadness and hatred in the presence of what is true. (Don't be confused by the fact that "anger" is the name of a spirited emotion as well as the name of the distortion of that emotion.)

It is important to notice that five of the seven deadly sins latch onto a "part" or dimension of the soul called desire or eros, the home of the central emotion of love and the dimension of soul where we are usually "located" on a daily basis. In light of this fact, it is extremely easy to drift into sloth, envy, covetousness, gluttony, or lust.

Anger is the "cancerous growth" on the dimension of the soul called spiritedness or thumos, the home of the secondary emotions such fear. Vainglory or pride is the distortion of the dimension of the soul called mind or logos, the home of intellect and will.

Adult & Teen Examination of Conscience

DISCLAIMER: An Examination of Conscience is not a checklist of things to confess, but asks questions to help remind you of the ways in which you may have failed to obey “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” [Mark 12:30-31] or refused to participate in good works. This Examination of Conscience is based on the Ten Commandments, the precepts of the church may also be consulted. "The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works” (St. Augustine)

1. I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods before me.

-Do I give God time every day in prayer?

-Do I seek to love Him with my whole heart?

-Have I been involved with superstitious practices or have I been involved with the occult?

-Do I seek to surrender myself to God´s word as taught by the Church?

-Have I ever received communion in the state of mortal sin?

-Are there other "gods" in my life? Money, Security, Power, People, etc.?

-Reserved or harbored hatred for God?

-Disobeyed the commandments of God or the Church?

-Refused to accept what God has revealed as true, or what the Catholic Church proclaims for belief?

-Denied the existence of God?

-Neglected to nourish and protect my faith?

-Neglected to reject everything opposed to a sound faith?

-Deliberately misled others about doctrine or the faith?

-Rejected the Catholic faith, joined another Christian denomination, or joined or practiced another religion?

-Joined a group forbidden to Catholics (Masons, communists, etc.)?

-Despaired about my salvation or the forgiveness of my sins?

-Presumed God's mercy? (Committing a sin in expectation of forgiveness, or asking for forgiveness without interior conversion and practicing virtue.)

-Loved someone or something more than God (money, power, sex, ambition, etc.)?

-Let someone or something influence my choices more than God?

-Engaged in superstitious practices? (Incl. horoscopes, fortune tellers, etc.)

-Been involved in the occult or occult practices? (Séances, Ouija board, worship of Satan, etc.)

-Formally attempted to leave the Catholic Church?

-Hidden a serious sin or told a lie in Confession?

2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

-Have I used God´s name in vain: lightly or carelessly?

-Have I been angry with God?

-Have I wished evil upon any other person?

-Have I insulted a sacred person or abused a sacred object?

-Used the name of God in cursing or blasphemy?

-Failed to keep vows, promises, or resolutions that I have made to God? [specify in the confessional which one; the Priest has authority to remove the obligations of promises and resolutions if they are too rash or unjust]

-Spoken about the Faith, the Church, the saints, or sacred things with irreverence, hatred or defiance?

-Watched television or movies, or listened to music that treated God, the Church, the saints, or sacred things irreverently?

-Used vulgar, suggestive or obscene speech?

-Belittled others in my speech?

-Behaved disrespectfully in the church building (e.g., talking immoderately in church before, during, after holy Mass)?

-Misused places or things set apart for the worship of God?

-Committed perjury? (Breaking an oath or lying under oath.)

-Blamed God for my failings?

3. Remember to keep holy the Lord´s Day.

-Have I deliberately missed Mass on Sundays or Holy Days of Obligation?

-Have I tried to observe Sunday as a family day and a day of rest?

-Do I do needless work on Sunday?

-Missed Mass on Sunday or Holy Days (through own fault w/o sufficient


-Neglected to set time aside each day for personal prayer to God?

-Committed a sacrilege against the Blessed Sacrament (thrown Him away; brought Him home; treated Him carelessly, etc.)?

-Received any sacrament while in the state of mortal sin?

-Habitually come late to and/or leave early from Mass?

-Shop, labor, practice sports or do business unnecessarily on Sunday or other Holy Days of Obligation?

-Not attended to taking my children to Mass?

-Not provided proper instruction in the Faith to my children?

-Knowingly eaten meat on a forbidden day (or not fasted on a fast day)?

-Eaten or drunken within one hour of receiving Communion (other than medical need)?

4. Honor your father and your mother.

-Do I honor and obey my parents?

-Have I neglected my duties to my spouse and children?

-Have I given my family good religious example?

-Do I try to bring peace into my home life?

-Do I care for my aged and infirm relatives?

-Harbored hatred for my parents?

-Brought shame on them?

-(If still in school) Obeyed the reasonable demands of my teachers?

-Disrespected my teachers?

-(If I have children) Neglected to give my children proper food,

clothing, shelter, education, discipline and care (even after


-Provided for the religious education and formation of my children for as long as they are under my care?

-Ensured that my children still under my care regularly frequent the sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion?

-Educated my children in a way that corresponds to Catholic religious


-Provided my children with a positive, prudent and personalized education in the Catholic teaching on human sexuality?

-Been to my children a good example of how to live the Catholic Faith?

-Prayed with and for my children?

-(for everyone) Lived in humble obedience to those who legitimately exercise authority over me?

-Broken any just law?

-Supported or voted for a politician whose positions are opposed to the teachings of Christ and the Catholic Church?

-Failed to pray for the deceased members of my family . . . the Poor Souls of Purgatory included?

-(If still under my parents' care) Obeyed all that my parents reasonably asked of me?

-Shown disregard for my parents’ wishes, displayed contempt of their demands, and/or disdained their very being?

-Neglected the needs of my parents in their old age or in their time of need?

5. You shall not kill.

-Have I had an abortion or encouraged or helped anyone to have an abortion?

-Have I physically harmed anyone?

-Have I abused alcohol or drugs?

-Did I give scandal to anyone, thereby leading him or her into sin?

-Have I been angry or resentful?

-Have I harbored hatred in my heart?

-Have I mutilated myself through any form of sterilization?

-Have I encouraged or condoned sterilization?

-Have I engaged, in any way, in sins against human life such as artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization?

-Unjustly and intentionally killed a human being (murder)?

-Have I been guilty, through negligence and/or lacking of intention, of the death of another (killing)?

-Been involved in an abortion, directly or indirectly (through advice, encouragement, providing money, or facilitating it in any other way)?

-Seriously considered or attempted suicide?

-Supported, promoted, or encouraged the practice of assisted suicide or mercy killing(euthanasia)?

-Deliberately desired to kill an innocent human being?

-Unjustly inflicted bodily harm on another person?

-Unjustly threatened another person with bodily harm?

-Verbally or emotionally abused another person?

-Gossiped, slandered, detracted, calumniated?

-Hated another person, or wished him/her evil?

-Been prejudiced, or unjustly discriminated against others because of their race, color, nationality, sex or religion?

-Joined a hate group?

-Purposely provoked another by teasing or nagging?

-Recklessly endangered my life or health, or that of another, by my actions?

-Driven recklessly or under the influence of alcohol or other drugs?

-Abused alcohol or other drugs?

-Sold or given drugs to others to use for non-therapeutic purposes?

-Used tobacco immoderately?


-Encouraged others to sin by giving scandal?

-Helped another to commit a mortal sin (through advice, driving them somewhere, dressing and/or acting immodestly, etc.)?

-Caused serious injury of another by criminal neglect?

-Indulged in unjust anger?

-Refused to control my temper?

-Been fateful to, quarreled with, or willfully hurt someone?

-Been unforgiving of others, especially when mercy or pardon was requested?

-Sought revenge or hoped something bad would happen to someone?

-Delighted to see someone else get hurt or suffer?

-Treated animals cruelly, causing them to suffer or die needlessly?

6./9. You shall not commit adultery./ You shall not desire your neighbor´s wife.

-Have I consented to impure thoughts?

-Have I caused them by impure reading, movies, television, conversation or curiosity?

-Do I pray at once to banish impure thoughts and temptations?

-Have I behaved in an inappropriate way with members of the opposite sex: flirting, being superficial, etc.?

-Neglected to practice and grow in the virtue of chastity?

-Given in to lust? (The desire for sexual pleasure unrelated to spousal love in marriage.)

-Used an artificial means of birth control (including withdrawal)?

-Refused to be open to conception, without just cause? (Catechism, 2368)

-Participated in immoral techniques such as in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination?

-Sterilized my sex organs for contraceptive purposes?

-Deprived my spouse of the marital right, without just cause? 7

-Claimed my own marital right without concern for my spouse?

-Deliberately caused male climax outside of normal sexual intercourse?

-Masturbated? (Deliberate stimulation of one's own sexual organs for sexual pleasure outside of the conjugal act.) (Catechism, 2366)

-Willfully entertained impure thoughts?

-Purchased, viewed, or made use of pornography?

-Watched or promoted movies and television that involve sex and nudity?

-Listened to music or jokes that are harmful to purity? Read books that are immoral?

-Committed adultery? (Sexual relations with someone who is married, or with someone other than my spouse.)

-Committed incest? (Sexual relations with a relative closer than the third degree or an in-law.)

-Committed fornication? (Sexual relations with someone of the opposite sex when the two are not married to one another or any others.)

-Engaged in homosexual activity? (Sexual activity with someone of the

same sex)

-Committed rape?

-Engaged in sexual foreplay (e.g., “petting”, or excessive touching) reserved for marriage?

-Preyed upon children or youth for my sexual pleasure (pedophilia)?

-Engaged in unnatural sexual activities (anything that is not inherently natural to the sexual act; e.g., sex toys, even in the context of marriage)?

-Engaged in prostitution, or paid for the services of a prostitute?

-Seduced someone, or allowed myself to be seduced?

-Made uninvited and unwelcome sexual advances toward another?

-Purposely dressed immodestly?

7./10. You shall not steal./You shall not desire your neighbor´s goods.

-Am I jealous of what other people have?

-Do I envy the families or possessions of others?

-Am I greedy or selfish?

-Are material possessions the purpose of my life?

-Have I stolen what is not mine?

-Have I returned or made restitution for what I have stolen?

-Do I waste time at work, school, and home?

-Do I gamble excessively, thereby denying my family of their needs?

-Do I pay my debts promptly?

-Do I seek to share what I have with the poor?

-Have I cheated anyone out of what is justly theirs, for example creditors, insurance companies, big corporations?

-Not considered that God has provided me with money so that I might use it to benefit others, as well as for my own legitimate needs?

-Allowed myself to be conformed to a consumer mentality (buy, buy buy, throw away, waste, spend, spend, spend?

-Neglected to practice the corporal works of mercy?

-Deliberately defaced, destroyed or lost another's property?

-Cheated on a test, taxes, sports, games, or in business?

-Squandered money in compulsive gambling?

-Make a false claim to an insurance company?

-Paid my employees a living wage, or failed to give a full day's work for a full day's pay?

-Failed to honor my part of a contract?

-Failed to make good on a debt?

-Overcharge someone, especially to take advantage of another's hardship or ignorance?

-Misused natural resources?

8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.


-Knowingly and willfully deceived another?

-Perjured myself under oath?


-Committed detraction? (Destroying a person's reputation by telling others about his faults for no good reason.)

-Committed slander or calumny? (Telling lies about another person in order to destroy his reputation.)

-Committed libel? (Writing lies about another person in order to destroy his reputation. Libel is in substance different from slander because the written word has a longer "life" of damage)

-Been guilty of rash judgment? (Assuming the worst of another person based on circumstantial evidence.)

-Failed to make reparation for a lie I told, or for harm done to a person's reputation?

-Failed to speak out in defense of the Catholic Faith, the Church, or of another person?

-Betrayed another's confidence through speech, deed, or in writing?

Guide to the Sacrament:

You: Kneel/Sit

You: It has been _________ since my last confession my sins are...

Priest gives counsel.

You: Say the Act of Contrition

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because of thy just punishment, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of thy grace to sin no more and avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.

Priest absolves you and you accept it by making the sign of the cross.

You: "Thanks Father" and exitconfessional

Prayers After Confession

Complete Penances assigned

Post Penance Prayer for Avoidance of Sin

My dearest Jesus, I have told all my sins to the best of my ability. I have sincerely tried to make a good confession and I know that you have forgiven me. Thank you, dear Jesus! Your divine heart is full of love and mercy for poor sinners. I love You dear Jesus; you are so good to me. My loving Savior, I shall try to keep from sin and to love You more each day. Dearest Mother Mary, pray for me and help me to keep all my promises. Protect me and do not let me fall back into sin. Dear God, help me to lead a good life. Without Your grace I can do nothing. Back to Table of Contents

Prayer to Saint Mary Magdalene

Saint Mary Magdalene, woman of many sins, who by conversion became the beloved of Jesus, thank you for your witness that Jesus forgives through the miracle of love. You, who already possess eternal happiness in His glorious presence, please intercede for me, so that someday I may share in the same everlasting joy. Amen. Back to Table of Contents

O Deus Ego Amo Te

O God, I love thee, I love thee, not out of hope of heaven for me nor fearing not to love and be in the everlasting burning. Thou, thou, my Jesus, after me

Didst reach thine arms out dying, for my sake suffered nails, and lance, Mocked and marred countenance, Sorrows passing number, Sweat and care and cumber, Yea and death, and this for me,

And thou could see me sinning:

Then I, why should not I love thee,

Jesus, so much in love with me,

Not for heaven's sake;

Not to be out of hell by loving thee;

Not for any gains I see;

But just the way that thou didst me

I do love and I will love thee:

What must I love thee, Lord, for then?

For being my king and God.


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