Guide to Confession


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At some point in our lives we all ask the question: Does God love me? Perhaps this is especially so when we are aware of our sins ~ our weaknesses and failures. The answer is YES! God does love you. God loves you so much that he sent his Son Jesus Christ to show you that love and to tell you that you can be forgiven.

We can receive God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). Perhaps it is a long time since you last went to Confession or maybe you find it difficult? Remember the words of Jesus: -

“I come not to condemn you but to save you’.


THE SACRAMENT OF RECONCILLATION

What is the Sacrament of Reconciliation? The Sacrament of Reconciliation celebrates the forgiveness we receive from God through the Church. Why do I need to tell a priest the things I have done wrong? Priests carry on the ministry of forgiveness that Jesus gave to the Church. The priest is the sign and the channel of God’s merciful love. When the priest says “I absolve (forgive) you’ we know for certain that God has forgiven us. Will the priest tell anyone? NO! A priest can never reveal to anyone what he hears in Confession. It is confidential.

What difference does going to Confession make? It puts us into right relationship with God, with the Church, with others and with ourselves. It brings peace and healing, as if a weight has been lifted from us. What if I don’t know what to say or am embarrassed? Do not worry. Very few people find Confession easy. The priest is there as your friend in Christ and you can ask him to help guide you through your Confession.

A Prayer that can be used before receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation

Dear Jesus, help me to make a good Confession, help me to find out my sins, help me to be sorry for them, help me to make my mind up not to sin again. Have mercy on me O Lord, and forgive me. Mary, my mother, pray for me.


Before us you go to Confession

Before going to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, it is worthwhile spending some time with God in prayer where we can ask God to help us bring the things we could do better in life, or things we knowingly have done wrong - our sins - to mind. They include any deliberate actions, words, thoughts or failure to act which cause damage to our relationship with God, the Church, ourselves and others.

Jesus tells us we are to love the Lord our God with our whole heart and mind

Questions that might help us to prepare ~

Do I love God with all my heart?

Do I live for God or myself?

Do I try to do God’s will or my own?

Do I pray each day?

Do I attend Mass each Sunday?

Do I come to Confession regularly?

Am I too concerned with money, power,ambition or sex?

Am I impure in any of my thoughts, words or actions?

Have I used the name of Jesus Christ as a swear word?

Do I try to develop and share my understanding of my faith and the Church?

.

Jesus asks us to love our neighbour as we love ourselves

Do I thank God for my gifts and talents?

Does my love begin and end with myself?

Have I been a faithful and loving member of my family?

Have I shown love, care and understanding for my friends, strangers and neighbours?

Am I a good witness to Christian values in what I say and do?

Do I share what I have with the poor and those in great need?

Do I stand up for the rights of others - the poor, the homeless, the unborn, the terminally ill and dying and those who Suffer discrimination?

Do I gossip, steal, cheat, lie or damage other’s property?

Is there someone I refuse to forgive?

Jesus challenges us to strive to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect

Do I indulge myself with thoughts of pride, self pity, envy or jealousy? 

Do I avoid situations which might cause me to sin? 

Have I failed to do what I know to be right through simply not caring or being bothered?


While you are in Confession

The celebration of the Sacrament begins with making the Sign of the Cross, showing our trust in God’s love. You may wish to begin: Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It will help the priest if you tell him when you last attended Confession.

Then you confess your sins.

The priest will then offer some words of encouragement and give you a penance (a prayer or action to show our desire to change). This will be carried out once your confession is complete.

The priest will invite you to make an Act of Contrition (a prayer that expresses sorrow for our sins). Here is a prayer you might want to use -

O my God, because you are so good, I am very sorry that I have sinned against you, and with the help of your grace I will try not to sin again.

The priest then says a Prayer of Absolution, through which your sins are forgiven.

Free from sin, you then go in Peace.

After you have been to Confession

This may be the time to carry out your Penance. Also it is good to take a moment to thank God in prayer for the love and forgiveness you have received in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, asking for strength to grow in holiness.

“The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy’. (Psalm 103)


A Prayer that can be used after receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation

Dear Jesus, thank you for helping me to make a good Confession, and thank you for taking away my sins. Help me, dear Jesus, never to offend you again. Mary, my mother, pray to Jesus for me.