Pope Francis said: “For what the Father awaits more than anything is for His sons and daughters to return home”. So if it’s been a while since your last confession, don’t fear (Is 41:10). God the Father waits for you through the priest who will guide you.
1. Prepare: Before going to confession, take some time to prepare. Pray and reflect on your life since your last confession. Have you neglected to live Jesus’ commands to “love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and to “love your neighbour as yourself” —in your thoughts, words, and actions? You could review the Ten Commandments as well.
2. Greeting: The priest will welcome you with a short blessing or a Scripture passage.
3. The Sign of the Cross: Together with the priest make the Sign of the Cross and then begin your confession with these or similar words: “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been [give days, months, or years] since my last confession.”
4. Confess: Confess all your sins to the priest. If you are unsure what to say, ask the priest for help. When you are finished, conclude with these or similar words: “I am sorry for these and all my sins.”
5. Penance: The priest will propose an act of penance, which might be a prayer, a work of mercy, or an act of charity. He might also counsel you on how to better live the Christian life.
6. Act of Contrition: After the priest has given your penance, pray an Act of Contrition, expressing true sorrow for your sins and resolving not to sin again with God’s help. A suggested Act of Contrition is: My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Saviour Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy.
7. Absolution: The priest will extend his hands over you and pronounce the words of absolution, to which you respond, “Amen” – which means, “So be it”.
8. Dismissal: The priest will conclude the sacrament, often saying, “Go in peace.”
Understanding human nature so well – because He Himself became a man – Jesus entrusted the ministry of reconciliation to the Church, through whom we receive God’s pardon and mercy in a tangible and visible way. When we approach God with true sorrow for having turned away from God, and with childlike simplicity, honestly acknowledging our sins, we can be assured of God’s tender mercy. Jesus further assures us that any sin we commit after Baptism can be forgiven, if we are truly sorry and resolved not to repeat it again with His help.
This Sacrament gives us the wonderful opportunity to recover the grace of friendship with God! Now, not only are we forgiven and free, but we are challenged to give this same kind of compassion and mercy to all those who hurt us. Because Jesus liberates us, we can forgive others!
Opportunities for reconciliation: Monday to Friday: 8:40 – 9.00 am, Saturday 5:15 – 5:45 pm
Pope Francis goes to confession every 15 or 20 days with a Franciscan priest at the Vatican!
For those who have been away from confession for a long time the Pope says, “If much time has passed, do not lose another day. Go, the priest will be good. Jesus is there, and Jesus is more benevolent than priests, Jesus receives you; He receives you with so much love. Be courageous and go to confession!”
For those who think their sins are so many or so bad that they can’t be forgiven, Pope Francis says, “There is no sin which God won’t pardon… If you go to confession repentant, He will forgive everything.”