Recently, we just had a man e-mail us at Catholic Truth saying that he had come back to the church and to God after many years. He asked us how to prepare for Confession after having been away for a lot of years. So, in this article, we will give the steps to prepare you for confession, show you how to go properly, and how to get right with God.
This article is for anyone who has been away from the Sacrament of Reconciliation, also known as the Sacrament of healing! This is the first step in coming home and returning to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the lover and forgiver of all.
If you wonder why we even go to confession to a priest, check out our YouTube video here https://youtu.be/dXIgaKZhQp8
STEPS FOR PREPARATION
1. Take a good amount of time to pray and prepare beforehand, whether at home or in a church. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and to enlighten you in this process and to help call to mind all the sins that need to be confessed.
2. Presumably it has been a while for you. Therefore, we recommend taking at least 20 or 30 minutes in quiet to think of and reflect on your sins. During this prayer time, think of as many sins as you possible can that have been committed over the years – small ones, large ones, and “I really wish I didn’t do that” ones.
3. Write them all down one by one either on paper or in your phone. After you think of as many as you can, then look at the Examination of Conscience here that we provide to see if you missed anything.
4. After writing everything you can think of down, look over the list and take a little time to consider how you got to this place and how you can avoid doing it again in the future. Also reflect on how these sins may have hurt God, others, relationships in your life, and even yourself. Consider why you did them and how you can avoid them in the future whenever possible. It’s important to feel sorrow for your sins and how we hurt God and others.
GOING TO CONFESSION & WHAT TO SAY
5. Find a good priest and go to confession. Bring that sheet of paper (or your phone) into confession with you to help you remember all your sins and so you won’t have the stress of trying to recall them all by memory.
6. When ready, go in to see the priest. In the confessional (or a room), there is usually a chair where you can sit to face the priest or a kneeler with a screen between the two of you. You can choose whichever you prefer if you have the option. Face to face or behind the screen.
7. The priest will welcome you with some words, and when he finishes, say: Bless me, Father, for I have sinned, and the last time I went to confession was ____ years ago, and here are my sins. Then confess your sins one by one, slowly and thoughtfully, with great contrition in your heart.
Side Note: When in confession, you are not confessing your sins to the priest himself but to God! The priest is just the vessel of forgiveness, but it is God who forgives your sins. So, if you are scared or nervous, it’s nice to remember this. It sometimes helps to close your eyes as you state your sins and picture giving each one to God and God smiling, erasing it forever.
7. After you are finished, the priest will ask you to say your “Act of Contrition” (which you can find online or use the one we provide below). Pray it from the bottom of your heart to God thinking of the words.
8. Then the priest will then bless you, forgive you, and say “Go in peace, your sins have been forgiven.” Then, he will give you a penance which you will say in the church. It might be one Hail Mary, or an Our Father, or to read a passage of the Bible, a decade of the Rosary, etc.
At this point, you can know for sure that all your sins have been forgiven by our good and gracious God and forgotten. God will breathe new life into you if you ask Him. Ask God to fill you with light, love, peace, and joy, and the strength to do better in the future.
When you finish everything, delete the sins from your phone (or rip up the paper) so nobody sees them, but also as a symbolic sign that Jesus, our loving Savior, just forgave all of your sins and you are completely free of them. They are deleted from your life!
Also note that it’s important to make a firm purpose of amendment, meaning to make the necessary changes in your life to better yourself and say that you will not go down that road again. Obviously, nobody is perfect, but make a commitment to God to live wholly for Him!
If you are worried about going to confession, scared, or if you have gone but don’t feel forgiven (even though you are), we have two videos below which will absolutely help you and assure you of the great and wonderful and life-changing love of our God in Jesus Christ!
1. Scared or need to know the love of God? Check out this video. https://youtu.be/gxPAYBpptuA
2. Think your sins are too big to be forgiven by God? See this video. https://youtu.be/ByV4iKOnLKQ
Don’t think you were forgiven? Watch both links.
3. Why go to a priest, and why did Jesus set it up this way? See this video: https://youtu.be/dXIgaKZhQp8
As always, if you are struggling or have questions, (or would like to tell us you went to confession), you can e-mail us at email@example.com