As Catholics, we are strongly encouraged to prepare ourselves for confession at least twice a year, particularly during Lent and Advent. Confessions however, can regularly and consistently be made, whenever there is a need for it. How does one really prepare oneself for confession? When was the last time you made an honest, uncensored and sincere confession?
For this season of Lent, our Parish has scheduled penitential rites for Wednesday, 7 March 2018. We will begin with the Eucharistic celebration at 7.30 pm, followed by confession. In the days leading up to this, we are encouraged to examine our conscience – searching for thoughts, words and actions which did not conform to God’s command – before coming for the penitential rite. If needed, write your thoughts down, so that you will not forget them once in the confessional. The main purpose for confession is to repent for our sins, and firmly resolve not to commit them again.
So what do we do once we’re in the confessional? Here are a few steps to follow:
- Kneel or sit comfortably and greet the priest. He will greet you as well.
- Make the sign of the Cross and say: “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. My last confession was…” (give weeks, months or years).
- Then confess your mortal sins first, followed by all your other sins (even the ones which you forgot to say in the previous confession) plus any venial sins that you wish to mention.
- End your confession by saying: “I am sorry for these and all the sins of my past life and I ask for pardon and absolution from the Church.”
- The priest gives a penance and offers advice to help you become a better Catholic. So, listen carefully to his spiritual advice and accept the penance given by the priest.
- Then say the Act of Contrition, expressing your sorrow for your sins:
“Oh my God, I am truly sorry for I have sinned against you. Be cause you are so good, by the help of your grace, I shall not sin again.” (Please memorise this).
- The priest expresses the words of absolution at the end of the Sacrament of Reconciliation: “…may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you of your sins: in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. My son/daughter, your sins are forgiven, go in peace!”
- After leaving the confessional, you should return to a seat and quietly thank the Lord for the forgiveness that you have received, and ask the Lord to grant you the grace to live your life truthfully and faithfully. Remember that we confess to repent for our sins and firmly resolve not to commit them again.
As preparation before confession, I suggest you read these two Biblical passages, which are related to the Sacrament of Confession: Luke 15 which represents the Parables of God’s Mercy and the Parable of the Prodigal Son, and Psalm 51 which is the best Act of Contrition. Pray over these and meditate on them. Trust in God’s mercy and make the best confession of your life. “Where sin abounds, God’s mercy abounds all the more,” (Romans 5:20).
Fr. George Packiasamy