‘In failing to confess, Lord, I would only hide You from myself, not myself from You’ Saint Augustine
A soul in the state of grace is beautiful and lives with the life of God. However, sin is displeasing to God and the soul is disfigured and the life of grace is destroyed by mortal sin, which is the greatest of all evils. After committing a mortal sin we realise what a horrible evil we have committed – at once we should turn to God to beg for His forgiveness.
To receive the Blessed Sacrament we must be in a state of grace. If we have committed a mortal sin we have driven God from our souls. It would be an insult to invite His bodily presence into our soul in a state of mortal sin. Therefore, if we have committed a mortal sin we must go to Confession before we receive Holy Communion.
The grace of forgiveness is given to our souls through the Church in the Sacrament of Penance. We confess our sins to the Priest who by the power of God restores sanctifying grace to our souls. There are three aspects the penitent must do in order to receive the grace of the Sacrament of Penance:
1. We must be sorry for our sins. We express sorrow to God when we say an Act of Contrition;
2. The penitent must confess his sins to the Priest;
3. We must do what the Priest tells us in order to make up for what we have done wrong.
These are the three parts the Sacrament of Penance, which are also called contrition, confession and satisfaction.
EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE
According to the three fold duty we owe:
1. To God
2. To Our Neighbour
3. To Ourselves
1. IN RELATION TO GOD
1. Have I omitted morning or evening prayer, or neglected to make my daily examination of conscience? Have I prayed negligently, and with wilful distractions?
2. Have I been negligent in the discharge of any of my religious duties? Have I taken care that those under my charge have not wanted the instructions necessary for their condition, nor time for prayer, or to prepare for the sacraments?
3.Have I spoken irreverently of God and holy things? Have I taken His Name in vain, or told untruths?
4. Have I omitted my duty through human respect or interest, etc?
5. Have I been zealous for God’s honour, for justice, virtue, and truth, and reproved such as act otherwise?
6. Have I resigned my will to God in troubles, necessities, sickness?
7. Have I carefully avoided all kinds of impurity, and faithfully resisted thoughts of infidelity, distrust, presumption?
2. IN RELATION TO MY NEIGHBOUR
1. Have I disobeyed my superiors, murmured against their commands, or spoken of them contemptuously?
2. Have I been troubled, peevish, or impatient, when told of my faults, and not corrected them? Have I scorned the good advice of others, or censured their proceedings?
3. Have I offended anyone by injurious words or actions, or given way to hatred, jealousy, or revenge?
4. Or lessened their reputation by any sort of detraction, especially in any matter of importance.
5. Have I formed rash judgements, or spread any report true or false, that exposed my neighbour to contempt, or made him undervalued?
6. Have I, by carrying stories backward and forward, or otherwise, created discord and misunderstanding between neighbours?
7. Have I been forward or peevish towards anyone in my carriage, speech, or conversation?
8. Or taken pleasure to vex, mortify, or provoke them?
9. Have I mocked or reproached them for their corporal or spiritual imperfections?
10. Have I been excessive in reprehending those under my care, or been wanting in giving them just reproof?
11. Have I borne with their oversights and imperfections, and given them good counsel?
12. Have I been solicitous for such as are under my charge; and provided for their souls and bodies?
3. IN RELATION TO MYSELF
1. Have I been obstinate in following my own will or in defending my own will, or in defending own opinion in things either indifferent, dangerous, or scandalous?
2. Have I taken pleasure in hearing myself praised, or acted from motives of vanity or human respect?
3. Have I indulged myself in too much ease and sloth, or any ways yielded to sensuality or impurity?
4. Has my conversation been edifying and moderate, or have I been froward, proud, or troublesome to others?
5. Have I spent overmuch time in recreation or useless employments, and thereby omitted my devotions or put them off to unseasonable times?
6. Have I yielded to intemperance, rage, impatience, or jealously?
METHOD OF CONFESSION
Kneeling down, make the sign of the Cross, saying;
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Then ask a blessing in these words:
Pray, Father give me your blessing, for I have sinned.
Here say the first part of the Confiteor, as follows:
I confess to Almighty God, to blessed Mary, every Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the Saints, and to you, Father, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.
Since my last confession, which was [mention how long since], I accuse myself, etc
After this, accuse yourself of your sins, either according to the order of God’s commandments, or such other as you find most helpful to your memory; adding, after each sin, the number of times that you have been guilty of it, and such circumstances as may very considerably aggravate the guilt; but carefully abstaining from such as are impertinent or unnecessary, and from excuses and long narrations.
After you have confessed all that you can remember, conclude with this or the like form:
For those and all other my sins, which I cannot at present call to my remembrance, I am heartily sorry, purpose amendment for the future, and most humbly ask pardon of God, and penance and absolution of you my ghostly Father.
Therefore I beseech the blessed Mary, ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John Baptist, the Apostles Peter and Paul, all the Saints, and you, Father, to pray to the Lord our God for me.
Then give attentive ear to the instructions and advice of your confessor, and humbly accept of the penance enjoyed by him.
The priest will ask to you to make your Act of Contrition.
O God, for the sake of Thy sovereign goodness and infinite perfections, which I love above all things, I am exceedingly sorry from the bottom of my heart, and grieved for having offended by sins, this Thy infinite goodness; and I firmly resolve, by the assistance of Thy grace, never more to offend Thee for the time to come, and carefully to avoid the occasions of sin. Amen.
Whilst the Priest gives you absolution, bow down your head, with great humility call upon God for mercy.
Dominus noster Jesus Christus te absolvat; et ego auctoritate ipsius te absolvo ab omni vinculo excommunicationis (sespensionis) et interdicti in quantum possum et tu indiges. [making the Sign of the Cross:] Deinde, ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.
May our Lord Jesus Christ absolve you; and by His authority I absolve you from every bond of excommunication and interdict, so far as my power allows and your needs require. [making the Sign of the Cross:] Thereupon, I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Priest will conclude with the following prayer for you:
Passio Domini nostri Jesu Christi, merita Beatae Mariae Virginis et omnium sanctorum, quidquid boni feceris vel mail sustinueris sint tibi in remissionem peccatorum, augmentum gratiae et praemium vitae aeternae.
May the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the merits of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of all the Saints obtain for you that whatever good you do or whatever evil you bear might merit for you the remission of your sins, the increase of grace and the reward of everlasting life.
The Sacrament is now complete. The priest will dismiss you, perhaps with a final blessing. Thank him, cross yourself, and leave the Confessional and complete your penance.