The Sacrament of Confession

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The Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the most unique and beautiful aspects of Catholicism. Jesus Christ, in His abundant love and mercy, established the Sacrament of Confession, so that we as sinners can obtain forgiveness for our sins and reconcile with God and the Church. The sacrament “washes us clean,” and renews us in Christ.

“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (John 20:21-23).

Click the questions below to find answers to your questions about Confession:

Why should I go to Confession?
If you haven’t been to Confession in a while, the Catholic Church wants to welcome you back, and invite you to participate in this beautiful sacrament of healing. Take a step in faith. You’ll be surprised about how free you feel after taking part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. So many Catholics describe incredible feelings of peace, joy, relief, and love that they never expected. Jesus is calling you to experience His mercy in this way too.
What are some benefits of going to Confession?
1. Confession helps us to better “know thyself.”
St. Augustine and countless other saints and doctors of the Church talk about the importance of knowing ourselves well. Through coming to know ourselves better, we realized how fallen we are, and how badly we need God’s help and grace to get through life. Frequent Confession helps remind us to rely on God to help rid us of our sins.2. Confession helps us overcome vice.
The grace we receive from the Sacrament of Confession helps us combat our faults and failings and break our habits of vice much more easily and expediently than we could otherwise do without the sacramental grace.

3. Confession brings us peace.
Guilt from the sins we commit can make us feel all mixed up inside and cause us to lose our peace and joy. When we hear God’s forgiving words to us from the lips of the priest in Confession, a burden is lifted off our shoulders and we can again feel the peace of heart and soul that comes from being in a good relationship with God.

4. Confession helps us become more saintly, more like Jesus.
Jesus was perfectly humble, perfectly generous, perfectly patient, perfectly loving—perfectly everything! Don’t you wish you could be as humble, generous, patient, and loving as Jesus? Saints throughout history have felt that way too, and they have frequented the Sacrament of Reconciliation to help transform them into people who are more like Christ. Little images of Christ—that’s what saints are!

5. Confession makes our will stronger.
Every time we experience the Sacrament of Confession, God strengthens our will and our self-control to be able to resist the temptations that confront us in our lives. We become more resolute to follow God’s will and not our own whims.

Of course, the list of benefits of the Sacrament of Confession goes on and on! But you have to go to reap the benefits! Going to Confession regularly will truly change your life. What’s keeping you from Reconciliation?

The words of absolution in the Confessional are truly beautiful: “I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus is waiting to forgive you—all you have to do is ask! Don’t miss out any longer on the healing power of Confession.

What are the different names for the sacrament and the effects of it?
Here, the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains the Sacrament of Reconciliation, its various names and the graces that flow from the sacrament:
“Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion (CCC 1422).
“It is called the sacrament of conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus’ call to conversion, the first step in returning to the Father from whom one has strayed by sin.
It is called the sacrament of Penance, since it consecrates the Christian sinner’s personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction.
“It is called the sacrament of confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament. In a profound sense it is also a ‘confession’ – acknowledgment and praise – of the holiness of God and of his mercy toward sinful man.
It is called the sacrament of forgiveness, since by the priest’s sacramental absolution God grants the penitent “pardon and peace.”
It is called the sacrament of Reconciliation, because it imparts to the sinner the love of God who reconciles: ‘Be reconciled to God.’ He who lives by God’s merciful love is ready to respond to the Lord’s call: ‘Go; first be reconciled to your brother’” (CCC 1423).
How do I make a good confession?

So you’ve decided you want to go to Confession. But how exactly do you make a good Confession?The basic requirement for a good confession is to have the intention of returning to God with your whole heart, like the “prodigal son,” and to acknowledge your sins with true sorrow before the priest.

Modern society has lost a sense of sin. As Catholic followers of Christ, we must make an effort to recognize sin in our daily actions, words and omissions.

The Gospels show us the importance of the forgiveness of our sins. The lives of the saints prove that a person who grows in holiness has a stronger sense of sin, sorrow for sins and a need for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. No wonder the saints are filled with joy! They have realized the key to handing over their burdens to Christ through the Sacrament of Confession, so they can be free to serve Him with love and energy.



Examination of Conscience
The basic requirement for a good confession is to have the intention of returning to God with your whole heart, like the prodigal son (in Luke 15), and to acknowledge your sins with true sorrow before the priest.
Modern society has lost a sense of sin. As Catholic followers of Christ, we must make an effort to recognize sin in our daily actions, words and omissions. An examination of conscience helps us do just that.

What is an examination of conscience?

An examination of conscience is a review of one’s past thoughts, words and actions for the purpose of ascertaining their conformity with or unconformity with the moral law (NewAdvent.org). In other words, an examination of conscience helps you identify the moments in your life when you’ve pleased God with your virtue or when, conversely, you have fallen into sin. If you examine your conscience in order to uncover and reflect on your sins, you can then bring those uncovered sins before God in the Sacrament of Confession and ask for His forgiveness.Here are several examinations of conscience for you to choose from. Find one you like, print it out, and use it as you prepare for your Confession. You can even bring it with you into the Confessional!Adult Examination of Conscience based on the Ten CommandmentsDetailed Examination of Conscience using Ten Commandments and Church PreceptsAdult Examination of Conscience based on the Beatitudes

An Examination of Conscience for Parents

Examination of Conscience for Married Couples

Examination of Conscience for Single Men and Women

Examination of Conscience for Children (based on the Lord’s Prayer)

Examination of Conscience for Children (based on the Ten Commandments)

Examination of Conscience for Children (based on the Beatitudes)

Examination of Conscience for Teenagers

Get your FREE COPY of Examination of Conscience and Catholic Doctrine from the Fathers of Mercy!

In order to grow in virtue and “grow out” of sin, you should do a brief examination of conscience every night before bed. Recall all of your venial sins from the day, and ask for God’s forgiveness. If you have committed mortal sin, make sure you get to Confession as soon as possible.