The Sacrament of Penance is one of the seven Sacraments given to the Church by our Lord Jesus Christ. Through the years, this Sacrament has been known by many names. Each of these names expresses an aspect of the graces that comes forth through this Sacrament.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
It is called the sacrament of conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus’ call to conversion; the first step in turning 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” – acknowledgement 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.
How to prepare to make a good confession:
Begin your preparation with prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to see those things that you have done which have offended our Lord and other people. What are those things that you neglected to do that you should have done? Prayerfully meditate on the Ten Commandments. Reflect on a writtenExamination of Conscience.
When you feel properly prepared to celebrate this moment of grace, call your local parish for the times of scheduled confession, or make an appointment with a Priest to celebrate the Sacrament.
Below is a form which may assist you in your confession:
Make the sign of the cross as you say, “Bless me Father, for I have sinned, it has been (state how long since your last confession) since my last confession, and these are my sins.”
Next, tell the Priest your sins.
When you have finished confessing your sins, say, “For these and all the sins of my past I am truly sorry.” The Priest will give you a suitable penance, and he may give you some advice.
Make an act of contrition. “O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee. I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they have offended Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.”
The Priest will say the prayer of absolution. At the end of the prayer, say “Amen“.
The Priest will say, “Your sins are forgiven, go in peace.”
Than say, “Thank you Father.”
Perform the penance you were assigned by the Priest.