The Sacrament of Confession or Penance
CALL to mind that this confession may be the last of your life. Therefore, prepare yourself for it as if you were lying sick upon your deathbed, and already at the brink of the grave. Ask God to give you the grace to make a good examination of conscience, the light to see your sins clearly, and the strength to make a sincere confession and to amend your life:
Traditional Prayer Before an Examination of Conscience
MOST merciful God, Father in Heaven, relying on Thy goodness and mercy, I come to Thee with filial confidence to confess my sins and to implore Thy forgiveness. Thou wilt not despise a contrite and humble heart. Bless me and receive me again into Thy favor; I acknowledge that I have been most ungrateful to Thee, but I sincerely repent and detest the wrong I have done, and I desire henceforth to walk in the way of perfection in accordance with Thy holy will.
O Jesus, my Savior, my good Shepherd, I have strayed far from the path that Thou hast marked out for me; I did not follow in Thy footsteps; I wandered into forbidden places. Repentant and sorrowful, I beg to be admitted again into the fold of Thy faithful followers. I want to confess my sins with the same sincerity as I should wish to do at the moment of my death. My Jesus, I look to Thee with confidence for the grace to examine my conscience well.
O Holy Spirit come in Thy mercy; enlighten my mind and strengthen my will that I may know my sins, humbly confess them, and sincerely amend my life.
Mary, my Mother, immaculate Spouse of the Holy Ghost, refuge of sinners, assist me by thy intercession.
Holy Angels and Saints of God, pray for me. Amen
Overview of a Thorough Examination of Conscience
Begin by examining yourself on your last confession; if you have been away from this Sacrament for a long period of time, do not worry needlessly. Do your best: You will need to mention this fact when you begin your Confession------see below.
Whether a grievous sin was forgotten through want of proper examination, or concealed or disguised through shame. Whether you confessed without a true sorrow and a firm purpose of amendment. Whether you have repaired evil done to your neighbor. Whether the penance was performed without voluntary distractions. Whether you have neglected your confessor's counsel, and fallen at once into habitual sins.
Then examine yourself on the Ten Commandments; the Commandments of the Church; the Seven Capital Sins; the duties of your state of life; and your ruling passion. Calmly recall the different occasions of sin which have fallen in your way, or to which your state and condition in life expose you; the places you have frequented; the persons with whom you have associated. Do not neglect to consider the circumstances which alter the grievousness of the sin, nor the various ways in which we become accessory to the sins of others. See Below:
Examination of Conscience
THE 10 COMMANDMENTS
1. I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods before Me.
-----Do I give God time every day in prayer? -----Do I seek to love Him with my whole heart? -----Have I been involved with superstitious practices or have I been involved with the occult?
-----Do I seek to surrender myself to God's Word as taught by the Church?
-----Have I help to promote another religion? -----Was I ever ashamed of Christ and refused to defend Him, or His Church? -----Have I ever received Communion in the state of mortal sin?
-----Have I ever deliberately told a lie in Confession or have I withheld a mortal sin from the priest in Confession?
2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
-----Have I used God's name in vain: lightly or carelessly?
-----Have I been angry with God? -----Have I wished evil upon any other person? -----Have I insulted a sacred person or abused a sacred object?
3. Remember to keep holy the Lord's Day.
-----Have I deliberately missed Mass on Sundays or Holy Days of Obligation?
------Have I tried to observe Sunday as a family day and a day of rest?
-----Do I do needless work on Sunday or shop other than for necessity----- the daily paper and perhaps milk, etc., or medicine?
4. Honor your father and your mother.
-----Do I honor and obey my parents? -----Have I neglected my duties to my spouse and children? -----Have I given my family good religious example?
------Do I care for my aged and infirm relatives?
5. You shall not kill.
-----Have I had an abortion or encouraged anyone to have an abortion?
-----Have I physically harmed anyone?
-----Have I abused alcohol or drugs?
-----Did I give scandal to anyone, thereby leading them into sin? An example would be to sin and then talk about it with someone as if it was okay.
-----Have I been angry or resentful? This means unjustified anger or nursing anger along to hold on to it.
-----Have I harbored hatred in my heart?
-----Have I mutilated myself through any form of sterilization?
-----Have I encouraged or condoned sterilization? Or any form of contraception that may be an abortifacient, such as the pill? See also below as this matter also applies to the Sixth Commandment.
6. You shall not commit adultery.
-----Have I been faithful to my marriage vows in thought and action?
-----Have I engaged in any sexual activity outside of marriage?
-----Have I used any method of contraception or artificial birth control in my marriage?
-----Has each sexual act in my marriage been open to the transmission of new life?
-----Have I been guilty of masturbation?-----Have I sought to control my thoughts on sexual arousal? -----Have I respected all members of the opposite sex, or have I thought of other people as objects? -----Have I been guilty of any homosexual acts? -----have I committed sodomy even though I am a heterosexual. All acts of sodomy are forbidden as they are improper to the marriage act which must be open to life.
-----Do I seek to be chaste in my thoughts, words and actions?
-----Am I careful to dress modestly?
7. You shall not steal.
-----Have I stolen what is not mine? -----Have I returned or made restitution for what I have stolen? ------Do I waste time at work, school or at home? -----Do I gamble excessively, thereby denying my family of their needs? -----Do I pay my debts promptly?
-----Do I seek to share what I have with the poor when I am able and there is need?
8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
-----Have I lied? -----Have I gossiped?
-----Have I spoken behind someone else's back? -----Am I sincere in my dealings with others? -----Am I critical, negative, or uncharitable in my thoughts of others? Am I guilty of rash judgments? -----Do I keep secret what should be kept confidential?
9. You shall not desire your neighbor's wife.
-----Have I consented to impure thoughts? -----Have I caused them by impure reading,
movies, TV, conversation, or curiosity?
-----Do I seek to control my imagination? -----Do I pray at once to banish impure thoughts
10. You shall not desire your neighbor's goods.
-----Am I jealous of what other people have?
-----Do I envy the families or possessions of others?
-----Am I greedy or selfish? -----Are material possessions the purpose of my life?
-----Do I trust that God will care for all of my material and spiritual needs, provide I am not lazy?
THE SIX COMMANDMENTS OF THE CHURCH
1. To hear Mass on Sundays, and holy days of obligation.
2. To fast and abstain on the days appointed [Ash Wednesday and Good Friday of Lent].
3. To confess at least once a year.
4. To receive Holy Eucharist during the Easter time.
5. To contribute to the support of our pastors.
6. Not to marry persons who are not Catholic [can receive a dispension for], or who are related to us within the third degree of kindred, nor privately without witnesses, nor to solemnize marriage at forbidden time, that is on Good Friday, Sundays and other such solemn occasions that are reserved for God, Baptism and Confirmation being the exceptions for Sundays.
THE FOUR SINS WHICH CRY TO HEAVEN FOR VENGEANCE
1. Willful murder. 2. The sin of Sodom. 3. Oppression of the poor.
4. Defrauding the laborer of his wages.
NINE WAYS OF BEING ACCESSORY TO ANOTHER'S SIN
1. By counsel. 2. By command. 3. By consent. 4. By provocation. 5. By praise or flattery. 6. By concealment. 7. By partaking. 8. By silence. 9. By defense of the ill done.
THE SEVEN SPIRITUAL WORKS OF MERCY
1. To admonish sinners. 2. To instruct the ignorant 3. To counsel the doubtful. 4. To comfort the sorrowful. 5. To bear wrongs patiently. 6. To forgive all injuries. 7. To pray for the living and the dead.
THE SEVEN CORPORAL WORKS OF MERCY
1. To feed the hungry. 2. To give drink to the thirsty. 3. To clothe the naked. 4. To visit and ransom captives, generally means those I could and are able to visit in prison. It also means to defend the unborn. 5. To harbor the harborless. 6. To visit the sick. 7. To bury the dead.
Helps to Grow in Holiness
-----Do I consciously seek to imitate Christ in all of my dealings with others?
-----Do I have a confessor who gives me spiritual direction?
-----Do I try to go to Confession at least once a month as part of the First Saturday Devotion?
-----Do I ask Our Lady to help me to examine my conscience and to make a sincere and honest confession?
-----Do I seek to lead others to make frequent use of the Sacraments?
How to Go to Confession
You always have the option to go to Confession anonymously, that is, behind the screen or face to face, if you so desire.
After the priest greets you in the name of Christ, make the Sign of the Cross. Then say: "Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been [state how long] since my last Confession. I accuse myself of the following sins."
Tell your sins simply and honestly to the priest. [You might even want to discuss the circumstances and the root causes of your sins and ask the priest for advice or direction.]
Listen to the advice the priest gives you and accept the penance from him. Then make an Act of Contrition for your sins. See Below.
The priest will dismiss you with the words of praise: "I absolve you from your sins." And you respond by saying either: "His mercy endures forever" or "Thanks be to God or God bless you, Father, thank you, Father, or similar words." This up to you.
Spend some time with Our Lord thanking and praising Him for the gift of His mercy. Try to perform your penance as soon as possible.
Traditional Act of Contrition
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell, 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 amend my life. Amen.
Traditional Thanksgiving Prayer to be Said After Confession
ETERNAL Father! I thank Thee, I bless Thee, for Thy goodness and mercy. Thou hast had compassion on me, although in my folly I had wandered far away from Thee and offended Thee most grievously. With Fatherly love Thou hast received me anew after so many relapses into sin and forgiven me my offenses through the holy Sacrament of Penance. Blessed forever, O my God, be Thy loving-kindness, Thy infinite mercy! Never again will I grieve Thee by ingratitude, by disobedience to Thy holy will. All that I am, all that I have, all that I do shall be consecrated to Thy service and Thy glory.
"Heart of Jesus, I put my trust in Thee!"
"Jesus, my God, I love Thee above all things."
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