Requirements for the Sacrament of Reconciliation
Please take a moment to review the following important information.
What to Know About Sin:
- Sin is disobedience to God’s laws which creates our separation from God. It is an offense against God: "'Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight.' Sin sets itself against God's love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become 'like gods,' knowing and determining good and evil" (Catechism 1850).
- Sin is a love for self over God. "Sin is thus 'love of oneself even to contempt of God.' In this proud self- exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation" (Catechism 1850).
- Mortal Sin is a grave offense against God by our disobedience to God’s Commandments. It breaks our relationship with God and our ability to be in communion with Christ. It requires the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) in order to restore our relationship with God.
- Venial Sin is also our disobedience to God’s will that does not involve a grave offense against God’s commandments. Confession is not required but is helpful in restoring the graces needed for our walk with The Lord toward holiness.
- Confession to a priest restores our relationship with God: "All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted by them in confession, even if they are most secret and have been committed against the last two precepts of the Decalogue; for these sins sometimes wound the soul more grievously and are more dangerous than those which are committed openly" (Catechism 1456)
What is Required to Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation:
- Examination of conscience (know your sins)
- Contrition (repent; be sorry for your sins)
- Resolution (commit not sin again)
- Confession (confess your sins before your priest)
- Penance (the work we do in reparation for sin assigned by the priest)
What are the Steps for Confession:
- When you enter the confessional you may kneel at the screen or in some cases sit before the priest face-to-face. Remember that the priest is there to facilitate your return to grace so no one will be more compassionate and understanding with your heart than him.
- You will begin by making the Sign of the Cross with the priest. You can then start your confession by saying: “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been _____ since my last confession.” If it has been a long while since your last confession or it is your first time, do not fear. The priest will guide you through it.
- He will ask you for your sins and you can simply state each briefly but directly and honestly. He will not judge you or ask for explanations, nor do you have to provide any unless it will help with your contrition. He may offer some words of advice and wisdom for you.
- You can conclude by saying, "I am sorry for these and all my sins." This is helpful should you forget any past sins.
- The priest will propose an act of penance for you. This may be prayers, a work of mercy, or an act of charity.
- After the priest has conferred your penance, you should say a prayer of sorrow or the Act of Contrition (if time permits):
My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy. Amen.
- The priest will extend his hand over you to absolve you of your sins in the name of Christ. Respond with "Amen."
- The priest may praise the mercy of God and invite you to do the same with a prayer such as "Give thanks to the Lord for he is good." And you respond, "His mercy endures forever."
- The priest will conclude the sacrament saying, "Go in peace." You should thank him and thank Our Lord, "Thanks be to God. Thank you and bless you Father."
- If you received prayers for your penance. Offer them at the church before you leave.