How to Make a Good Confession

As Catholics we are required to confess our sins at least once each year. However, you can reap the spiritual benefits as often as you would like to. The spiritual values provided by this sacrament include but are not limited to:

  • Increased self-perception
  • Purified conscience; housekeeping for the soul
  • Strengthened will
  • Elevated self-control

In order to confess, the first step is to find out when confession it held. Most parishes have weekly reconciliation services. To make a private appointment (suggested for those who are returning to the faith or require more spiritual guidance during confession) contact your local parish priest.

In order to complete the sacrament, one must be complete these steps:

1. Examine your conscience. Check out this helpful guide, 99 Questions to Complete Your Examination of Conscience, based on the Ten Commandments. Helpful tip: For those who get very nervous during confession, it might be helpful to write your sins down during your examination.

2. Be truly sorry for our sins and have the resolve to do better.

3. Confess your sins to a priest within the Sacrament of Reconciliation, afterwards making an Act of Contrition.

4. Receive absolution from the priest. He stands in the place of Christ, who is truly the one forgiving your sins!

5. Complete the penance assigned by your confessor. This provides you an opportunity to show to God that you're serious about your commitment to grow in virtue and avoid sin.

Since your last confession:

  • Did you commit a mortal sin? Mortal sins sever our relationship with God and need to be confessed in a timely matter. Provide the mortal sin and the number of times committed to your professor before saying your venial sins.
  • Did I purposefully fail to confess a past mortal sin or disguise it during confession? If so, that is an additional serious sin, and must be confessed promptly.
  • Did I fully complete my previous confession? Was I sorry? Did I make a good examination of conscience? Did I try to turn away from those sins? Did I complete my last penance?

For confession books, pocket guides, and pamphlets to help you prepare and participate in this penitential Sacrament, browse our Reconciliation section.

Important Definitions

Mortal Sin: a serious or grave sin that causes spiritual death of the soul and a severed relationship with God. These are knowing and willful violations of God's law in a serious matter. By turning to confession we can restore this relationship with God.

Venial Sin: venial sins are less severe sins. They do not break our relationship with God, although they do injure it. They involve disobedience of the law of God in slight (venial) matters.

Contrition: A sincere and complete remorse for sins one has committed

Absolution: the technical term for the forgiveness received within the Sacrament on Confession

Penance: a penitential discipline (either a prayer or task) given to you by the priest in order to show your remorse