Reconciliation: the Sacrament of Penance
Start with the sign of the cross and say:
“In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been (say how long) since my last confession, and I accuse myself of”:
Disclose your sins to the priest, naming all mortal sins and the number of times committed. Conclude by saying:
“For these and all my other past sins I am truly sorry, and I ask pardon of God and penance and absolution of you, Father”.
The priest will talk to you about your sins. He will give you a penance to do. The priest will ask you to pray the Act of Contrition. Say:
Act of Contrition
O My God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You. I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend You, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. And I firmly resolve with the help of Your grace never more to offend You and carefully to avoid the occasions of sin. Amen.
Act of Contrition (shorter version)
O My God, I am heartily sorry that I have sinned against You because You are so good. I resolve by the help of Your grace not to sin again. Amen.
The priest will say the absolution prayer. When he begins to make the sign of the cross over you, you should bless yourself, and say, “Amen” when he does. The priest will say, "Go in peace."
An Examination of Conscience based on the Ten 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 or occult practices?
Have I refused to accept what God has revealed as true, or what the Catholic Church proposes for belief?
Have I ever received Communion in a state of mortal sin?
Have I hidden a serious sin or told a lie 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 another person?
Have I watched television or movies, or listened to music that treated God, the Church, the saints, or sacred things irreverently?
Have I insulted a sacred person or abused a sacred object?
3. Remember to keep holy the Lord's Day.
Do I shop, labour, or do business unnecessarily on Sunday or other Holy Days of Obligation?
Have I tried to observe Sunday as a family day and a day of rest?
Did I fail to dress appropriately for Mass?
Did I allow myself to be distracted during Mass, by not paying attention, looking around out of curiosity, etc.?
Have I deliberately missed Mass on Sundays or Holy Days of Obligation?
4. Honour your Father and your Mother.
Do I honour and obey my parents?
Do I treat my parents with little affection or respect?
Did I react proudly when I was corrected by my parents?
Have I neglected my duties to my spouse and children?
Did I speak sharply to my spouse in front of other?
Did I deny my spouse’s marital rights without good reason?
Have I given my family good religious example?
Have I spoilt my children?
Do I try to bring peace into my home life?
Do I care for my aged and infirm relatives?
5. You shall not kill.
Have I been angry or resentful?
Did I give scandal to anyone, thereby leading them into sin?
Have I harboured hatred in my heart?
Have I unjustly threatened another person with bodily harm?
Have I verbally or emotionally abused another person?
Have I hated another person, or wished him evil?
Have I abused alcohol or drugs?
Have I physically harmed anyone?
Have I encouraged or condoned sterilization?
Have I mutilated myself through any form of sterilization?
Have I had an abortion or encouraged anyone to have an abortion?
6. You shall not commit adultery.
Have I willfully entertained impure thoughts?
Have I respected all members of the opposite sex, or have I thought of other people as objects?
Do I seek to be chaste in my thoughts, words and actions?
Am I careful to dress modestly?
Have I engaged in masturbation?
Has each sexual act in my marriage been open to the transmission of new life?
Have I used any method of contraception in my marriage?
Have I been faithful to my marriage vows in thought and action?
Have I engaged in any sexual activity outside of marriage?
7. You shall not steal.
Do I seek to share what I have with the poor?
Do I pay my debts promptly?
Do I waste time at work, school or at home?
Do I gamble excessively, thereby denying my family of their needs?
Have I stolen what is not mine?
Have I returned or made restitution for what I have stolen?
8.You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
Am I critical, negative or uncharitable in my thoughts of others?
Am I sincere in my dealings with others?
Have I committed detraction: harmed a person's good name by telling others about his faults for no good reason?
Have I committed slander or calumny: telling lies about another person in order to destroy his good name?
Have I gossiped?
Do I keep secret what should be kept confidential?
Have I lied?
9. You shall not desire your neighbour's wife.
Have I consented to impure thoughts?
Have I caused them by impure reading, movies, conversations or curiosity?
Do I seek to control my imagination?
Do I pray at once to banish impure thoughts and temptations?
10. You shall not desire your neighbour'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?
Frequently asked questions
But I haven’t really sinned…?
The Catholic Catechism on Reconciliation
Read what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about Reconciliation.