How to go to Confession (from the Knights of Columbus)
- Pray to the Holy Spirit for self-knowledge and trust in the mercy of God. Examine your conscience, be truly sorry for your sins, and resolve to change your life.
- Go to the priest and begin with the Sign of the Cross. Welcoming you, the priest will say:“May God, who has enlightened every heart, help you to know your sins and trust in his mercy,” or similar words taken from Scripture.You answer:“Amen. Then say, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been ____ weeks/ months/years since my last confession.”
- Confess your sins openly and candidly. Tell the priest of all mortal sins and the number of times each was committed, and then you may confess some of your venial sins. (Although it is not strictly necessary to confess venial sins, the Church recommends that you do.) If you do not know whether a sin is mortal or venial, ask the priest. If you have no mortal sins, confess venial sins you have committed since your last confession; you may also mention some mortal sin from your past life for which you are particularly sorry, indicating that it has already been confessed.
- Then listen to the priest for whatever counsel he may judge appropriate. If you have any question about the faith, how to grow in holiness, or whether something is a sin, feel free to ask him. Then the priest will assign you a penance.
- Pray the Act of Contrition when the priest tells you.
- Listen as the priest absolves you of your sins and enjoy the fact that God has truly freed you from all your sins. If you forget to confess a mortal sin, you are still forgiven, but must mention it the next time you go to confession.
- Do the penance the priest assigns you.
A Confession Primer from the Anchoress (and Busted Halo), also with video.
- ...examine our consciences regularly and thoroughly;
- ...wait our turn in line patiently;
- ...come at the time confessions are scheduled, not a few minutes before they are to end;
- ...speak distinctly but never so loudly that we might be overheard;
- ...state our sins clearly and briefly without rambling;
- ...confess all mortal sins in number and kind;
- ...listen carefully to the advice the priest gives;
- ...confess our own sins and not someone else’s;
- ...carefully listen to and remember the penance and be sure to understand it;
- ...use a regular formula for confession so that it is familiar and comfortable;
- ...never be afraid to say something "embarrassing"... just say it;
- ...never worry that the priest thinks we are jerks…. he is usually impressed by our courage;
- ...never fear that the priest will not keep our confession secret… he is bound by the Seal;
- ...don’t confess "tendencies" or "struggles"... just sins;
- ...don’t leave the confessional before the priest has finished giving absolution;
- ...memorize an Act of Contrition;
- ...answer the priest’s questions briefly if he asks for a clarification;
- ...ask questions if we can’t understand what he means when he tells us something;
- ...keep in mind that priests can have bad days just like we do;
- ...remember that priests go to confession too … they know what we are going through.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (Particularly paragraphs 1422-1498.)