It is often helpful in preparing to make a good confession to take time to prayerfully examine your life, thoughts and actions in preparation for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Prayer before Self-Examination
O Holy Spirit, Source of all light, Spirit of wisdom, of understanding, and of knowledge, come to my assistance and enable me to make a good confession. Enlighten me, and help me now to know my sins as one day I shall be forced to recognize them before they judgment seat. Bring to mind the evil which I have done and the good which I have neglected. Permit me not to be blinded by self-love. Grant me, moreover, heartfelt sorrow for my transgressions, knowing how deeply they have wounded the loving heart of my Heavenly Father; and help me to make a good confession that all stain of guilt may be washed away in the Precious Blood of my Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. Have I offended God by putting anything or anyone before him? Have I refused God’s service by neglecting my prayers or the duties of worship, especially attendance at Mass? Have I regarded people, things, or my own self-satisfaction as more important than God and service to him? Have I refused to nourish and protect my faith in God and obedience to the teachings of his Church? Have I despaired of my salvation? Have I presumed upon God’s mercy?
2. Have I used the Lord’s Name profanely, in cursing or swearing? Have I kept the vows and promises that I have made to God? Have I been guilty of irreverence or impiety? Have I blamed God for my sins and my failings?
3. Have I deliberately failed to keep the Lord’s Day by missing Mass or neglecting opportunities for public worship, rest, prayer, and recollection? Have I received the Holy Eucharist in a state of mortal sin?
4. Have I offended against the legitimate authority of my parents or my superiors? Have I been disrespectful of, or disobedient to, those set over me? Have I neglected my parents or failed to uphold the sanctity of the family?
5. Have I offended against life? Have I refused the gift of life or openness to life? Have I harmed, subverted, or threatened the lives of others? Have I been a good steward of my own health and the well-being of others? Have I threatened or done bodily harm to others? Have I verbally or emotionally abused others?
6. Have I been unfaithful to my marriage vows, by thought, word, or deed? Have I offended against faithfulness to the marital covenant as a bond of full affection and exclusive love?
7. Have I been guilty of theft? Have I taken, kept, or arrogated to myself anything not properly belonging to me? Have I been wasteful of time or resources belonging to others? Have I cheated others or failed to pay my debts and make good on my obligations?
8. Have I borne false witness or been guilty of slander, detraction, or scandal to others? Have I lied or been guilty of deception? Have I gossiped, betrayed confidences, demeaned others, or spoken spitefully against those I am bound to honour and respect?
9. Have I been lustful or impure, by though, word, or deed, with another or by myself? Have I failed to respect and defend the dignity and integrity of others? Have I been possessive of others or covetous of their time, duties, and attention?
10. Have I been selfish, grasping, greedy, or envious? Have I coveted the belongings, good fortune, or advantages accorded to others by not to me?
1. Have I refused attendance at Mass on any Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation? Have I dishonoured the Lord’s Day? Have I offended against piety and reverence?
2. Have I failed to confess my sins in the Sacrament of Penance at least once a year? Have I withheld anything important in my Confession? Have I been dishonest or careless in preparing and making my Confession? Have I failed to perform the penance assigned in the Sacrament of Penance?
3. Have I failed to make my Easter duty, receiving the Sacrament of the Eucharist during the Easter season? Have I neglected to be diligent and regular in preparing for Holy Communion, taking care to receive only in the state of grace? Have I received Holy Communion without repenting and confessing any mortal sins?
4. Have I deliberately failed to keep the church’s rules for days of abstinence and fast? Have I willfully neglected or flouted the Eucharistic fast (refraining from food at least one hour before receiving Holy Communion)? Have I been careless in doing penance on Fridays?
5. Have I deliberately scanted or neglected the duties and opportunities of providing for the material needs of my parish and the Church with time, money, and labour?
6. If married, have I failed to follow the Church’s discipline and teaching on marriage and openness to life? Have I refused to give of myself to my spouse for less than a serious reason? Have I done anything that strained, damaged, or violated my marital covenant?
Prayer after Self-Examination
O my God, how great are my sins! Would that I had never offended thee. If by carelessness or ignorance I have forgotten anything in my self-examination, show it to me now that I make a good confession; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Proper Form for Confession
The Penitent makes the sign of the Cross saying:
✠ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Priest may say:
The Lord be in thy heart and on thy lips, that thou mayest truly confess thy sins to Almighty God.
The Penitent names sins, and afterward says:
Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been … since my last confession. These are my sins: …
After the penitent confesses his or her sins, the Priest gives counsel and assigns a penance. Then the penitent makes his or her act of contrition with these or similar words:
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 offend thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of thy grace, to amend my life, to sin no more, and to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen.
Then the priest says the prayer of absolution:
God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, ✠ and of the Holy Spirit.
The penitent answers: Amen.
This confession aid was taken from St. Gregory’s Prayer Book: A Primer of Catholic Devotions from the English Patrimony. This book was brought together as a collaborative effort of the three Ordinariates and the Anglicanorum coetibus Society and contains one of the most complete collections of Catholic prayers and devotions especially valued by the English language culture.