A guide for Confession
Jesus told us how he wanted to forgive our sins. After his resurrection, he established the sacrament of Confession when he told his Apostles: Receive the Holy Spirit; those to whom you forgive their sins, they will be forgiven; those to whom you retain them, they will have them retained (the Gospel according to St John 20, 22-23). He also referred to their successors, bishops and priests. In order to be forgiven by our Lord, we have to confess. Confession is not something human. It is not just a case of telling another sinner our sins. It is a supernatural mystery: it is meeting Christ in the person of the priest, who in those moments is taking His place.
Why do I have to ask for forgiveness?
We all have the satisfaction of having done many good things in our life; but we have also done bad things. We have a tendency to evil and that is why we make mistakes and sin. We cannot deny it. Others can see it. And, above all, God -who knows and sees everything in the bottom of our hearts-, can also see it. There is nobody who being loyal to the truth can say: “I have nothing to regret”. If we look into our inner self with honesty, we shall find plenty of things to be sorry about and to ask for God’s and other people´s forgiveness.
How to confess
a) Make an examination of conscience. See questions below to help you out.
b) Be heartbroken because of your sins.
c) Make a firm resolve not to repeat our sin.
d) In the confessional there are written sentences which you can use to start and finish your confession. The important thing is to tell your sins to the confessor, the priest confessing. If you have any doubts, ask him and he will help you.
e) Perform the penance imposed in the Confession.
The Virgin's Mary help
Mary´s heart is so big that all men have room in it, no matter the place of origin, the race, whether they are rich or poor, educated or ignorant, healthy or sick, just or sinful. He wants to help us with the most important: to be in the grace of God. That is why he encourages us to confess so that, free of sin, we become friends of God again.
The forgiveness of our sins is not something we can give to ourselves. I cannot say: ‘I forgive myself my own sins’; forgiveness is requested from someone else, and in Confession we ask Jesus for forgiveness. It is not the fruit of our efforts, but a gift from the Holy Spirit.
(Catechism about Confession, 19 February 2014).