Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion. Reconciliation is called the Sacrament of conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus' call to conversion, the first step in returning to the Father from whom one has strayed by sin. It is called the Sacrament of Penance, since it consecrates the Christian sinner's personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction. It is called the Sacrament of Confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament. In a profound sense it is also a "confession"—acknowledgment and praise—of the holiness of God and of His mercy toward sinful man. (Catechism, 1422)
Examination of Conscience
8:30 AM and 3:00–3:50 PM
First Friday of the Month:
Any time by appointment
Before celebrating the Sacrament of Penance, one should prepare oneself with an examination of conscience, which involves reflecting prayerfully on one's thoughts, words, and deeds in order to identify any sins. There are various types of examinations of conscience but regardless of which one you use to prepare yourself for the Sacrament it should be rooted in Scripture; particularly, the Ten Commandments and Beatitudes.
Act of Contrition Prayer
After the priest gives you some brief counsel and assigns you a penance, he will ask you to pray an Act of Contrition Prayer. There are many versions of this prayer, with two of the most common reproduced below:
- O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they have offended you, my God, who are all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of your grace, to sin no more, to do penance, and to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen.
- My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy. Amen.
Things your child should know before his/her first confession:
- How to go to confession (what to say and do).
- Have memorized an Act of Contrition, the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.
- Have made a good examination of conscience (see here for an examination for children).