How to Go To Confession/Penance/Reconciliation

(Prepare beforehand: Examination of Conscience)


(Don’t worry about forgetting any of this if you get nervous;

the priest will help you remember what to say next.)


1. Make the Sign of the Cross

2. Say to the priest, “Father, forgive me for I have sinned,” or “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.”

3. Say, “It has been (say how long) since my last confession.”

4. Tell the priest your biggest sins (since your last confession).

5. Say, “I am sorry for these sins and all the sins of my past life.”

6. The priest will probably chat with you for a bit and give you something to do for your penance.

When prompted, pray the Act of Contrition (You can pray the one below or one that is somewhat similar):

Oh 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.  Amen.

Jesus (through the priest) absolves your sins as the priest prays 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. Amen.”

9. Make the Sign of the Cross and say, “Thank you, Father” to the priest.

10. Complete your penance and spend some time in prayer.

11. Think about where you will go from here:  How, exactly, will you “avoid whatever leads me to sin?”  Will you need to make up for the things you’ve done, by repaying, being a kinder person, making restitution?   How will you do that?  When will you do that?