The confessional

Every confession is a new beginning

Even though you might hesitate, go to confession.
In the confessional, God does not say, "Is it you again?"
He says, "I forgive you."  

What happens in the confessional

The confessional is usually at the side or the back of the church

  • Before having your confession heard, sit or kneel in a pew, and examine your thoughts, words and actions since your last confession.
  • What commandments have you broken and how many times? Tell God that you are sorry for these failures to love. Be determined to try not to repeat them.
  • Say a prayer to the Holy Spirit to guide you and help you feel true contrition for your sins. Perhaps something like: Come Holy Spirit, enlighten my mind that I may clearly know my sins, touch my heart that I may be sorry for them, and better my life. Amen.

There is a screen separating the priest from the seated or kneeling person. The priest does not face you and is not interested in knowing who you are.

  • After entering the confessional, kneel and wait for the priest to move the screen. Then say; “Bless me father for I have sinned. It is (length of time) since my last confession”


  • Then confess any mortal sins, the kind and the number of times… omitting unnecessary details. If you deliberately don’t mention the mortal sins, your confession is invalid. If you forget, mention them the next time. A person who commits a mortal sin must first have their sin forgiven before receiving Holy Communion. Confess any venial sins you wish to mention.


  • The person confessing can ask for direction or the priest may offer Christ-like advice on how to avoid sin. He does not criticize or condemn, and knows that certain sins can be difficult to overcome.
  • Your sins will not shock him. He has heard most of them before. And the priest has taken an oath never to reveal what he has heard in the confessional.

  • Then the priest asks the person to say a sincere Act of Contrition and assigns some prayers (penance). If you forget the Prayer of Contrition, use your own words. 
  • The priest then gives you Absolution, “In the name of God the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, I absolve you of your sins. Go in the peace of Christ.”
  • As you leave the confessional, thank the priest.

Go to a prayer for mercy...

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