Yesterday I heard confession and I read this guide that helped me really appreciate this sacrament. I like it so much I’m willing to type word per word of the guide for your benefit! It has Jesuit ring to it so I’m sure you’ll enjoy!
5 Tips For A Good Confession
Often people complain that when they go to confession they seem to say the same things every time. They end up listing off the same sins that they have been confession for years. They know that they have not made as good a confession as they should, but they are not sure how to prepare properly to celebrate the sacrament. So they begin to feel frustrated and wonder what’s the point.
Here are five tips to help you make a good confession. Follow all five, and not only will you avoid the old “shopping list” approach to the sacrament, you will develop a deeper appreciation of what it is all about.
1.) REFLECTION. Begin not by thinking about your own life but about the life and words of Jesus. It is good to have a standard against which to measure our life and the kind of people we are. Jesus provides that standard for us Christians. It is his life and words which give meaning to our own. So, before going to confession, spend a little time thinking about Jesus, the kind of person he was, the attitudes and values he had, the things he did, the way he treated others. Think of what Jesus has to say to us today, and to our world.
2. EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE. Having looked at Jesus’ life, now take time to look at your own. Here is an examination of conscience which may help you to look more closely at the serious issues in your life and where you have failed in living out your gospel calling. It is a kind of check list against which to measure how your life as a Christian is going. Every time before you go to confession, spend a little while checking out these questions.
What kind of Christian an I in:
a. My Relationship with God:
- Do I give time to God?
- Do I attend Mass regularly?
- Do I pray every day?
b. My Home Life:
- What am I like to live with?
- Do I make my home happy?
- Am I selfish or moody?
- Do I cause serious problems in my home—through abusing drugs or alcohol, bullying, being violent, or lazy?
c. My Relationships with Others:
- Am I tolerant of and unselfish towards others?
- Am I kind to others, in word and deed?
- Is there any person against whom I hold a grudge of whom I resent?
- Do I pray for those who hurt me, and forgive them?
d. My Practice of Justice:
- Do I respect the needs, rights and property of others?
- Am I honest in my dealings with others?
- Do I pay my debts?
- Do I work to the best of my energies and abilities?
- Do I cheat, steal or make false claims?
Remember that God isn’t interested in how good a memory you have, or how many failings you discover in yourself. It is impossible to recall every fault and failing. God knows that. All God asks is that you come before him genuinely sorry for those times when you have failed him and failed the community. And his love and his forgiveness will restore you even if you don’t say a word.
3. CONFESSION. When you go to the priest, it is customary to tell him how long it is since your last confession, and any particular things about the circumstances of your life which may be helpful for him to know. For example, whether you are in college, or living at home, whether you are married etc. When you confess your sins, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Just mention those areas of your life where you have failed, and always remember that the focus is on God and God’s loving forgiveness, rather than on you and your sins. How you confess is not nearly as important as that you confess.
4. FORGIVENESS. After giving a suitable penance, the priest will ask you to say the Act of Contrition or Sorrow. It is a chance for you to formally declare your sorrow before God and to ask his help in trying to live a more Christian life, in the future. The priest then speaks Christ’s words of forgiveness. Make sure to listen to what he is saying. All those sings that have weighed you down have been washed away. Perhaps you remember The Corr’s hit song of some time ago: Forgiven; Not Forgotten. Well, it is different with our God. He not only forgives, he forgets too. Through the person of the priest, God allows you to hear that your sins are forgiven. Through the words of absolution, God makes you whole again.
5. SHARING. God has forgiven you. But your celebration of the sacrament of forgiveness does not end when you come out of the confession box or leave the church. The sacrament is completed only when you return to your family and friends and share the forgiveness you have received. Because God forgives you, you must forgive others. Your celebration of the sacrament must lead you to offer God’s forgiveness to others–those who hurt you, or let you down, those whose lives intersect with yours. It must make a difference to your life.
Act of Sorrow (or Contrition)
People use several different acts of contrition when they go to confession, but this is the one commonly used by young people today. It is short and beautiful:
O My God, I thank you for loving me. I am sorry for all my sins, for not loving others and not loving you. Help me to live like Jesus, and not to sin again. Amen.
DISCLAIMER: I did not compose this. I simply copied it. There was no author in the guide thus, you may refer to this as: “5 Tips For A Good Confession” by Redemptorist Church, Queen’s Rd, Cebu City 6000, Philippines.
Image taken from: http://pinterest.com/pin/157414949446213026/