What is Confession?
To confess something means to say it out loud - to admit the truth with your mouth. Usually we think of the word confess in terms of a crime or a sin committed. When someone is asked to confess, they are being asked to tell the truth to another person. Specifically, in this article, we are discussing the confession of sin. This means admitting to God and to another person that you have made choices that were not right – they were sin (selfish) and not loving.
Confession in the Bible
There are two main Bible verses that talk about confessing our sins. The first one is in I John 1:8-9: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This is the promise that God will forgive us when we confess (admit) our sins and then He will cleanse us (help us change our ways). The second verse is James 5:16:
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” This verse explains why we confess our sins to another person – so that they may pray for us to be healed. When our hearts are healed, we do not want to sin so much.
When we do something we know is wrong, it makes us feel guilty. Our conscience judges us and tells us we were wrong. This is like a weight on our soul – we feel it day and night. God offers us forgiveness – to release the weight we are carrying by admitting our sin. His forgiveness is very powerful – it can heal our hearts so that we don't want to sin anymore. He fills us with His love – this enables us to love others instead of being selfish (sinful).
How to Confess
First, admit to yourself that you have sinned. Many people do not want to admit when they are wrong. It is very humbling to do so. Confess your sins to God and ask Him to forgive you and cleanse you so that you can make better choices. He wants to forgive you, so don't be afraid.
Then confess your sins to someone who loves God and follows Him with all their heart (a righteous person). Many people choose to confess to a priest – it is confidential and they will pray for you as the Scripture says (a Confession Prayer).
The Sacrament of Reconciliation- Confession
Prior to going to confession, focus your mind on the sins that you have committed since your last confession. Express your deep sorrow to God for your sins and pray for forgiveness.
When the priest is available to hear your confession, enter the confessional room. There will be a screen separating you from the priest in this room. You can either sit face-to-face with the priest who will be on the other side of the screen, or kneel before him.
Begin your confession by making the sign of the cross:
"In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit"
Begin your confession by saying:
"Bless me Father for I have sinned".
You will then state the length of time that has passed since your last confession:
"It has been two weeks (days, months, years) since my last confession"
The priest will then ask you to proceed with stating your sins. If you have committed any mortal sins, state these first followed by any venial sins. Once you have finished stating all of your sins to the priest, express your sorrow for the sins you have committed. "I am sorry for these sins and all the sins that I have previously committed".
The priest will then proceed to assign you your penance.
Completing your penance will absolve you of your sins. Quite often, you will be requested to say an Act of Contrition followed by your assigned penance.
Act of Contrition:
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 I 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 confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life. Amen.
At the conclusion of your confession, the priest will absolve you of your sins and will speak of the sacramental forgiveness of the Church. Once the priest has finished speaking, you can proceed to make the sign of the cross and say "In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen."
Proceed to a pew in the Church, kneel and give thanks to God for forgiving you of your sins. Proceed to say your penance the priest has assigned with sincerity and gratitude.
Before leaving the Church give thanks again and make a conscience effort to return to confession regularly.
The Power of Confession
Confession is very powerful. It is admitting that you are not perfect – that you make mistakes and you sometimes choose to do the wrong thing. It is very humbling. After you confess your sins and receive forgiveness, you feel MUCH better. You feel clean again and ready to live for God. It is very healing to your soul to confess and receive forgiveness for your sins.
Jesus Bless you all