Every time we sin, we hurt ourselves, other people and God. In Reconciliation, we acknowledge our sins before God and His Church (confession). We express our sorrow in a meaningful way (contrition), receive the forgiveness of Christ and His Church (absolution), make reparation for what we have done and resolve to do better in the future (penance).
The forgiveness of sins involves four parts:
The Sacrament of Reconciliation does require preparation.
We should begin with prayer, placing ourselves in the presence of God who is loving and merciful; reflecting on Jesus who is the healer who reaches out in love; and seek the help of the Holy Spirit in examining our lives.
We review our lives since the last time we received the sacrament, searching our thoughts, words and actions for that which did not conform to God's command to love Him and one another through His laws and the laws of His Church.
This is called an examination of conscience.
Reconciliation may be face-to-face or anonymous, with a screen between you and the priest. Choose the option that is the most comfortable for you.
Rejoice! You have received the forgiveness of Christ! What should you do when you leave? Remember the words you recited in the Act of Contrition: “I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.”
Before you leave the confessional, the priest will give you your penance, which may consist of prayer, an offering, works of mercy or sacrifices. These works help to join us with Christ, who alone died for us. The goal of our life’s journey is to grow closer to God. We can do this through prayer, spiritual reading, fasting and the reception of the Sacraments.
Prayerfully ask yourself what you have done with full knowledge and full consent against the commandments of God and His Church.
Do I pray to God every day? Have I thanked God for His gifts to me?
Did I put my faith in danger through readings contrary to Catholic teachings or involvement in non-Catholic sects? Did I engage in superstitious practices: palm-reading or fortune-telling?