How To Make A Good Confession

January 18, 2023 | Fr. Patrick Wainwright, MC

How to Make a Good Confession

Whether you haven’t been to confession for several years, or whether you go a couple of times a month, you might want to make sure your confession is good, spiritually effective and pleasing to God.

So, here’s a quick guide to making a good, productive confession.

  1. The best confession is the one that you make… It’s better to go to confession even if it’s not as good as you’d like, than to never go to confession because you want it to be perfect.

  2. When was the last time you made a good confession? This is a useful question to ask yourself, as you will have to tell the priest, but also to remember since how ago you want to examine your conscience.

  3. Above all, make sure you have a sincere sorrow for your sins and a firm desire to amend yourself. This does not mean that you have to be emotionally distraught and weeping for your sins. It means that you must be aware that you sinned, that you offended God, and that you will sincerely try not to commit that sin again, maybe even looking at specific means you will put in place to avoid sinning in the future.

  4. Examine your conscience to see any sins that you might have committed since your last good confession, taking note especially of any mortal sins. [Here you have a link to a simple examination of conscience.] You could take note of your sins, so as not to forget what you want to say, to avoid repeating yourself, and to be more concise in your confession, that way you will avoid spending too much time in your confession.

  5. Pick a time and place where you can go to confession and plan your schedule accordingly. It takes some time to go to confession, and sometimes there is a line of people waiting.

  6. You can start by saying: “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned, it has been [3 weeks, or whatever time applies to you] since my last confession, and these are my sins.” Then say your sins clearly, avoiding too many details that might be unnecessary; you should also avoid hiding the gravity of your sin by mumbling or speaking very low, or using confusing language. When confessing your sins, make sure you say at least one sin (this is important because sometimes people share experiences and difficulties, but don’t actually confess any sin that they committed). Besides, make sure you confess all the mortal sins you are aware of, in their type and if possible, their approximate number.

  7. At this point I would suggest that it is better to express yourself by saying things like “I stole 3 cups from the store”, than to confess that same action by saying “stealing,” and expecting the priest to understand that you meant the former. Besides, your confession should indicate that you accuse yourself of doing something specific that was wrong, rather than accusing someone else of causing you to sin, or excusing yourself giving a thousand reasons why you did something. You may also want to avoid giving an unnecessary number of details that don’t really change the essence of your sin.

  8. Then the priest might give you a short recommendation and assign a penance for you to fulfill (which could be 3 Hailmarys, or to read a Psalm, or to do something else).

  9. Then he will most probably ask you to recite an Act of Contrition (link here), and in the meantime, he will give you the Sacramental Absolution of your sins (link here).

  10. Then he might say “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good,” to which you will answer “For His Mercy endures for ever” (Psalm 136:1). Then he might add “Your sins have been forgiven, you may go in peace.” To which you may answer “Thanks be to God” or, simply, “Thank you so much, Father.”

  11. At this point before leaving the confessional, make sure you remember the penance that you have to fulfill, and if you forgot, don’t be afraid to ask the priest to remind you what it was.

Congratulations!! Now try to live a holy life, in the Grace of God!