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Confession: a Quick How-to

First take a deep breath... it’s easier than you think.

Step 1

Look at your life. Examine your conscience. See where you’ve made some mistakes. How you have offended God and others? Ask yourself, “How can I make up for it?”

Step 2

Muster up courage to renew your life. Find a Catholic priest to hear your confession. The priest might begin with a greeting, and a Scripture quote. For context, tell him your state in life (single, married, separated, widowed…) and about how long it has been since your last confession. Make the Sign of the Cross, then say something like: My sins are… (start with the most serious ones, and how often you do them. Then tell your less serious sins.)

Step 3

Listen to the priest’s advice. Receive your penance (your penance is an outward act to show you regret your sin and intend to renew your life). Say an act of contrition (a vocal prayer to God showing you are contrite/sorry for your sins, asking for forgiveness, and promising to do penance and be a better person). Receive absolution (absolution is the priest’s prayer by which your sins are forgiven by God).

Step 4

Do your penance and start to live a renewed and better life.

Download a printable version.

Download a more detailed instruction (can be printed as booklet)


Acts of Contrition: Choose one

My God,
I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good,
I have sinned against you
whom I should love above all things.
With your help, I firmly intend,
to do penance, to sin no more,
and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Saviour Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.
In His Name, my God, have mercy. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.

O my God, I am sorry for my sins because I have offended you. I know I should love you above all things. Help me to do penance, to do better, and to avoid anything that might lead me to sin. Amen.

Merciful Father, I am guilty of sin.
I confess my sins before you and I am sorry for them.
Your promises are just;
therefore, I trust that you will forgive me my sins
and cleanse me from every stain of sin.
Jesus Himself is the proposition for my sins
and those of the whole world.
I put my hope in his atonement.
May my sins be forgiven through His Name,
and in His blood may my soul be made clean. Amen.

O, my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you. I detest all my sins because of your just punishment, but most of all because they offend you, my God, who are all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.