How to Make a Good Confession
Lesson 32 from the Baltimore Cathechism
426. Before entering the confessional, how should we prepare ourselves for a good confession?
Before entering the confessional, we should prepare ourselves for a good confession by taking sufficient time not only to examine our conscience but, especially, to excite in our hearts sincere sorrow for our sins and a firm purpose not to commit them again.
427. How should we begin our confession?
We should begin our confession in this manner: Entering the confessional, we kneel, and making the sign of the cross we say to the priest: "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned"; and then we tell how long it has been since our last confession.
428. After telling the time of our last confession, what do we confess?
After telling the time of our last confession, if we have committed any mortal sins since that time we must confess them, and also any that we have forgotten in previous confessions, telling the nature and number of each; we may also confess any venial sins we wish to mention.
429. What should we do if we cannot remember the exact number of our mortal sins?
If we cannot remember the exact number of our mortal sins, we should tell the number as nearly as possible, or say how often we have committed the sins in a day, a week, a month, or a year.
430. What should we do when we have committed no mortal sin since our last confession?
When we have committed no mortal sin since our last confession, we should confess our venial sins or some sin told in a previous confession, for which we are again sorry, in order that the priest may give us absolution.
Remember not the sins of my youth nor my offenses. According to thy mercy remember thou me, for thy goodness' sake. (Psalm 24:7)
431. How should we end our confession?
We should end our confession by saying: "I am sorry for these and all the sins of my past life, especially for ..."; and then it is well to tell one or several of the sins which we have previously confessed and for which we are particularly sorry.
432. What should we do after confessing our sins?
After confessing our sins, we should answer truthfully any question the priest asks, seek advice if we feel that we need any, listen carefully to the spiritual instruction and counsel of the priest, and accept the penance he gives us.
433. What should we do when the priest is giving us absolution?
When the priest is giving us absolution, we should say from our heart the act of contrition in a tone to be heard by him.
434. What should we do after leaving the confessional?
After leaving the confessional we should return thanks to God for the sacrament we have received, beg Our Lord to supply for the imperfections of our confession, and promptly and devoutly perform our penance.