How to Prepare for Confession

Before celebrating the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation, be sure to prepare with an examination of conscience reflecting on The Ten Commandments and the teachings of the Church.

The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation includes the following steps:

  1. The priest greets us, and we pray the Sign of the Cross. It is then customary to tell the priest how long it has been since your last confession.  He may read God’s Word with us.
  2. We confess our sins.  The priest may help and counsel us.
  3. The priest gives us a penance to perform. Penance is an act of kindness or prayers to pray, or both.
  4. The priest might ask us to express our sorrow, usually by reciting the Act of Contrition.
  5. We receive absolution. The priest says, “I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” We respond, “Amen.”
  6. The priest dismisses us by saying, “Go in peace.” We go forth to perform the act of penance he has given us.
  7. Remember to thank the priest before leaving the confessional.


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John 20:21-23

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”