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The Rite of Individual Reconciliation

When you are in the confessional or reconciliation room and the priest signifies that he is
ready to give you his attention, make the sign of the cross.

You are free to use the old formula: "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been . . .
weeks (years) since my last worthy confession... I accuse myself of the following sins. "

Then proceed to name the sins which your examination of conscience* has revealed,
indicating the number of times you have been guilty of each different kind of sin. In
confessing, try to bear the following points in mind:

1) Your confession should be entire; that is to say, you must not knowingly conceal any
mortal sins. If you deliberately keep back a single mortal sin, your confession, instead of
bringing you forgiveness, will be sacrilegious and add to your sins.

2) Your confession should be simple. Your confession is essentially a declaration of fact,


and should be stated clearly and without adding excuses or allowing for ambiguity. If you
are certain of a thing, declare it as certain; if you are doubtful, declare it as doubtful. In
general, remember that you are in the confessional to accuse rather than to excuse
yourself, except where it is clear that some circumstance modifies your responsibility to
an important degree. For example, if you missed Mass because you were ill, you should
mention that fact and not leave the confessor to understand that you violated the law
willfully and without reason. Avoid all mention of your virtues or of the sins of others,
except when those sins are inextricably connected with your own, or when another's
conduct creates special problems for you about which you need some direction and
advice. But even in such cases as these, you should never mention another's name.

3) Your confession should be humble. You are receiving the Sacrament of Penance,
standing before God as a penitent. Hence it ill becomes you to tell your sins in a boastful,
jocular, proud or indifferent manner.

You can add this declaration of a past sin by saying, after you have confessed your sins:
For these and all my other sins which I cannot now remember, and for all the sins of my
past life, I am heartily sorry and humbly ask pardon of God, and penance and absolution
of you, Father.

At the conclusion of your confession, the priest will speak. Listen attentively and humbly
to the direction and advice which he will give you. He will then ask you to declare your
sorrow, which you may do in the old familiar Act of Contrition:
“O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins
because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who
art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to
sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin” (…or you can say….)
“Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
The priest will then extend his hand and pronounce the words of absolution, after which,
in appropriate words, he will dismiss you.

Your sacramental penance should be performed as soon as possible.

* Sample Examination of Conscience:

1. Review of the Seven Deadly Sins and how they have taken a role in your life:
Lust, Envy, Greed, Sloth, Anger, Pride, and Gluttony.
2. Review the 10 Commandments and reflect on how you may have turned away
from some of the commandments of God.
3. How have you hindered the process of reconciliation between yourself and
another person?
4. Reflect on the passage Matthew 25:31-46 and determine if you have attended to
the least ones out of love.