Today we are going to talk about how we make our Confession in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We will divide it into three parts: what we do beforehand, what we do at the time, and what we do afterwards.
Before we can confess our sins, we have to think out what they are and write them down so that we don’t forget any of them when the time comes. This thinking out is called self-examination. We have to confess everything we can remember, all sins of thought, word, act and of omission – that is, things we ought to have done but did not do. Some of the sins will be especially against God, some against other people, and some against ourselves.
If you have a book to help you, you will find a list of self-examination questions, but whatever you do, don’t go through them one by one writing down what applies. Instead, first of all pray to God and ask him to show you all your sins. Then read through your list and, having done so, close the book.
Simple, plain language
After that think out carefully what you have done wrong, and write it down simply and plainly in your own words. By simply and plainly, I mean this: don’t say, “I have taken something which did not belong to me”. Say, “I have stolen something”, and say what the something is. Don’t say, “I have said things which were not true”. Say, “I have told lies”.
In a first Confession, we confess every sin that we can remember having committed since the day of our Baptism. If we have already been to Confession before, we confess everything we can remember since our last Confession. In our self-examination we also write down how many times we have committed each particular sin. Some sins we will remember having done perhaps once or twice, but with others we will not know the exact number of times, and so we use such words as a few times, sometimes, many times, often, very often or habitually.
Saying sorry to God
When you have written down everything that you can remember, open your book again and go through the list of self-examination questions to see if there is anything you have forgotten. If there is, add it to what you have already written down. Lastly tell God you are sorry for all you have done.
The best place to make this written self-examination is in church, but you can make it anywhere else where you can be quiet and alone.