The Rite of Reconciliation of Individual Penitents
The penitent should prepare for the celebration of the sacrament by prayer, reading of Scripture, and silent reflection. The penitent should think over and should regret all sins since the last celebration of the sacrament . (See Examination of Conscience.)
The penitent enters the confessional or other place set aside for the celebration of the sacrament of penance. After the welcoming of the priest, the penitent makes the sign of the cross saying:
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
The penitent speaks to the priest in a normal conversational fashion. The penitent tells when he/she last celebrated the sacrament and then confesses his/her sins. The penitent then listens to any advice the priest may give and accepts the satisfaction from the priest. The penitent should ask any appropriate questions.
Before the absolution is given, the penitent expresses sorrow for sins in these or similar words (an act of contrition):
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. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy.
Lord God, in your goodness have mercy on me: do not look on my sins, but take away all my guilt. Create in me a clean heart and renew within me an upright spirit.
Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.
The priest extends his hands and says the prayer of absolution. The penitent replies: Amen.
Examination of Conscience
“Love God with Your Whole Heart, Soul, and Mind”
Do I recognize God’s authority over my life? To what extent do I follow my own agenda and just fit God in when it is convenient? Is my life controlled by my own ambitions or desires to the exclusion of God’s commandments?
Are the things of this world, such as, money, possessions, or status secondary to my faith in God?
Do I set aside the Sabbath as a time to worship the Lord and rest in his presence? Do I reverence the name of God in my speech? Do I carve out time in the day to be with Him in prayer?
“Love Your Neighbor as Yourself”
Have I broken down any relationships with members of my family, close relatives, co-workers, or neighbors? How much do my words and actions reflect honor and respect for other people?
Do I honor my parents and the elderly by showing them proper respect? Have I been cynical or disrespectful to legitimate authority?
Are there situations in which I am finding it hard to forgive someone who hurt me? Are there groups of people whom I have judged too quickly based upon their social status, their race, or their appearance? Have I damaged anyone’s reputation or dignity through gossip or lies?
Am I growing in concern for the poor, less fortunate, sick, and suffering? Is my concern translating into action, especially in the call to foster justice according to the love and compassion of Christ?
Do I give my mind over to lustful thoughts? Are there instances of impurity for which I need to ask God’s forgiveness?
Do I allow myself to be controlled by moods? Do I give in to thoughts of anger, bitterness, or resentment?
Have I been truthful in my words as well as in my actions? Am I honest in my personal and business dealings?
Have I abused my body through the misuse of drugs, alcohol, or food? Have I participated in the occult in any way?
Are there any other areas in which the Holy Spirit is leading me toward repentance…past sins forgotten or deliberately covered over; troubling hurts that need healing; special areas of difficulty that I see?
Sacrament of Reconciliation: American Catholic Links