How to Confess: 14 Steps (with Pictures)

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How to Confess: 14 Steps (with Pictures)
How to Confess: 14 Steps (with Pictures)

Whether you're a recent convert, curious, or not confessing for a long time, you may feel a little intimidated that you don't know exactly how the process works. What should you do in the confessional? What should you say to the priest? How rigid is a confession? Relax! Things are much simpler than you might think. Just take a look at the walkthrough below.


Part 1 of 3: Preparing for Confession

Go to Confession Step 1

Step 1. Conduct an examination of conscience

It is very important that you know what to say to the priest when it comes to confession. Take some time to do a "scrutiny of conscience," that is, to reflect on your actions. Try to remember what you've done since the last confession, from the most harmless little sins to the most serious. Say a prayer and ask the Holy Spirit for help if you need it. Still not knowing where to start? Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • Did I disobey any of the commandments?
  • Have I neglected my faith?
  • Did I let something influence me more than God?
  • Have I denied or doubted my faith?
  • Did I hurt someone on purpose or by accident?
  • Have I rejected some part of my faith?
  • Have I forgiven the next one?
  • What were the causes of my sins? What are the temptations that surround me?
Go to Confession Step 2

Step 2. Understand the difference between a mortal sin and a venial one

Virtually everyone commits venial sins frequently. While you should always seek God's forgiveness, there is no reason to be ashamed of these actions. Venial sins are everyday sins, like lying to a friend to escape a party, using God's name in vain, etc. Mortals are much more serious. There are three factors that constitute a deadly sin:

  • It must be serious action.
  • The sinner must have full understanding of what he was doing at the time of the action.
  • Sin must be committed of free will.

    • remember that the priest is thanks to keep their secrets, whatever they may be. He will not judge you or comment on your life with other people, not even in the case of life or death. Trust him and don't be afraid of the consequences of your confession. In fact, remember that it is a sin to omit a sin in the confessional.
  • Unfortunately, many people refuse to confess or don't truly open up because they think they've committed a mortal sin. Most sins are venial: many people don't know what makes a sin truly deadly. Sin must be very serious to be deadly. Murdering, raping, selling or using illegal drugs, engaging in adultery (cheating a husband or wife), incurring incest (marrying or having sex with family members, cousins ​​or relatives), stealing very expensive goods or a lot of money, extreme hatred to the parents themselves (to the point of wishing for their death) are examples of mortal sins. Venial sins are minor, even when they are committed without knowledge or consent. That is, sin is not mortal if it was not serious, even though you were aware of it, or if it was serious, but you were not aware of the gravity or if you were forced to sin. The accumulation of venial sins does not lead to mortal sin. Some examples of venial sins: stealing cheap objects, fighting with siblings, fighting with someone who has a different opinion, driving too fast, etc. Although small, venial sins should be avoided at all costs.
Go to Confession Step 3

Step 3. Take a look at confession times

Most churches have designated times for confessions. Drop by your church or call the administration to find out when you can go there. While it's easy to find a priest available at any time of day, ideally you should look for a confession session. If necessary, call the church or see the priest in person to arrange an extraordinary confession.

  • Don't be nervous when entering the church. Usually, the notice with the time of confessions is clearly visible outside or on the church leaflet, which is usually available at the entrance. In some cases, you can even find it online.
  • If you have a lot to confess, it might be a good idea to schedule an extraordinary session. Confessions usually take about ten minutes. Ask to meet the priest at another time if you think it will take longer than that.
Go to Confession Step 4

Step 4. Pray to be honest and penitent

It is always good to pray a little before confessing. Ask God that everything goes well, that you don't forget anything and that your penance is true and meaningful. Enter the confessional with the best of intentions.

Confession basically consists of honesty, forgiveness and full dedication. You may just be able to cry and quietly say "I hurt a friend." This is infinitely better than listing all the sins you've committed without the slightest regret. Always show yourself true and fearing God. The essential is contrition, that is, the rejection of sin

Part 2 of 3: Talking to the Priest

Go to Confession Step 5

Step 1. Enter the church and sit in a pew

You can also go straight to the confessional booth if it's empty and without a queue, but sometimes it's a good idea to take a moment to reflect before you go inside. After all, you have most of the church to yourself. Take the opportunity to feel her energy running through your body and become aware of your place in this majestic kingdom of God.

Kneel and pray with your head down and your hands together. Reflect on your faith and your feelings. Think about how you have responded to God's call and experienced divine love

Go to Confession Step 6

Step 2. Enter the confessional

Do this only when the priest is ready to receive you, that is, when he is alone or when someone comes out of the confessional. Sit facing the priest or behind the screen. Your anonymity is up to you. The priest will treat you the same regardless of your choice.

  • At the indicated time, make the sign of the cross and say, "Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been (insert time period here) since my last confession." This is what is traditionally said in the confessional, but you can also just say hello to the priest if you prefer. He knows what he's doing.

    The Byzantine rite is a little different. In it, the priest sits beside the faithful, puts a stole on his head and says the Prayer of Absolution. The general idea, however, remains the same. Just follow the rite

Go to Confession Step 7

Step 3. Follow the priest's directions

After sitting down to make the sign of the cross, relax and wait for the priest to speak. He will ask you how long it has been since your last confession (if you haven't already told), how you are feeling, how your faith is, and what sins you would like to confess to him and God. It's a very casual conversation.

Do not get nervous. You don't need to feel pressured at all. As long as you entered the church with the intention of cleansing your heart, you are more than welcome. There is no mistaking a confession

Go to Confession Step 8

Step 4. Confess your sins

This is the hardest part. Try to think of it this way: the priest has probably heard it all in that confessional. There is nothing you can say that will shock you. When he asks about your footprints, start listing them, from the most serious to the most banal. If he asks a question, answer it, but don't feel obligated to go into detail. Just say something along the lines of "I did this and this".

Priests are very understanding during confession. There is nothing wrong with not remembering the exact date something happened or your motivation to sin. The only things that matter are that you are as honest as possible and that your heart is in the right place

Go to Confession Step 9

Step 5. Listen to the priest's advice

The priest will conduct the entire confession and ask a few questions about your intentions. But the main thing is that he makes it clear that God loves him, even with his sins. He might make some suggestions for you to get closer to God. After all, he is there to help. At the end of the process, he will ask you to say the Act of Contrition, which goes something like this:

  • My God, I repent of my sins with all my heart, because by sinning I offended you, you I must love above all things. With Your help, I promise

    be penitent, strive not to sin

    and avoid temptations.

    In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, my God, have mercy.

  • The Act of Contrition available on the Vatican news website is:

    My God, because You are infinitely good and I love You with all my heart, I regret having offended You and, with the help of Your divine grace, I firmly propose to amend myself and never again offend You. the forgiveness of my faults by Your infinite mercy. Amen

Go to Confession Step 10

Step 6. Pay attention to absolution and penance

Do not worry! Penance is no big deal. In many cases, you just need to say a few prayers. Listen carefully to the absolution. It means you are completely free from sin. There is no better feeling than this!

Absolution is the removal of sins, while penance is the expression of repentance by the believer, who must show God that he is sorry for what he has done and that he desires to be forgiven

Part 3 of 3: Ending the confession

Go to Confession Step 11

Step 1. Leave the confessional feeling lighter

The priest will say something like "Go in peace and may the Lord accompany you." Smile, say thanks, leave the confessional and feel happy! Your sins have been forgiven and your record with God is clean once more. This means that you are also closer to the Lord. Try to feel His presence and think carefully about what you are going to do from now on.

Don't despair if you realize you've forgotten a sin. God knows your intentions and has certainly forgiven you. However, try to remember to confess the sin in question next time so you don't accumulate guilt

Go to Confession Step 12

Step 2. Sit down on the bench again if you wish

Many believers choose to return to the bank to silently pray in thanks to God. If your penance consists of a few prayers, enjoy the moment of introspection. Return to the pew you sat in when you entered the church and be reconciled to the Lord through your prayers.

Some people use this time to reflect on their actions and how to avoid future sins. When do you intend to confess again? What can you do in this time frame to live closer to God? Focus on how to dedicate yourself to following in the footsteps of the Lord

Go to Confession Step 13

Step 3. Do your penance

Whatever the priest has suggested, it's best that you do your penance as quickly as possible, whether it's a prayer or a conversation with a loved one. Be quick in fulfilling God's will. When the penance is over, you will see how relieved you will feel.

After completing the penance, take a moment to thank God and enjoy your absolution. Focus on how much He loves you and how wonderful it is to be bathed in divine glory. Remember, not everyone is that lucky

Go to Confession Step 14

Step 4. Swear loyalty to God

No one expects you to live forever free from sin. God knows very well that this is impossible. All He wants is for you to avoid temptation and not view confession as an excuse to sin. That's not what it's for! The purpose of confession is to bring humanity closer to God, despite all imperfections. The Lord just expects you to do your best.

Over the next few days and weeks, try to remember the place God occupies in your life and look for ways to live according to the Lord's will. Read the Bible for inspiration and talk to people as devoted as you are. Or, in other words, love and serve the Lord - your Lord


  • There is another version of the act of contrition that goes like this:

    Oh my God, I repent with all my heart for having offended You and I hate all my sins, for I fear the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. But also for having offended You, my God, You who are so good and deserving of all my love. I firmly promise, with the help of Your grace, confess my sins, perform penance and follow Your path. Amen

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