Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Sacrament of Penance . . . in a Nutshell (part 2)



·         Examine your conscience thoroughly.  Quietly think about what you did wrong.

·         Begin by making the Sign of the Cross.  The traditional formula many people are accustomed to is:  “Bless me (or forgive me), Father, for I have sinned.  It has been (how long?) since my last confession.  These are my sins . . . .”

·         Confess all of the sins that you can remember.  It is not necessary to worry about the number of times for venial (less serious) sins, BUT the number of times a mortal (deliberate and serious) sin is committed should be mentioned.  This gives the priest an idea of the seriousness and frequency of the problem.

·         If you are not sure if something is sinful, ask the priest to clarify it for you.

·         Do not withhold any sin deliberately.  The purpose of confession is to admit your sinfulness and to clear your conscience.  To hold back sin defeats the purpose of confession.  Remember that you speak to God through the priest.  You really cannot hide anything from God.  No matter how embarrassing something may be, trust that the priest will understand and is anxious to help you reconcile with God and the Church.

·         Do not worry about unintentionally forgotten sins.  It is usually a good practice to end confession in this manner:  “For these and all of the sins of my past life which I cannot now remember, I am sorry.”

·         Remember that going to confession means that you want to change for the better.  There should be a purpose of amendment which means that you promise to try not to do the same things over again.  Perhaps you may fall into sin again, but it important that you resolve to try to do better.

·         The priest will give you some penance.  The completion of the penance is part of the sacrament.  If you do not do the penance, this should be confessed in your next confession.

·         Say an Act of Contrition*.  (Sometimes during a Communal Penance Service this may be done together.) You may use one that you know or recite a prayer of sorrow in your own words.

·         The priest will give absolution and then dismiss you.  You can be confident that any sin told to a priest in confession is in strict confidence.  The priest can never reveal the content of an individual’s confession so that any sin is equated to a particular person.  canon 983  (The Seal of Confession is so sacred that if the priest breaks it he can only be forgiven by the Pope himself canon 1388 and the priest is never allowed to hear confessions again.  The priest must even give up his life before breaking that seal.  In addition, the priest may never use knowledge from confession against a person. canon 984)

(To be continued . . .)

*Examples of the ACT OF CONTRITION:

·         O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You, and I detest all my sins because of your just punishments, but most of all because they offend You, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love.  I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.  Amen
·         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.  Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment