The Sacrament of Reconciliation is for our spiritual healing. According to the Gospels, after the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to the apostles, breathed on them, and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.” (John 20:22-23) The reason for this sacrament is to heal our spiritual wounds, which we call sin.
Catholics must confess all known mortal sins to a priest. By doing this, we put ourselves in the state of grace necessary to receive the Holy Eucharist. Any venial, or minor sins we have committed are forgiven by receiving the Holy Eucharist.
Confessing sins to a priest is not as difficult as people think. Most people tell sensitive, delicate and confidential information to their doctor or lawyer, so why not a priest? The priest is bound by the most absolute secrecy and confidentiality known to humankind. Not even the Pope can get the priest to reveal what was said in the confessional.
• We enter the confessional and greet the priest. We say, “Bless me Father for I have sinned, it has been (state how long) since my last confession.”
• We confess all our mortal or serious sins and answer any questions the priest has.
• When we have finished confessing we say an Act of Contrition, such as: “Oh my God, I am very sorry for having offended You. I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and fear the pain of hell, but most of all, because I have offended You, my God, Who are all good and deserving of my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.”
• The priest will say the prayer of Absolution and give us a penance to do.
• We then leave and immediately perform the penance given to us.