Preparation for Confession

"What man of you that hath an hundred sheep: and if he shall lose one of them, doth he not leave the ninety-nine in the desert, and go after that which was lost, until he find it?" Luke 15, 4

For the Grace of the Holy Ghost

Come, Holy Ghost, Sanctifier all powerful, God of love, Thou Who didst fill the Virgin Mary with Grace, Thou Who didst wonderfully transform the hearts of the Apostles, Thou Who didst endow all Thy martyrs with a miraculous heroism, come and sanctify us. Illumine our minds, strengthen our wills, purify our consciences, rectify our judgments, set our hearts on fire, and preserve us from the misfortune of resisting Thine inspirations. Amen.

(Indulgence of 500 days.)

For a Pure Heart

May our hearts be cleansed, O Lord, by the inpouring of the Holy Spirit, and may He render them fruitful by watering them with His heavenly dew.

Roman Missal (Indulgence of 500 days)

Reflection before Examination of Conscience:

1. When did you make your last confession?

2. Did you take sufficient pains to awaken contrition?

3. Did you forget to confess any mortal sins, either intentionally or through forgetfulness?

4. Did you intentionally neglect to say the penance which was imposed on you, or were you careless to forget?

5. Have you carried out the resolutions you made at your last confession or have you paid no heed at all to them?

Causes Which Render Confession Invalid

1. When any mortal sin is omitted willfully, from shame or any other motive.

2. When a falsehood is told in confession concerning any mortal sin known to be mortal.

3. When any mortal sin is forgotten, which might have been remembered with proper diligence in self-examination.

4. When there is not full purpose in abandoning sin, and avoiding all dangerous occasions of sin.

5. When the penitent, having sins of some consequence to confess, deliberately chooses a young or inexperienced confessor, who is not experienced in cases of conscience.

6. When the priest refuses absolution to a penitent when he thinks the penitent does not have the necessary dispositions.

To receive the sacrament of Penance worthily, we must imitate the Prodigal Son:

1. He thought over the evil he had done, and acknowledged it(examination of conscience)--recall the sins committed since your last good Confession.

2. He realized his ingratitude towards his good father, and grieved with all his heart (contrition)--sorrow for sins and grief we disobeyed God.

3. He made up his mind to return to his beloved father and from thenceforth to change his ways (purpose of amendment)--we promise not to fall into the same sins we confess.

4. Upon his return, he fell at his father's feet, confessed the evil he had done, and begged pardon for it (confession)--the act of telling our sins to the priest.

5. He implored his father not to treat him as a son, but as a mere servant (satisfaction)--performance of penance the priest gives after confession.

Three Qualities of a Good Confession

1. Let your confession be ENTIRE; i.e., do not conceal knowingly any one mortal sin; otherwise, so far from obtaining Absolution, you do but add to your sins. State the kind of sins you have committed, and, as far as you can, their number; and mention any circumstances which you think would change the nature of your sins.

2. Let your confession be TRUTHFUL. Let everything be mentioned sincerely and exactly, without any disguise or dissimulation; let the certain things be mentioned as certain, the doubtful as doubtful. Avoid all excuses for yourself, either direct or Indirect; and take the greatest care not to throw blame on any one else, or to mention or hint at the name of any third person. Avoid all superfluous words and matter, and everything which does not directly concern the Integrity of the confession. Be as concise as you can, consistently with fulness and candor.

3. Let your confession be HUMBLE, remembering that you are in an especial manner in the presence of God, from whom, through His Priest, you are seeking and expecting pardon. The thought of God at this moment will be your best protection against all false shame, insincere trifling, and affectation.

Prayers Before Examination of Conscience

O Almighty God, Maker of heaven and earth, King of kings, and Lord of lords, who hast made me out of nothing in Thine image and likeness, and hast redeemed me with Thine own Blood; whom I a sinner am not worthy to name, or call upon, or think of: I humbly pray Thee, I earnestly beseech Thee, to look mercifully on me, Thy wicked servant. Thou who hadst mercy on the woman of Chanaan and Mary Magdalen; Thou who didst spare the publican and the thief upon the cross, have mercy upon me. Thou art my hope and my trust; my guide and my succor; my comfort and my strength; my defense and my deliverance; my life, my health, and my resurrection; my light and my longing; my help and my protection.

I pray and entreat Thee, help me and I shall be safe; direct me and defend me; strengthen me and comfort me; confirm me and gladden me; enlighten me and come unto me. Raise me from the dead; I am Thy creature, and the work of Thy hands. Despise me not, O Lord, nor regard my iniquities; but according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies have mercy upon me, the chief of sinners, and be gracious unto me. Turn Thou unto me, O Lord, and be not angry with me. I implore Thee, most compassionate Father, I pray Thee meekly, of Thy great mercy, to bring me to a holy death, and to true penance, to a perfect confession, and to worthy satisfaction for all my sins. Amen.

Acts of Faith, Hope, and Charity

O Lord God, who enlightenest every man who cometh into this world, enlighten my heart, I pray Thee, with the light of Thy grace, that I may fully know my sins, shortcomings, and negligence, and may confess them with that true sorrow and contrition of heart which I so much need. I desire to make full amends for all my sins, and to avoid them for the future to Thy honor and glory, and to the salvation of my soul, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

I BELIEVE in Thee, O God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, my Creator, my Redeemer, and my Sanctifier; I believe that Thou art all-holy, just, and merciful. I believe that Thou art willing to pardon and to save me, if I repent and forsake my sins. O my God, strengthen and increase my faith, and grant me the grace of a true repentance, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.

I HOPE in Thee, O my God, because Thou art almighty, faithful, and long-suffering. I humbly trust that Thou wilt pardon my sins for the sake of Thy dear Son Jesus Christ, who suffered and died for me upon the Cross; and that Thou wilt cleanse my sinful soul in His precious Blood, and make me holy, and bring me safe to everlasting life. O Lord, in Thee have I hoped, let me never be confounded. Amen.

I LOVE Thee, O my God, above all things, because Thou hast been so good, so patient, so loving to me; notwithstanding all the sins by which I have so grievously offended Thee. I love Thee, O Blessed Jesus, my Saviour, because Thou didst suffer so much for love of me, an ungrateful sinner, and didst die on the Cross for my salvation. O make me love Thee more and more, and show my love to Thee by faithfully keeping Thy Commandments all the days of my life. Amen.

O Mary Immaculate, Mother of Fair Love: obtain for me that love of God, which is so necessary for true contrition. Amen.

To Implore the Divine Assistance in order to make a good confession.

O Almighty and most merciful God, Who hast made me out of nothing, and redeemed me by the Precious Blood of Thine Only Son; Who hast with so much patience borne with me to this day, notwithstanding all my sins and ingratitude; ever calling after me to return to Thee from the ways of vanity and iniquity, in which I have been quite wearied out in the pursuit of empty toys and mere shadows; seeking in vain to satisfy my thirst in unclean waters, and my hunger with husks of swine; behold, O most gracious Lord, I now sincerely desire to leave all these my evil ways, to forsake the region of death where I have so long lost myself, and to return to Thee, the Fountain of Life. I desire, like the prodigal son, to enter seriously into myself, and with the like resolution to arise without delay, and to go home to my Father--though I am most unworthy to be called His child--in hopes of meeting with the like reception from His most tender mercy.

But, O my God, though I can go astray from Thee of myself, yet I cannot make one step towards returning to Thee, unless Thy divine grace move and assist me. This grace, therefore, I most humbly implore, prostrate in spirit before the throne of Thy mercy; I beg it for the sake of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who died upon the Cross for my sins; I know that Thou desirest not the death of a sinner, but that he may be converted and live; I know Thy mercies are above all Thy works; and I most confidently hope that as in Thy mercy Thou hast spared me so long, and hast now given me this desire of returning to Thee, so Thou wilt finish the work which Thou hast begun, and bring me to a perfect reconciliation with Thee.

I desire now to comply with Thy holy institution of the Sacrament of Penance; I desire to confess my sins with all sincerity to Thee and to Thy minister; and therefore I desire to know myself, and to call myself to an account by a diligent examination of my conscience. But, O my God, how miserably shall I deceive myself if Thou assist me not in this great work by Thy heavenly light. O then remove every veil that hides any of my sins from me, that I may see them all in their true colors, and may sincerely detest them. O let me no longer be imposed upon by the Enemy of souls, or by my own self-love, so as to mistake vice for virtue, to hide myself from myself, or in any way to make excuses in sins.

But, O my good God, what will it avail me to know my sins, if Thou dost not also give me a hearty sorrow and repentance for them? Without this my sins will be all upon me still, and I shall be still Thine enemy and a child of hell. Thou dost require that contrite heart, without which there can be no reconciliation with Thee; and this heart none but Thyself can give. O then, dear Lord, grant it unto me at this time. Give me a lively faith, and a steadfast hope, in the Passion of my Redeemer; teach me to fear Thee and to love Thee. Give me, for Thy mercy's sake, a hearty sorrow for having offended so good a God. Teach me to detest my evil ways; to abhor all my past ingratitude; to hate myself now with a perfect hatred for my many treasons against Thee. O give me a full and a firm resolution to lead henceforward a new life; and unite me unto Thee with an eternal band of love which nothing in life or death may ever break.

Grant me also the grace to make an entire and sincere confession of all my sins, and to accept the confusion of it as a penance justly due to my transgressions. Let not the Enemy prevail upon me to pass over anything through fear or shame; rather let me die than consent to so great an evil. Let no self-love deceive me, as I fear it has done too often. O grant that this confession may be good; and for the sake of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who died for me and for all sinners, assist me in every part of my preparation for it; that I may perform it with the same care and diligence as I should be glad to do at the hour of my death; that so, being perfectly reconciled to Thee, I may never offend Thee more. Amen.

Prayer after Examination of Conscience

O my God, I cry unto Thee with the prodigal: Father, I have sinned against heaven and before Thee; I am no longer worthy to be called Thy Son. I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost. O seek Thy servant, for I have not forgotten Thy commandments. Enter not into judgment with Thy servant, O Lord. O spare me for Thy mercy's sake. Prove me, O God, and know my heart; examine me, and know my paths. Thou whose property is always to have mercy and to spare, O meet me in pity, embrace me in love, and forgive me all my sins.

I confess my sins unto Thee, O Christ, Healer of our souls, O Lord of Life. Heal me, heal me of my spiritual sickness, Thou who art long-suffering and of tender mercy; heal me, O Lord Christ. Accept my supplications, O Thou Holy Spirit, unto whom every heart is open, every desire known, and from whom no secret is hid, and who givest life to our souls; hear and answer, O Spirit of God. O Heavenly Father, who willest not that any sinner should perish, give me true repentance for this my sin, that I perish not!

To what misery am I come by my own fault! O merciful God, pity and forgive me for Jesus' sake. Thine eyes, O God, are as a flame of fire searching my inmost heart. O pardon my sin, for it is great! Thou, God, seest me in all the foulness of my sins'. Blessed Jesus, speak for me, plead for me, come between my soul and my offended God, that I perish not. Amen.

Prayer before Confession

Accept my confession, O most loving, most gracious Lord Jesus Christ, on whom alone my soul trusts for salvation. Grant me, I beseech Thee, contrition of heart, and give tears to mine eyes, that I may sorrow deeply for all my sins with humility and sincerity of heart.

O good Jesus, Saviour of the world, who gavest Thyself to the death of the Cross to save sinners, look on me, a miserable sinner who calls upon Thy name. Spare me, Thou that art my Saviour, and pity my sinful soul; loose its chains, heal its sores. Lord Jesus, I desire Thee, I seek Thee, I long for Thee; show me the light of Thy countenance, and I shall be saved; send forth Thy light and Thy truth into my soul, to show me fully all the sins and shortcomings which I must still confess, and to aid and. teach me to lay them bare without reserve and with a contrite heart; O Thou who livest and reignest with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

O most gracious Virgin Mary, beloved Mother of Jesus Christ, my Redeemer, intercede for me with Him. Obtain for me the full remission of my sins, and perfect amendment of life, to the salvation of my soul and the glory of His name. Amen.

I implore the same grace of thee, O my Angel Guardian; of you, my holy Patrons, N. N.; of you, O blessed Peter and holy Magdalen, and of all the Saints of God. Intercede for me a sinner, repenting of my sins, firmly resolving to confess them, and to avoid them for the future. Amen.