In answering the question of the young man in the Gospel, "What good deed must I do to have eternal life?" Our Lord replies,"If you would enter life, keep the Commandments."
The Ten Commandments state what is required in the love of God and love of neighbor. If you think about it, it really isn't easy to love your neighbor as yourself. Therefore we need to pray to have hearts like Jesus, which with the grace of God will teach us to love ourselves, and to love all God's children, respecting the gift of life and realizing just how fragile we all are. Each Commandment has a focus and questions to assist in a good and proper preparation for confession. The references under each Commandment are not meant to be an exhaustive catalogue of sins, but rather guidelines to help you reflect on the state of your relationship with God and your neighbor.
Focus: Are God and prayer prominent in my life? Do I stand up for my faith in God and His Church?
Focus: Using God's name disrespectfully; cursing others in God's name.
Focus: Attendance at Mass on Sundays and Holydays.
Focus: Honoring and caring for parents. Respect for proper authority. Respect between spouses. Proper religious education of children.
Focus: Anger, hatred, vengeance, destruction of life through murder, abortion, and euthanasia. Scandal in leading others to do evil. Use or distribution of illegal drugs. Racial hatred and prejudice. Holding grudges. Violence and abuse of all forms of life.
Focus: Conjugal fidelity, fornication, impurity, contraception.
Focus: Theft, destruction of property; refusing to share goods with the poor (alms), fraud.
Focus: Harming others by lies, rash judgment, swearing falsely, (perjury).
Focus:Willful, lustful desires.
Focus: Envy, sadness at sight of another's riches, or goods.
"To those who have been far away from the sacrament of Reconciliation and forgiving love, I make this appeal: come back to this source of grace, do not be afraid! Christ Himself is waiting for you. He will heal you, and you will be at peace with God!" (John Paul II)
The basic requirement for a good confession, is to have the intention of returning to God, like the "prodigal son" and to acknowledge our sins with true sorrow before the priest. Be truly sorry for your sins. "The essential act of Penance, on the part of the penitent, is contrition, a clear and decisive rejection of the sin committed, together with a resolution not to commit it again, out of the love one has for God and which is reborn with repentance." The resolution to avoid committing these sins in the future (amendment) is a sure sign that your sorrow is genuine and authentic. This does not mean that a promise never to fall again into sin is necessary. A resolution to try to avoid the near occasions of sin suffices for true repentance. God's grace in cooperation with the intention to rectify your life will give you the strength to resist and overcome temptation in the future.
You can begin your confession by making the sign of the cross and greeting the priest: "Bless me father, for I have sinned." You may continue with the time since your last confession: "My last good confession was...(how many weeks, months, or years approximately)."
Say the sins that you remember. Start with the one that is most difficult to say, after this it will be easier to mention the rest.
Conclude with "I am sorry for these and all the sins of my past life."
The priest will assign you some penance and give you some advice to help you be a better Christian.
Listen to the words of the absolution attentively. At the end answer: "Amen." Be willing to do the penance as soon as possible. This penance will diminish the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven.
Act of Contrition
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended
Give thanks to God for forgiving you again. If you recall some serious sin you forgot to confess, rest assured that is has been forgiven with the others, but be sure to confess it in your next Confession.
Ask the Lord forgiveness for your sins, and praise Him for all He's given you.
Confess your sins to receive absolution, this way preparing your soul.
Now is the time...
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