How to Make a Good Confession

“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” Proverbs 28:13.

1 The Priest will begin with the Sign of the Cross.

2 The Penitent begins by saying, “Bless me Father for I have sinned, it has been ____ (number of days, weeks, months, etc.) since my last confession. These are my sins.”

3 Confess all mortal sins committed since your last confession by kind and number. You may also confess any venial sins.

4 At the end of your confession say these or similar words: “For these and all the sins of my life I am sorry.”

5 The Priest may ask questions for clarification or give you some counsel on a point from your confession.

6 The Priest will give you a penance.

7 The Penitent makes an act of contrition in these or similar words: O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all of my sins because of Thy just punishments. But most of all because they offend Thee my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more, and to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen.

8 The Priest will give you absolution. (The words necessary for forgiveness are, “I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”)

Prayer Before Confession

“Dear God, I seek Your mercy. Be not angry with me because of my sins, my transgressions of virtue, my faults. I know I have failed Your graces; accept my sorrow for these offenses. Renew my response to You, my bond with You. Let me be cleansed by the penances of my life. Give me the strength to be firm in my resolve no more to offend You. Give me Your assurance of grace in my life that I may respond to Your will and goodness. Let the mantle of Your justice protect and encourage me all my life. Amen.

Prayer For Light

O my God, Sovereign Judge, who wishes not the death of a sinner, but that one by converted and saved! Enlighten my mind that I may know the sins which I have committed in thought, word or deed, and give me the grace of true contrition.

Prayer Before Confession

Come, Holy Spirit, enlighten my mind that I may clearly see all my sins. Let me not be deceived by self-love, but show me the true state of my conscience. Move my will to sincere sorrow and help me to make a good confession. Holy Mother of God, intercede for me that I may obtain the pardon of my sins. Holy Guardian Angel, pray for me that I may mend my ways.

Mortal Sin

The examination of conscience may help one to prepare for confession. However, it is not intended merely as a checklist to be used prior to confession. The purpose of this examination is to help souls to know what actions or attitudes are sinful and the gravity of the particular sin. The hope is that this knowledge will serve to keep people from committing these sins.

*Three things are necessary for a sin to be mortal:

1 Serious matter;
2 Knowledge or firm belief that the act is seriously wrong prior to committing the act;
3 Full consent of the will.

All three of these conditions must be present simultaneously for a sin to be mortal. This means that if you did not know the act was seriously wrong, then you are not guilty of having committed a mortal sin. If you did not will the act, e.g., if you were forced or if it was in a dream, you are not guilty of having committed a mortal sin.

All mortal sins committed since your last confession must be confessed by both type and number, i.e., the title of the sin and how many times it was done. If there is a mortal sin from the past that was forgotten and has not been confessed, it should be confessed at your next confession.

Venial Sins

In confession, all mortal sins committed since the last confession are required to be confessed. It is not required to confess venial sins. However, it is a very good practice to confess venial sins because it can help one to grow in humility, it helps keep one’s conscience attentive and thus keeps a person from mortal sin, and it helps to root out sin and thereby provide the means for a person to grow in holiness. A sin is considered venial either because the matter is not serious enough to be mortal or because the habitual nature of the sin reduces the gravity.


Imperfections are not sins so they do not need to be confessed. It is not always easy to make the distinction between venial sins and imperfections. Some things are imperfections because they are very small, other things are imperfections because they are dispositions of the soul and not willful actions or failures, still others because they are habitual. It is good to be aware of imperfections because as one grows in the spiritual life, the imperfections, voluntary and involuntary, become areas where attention must be given in prayer.

Prayer After Confession

O God, I feel the kindness of Your forgiveness. I know the blessing of Your mercy, I am aglow with renewed strength. All my days I will bless Your Name, profess Your goodness, respond to Your will and graces that Your glory may everywhere be known. Amen.

Prayer After confession

My dearest Jesus, I have told all my sins to the best of my ability. I have sincerely tried to make a good confession and I know that You have forgiven me. Thank You, dear Jesus! Your divine heart is full of love and mercy for poor sinners. I love You, dear Jesus; You are so good to me. My loving Savior, I shall try to keep from sin and to love You more each day. Dearest Mother Mary, pray for me and help me to keep all of my promises. Protect me and do not let me fall back into sin. Dear God, help me to lead a good life. Without Your grace I can do nothing. Amen.

Prayer After Confession

Merciful Lord, with a pure heart, I thank You for taking away my sins. Let Your Holy Spirit guide my life so that my soul may bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Renew my desire to be Your faithful friend and servant, increase my loving dependence on You, and grant me that joy and peace of heart which comes from doing Your Holy will. Amen.

Text by Father Robert Altier