Guide for Reconciliation
What is reconciliation? Reconciliation is a sacrament in the Catholic Church that involves confessing our sins to God. We discuss our sins with a priest and together we pray for forgiveness of those sins. Jesus said that those with a contrite heart would be forgiven, and over the course of his life, he forgave many people in need. Today, he forgives us through the sacrament of reconciliation and the ministry of the Church.
Do I need to be Catholic for reconciliation? The sacrament of reconciliation is available only those who have been baptized into the Catholic Church. If you are not Catholic, you may still speak with the priest, who can help guide you in your prayer to God. And no matter what your faith, you can always speak with a priest if you are looking for support or spiritual direction.
What should I do before reconciliation?
Before you receive the sacrament of reconciliation, you should:
* Perform an examination of conscience. An examination of conscience is a personal reflection on the ways in which we have sinned, or missed the mark in our lives. (See over)
* Feel sincere sorrow for your sins. You should repent of the sin and understand how it has negatively affected your relation with yourself, with others, and with God.
* Firmly resolve to avoid sin. For example, you could create a concrete action plan to avoid a particular sin in the future (you can ask the priest for help with this).
* Be willing to do penance.
How to begin your confession: Approach the priest and say, “Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It’s been _________ (weeks, months, years) since my last good confession. These are sins I have committed and/or struggle with: _____.”
End your confession with: “For all these sins and those that I forget to mention I ask for pardon.”
Act of Contrition (The priest will ask you to say this prayer at the end of your confession. Don’t worry if you forget – he will help remind you): 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 intend, with your help, to sin no more and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. I thank You and praise you Lord for your forgiveness and mercy, and give me the grace to follow you more faithfully. Amen
* Give thanks to God for forgiving you. If you recall some serious sin you forgot to confess, rest assured that it has been forgiven with the others, but be sure to confess it next time.
* Do your assigned penance.
* Resolve to return to the sacrament of reconciliation often. We Catholics are fortunate to have the sacrament of reconciliation. It is the ordinary way for us to access God’s extraordinary grace and forgiveness. Reconciliation helps to get rid of our weaknesses, grow in holiness, and lead a more balanced and virtuous life.
Guide for Examination of Conscience
An examination of conscience is a reflection on the ways in which we have sinned or missed the mark in our lives.
Ask yourself: What have I done with full knowledge and full consent? When was the last time I made a good confession? (no wrong answer) Did I perform the penance given to me?
1st Commandment: I, the Lord, am your God. You shall not have other gods besides me.
- Do I place other interests above God? E.g. popularity, success etc.
- Have I neglected my prayer life?
- Do I pray even when I do not feel like it?
- Have I received Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin?
- Did I fast one hour before Mass?
- Did I mention all my grave sins in my last confession?
- Did I participate in superstitious actions such as palm-reading or a Ouija (wigi) board?
- Did I put my faith in danger without a good reason? E.g. By reading anti-Catholic material when I am unprepared?
- Did I participate in anti-Catholic activities? e.g. new age cults etc.
- Have I have committed sacrilege? i.e. contempt for sacred objects, places, or people.
2nd Commandment: You shall not take the name of the Lord God in vain.
- Did I fail to do my best to fulfill the promises and resolutions that I made to God?
- Did I take the name of God in vain?
- Have I lied under oath?
3rd Commandment: Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day
- Did I willfully miss Mass on Sunday or a Holy day of obligation?
- Did I fail to dress appropriately for Mass?
- Did I willfully distract myself or others at Mass?
- Did I fast or abstain on the days prescribed by the Church, especially on Fridays?
4th Commandment: Honour your father and your mother.
- Have I been disobedient towards my parents, teachers, coaches, or counsellors?
- Did I do my chores/work assigned to me by my parents, teachers, or counsellors?
- Was I proud when I was corrected by a parent, teacher, or counsellor?
- Did I neglect to help another when I had the opportunity?
5th Commandment: You shall not kill.
- Have I become angry easily or held grudges?
- Was I jealous or envious of others?
- Did I physically or emotionally harm another person?
- Do I drink or eat excessively?
- Did I ask for forgiveness when I hurt another?
- Did I participate in an abortion?
- Do I purposely ignore or bully other people?
- Do I try to be inclusive?
6th and 9th Commandment: You shall not commit adultery/You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife.
- Do I dress provocatively?
- Do I watch/use pornography?
- Am I having sex?
- When courting (dating), I am with the other person for love? (Am I using them?)
- Do I lust over others?
7th & 10th Commandments: You shall not steal/You shall not covet your neighbour’s goods.
- Have I stolen?
- Have I purposely damaged property belonging to another?
- Do I spend my money out of greed?
- Do I pay my debts e.g. cell phone bills?
- Do I give in to laziness when I should be working or studying?
- Do I give alms (to the Church and Charity) when I am able?
- Do I give my time to help those in need?
8th Commandment: You shall not bear false witness.
- Have I lied?
- Have I accused others unjustly?
- Have I unnecessarily told the faults of others?
- Have I told lies about other persons?
- Do I engage in gossip or backbiting?
- Have I revealed secrets without a good reason?