Getting the Most out of the Sacrament of Confession

by Thomas A. Stobie, S.F.O.


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Read and pause often to think on what is mentioned and how it applies to your cleansing through Confession.

Meditation on Getting the Most out of Confession

As one who tries to get the most of our confession, I thought I would share my secrets of how to make excellent progress growing towards God through the Sacrament of Confession. These are, in fact, not secrets but are found in the teachings of the Church. In order to get the most out of confession, we must solidly prepare, regularly receive the Sacrament, love God and each other, sincerely thank God for forgiving us, and following through on trying to sin no more. (I do need to get better at doing the everyday things as well). I will address each of these in turn.

  • Solid Preparation - The spiritual masters of the church for two thousand years have recommended a daily (or more often) examination of conscience. This examination looks at your behavior and thoughts since your last examination and identifies those areas of sin and where love is lacking. As we come to understand what our sin are, we are better able to address how to rid our lives of them. Remember we are look for sins considering both what we did and what we failed to do. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has a excellent list of sins derived from the ten commandments; if you do not have a copy, get a copy; read through the ten commandments section regularly and compare with your life.

    Immediately prior to the actual confession, takes some time to review the entire period and examine your sinfulness. Ask God to grant the grace to make a good confession and to bless the priest to speak those words God knows you need to hear.

  • Regular Reception of the Sacrament - Pope John Paul II recommended that everyone go to confession at least once a month and to fully and prayerfully participate in the sacrament.

    Think of how often you bathe to clean your physical body. How much more valuable is your soul? How often should you cleanse you soul from the imperfections of sin?

    I would like to go each month, but I have difficulty bothering priests to come to my home to hear my confession (I am disabled and homebound).

  • Loving God and Others - A significant part of living a reduced-sin life is loving God and loving others. Love is a decision. We need to choose to love God everyday with our whole Heart, Mind, and Soul. We need to choose to love everyone else like God loves them. We can ask God for the graces to love more and He will grant them. The more we try to love, the more we see our sinfulness in our lives, and thus the more we can do about it. As you find new areas of sin that you had not noticed before, confess them and tell the priest that you had just discovered this sinful area in your life going into how long you have been doing it. If you want to get the most of out each confession, you need to love more and more each day.

  • Thank God Sincerely - Jesus suffered the Passion to overcome our sins. He established the sacrament of Penance to forgive individuals of their sins. We need to thank God often for all that He has done (and will do) to forgive our sins and to reduce our future sinning. Say a prayer thanking God for the priests who hear your confessions and ask Him to shower His graces upon him.

  • Following Through on Sinning No More - Once we identify an area of sin our life, we need to see if we can develop a good habit to replace it. This requires work on our part daily. We need to be aware of those time when we are likely to fall into that area of sin, and do some positive action to reduce the chances of us falling. We need to ask God for the grace to sin less our lives and to overcome those areas of difficulty.

I challenge everyone (including myself) to try what I have discussed above, even if you get a lot from each Confession now. Be persistant and these things will become easier and easier to do, and will be better and better done. I assure you that you efforts will be beneficial and that your confessions will be more rewarding, cleansing, and fulfilling.

A True and Persistant Desire to Sin No More brings about a holier life and eternity in Heaven.

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Questions and Answers about Confession

  • What should I look for in a confessor?

    A priest who fully supports all the teachings of the Catholic Church, speaks a language that you speak well, listens well, and is filled with the Holy Spirit.

  • Should I use the same priest of all of my confession?

    There are advantages and disadvantages to using the same priest. First, going to the same priest, allows him to work with you over multiple confessions to change sinful habits into good habits. He can see your progress and make suggestions. He has the background of your prior confessions to draw upon. On the otherhand, a different perspective may notice different things about your life and different ways to overcome them.

  • I keep confessing the same sins. Am I doing something wrong?

    It is common to confess the same type of sin over and over. Once a bad habit is formed is takes a lot of work to overcome it. You need to take positive active steps to overcome a bad habit. These steps should in someway counteract your weakness to sin in this area. Just keep working it and pray for the grace to overcome it.

  • Why should I confess to a priest?

    While it possible to be forgiven without a priest, in the sacrament, we are assured of forgiveness when the priest gives us absolution provided that we made a sincere and complete (to our best knowledge) confession.

  • What do I do if confession is only available in my church when I can not get there?

    Any priest in good standing with the church, can hear confession at any time. Find one and ask him to hear your confession. You may need to set up an appointment with him.

  • I have problems remember what to say in the confessional. What would you recommend?

    During confession, ask the priest to help. He can prompt you and assist you in the prayers. Outside read the Cathecism of the Catholic Church on the Sacvrament of Confession.

  • What should I do if I have No Sin in my life?

    Get out the Catechism of the Catholic Church and go through the ten commandments section. Consider you whole life and both what you done and what you could have done. I would be surprised if when you did this, you did not discover sins in your life. Ask yourself "where have I failed to love?". These are all areas of sin in your life.

    Alternately, if you are married, ask your spouse, they will give you a list of many of your sins.

  • Can I Sin by Accident?

    No. Sin requires an of the will, choosing to commit or not to commit the act. If we know that given act will lead to a sinful act, we need to avoid the given act.

  • I am not sure is something is a sin or not, what should I do?

    Ask the priest in the confessional about it and discuss it with him.


Prayer for the Grace to get the Most of our Confessions







O Loving & Merciful God,

We ask You to grant us special graces to enable us to get the most out of each Confession, to inspire us to put a solid effort in preparing for and participating in the Sacrament of Confession, following up with our actions to help us sin no more, and to be filled with the graces of absolution.

We, likewise, ask you to bless those around us with these graces that they too may get the most out of Confession.

We ask you to bless and inspire the priests in their service, that through their service in the confessional, that we may be moved as You desire us to be moved.

We ask for the daily grace of loving more each day that our love may grow closer and closer to Your love.

We thank You for the Sacrament of Confession that allows us to become closer to You and more like You through the cleansing of our soul.

We thank You for all things that we have, the people around us, and the abilities You have granted us.

Amen.

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Meditation by Thomas A. Stobie, SFO 2006. Permission granted to copy for personal use.


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Last Modified 5 Nov 2008.